Saturday, April 25, 2020

Ted Smith Aerostar 601B, N601X: Fatal accident occurred April 23, 2020 in Moffat County, Colorado

Scott Dewayne Mendez
June 8th, 1979 – April 24th, 2020

On April 24th, 2020, Scott Mendez, who was 40 years old, passed away suddenly in a plane accident chasing his dreams while flying. Scott was born June 8th, 1979, and was from San Jose, California. Scott will be forever remembered by his wife, parents, brother, nephew, partner, and precious children. A Funeral Service and a Celebration of life in memory of Scott will be held in the future.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

https://registry.faa.gov/N601X

Location: Craig, CO
Accident Number: CEN20LA160
Date & Time: 04/23/2020, 2139 MDT
Registration: N601X
Aircraft: Piper PA60
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 23, 2020, at 2139 mountain daylight time (MDT), radar contact was lost with a Piper Aerostar 601X, N601X. The airplane was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Craig, Colorado. The uncertificated (student rated) pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The airplane was not equipped with automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), which was required for operations in airspace that included class E airspace at or above 10,000 ft. The flight had not been operating on a flight plan and had no communications with air traffic control as required when it operated in class A airspace above 18,000 ft. Aircraft maintenance logbooks showed that the airplane received it last regulatory annual inspection dated November 21, 2019, and its last altimeter inspection, up to 30,000 ft, was dated June 27, 2014.

Radar track data indicated that N601X departed Jersey Shore Airport (P96), Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, about 1119 MDT, flying westbound at a cruise altitude of about 3,500 feet msl and had an average ground speed of about 180 - 190 kts until stopping at Findlay Airport (FDY), Findlay, Ohio, about 1251 MDT. Track data indicates N601X departed FDY about 1337 MDT, flying westbound at an altitude of about 3,500 ft, climbed once to about 5,500 ft, then descended to about 3,500 ft until later climbing to a cruise altitude of between 8,500-9,500 ft before descending into and landing at Red Oak Municipal Airport (RDK), Red Oak, Iowa, about 1618 MDT. Track data indicates N601X likely departed RDK about 1708 MDT, continuing westbound again, climbing to a maximum cruise altitude of about 9,500 ft, then descended and landed at Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL), Ft Collins/Loveland, Colorado, about 1949 MDT.

A line service technician employed by a fixed base operator (FBO) at FNL stated that he was sitting in the line shack when he saw N601X taxi from the runway. He said the airplane's right engine was not running, and the pilot was trying to start it. The engine did not restart, and the airplane continued to taxi to the ramp. He asked the pilot if everything was "okay," and the pilot said, "yeah cut it a little close on fuel." He said the airplane was leaning "quite a bit" toward the right, which he attributed to a fuel imbalance. The line service technician said there was "a lot" of fuel staining under the right wing and on top of the wing. He did not look at the left wing and did not know if the left wing had fuel stains. He said he looked in the airplane and did not see it equipped with ADS-B; he said that he did not know how the pilot was going to fly over the mountains. He said the airplane was equipped with a panel mounted Garmin 430 and a transponder with round knobs. He said he saw an oxygen tank in the airplane and did not know the amount of oxygen that was present in the tank. The line service technician said the airplane did not have a pressurization system. The line service technician said he topped off all three fuel tanks: left wing, right wing and fuselage tank. He said during fueling of left tank, he had to push up the right wing up because it was leaning downward. The pilot told him to make sure that the fuel tank cap on the fuselage was on tight because "the thing leaks." The line service technician said he double checked the fuselage fuel tank cap, and it was on "tight." The line service technician said the engines sounded fine except for the pilot running out of fuel during the after-landing taxi. He did not think the airplane was in "very good" condition.

A customer service representative at the FBO stated the pilot told her he purchased the airplane in New York and was "going to try to get over the mountains." The pilot said he flew on a commercial flight from California and on the same day he purchased the airplane. He said he had to go over the mountains and through Utah and was destined to California. She said the pilot was "really tired" and did not have cash to buy Red Bull, so she made him coffee. The pilot told her that he left New York later than he wanted too because he was talking with the former airplane owner. He told her the airplane was his fifth airplane that he owned.

Radar track data indicates N601X departed FNL about 2037 MDT turning westbound, climbing through about 12,000 ft, and made a left, almost 360° turn, continuing to climb throughout the turn, then flying west/southwest bound and reaching about 16,000 ft. The airplane continued west/southwest for a little over 40 miles climbing again and reaching about 22,000 ft, then turning right about 90° flying northbound, momentarily, before turning left and heading west/northwest and descending to about 20,000 ft, then back up again to about 22,000 ft, briefly, then back down to about 20,000 ft. The airplane then turned left to the southwest, then southbound, entering erratic flight climbing to over 23,000 ft, momentarily, before beginning to descend, entering a tight looping turn to the left and losing altitude rapidly, then showing a west/northwest heading in the final segment before track data was lost at about 2139 MDT.

An alert notice was issued, and the airplane wreckage was located by the Colorado State Highway Patrol on April 24, 2020, about 0336 MDT, about 15 miles west of Craig, Colorado.

Aircraft registry records showed that the pilot also owned a Cessna 310Q, N7742Q, which was based at San Martin Airport, near San Martin, California. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N601X
Model/Series: PA60 601
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: CAG, 6198 ft msl
Observation Time: 2053 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C / 2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 14 knots / , 270°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 6000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Ft Collins, CO (FNL)
Destination: , CA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 40.951944, -108.340278 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.



Memorial for Scott Mendez

https://www.gofundme.com

It’s with a heavy heart we come together to mourn the loss of Scott Mendez. Scott was only 40 years old. He leaves behind the love of his life Inez (her kids), his step children- Adrianna and Ben and his three small children- Savannah 9, Memphis 7 and Falynn 5. His death was very much unexpected. Scott was a pilot and lost his life in Colorado while doing what he loved best, flying. On behalf of my sister and Scott’s children, we ask for your support in raising funds to return Scott back home, funeral arrangements and other financial burdens that Inez will have to face. I understand times are very tough right now, especially with what's currently going on in the world but anything you can give would be greatly appreciated. Please continue to keep my sister and the kids in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Please feel free to share this page. Thank you.

From the office of the Moffat County Coroner's Office:

The pilot who perished in the Thursday evening plane crash near Powder Wash, Rural Moffat County, Colorado has been identified as Scott Dewayne Mendez, 40, of San Jose, California. An autopsy is scheduled at 1:00 p.m., Monday, April 27, 2020, at Community Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Jesse Joe Arthurs, Moffat County Coroner

MOFFAT COUNTY, Colorado — The pilot of a small plane that took off from the Northern Colorado Regional Airport was killed when the plane crashed in western Moffat County around 10 p.m. Thursday night.

Denver Air Traffic Control notified the Moffat County Sheriff's Office about the possible crash in the Powder Wash area off Moffat County Road 4 at 9:50 p.m.

The Powder Wash area is just south of the Wyoming border and about 60 driving miles northwest of Craig.

Deputies responded to the area and located a crashed fixed-wing aircraft at about 3:20 a.m on Friday.

The preliminary investigation indicates that the Ted Smith Aerostar 601 plane crashed into the ground, killing the pilot.

A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration said the plane had taken off earlier Thursday from the Loveland airport earlier in the evening.

The identity of the pilot will be released by the Moffat County Coroner’s Office after appropriate notifications have been made. 

Craig is located in northwest Colorado about 198 driving miles from Denver.

https://www.9news.com



114 comments:

  1. Another Aerostar destroyed. Quite a few recently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He bought that plane with stolen money, lied and conned his way through life, Karma is a Bitch my friend, There are many people with a smile on their faces after the pain and anguish you have brought to their lives. Only regret is the loss for the Kids but the role model thing may end up to be a good thing.

      Another thing is he can not afford a red Bull or the family can't afford the funeral but he can afford to buy a second plane. Selfish to the end...

      Delete
    2. It is strange to ask strangers for money when the dude apparently could afford to buy and maintain two twins. I have 3 kids and a household with two solid professial incomes. I can barely keep my wife off my back with what I pay for hangar, gas, and C-140 maintenance. At this point in life I cannot afford a twin. But I damn sure can afford my funeral and my family would get a big insurance payout god forbid it happens to me.

      Delete
  2. Night flight over a fairly remote area. I wonder if the pilot had an instrument rating

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    Replies
    1. According to the FAA Airmen Registry, he only has a student pilot certificate, dated 7/1/2019.

      I understand the registry has gaps and takes a while to update, so this may be wrong.

      Delete
    2. Gofundme for the pilot has multiple pictures of him flying with wife and kids in what appears to be the Aerostar based on size. Would be a shame if only a student pilot and taking family flying. My guess is the registry is incorrect.

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  3. That is a 310 - he owned a 310Q. Not many people go from a student pilot cert to an Aerostar in 9 months! This was very predictable.

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    Replies
    1. Yep, misidentified as an Aerostar, no doubt. His 310 is N7742Q. Registration and photo:

      https://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?NNumbertxt=7742Q

      https://uk.flightaware.com/photos/view/1342327-0c4aa0812ee4664c1b0d8590c511e6b8fefbfe87/aircraft/N7742Q/sort/votes/page/1

      Delete
  4. Not sure I'd fly that one at night without getting some time accumulated on it first, was for sale at asking price $37,900 with comments such as:

    TT approx. 7000 hrs
    TBO is over 1500 but engines still checked good for annual
    Props are also over TBO but still fine & serviceable
    Needs new batteries and some minor issues dealt with, but flies great.


    https://classyauto.com/v/Cessna+310/Q+Twin+Engine/98207
    If that original link stops working, also here:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20200427235904/https://classyauto.com/v/Cessna+310/Q+Twin+Engine/98207

    ReplyDelete
  5. Showed up in AIN today - Turns out it was an Aerostar, N601X
    No Flightaware data for the accident date.

    https://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?NNumbertxt=N601X

    ReplyDelete
  6. Links pointing to detailed for sale listings for N601X are not active, still can find one aircraft for sale top level listing showing a 1977 601B in PA and a photo of N601X looking really shiny in a PA dealer top level listing:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20200428030456/https://www.globalplanesearch.com/listing/aircraft-for-sale/Splash/Aerostar-601B/267255

    https://web.archive.org/web/20200428025001/http://www.lockhavenaircraftsales.com/Aircraft-for-Sale-.html

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  7. Nice photo of N601X from 2009:

    https://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/photo/000407987.html

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  8. A 2020 for sale listing described N601X as having 2868 hours airframe total time, left engine 761 hours since major overhaul, right engine 341 hours since factory overhaul, props 706 hours since overhaul, oxygen system, Garmin 430W, full de-ice, annual in October 2019, logbooks, hangar kept.

    There was zero moonlight on 23 April and the crash was away from population centers. Perhaps some combination of hard to discern horizon and fatigue played a role.

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  9. If the data is correct regarding pilots qualifications than this just pure disregard for common sense. A unforgiving airplane let alone in unknown mechanical condition at night over that area. I feel for his family but have no sympathy for the pilot.

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    1. Even if told in advance, I am not sure the pilot had the experience or had studied aviating enough to understand what he was going into with regard to dark night conditions in a remote area. With just a student pilot cert he may not have had .1 of IFR or any night cross-country time!

      Delete
    2. I don't even have a license but understand flying enough that you don't go into a condition like that at all. Crazy that someone that has taken classes, has two aircraft, probably reads a lot about flying, etc. would be so oblivious.

      Delete
  10. Jeeze why do people do this. This sad story never ends: have money, buy an aircraft over your skill set in handling it. Just sad. The general public needs to be more informed on the dangers of general aviation and qualifications. It's not like buying a boat or car that can go fast when you are in the three dimensional world.

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    Replies
    1. Two dimensional world on the ground or on water....

      Delete
  11. FAA Airman's Registry shows Mendez only had a Student Pilot Certificate. First photo in article shows him in a plane with four passengers. But, reflection in his sunglasses looks as if plane may be on the ground. Nevertheless, student pilot taking off at 3:00 a.m. in darkness. Not a good idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You meant to say "student pilot taking off at 9:00 p.m. in darkness"

      With the crash being 130 air miles from takeoff, his departure was around 9 pm, since the ATC called the sheriff's office about the crash just before 10 PM. Searchers found the plane after 3 am.

      Still correct that he was in over his head flying at night in a new to him aircraft, even if a recent license update is late showing up in the Airmen Registry..

      Delete
  12. thankfully he was the only victim of you cant fix stupid

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  13. Purpose of the flight and timing of the day's activities should be considered. N601X had been for sale in Pennsylvania, so the takeoff from KFNL in Fort Collins/Loveland may have been the next leg of a long cross country repositioning flight that up until that takeoff was conducted under daytime VFR conditions.

    A trouble free "shakedown" day of flying to reach Colorado may have resulted in a decision to press on and make for San Jose after a fuel and supper stop at dusk. The cause of the crash could be a problem with the aircraft, navigation, visual illusion during night flight, fatigue, hypoxia onset or a combination.

    It was not good decision making for a low time pilot to fly that leg at night in a piston twin that was so recently taken on. And please, for the sake of future rule making and insurance rates that impact pilots everywhere, let's hope that he at least had intensive training, with a signed off multi-engine rating on a private or commercial ticket that would show up eventually in the Airmen Registry, plus a N601X familiarity ride in PA before heading across the country.

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  14. This beggars belief - the widow will end up sueing somebody and another blow is struck at GA.
    How do these people get through the system and stuff it up for everybody.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Draconian regulation would be required to impede uncertified pilots who individually own their aircraft. Some legislative ideas Senator Snort's intern might dream up:

      1. Student license expires in 90 days, limit one renewal, with one year blackout period after second expiration.
      2. No insurance policy permitted to be written for individually owned aircraft ("IOA") unless owner has valid license, ratings, current medical ("ValidCerts"). Policy designation of CFI or other alternate pilot while student owner learns would no longer be permitted.
      3. No aircraft sales, financing, maintenance, fueling, tie-down, hangaring for IOA's without ValidCerts.
      4. Persons, business units involved in #2 and #3 required to use new "FAA Instant Check System" ("FAAICS") to determine ValidCerts each time services rendered.
      5. Expirations or revocations trigger automated FAAICS alerts to insurers and FBO's that previously checked on an aircraft.
      6. ATC's verify IOA pilots in FAAICS before permission to takeoff (Pilots RFSecureID key fob is read by mandatory-required avionic upgrade device and validates the individual in the seat).

      Doing #1 above plus an FBO check of the license in an online system during attended fueling might catch a few of what is probably a low number of cheaters, but what a burden that would be for everyone else.

      Delete
    2. The 'burden' is on everybody else as eventually there will be
      'draconian' measures unless we - GA - start draining our own swamp...

      Delete
    3. There are already more than enough laws and regulations on the books. Nothing mentioned above would prevent someone with his personality from grabbing the keys and going for a ride.
      Non pilot passengers don't know what questions to ask are completely trusting of the PIC.
      Actually surprised he made it to age 40.

      Delete
    4. Just to clarify, the modern permanent student pilot certificates do NOT expire. Solo flight privileges are authorized by instructor endorsement in a logbook and do expire after sixty days (§61.19 (g)). No student pilot may carry passengers (§61.89(a)).

      Delete
    5. Yep, "grabbing the keys and going for a ride." August 2002 Tucumcari NM airport. Father and son (non-pilots) mowed the airport grass. Heard that the Ercoupe parked over there was easy to fly--"like driving a car." Later, father and son stole the Ercoupe keys, took off, and survived almost a full minute.

      Delete
  15. Lately we have been reading about many pilots not qualified and crashing. Destroying airplanes and destroying lives. Time to start calling the cops if a suspicious bad pilot is in danger of producing accidents or killing others with their fake qualifications. Report any suspicion of unqualified pilots. Dont be another coward allowing fakes in USA GA. Pilots cannot be cowards afraid of taking care of safety in their own airports.
    I have done it. Took care of a guy from Dominican Republic using all the stolen documents from a Puerto Rican Commercial Pilot. That happened in New Jersey, USA. Cowards let crooks commit crimes. The guy was making bad landings and not using the radiio for years until i took care of the imbecile.

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  16. Preliminary report came out today. Confirms that he was only a student pilot. Report indicates that he was flying tired, started from Pennsylvania at mid-day. Bringing home purchased plane. Fuel stains on the wing from leaks, flew high, no word on whether his oxygen bottle was adequate.

    Broke a lot of rules. Reads like there was no regard for the kind of basic understandings that rudimentary instruction and ground school should teach. A sad tale.

    https://app.ntsb.gov/pdfgenerator/ReportGeneratorFile.ashx?EventID=20200424X73852&AKey=1&RType=Prelim&IType=LA

    ReplyDelete
  17. flew commercially from california to new york that same day, was delayed leaving new york, took off from Jersey Shore PA and stopped to get gas in Colorado, where he had an engine die on the taxi way from fuel exhaustion. Filled up all tanks in what sounds like a neglected airplane, but didn't have enough cash to buy a Red Bull so the cashier made (and gave, I guess) him coffee. He told her this was his fifth airplane that he owned, and needed to get over the mountains to get back to California.

    No ADS-B, no contact with ATC, this student pilot went up to 23,000 feet before losing control of the plane and auguring in.

    The report states he owned another 310Q back home in San Martin California.

    Just bizarre.

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  18. May your soul rest in peace Scott

    ReplyDelete
  19. https://amsrvs.registry.faa.gov/airmeninquiry/

    Whenever a pilot stops at an FBO just train the employees to casually look up the name in there (from a cc receipt or from the N registration name) and if only a student pilot or if single engine rated in a multi or medical expired start to ask question or notify a LE that can legally ask for IDs and certificates. A no brainer.

    Pilots relinquish already some of their privacy rights by virtue of being pilots. No need to create extra rules. And yes a few bad apples among us but the online tools available NOW can let us identify the ones breaking the rules. At least the grossly blatant ones i.e student flying passengers, lack of multi rating in a multi, and medical expired.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they do not do as you suggest, are they liable for any bad endings?

      Lawyers will think so for sure, because "pilots", regardless of ratings or lack thereof, are never wrong when a plaintiffs attorneys decide to make an appearance in court.

      Never relinquish responsibility from the PIC and/or owner.

      Delete
    2. Seriously, you want to put this burden on the FBO?

      Delete
    3. Did you think this through? Far from home, strangers looking up your info... Haven't you heard of all the valet parking attendants calling their burglar pals with your car registration info? First FlightAware shamelessly violating our privacy and security, now you advocate that the FBOs do it, too? Let's see now... "rich enough to own an airplane, is away from home, duh..." Come on, are you really smart enough for a certificate to be suggesting this?

      Delete
  20. Replies
    1. Knowingly choosing to go forth untrained, continuing while tired and night flying under those circumstances is way beyond lack of ADM. This one is "hold my beer and hand me a Red Bull".

      Delete
    2. ADM? No license or training ... This IDIOT didn't have enough knowledge for ADM to be a factor. I doubt he had ever heard of ADM. This type guy is why YOUR insurance rates are going up.

      Delete
    3. There’s no way he had insurance. For my 340A I needed initial sim training plus 25 hours of dual before I could touch it. That’s with 1000hrs total time. Couldn’t even get a quote on an Aerostar.

      Delete
  21. In the preliminary report a line service tech stated that the airplane had taxied from the runway with the right engine stopped. The pilot stated that he had cut it too close on fuel. However when the line tech refueled the plane, the right wing was so heavy with fuel that he had to lift the right wing to fill the left wing tank. So, what tank was the dead right engine running from? The leaking center tank? Was it in crossfeed? There's so much going wrong here.

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  22. Landing with substantial fuel imbalance suggests that he either misunderstood the Aerostar fuel system arrangement, selected crossflow to compensate for malfunctioning wing fuel level indications or there was a control valve, check valve or screen blockage problem that was impeding normal delivery from the right wing tank. Leaks and streaks from dried up fuel cap seals and the problem of non-delivery from the right tank add to the pile of unheeded warning signs and poor choices.

    The Aerostar's parallel fed, check valved and electric solenoid controlled fuel system design is worth reading about. Wing tanks drain first and no switching around or balancing is ever necessary if both engines are running and the system is in proper order.

    Links below provide detailed description of the fuel system design and operation if you look through them for the relevant passages.

    See 8th paragraph here:
    http://all-aero.com/index.php/55-planes-t-u/8368-ted-smith-aerostar

    See 4th page, third paragraph here (2012 Accident):
    https://app.ntsb.gov/pdfgenerator/ReportGeneratorFile.ashx?EventID=20120116X53349&AKey=1&RType=Final&IType=FA

    See fuel related sections here:
    http://www.fsd-international.com/Hangar/Aerostar/Checklists/Emergency%20Procedures%20Checklist.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honest question ... Does anyone really think this MORON bothered to read anything about this plane? ... Other than the ad for sale?

      Delete
  23. The routing should and could have been down towards Albeqerque, then across towards Phoenix. Could be done much lower. and you can follow the highway if you like. A night in a hotel would not have hurt... thats a very long day. It was probably a red eye to the east coast...., You would have to be up very early in California to get to and be delayed and be flying by 11 am east coast time.... condolences...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Shoddy piloting in every regard. Suicide by stupidity.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I flew an early Ted Smith 600 Aerostar for 300 hours for a company. This is the hottest twin piston I ever flew. It had much shorter wings than the later Piper version. The fuel system was simple but in cross feed you could get in trouble. The fuselage tank was designed to feed last. At low fuel the wings being so thin fuel could be starved from engine in cross feed with any uncoordinated flight or bank (as in engine out 5 degrees into good engine). With tank to engine feed the fuselage "header" tank always backed up both L and R engine. The idea of a low time student pilot flying solo in this "jet" with piston engines is scary. I am a CFI Inst and Multi. I can't image what was going on here. The early Ted Smith's had handling characteristics of a Lear Jet... Takeoff you rotated, held pitch, broke ground, accelerated like a jet, and then pitch up more to maintain speed.... it is a fast plane.

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  26. Well, he apparently managed to take-off, fly and land several legs without crashing and despite his student certificate probably had some experience if he owned (and flew?) a Cessna 310Q but who knows how much non-normal situations, decision making etc. he trained for and was able to cope with.

    Now, experience without a solid foundation beyond rote AND a knack for things doesn't translate into understanding, comprehending and being proficient and able to abstract how things really work and why and where their limits are and may give a false sense of accomplishment while solidifying misunderstandings, errors and behavior.
    "Sometimes wrong, but never in doubt."

    Did this plane have an autopilot that could have helped? Probably even useful in what he was trying to accomplish, climbing while doing 360s, without overbanking or whatever led to loss of orientation and control.

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    Replies
    1. Equipped with Century IV Autopilot coupled to G-430. But did he know how to operate it on first day of ownership, was hand flying the bizarre final leg.

      Delete
  27. It's interesting to see comments on this page proposing more regulations.. clearly this pilot didn't pay any attention to the existing regs, why heap more on if he's ignoring the ones already there? Years ago in Canada we had a guy with a PPL and a Mooney who routinely launched over the rockies in cloud and miserable weather with no IFR, no clearance, no flight plan, and no authorisation to be in the airspace. His favored cloud break manouver was a pitch over to essentially near vertical descent until he broke out. He broke out over the prairies one day at ground level. No one could figure out how the plane went straight in vertically, until his habits were discovered. After an extensive ministerial level review, the conclusion was...no further regulations should be considered since the regulations which would have prevented the accident were already in place...just ignored. Exactly the same situation here...

    ReplyDelete
  28. Again

    https://amsrvs.registry.faa.gov/airmeninquiry/

    and

    https://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Inquiry.aspx

    Both are PUBLIC and it doesn't take a rocket scientist at an FBO to query those to check the validity of an aircraft's registration or an airman's ratings and qualifications and medical.

    No need to create new regulations.

    And if something is amiss call law enforcement.. any airman has obligation to provide his pilot license and medical to any law enforcement or FAA official that shows up.

    I routinely check myself the names from N numbers I see land at my airport. Takes a few seconds.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds so simple, but with the known lag associated with information updates in those systems, should they be used to withhold fueling and will the FBO be held liable for any bad endings? Let's walk through one example of how this might play out on the ramp:

      1. A pilot taxis up, asks for fuel, FBO rep requests credit card and drivers license. Rep does the lookup and sees that student pilot info. FBO rep either says "No fuel for you!" or asks "Why does the FAA database show a student certification?"

      2. Pilot says: "I just completed a fast-track flight training program two days ago that was full time, 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, completing my PPL and got the MEL add-on, too. The endorsements are recorded in my logbook, but the school told me it would be a while before it shows up in the Airmen Registry".

      3. FBO refuses to fuel the airplane, the pilot departs to find fuel at another airfield, but crashes on fuel depletion and is killed. The GoPro he was running recorded the whole interaction at the FBO and that video was recovered after the crash. A few days later the Airmen Registry updates and he was legit after all. Jury finds FBO shares responsibility for pilot death at significant percentage.

      3A. (Alternate scenario) Pilot shows FBO his logbook. Endorsement entries made in different color inks convince FBO rep to accept the story, but the entries are fake. FBO fuels, pilot takes off and then crashes into school. That voluntary checking process the FBO uses is detailed at trial, found to be insufficient. Jury finds FBO shares responsibility for mass casualty event at significant percentage.

      No FBO should volunteer or be required by regulation to take responsibility for a pilot's actions or decisions.

      Delete
    2. Correct- it is not the FBO's responsibility- and if it became that way, would they be liable for inaction?

      Well, that is what the attorneys would say ... period and they would win.

      Keep the "pilot" responsible as long as possible.

      Delete
    3. Self serve pumps take any proposed middleman out of this equation.

      Delete
    4. Again

      The private information of others is none of your business, and anyone who self-importantly thinks they can infringe on the privacy rights of others is self-evidently not fit to be trusted with anything -- especially not my private information, and certainly not while traveling away from home. What kind of creepy person would "routinely check myself the names from N numbers I see land at my airport" -- ??? Can we universally assume such a person/entity is then going to suddenly become honorable with the use of that information? Do you want to bet on the intentions of such strangers? Same goes for any entity that might get cajoled by such thinking into further eroding the last remaining personal privacy left. Or who wants to data mine the information, as is already being done. Those of us of financial means at risk and with brains to think should strongly advocate aginst the erosion of privacy. Pass this along until this country begins to follow the lead of the EU in reversing this privacy theft.

      Delete
    5. In the United States of America, if you hate our Country, you are free to leave. If you are not happy here, you can leave.

      Pass this along until this country begins to follow the lead of the EU.

      Delete
    6. >What kind of creepy person would "routinely check myself the names from N
      >numbers I see land at my airport" -- ???

      Exactly, this is the worst of "BBQ Becky" nosy idiot type actions.

      It is NOT the FBO or your duty to check on other pilots qualifications. Calling the police on a pilot to "check" them is inexcusable.

      If you do, and delay or harass another pilot, you could and should be liable for any ramifications that arise, from simple delay and missing a weather window, to liability for any catastrophic outcomes.

      Delete
    7. Keeping our aviation community safe is a team effort between our pilots, airport personnel, local residents, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Homeland Security and our police department.
      See it - Video it - Report it.

      "It is NOT the FBO or your duty to check on other pilots qualifications. Calling the police on a pilot to "check" them is inexcusable."

      Delete
    8. You can opt out of the airman database to protect your privacy, as I have done.

      Delete
  29. This morons family will probably try and sue everyone they can. 'Financial burdens' on the family-seemed to be money for the airplane though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They may be approached by a law firm specializing in making money and getting large awards for plaintiffs.

      In this case, however, they may well decide that it is not worth the effort with the mentioned information ..... but they may try.

      Negligence is on the "pilot" at this point. They will never take this to a jury, even if the juries hate aviation.

      Delete
    2. He made three landings before the final leg, so the extra time spent with the prior owner before setting off cross country undoubtedly helped him avoid the well known history and tendency of rookie Aerostar pilots getting too slow and crashing during approach.

      All that flight time above 20k feet indicates both engines were still doing their jobs when disorientation took over. Strong running is no surprise for engines that were shown as low time in the sale ad. No FBO wrench work happened, so nothing to see there.

      The customer rep gave him coffee so a "withheld Red Bull" claim won't stand up. 601B is an unpressurized twin which pretty much rules out carbon monoxide exhaust reaching the cabin. Toxicology report may add to the story if performed.

      NORDO flying all day including no ATC contact for up and over at the Rockies means no blaming controllers. No CFI or flight school to blame when no check rides or endorsements are in the books.

      Not an attractive case for the lawyers to run after. Insurance policies don't pay off for illegal acts, so the decision to fly uncertified was not a smart gamble. Family is lucky that no lawsuit from impacting persons or property is in the mix.

      Delete
    3. I will ever be surprised what law firms concoct when approaching plaintiffs for a payday, but the initial facts may keep law firm marketing departments from looking too deep into this one, and move on to one with better paperwork.

      Delete
    4. Wow! Maybe we should all quit flying and leave it to the military and airlines. Some of you seem to have no regard for individual rights or privacy. I do not wish to have everyone else looking over my shoulder, ramp checking me or my aircraft. What the hell has happened to this country and our way of thinking. The War onTerror and the War on Drugs has made some of you wanting a police state. It is time we demand the protections afforded by the Constitution and Bill of Rights that have been lost!

      Delete
    5. is life hard being as negative as you are? You don't know jack all about his wife.

      Delete
  30. Interesting - the way I read it he was given a coffee when it was obvious he didn't even have any money for the 'Red Bull"...How is someone like that able to obtain an airplane - apart from all the other factors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If he did t have any cash for energy drinks, how the hell was he paying for the gas he got at Ft Collins?

      Delete
    2. Credit card. The Red Bull was presumably in a soda machine. Not having cash != not having money

      Delete
  31. Wings were likely imbalanced not due to fuel load but the struts being unevenly charged with nitrogen and/or hydraulic fluid.

    At least one engine would have to be on crossfeed to starve one engine and not the other.

    Leaky fuel caps would indicate a crappy annual, as there is an AD requiring inspection of them. The reason the fuel starves on crossfeed is not due to thin wings, but the lack of dihedral which makes it easy to unport the fuel.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Glad he didn't take his family with him which happens all too often. Sounds like he had the flying bug really bad but lacked funding to support the hobby. I'm sure in his mind he could reason away the high risk accomplishing his goal. I'm sure lot of others take risk like this somehow they make it we never hear about it sometimes they don't like this one. I try not to blame the dead since he only risked his own life I have no problem with him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh that's OK then - what say he had crashed into your family's house.
      Just fortunate it wasn't in a built up area.
      Lots of people have the 'flying bug' but the ability and brain cells required often are lacking.

      Delete
  33. Another case where thankfully this guy only killed himself and not anyone else.I really feel for the poor woman this gentlemen was married to.. 37-five to buy a plane and the family can't afford to get his body back for a funeral..Just another fool giving GA another "black eye".. I hate to beat-up a dead guy but come on? RIP Sir.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm impressed that he made it to 40.

    I feel sorry for the family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The family probably had no indication that he was not meeting the requirements to pilot them safely in the Cessna 310Q that they had already bought. The accident bringing the Aerostar home cross country had to be a massive letdown.

      He had emphasized compliance with the regulatory requirements of a business venture in a youtube video, so it seems out of character to not meet the FAA rules and requirements:

      https://youtu.be/REdAw1mFNYU

      Delete
    2. He *emphasized* compliance with regulatory requirements *in a YouTube video* about "destroying and recycling cannabis waste" where he readily admits that he's working under the eye of the police.

      Nothing about that is indicative of a character of compliance. There are multiple photos of him in pilot seats and of him and his wife wearing aviation t-shirts, yet he reportedly holds no ratings. If that is true, I highly suspect that he lied to his family about his "compliance" too.

      What someone says is not indicative of character. What someone *does*, especially while not under scrutiny, is indicative of character. I think we have a demonstration of what this person does when no one is looking right here in this NTSB report.

      Delete
  35. The tox box report may be interesting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe ... Maybe not ... It doesn't test for brain cells.

      Delete
    2. I'll take a wild guess and put forth the hypothesis that they find cannabinoids in the blood and tissues though at what levels, I'm not sure. Possibly traces of CNS stimulants as well.

      Delete
  36. I personally know this guy. He was reckless and often told lies about his credentials. He was way over his head and lucky he did not kill anyone else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't matter now ..... glad he was alone

      Delete
    2. Really sad for his family. They relied on his ability to earn income. It is very fortunate that the only person dead is the pilot. It appears that he had no care for rules and just flaunted the system. Still a bad eye for GA!

      Delete
    3. Well, let’s give him credit for being a hard working entrepreneur and family man, who unfortunately paved his way to hell with good intentions. We’re casting stones to warn others, I think. I fly a Cessna 150 and have read almost every fatal accident report and scores of the non-fatals both for pilot error and mechanical issues.

      Delete
  37. With the choices this guy made it sure looks a lot a case of not IF but WHEN. Now we know when. I'm curious as to why there doesn't seem to be any images of the crash site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NTSB did not go there, so no photos came from that and not much story follow up by Craig, Co. local media. Got less coverage because it wasn't a celebrity crash, location is away from town and did not set off a wildfire. Seems odd that there was no fire, having left full of 100LL from Ft. Collins.

      Delete
  38. It is sad a simple online check can reveal the qualification of a pilot yet is never done. Until an accident happens.
    Obviously the family will sue the FBO, ATC, maintenance shop etc.. in a traditional 360 degrees orgy. For the simple reason whatever insurance existed is now invalid.
    I would gladly accept total monitoring of my credentials and activities in exchange of the banning of all liability insurance in the Aviation field.
    Just like the Warsaw convention limits air carriers liability, same should apply here for any airman that accepts to disclose all his activities and shows care.
    That should keep the bloodsucking lawyers away as we all too well know justice and freedom are only incident to law and order.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Family lawsuit would be very weak, plane was flying fine after all day trip, lots of wandering around above 20K feet on strong engines before inexperience, fatigue, hypoxia or combination augered him in.

      No mechanism exists in legal framework to ban the liability of the pilot and aircraft owner, whether they are meeting requirements or not. Insurers should not be on the hook for illegal flying, and the injured public shouldn't be blocked from pursuing remedies in GA cases.

      These types of events seem to be associated with cash buy purchases where the uncertified pilot doesn't get a loan, which relieved them of obtaining loan-required hull insurance, which means no designated authorized pilot since no policy is purchased, so no cert checks are made before money buys the plane.

      The Cessna 310 purchase was a good test run and April 2020 was the perfect time to have a go at it again, since any question from someone who asks could be answered with "finished my certs but WuFlu delay is making the updates take longer in the registry."

      Delete
    2. Irresponsible car drivers kill thousands every year. Judges don’t throw the book at drunk drivers because the judges and lawyers are alcoholics too. The bad pilots rarely kill others on the ground. What’s sad is the lambs they lead to the slaughter.

      Delete
  39. The hypoxia possibility (not discounting fatigue and inexperience) is related to the equipment used. Cabin photos in the sale advertisement for N601X showed a nasal cannula oxygen delivery system. (See cached photo links below)

    Nasal cannula usage is limited by FAR 23.1447 to 18,000 feet maximum, with the requirement to also have a backup mask that covers nose and mouth. Given the lack of concern for requirements, the accident pilot may not have been aware of the altitude-related mask requirements when he was at 20-23k feet. Low flow rate and/or mouth breathing reduces the benefit of cannula delivered oxygen.

    The FAR:
    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2011-title14-vol1/pdf/CFR-2011-title14-vol1-sec23-1447.pdf

    FAA Guide:
    https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/oxygen_equipment.pdf

    N601X Scott oxygen panel & cannula photo:
    https://dsgiipnwy1jd8.cloudfront.net/eyJidWNrZXQiOiJ0YXAtYXNzZXRzMSIsImVkaXRzIjp7InJlc2l6ZSI6eyJ3aWR0aCI6NzAwLCJmaXQiOiJjb250YWluIiwiYmFja2dyb3VuZCI6eyJhbHBoYSI6MSwiciI6MjU1LCJiIjoyNTUsImciOjI1NX19LCJzbWFydE92ZXJsYXkiOnsiYnVja2V0IjoidGFwLWFzc2V0czEiLCJrZXkiOiJ3YXRlcm1hcmsucG5nIn19LCJrZXkiOiI1OTk3NzAuanBnIn0=

    N601X full panel (O2 at right side):
    https://dsgiipnwy1jd8.cloudfront.net/eyJidWNrZXQiOiJ0YXAtYXNzZXRzMSIsImVkaXRzIjp7InJlc2l6ZSI6eyJ3aWR0aCI6NzAwLCJmaXQiOiJjb250YWluIiwiYmFja2dyb3VuZCI6eyJhbHBoYSI6MSwiciI6MjU1LCJiIjoyNTUsImciOjI1NX19LCJzbWFydE92ZXJsYXkiOnsiYnVja2V0IjoidGFwLWFzc2V0czEiLCJrZXkiOiJ3YXRlcm1hcmsucG5nIn19LCJrZXkiOiI1OTk3NjcuanBnIn0=

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dang, that is an old panel, even for an experienced pilot. No wonder he crashed. Student pilot, at night (most likely pitch dark), no IFR training, no comms....

      Delete
  40. This guy was the walking dead. It was inevitable he would die in an airplane crash; the only thing left was for the time, place and opportunity to present themselves. Fortunately he didn’t have his wife and kids aboard.

    ReplyDelete
  41. As a pilot examiner, not a whole lot surprises me anymore...but this article sure did. After breaking almost every Reg, I'm surprised he did not sell a few seats as a 'Charter flight" to offset his fuel on the way back to CA. He sure left behind a beautiful family.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "Pilot" logbook would be interesting.

    Interviews with associates, flight instructors, anyone at the field will be interesting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betcha nobody has anything to say - sudden onset amnesia!

      Delete
  43. Student pilot...flying an Aerostar and owning/flying a 310 with his family????...both challenging twins for experienced multi-engine pilots...this guy is an arrogant complete idiot - accident waiting to happen. Best wishes to his family but they are likely better off without him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And he faced two night landings that still had to be performed if the mountains had not done him in. One refuel stop plus a final at his home airport. Had he ever flown at night?

      Delete
  44. I've been following this closely since hearing about it. At first i was concerned about the darkness the area has once the sun goes down. Moffat county is my home airport. Once you depart to the North or northwest there is no reference at all unless full moon. Flying at night in the region is best done only by instruments and can give you some disorientation quickly.

    This guy was an idiot with complete and total disregard for anything related to flying. IF this trip hadn't killed him I fear he would have gained some self confidence to haul his family. Most likely taking some innocent lives with his moronic ways. This kinda crap spoils it all for all the GA pilots.

    Anyone who feels it is someone else's job to stop this idiot from flying is also an idiot. More govt oversight is what we all need...bulls...! Get a life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pilot is a unique job or hobby that allows a person to lead others like lambs to the slaughter. Many pilots are guilty of manslaughter but never live to be charged, I don’t need to say. This is not the way to leave behind a good memory of yourself.

      Delete
  45. https://opencorporates.com/companies/us_ca/C4200779

    ReplyDelete
  46. here he is https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&v=REdAw1mFNYU&feature=emb_logo worked in the cannabis waste busines

    ReplyDelete
  47. https://farmerswasteservices.com/about/ he was in the dope clean up business

    ReplyDelete
  48. IRONY Mendez talks about cannabis " compliance " but didnt give a damn about FAA compliance https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&v=REdAw1mFNYU&feature=emb_logo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Twin pistons, crowd favorite for drug running aircrafts.

      Delete
  49. Twelve people a year manage to kill themselves in the forgiving Cessna 150, and believe it or not, that includes one commercial pilot and one airline pilot, so let’s not be surprised by the five bad pilot attitudes this fellow accomplished in just one flight.

    “Lord what fools these mortals be”
    “Oh brave world that has such creatures in it”
    — William Shakespeare

    Appreciated the informative discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  50. People flying aircraft without the appropriate ratings or without any Pilot certificate to begin with seems to be a disturbing trend lately. People who do this are a danger to the people who fly with them, other aircraft, and people on the ground, not to mention the fact they’re giving general aviation a bad reputation. They are an embarrassment to all (real) Pilot‘s who diligently work, study, train, practice, check every box and complete all the paperwork to become a legitimate Pilot. I don’t know what the penalty is but in addition to losing their Pilot certificate permanently (if they have one at all) they should be prohibited from ever holding a Airman certificate again, fined and/or imprisoned for some time. I don’t know how but the FAA needs to crack down this hard. I know nobody likes ramp checks but maybe it’s time the FAA stops going after every (often false) tip from an idiot based solely on a social media post, get out of their office, go out in the field and just spot check people. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes to look at someone’s Pilot certificate, photo ID, medical, airworthiness and registration certificate and let them go on their way. It seems the FAA also has an Aviation Safety Inspector shortage, maybe start charging more then $5 to register an aircraft and hire more ASI’s? It costs $50+ to register a car for two years. I’d gladly pay $50 every 3 years to register my aircraft if that money went to ridding the skies of these reckless people. And people suggest FBO employees should be the first line defense? Has anyone ever tried looking up someone’s name on the Airmen registry? You can get dozens of results for the same first and last name, even if you have their address or home state, some people choose not to show their address. Try looking up Peter Weber from the Bachelor, you get 27 Airmen with the same first and last name. How can a FBO employee know which one is the one in front of them waiting to buy fuel? How about this, you can’t buy a car without a driver’s license? Why not require a Pilot certificate to buy and/or register an aircraft? If a sale is done person to person, require the seller check for and keep a copy of the buyers Pilot certificate under penalty of losing their own Airman certificate(s) and fines. As a CFI, I have to keep copies of students' passports/birth certificates and copies of the endorsements I give. If it’s a corporation, require copies of the chief Pilot’s credentials. If a student wants to buy a plane, require that a CFI assumes control and responsibility of the aircraft until the student is qualified. Whatever it takes, something needs to happen to curb this problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looked at the crash site, hit hard under power. Probably not trusting his instruments. Flying At night with no instruments rating is suicide so sad he Did this to his wife and children.

      Delete
    2. If he was as high as 23,000 without oxygen, hypoxia sets in rapidly. From taking hypoxia training, impairment starts in a few minutes affecting judgement leading to passing out and death

      Delete
  51. This guy did not know how to fly a plane on instruments, so I doubt not trusting his instruments was the issue.

    There is so much here that likely got him.

    This was his first turbo-charged plane, thus he very likely had any idea about the issue with altitude in the 15000-23000 ft range that he was operating in.

    There was weather in the area, reported as 6000 ft broken if I recall correctly.

    He was likely not night proficient - that trip on paper was so far above his skill level the Vegas odds would not have paid much on a bet he crashes and dies. The night and mountain characteristics alone make it an IFR flight whether there was weather or not.

    The autopilot, if in working condition (doubtful) could have helped him. If the autopilot failed enroute, if would have lulled him into submission and then he likely would have not had the ability to recover from the unusual attitude on instruments at night.

    With no training in the plane, he likely did not have any idea how to even use the oxygen. Most of these old planes have crusty old oxygen masks at best. Also, if any of the bayonet receptacles leak, you lose all your oxygen through the leaker, and thus the 4 hours of oxygen is depleted in 30 minutes. If the tubing was brittle and cracked he could easily not been getting much oxygen. Would not take too much of an issue as a sea-level acclimated guy at 22,000 ft to bring the flight to a tragic end.

    Gyros love to fail on planes that have been sitting. It would take one hell of a lawyer to convince me he had the chops to properly diagnose that. Pressure pumps fail more often on sitting planes. On an Aerostar, if you don't clean the pneumatic lines well when you replace a pump it will blow the shrapnel into the pump on start and destroy the new pump. You don't want to be doing the crash leg of that trip on one pump!

    He could have easily gotten into his first cloud ever, at night, in some of the most hostile terrain in the country, in a plane he was nowhere near qualified to fly, and overpowered his perfectly functioning Century IV autopilot causing it to shut itself off and ending in a classic graveyard spiral with no clue what was even happening. If the horizon failed in autopilot flight it would likely end the same way. He may have fallen asleep after that ridiculously long day and waken up in the onset of a graveyard spiral.

    He may well have iced the plane up.

    A combination of any of these would have been well above his skill level.

    The flight on paper in perfect other than dark night conditions would have been at least exceptionally challenging!

    ReplyDelete
  52. I'd suggest a legal title/registration transfer from the former owner was incomplete and void.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Registration transfer did go through after the crash.

      Delete