Saturday, September 05, 2020

Cirrus SR22, N733CD: Fatal accident occurred September 04, 2020 in Chester, Crawford County, Arkansas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Jackson

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances.

Date: 05-SEP-20

Time: 01:55:00Z
Regis#: N733CD
Aircraft Make: CIRRUS
Aircraft Model: SR22
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 4
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

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

CHECOTAH, Oklahoma — A family is in mourning following a plane crash that left four people dead, including a child.

The family from Checotah was flying to South Carolina to visit extended family Friday for the holiday weekend when their plane crashed in Crawford County, Arkansas, 21 miles north of Fort Smith.

Paul “PD”, 57, Kevin, 32, Holly, 29, and 7-year-old Gavin Herron all died in the crash. Kevin and Holly are married, Gavin is their son, and Paul is Kevin’s dad. The three adults all graduated from Checotah High School.

Kevin served in the U.S. Marines for four years, including three deployments abroad. Holly was finishing up school to become a teacher. Gavin was a student at Marshall Elementary School in Checotah, and loved Legos and Batman.

Paul was well known in the community and served as assistant fire chief at the FAIC Volunteer Fire Department until 2017.

The family all loves the outdoors and lived life to the fullest.

Family of the victims says they are grateful for the love, support, and prayers from the community, saying in a statement, “PD, Kevin, Holly as well as Gavin all lived life to the fullest. They loved their families, they loved their work, and enjoyed everything life had to offer. We want the memories of the life they lived to outlast the tragedy of their death”

You can donate to the funeral costs here.

Kevin Herron, center, and his seven-year-old son Gavin, right, have fun riding logs with Gavin's uncle David Ward during a family outing in Checotah. Kevin and Gavin along with David's sister and Kevin's wife Holley and Kevin's father Paul were killed in a plane crash on September 4th, 2020 outside of Chester, Arkansas, in Crawford County.

Amanda Schulz of Checotah said the Herron family is very special to her.

Paula Herron, also a Checotah resident, was a home health nurse for Schulz's special-needs son for seven years. Paula's husband, Paul, 57, along with her son Kevin, 32, Kevin's wife Holley, 29, and their 7-year-old son Gavin were killed Friday night as a result of injuries resulting from a plane crash in Crawford County, Arkansas, just outside the town of Chester.

Paula "was in my home 10-12 hours a day, three to four days a week, helping me take care of my special-needs son," Schulz said. "I've know her about 15 years -- she became part family to me, so I'm very protective of them."

Schulz started a GoFundMe page, "Expenses for Herron Family," to help raise money for funeral expenses.

"Kevin, Holley and Gavin did not have life insurance, so we wanted to take that step to relieve the families of the burden of trying to deal with that on top of the insurmountable issues that they're having with losing their loved ones quite suddenly and all at once," Schulz said. "So the GoFundMe is set up to help with the funeral expenses surrounding that."

Schulz, for the time being, is acting as a spokesperson for the families involved. During a Zoom meeting on Monday, Schulz read a statement prepared by the Herrons and Holley's parents: Dee Ann and Elbert Ward. Family members expressed their gratitude to the community and thanked everyone for their support.

"It's been a long few days, and it's not over," Schulz said. "I could never have imagined being in this situation. I am proud and honored that the families have asked me to represent them."

The four Herrons who perished were traveling to the East Coast to visit family on the East Coast. Because they had been unable to travel due to COVID-19, and decided fly.

Kevin was a sales representative for Snap-On Tools who served four years during three deployments with the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a licensed pilot and owned a Cirrus SR22. 

Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown said the plane crashed Friday evening and was found Saturday morning.

Brown said air traffic controllers at the Fort Smith airport tower lost contact with the Cirrus SR22 while trying to help Kevin Herron land at Drake Field near Fayetteville. Brown said the aircraft was destroyed.

"They thought rather than drive and expose themselves to lots of different people and lots of different situations, they had decided that Kevin would fly them to see extended family for the holiday weekend," Schulz said."  

Paul, who was known to everyone as PD, served as an assistant chief at the FAIC Volunteer Fire Department until 2017 and worked in the oil fields. 

Holley and Kevin graduated from Checotah High School.

Holley attended Connors State College and Northeastern State University. She expected to receive during her test scores Tuesday and find out whether she had qualified for her teaching license. 

Gavin was enrolled in at Marshall Elementary.

The Herrons were remembered as a bowling family. Lori Barnard of Fast Lanes Bowl in Checotah said it's a "tragic loss."

"All we can say at Fast Lanes is they will all be missed — greatly," Barnard said. "We are all grieving and very upset right now."

Services remain pending. The Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and Crawford County Sherif

f's Department are still investigating the cause of the crash.

"Any donations will be appreciated," Schulz said. "We are just trying to help a family not have to stress about something like that in a situation like this."


  1. FlightAware route image includes 9:40 PM EDT time tagged weather snapshot overlay. Drake Field is about 20 miles north of the last track log data point of 9:55:40 PM EDT, which shows high airspeed and rapid descent.

    1. Based only on Flightaware detail in above link looks like possible VFR into IMC in area of thunderstorm and possible in-flight breakup. Highest terrain I could find in the area was only around 1700' MSL and Flightaware last altitude appears to be above 5,000' MSL with high rate of descent and high airspeed.

    2. Other news stories say that controllers lost radio and radar contact as they tried to help the airplane navigate around a storm. Original destination was South Carolina, was rerouting to Fayetteville due to storms in area.

    3. No major weather depicted between departure point and accident site. They were only 28 minutes into the flight. Direct course from MKO to Fayetteville is only 37 NM. They should have been able to see the thunderstorm(s) from the ground before departure.

      A simple reversal of course, a few minutes circling clear of clouds, or a major deviation completely around the weather rather than trying to thread their way thru an area of weather and they could have been on there way.

      "Usually" thunderstorms move on or diminish in intensity within 30 minutes.

  2. Owner pilot rating in Airmen Database does not include Instrument Airplane. Weather in area at the time of crash, possible VFR flight into IMC with spatial disorientation.

  3. I used to fly searches for the Civil Air patrol in the early 70's south of that area, its very rough and very few houses and not many lights. The storms were in that area and when we heard it on the TV I thought he had lost it. Another of the same type aircraft went down on MLK Blvd about 20 miles north of the Chester location about 2 years ago he deployed the chute and came down in the middle of the street

  4. News drone video of wreckage:

    Video with location context:

  5. I've not flown in a Cirrus however I was under the impression it has a fairly sophisticated auto pilot onboard. Even with a non-instrument rated pilot would that have not been a factor in navigating back to VFR? Also, the Facebook video above stated the chute had been deployed.

    1. With weather ahead, you would think that the pilot would pre-plan to execute 180 turn back by autopilot immediately after entering IMC. Maybe he was threading between cells using the weather mosaic on his cockpit display and got closed in. The mosaic lags real-time by several minutes. Look at the turn that was made.

      CAPS maximum demonstrated deployment speed is at 133 KIAS according to the POH. Whether it was overloaded due to high speed or deployed too late to fill out can be determined by inspection. The orange material of the chute is visible on the ground in the drone video.

    2. Last 2 airspeeds shown, 215 and 252 kts are WAY above the highest listed speed for chute deployment. There have been successful deployments reported above the recommended speed, but I think all of those were under 200 knots.

  6. undated "looking to buy sr22 - Marketplace - Forum - Marketplace ...
    controller shows tail N733CD serial 0134 for sale for $139,000."

  7. According to reports on the Cirrus owner page the aircraft actually broke up in flight. According to the report that came from FAA this is the first incidence of a breakup of a Cirrus. The probability of the cause of this breakup was severe turbulence caused by the storm. The maximum maneuvering speed for a SR22 of this vintage is 133 KTS. If they got into a severe up or down draft or some kind of rotator in the storm they could have easily exceed this by many times. When one looks at the flight tracking data it shows a rapid descent, could have been because of the storm or because the aircraft had broken up.
    Of note a Piper Jetprop inadvertently entered a storm approx 1 year ago and a wind and other parts were found some 2 miles from the fuselage indicating a in-flight breakup. Severe weather can cause almost any aircraft including military to have air-frame failures.
    Also of note it appears this flight left late and the accident happened approx 1.2 hours after sundown. No indication if the pilot who got his PPL in Nov of last year was night rated. It appears he was not IFR rated.
    One last comment, here is a family who by all accounts are very good people, a Marine with a good service record and 3 deployments, a wife who helps others a lot. WTH are people like this doing without some kind of life insurance?? The cost of this per year is the price of a tank of fuel for the plane for people who are young. I am sorry for being a bit harsh here but this circumstance really leave a huge burden on those family members who are left to pick up the pieces.

    1. Do reports on the Cirrus owner page confirm pieces found away from the crash site, or just a presumption based on last speed reported in the available ADS-B data?

      Inflight breakups happen, of course, but some parts shedding during high speed plunge after loss of control would not be a surprise, either.

    2. Quote from an unnamed insurance insider.
      At 8:55 PM CDT, 9/4, Crawford, AR. Cirrus SR22 (N733CD) crashed after inflight breakup during thunderstorm penetration. 4 POB, fatal. A/C was receiving radar flight following and was reversing course when both radar contact and voice comms were lost. IIC: E. Malinowski (CEN) investigating.

    3. The investigator in charge name is seen on lots of recent NTSB reports.

      It will be informative to learn whether the pilot had flight following before going inadvertent IMC or waited until he was in distress to request.

  8. As a 31,000 hour CFI/CFII/MEI/ATP/B-787 CA this accident of a fellow Oklahoma aviator makes me wonder how and why? A brand new private pilot flying a sophisticated high performance airplane is a recipe for disaster on a good day, but at night? Heading to South Carolina from Muskogee at 9:30PM? With weather? Suicide. Who was the examiner who gave this guy his license? Who was his instructor? Who sold him the plane? Who made him think he could do this foolish thing?

    1. At 31K hours, you are aware how the cheese lines up in this type of accident. Pilot makes decision to proceed with several unfavorable conditions in play, rationalizing each one because they don't want to stand down from the planned trip.

      Typical rationalizations include "we can turn back if no path thru on the cockpit weather display", "autopilot can fly the plane in IMC", "parachute is our backup".

      The pilot may have delayed starting out by a few hours for poor weather in view but perceived an opportunity to "go for it" instead of waiting till morning.

      Sometimes good people make bad decisions, in spite of what the CFI taught about ADM. Pilot probably had never been frightened senseless by experiencing real IMC previously or would not have entered or approached the weather as he did.

    2. Exactly. A ppl with the ink barely dry on the certificate truly does not know (no frigin clue actually) what he doesn’t know. Do you (31k ATP) really think no one, to include his CFI nor the Examiner ever mentioned “ might not want to fly near, in or around thunderstorms?” Stop trying to blame it on anybody else other than the guy who, unfortunately for him and his family, paid the ultimate price for HIS poor ADM.

    3. First I do not think the examiner who gave this guy a licence of the guy who sold him the aircraft have anything what soever to do with this accident. There are plenty of photo's online of Kevin training in a Cessna like most people do. By all accounts from comments on other sites he flew well, soloed early and did well on his flight and written test.
      As far as the seller goes, the same question could be asked of Beech selling all the Dr Killer new over the years, interestingly a Dr in a Bonanza perished just a few days ago.
      The Question many of us on the Cirrus group have is did Kevin get the Cirrus training, many purchasers do not. Just today a post was put on the Cirrus site to show the data on the chute statistics. Did he have the training from those who know how to train about the chute or just another tin flying CFI who tells students to ride the bird to the scene of the wreck??
      I think most accidents are based on bad judgement and very seldom hardware.
      It appears from this Kevin made some bad decisions and cost he and his family their lives. Lots of lessons, but will be learn???

    4. This accident illustrates the catch-22 situation where a pilot is not going to pull the chute in IMC while he still has control and a properly performing engine. Effective recovery by CAPS deployment during the plunge after LOC is not assured.

      Training on CAPS deployment as a solution for LOC won't teach the pilot much more than "it can't hurt to try", which is pretty much the message already given in the POH Section 10 "Loss of Control" instructions.

      Perhaps Section 10 needs a paragraph titled "Inadvertent IMC by VFR pilots" that advises:
      "Immediately upon entering IMC, pilots who lack instrument flight certification or currency should reduce speed below 133 KIAS, level the aircraft and deploy CAPS"

      Seems absurd to propose such an instruction, but think how great the chute statistics for "recovery from IMC" could look afterwards in a marketing brochure.

      In all seriousness, additional Cirrus-specific training won't stop bad decisions to fly into or too near IMC weather. Every "tin flying CFI" knows that betting your life on chute recovery from LOC is no substitute for good ADM.

    5. Scott Crossfield died when his plane broke up in a thunderstorm, so the capabilities, experience and skills of a high time pilot is no guaranty they won't die in a thunderstorm some day. This poor pilot just died with a lot fewer hours in his logbook than Crossfield did. Perhaps he died and took his family with him because he was clueless, or perhaps he was properly trained but misinterpreted something in the way Crossfield likely did. We will never know for sure. But it seems like they both probably took a risk that some pilots are comfortable doing while other pilots are not. If three other pilots had been in the seats of that Cirrus, looking at its MFD with XM or ADSB weather displayed, would the thunderstorm taken them all just the same? I like to think that at least one of them would have loudly objected to the risk this Cirrus pilot accepted, and thus prevented the accident. It's a tragedy that this pilot's family did not have such a pilot on board.

      The mystery is why pilots of any experience level do this. Why does being close to unseen thunderstorms, without knowing exactly where they are but knowing they are there, not cause the same degree of alarming emotions as walking in shorts and flip-flops through a slithering pack of ten foot King Cobras? We don't need training to know that's lethal. The feeling of dread and the intense desire to get away where you can visually observe them at a safe and sure distance should be the same with thunderstorms as with Cobras. Why isn't it for some pilots?

  9. at this point what is know of Kevin is "He was a licensed pilot and owned a Cirrus SR22"
    Certificate: PRIVATE PILOT
    Date of Issue: 11/3/2019
    Medical Class: Third Medical Date: 11/2017
    Ratings: PRIVATE PILOT
    N733CD Last Action Date 2020-02-24
    Unknown hours, acft, or endorsements