Thursday, October 22, 2020

Beechcraft V35A Bonanza, N35DC: Fatal accident occurred October 21, 2020 near Slidell Municipal Airport (KASD), St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana 
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 

Location: Slidell, LA 
Accident Number: CEN21FA025
Date & Time: October 21, 2020, 14:31 Local
Registration: N35DC
Aircraft: Beech V35 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:

On October 21, 2020, at 1431 central daylight time, a Beech V35A airplane, N35DC, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Slidell Airport (ASD), Slidell, Louisiana. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

In a statement provided by the pilot’s flight instructor, he reported that the pilot did not fly often but was interested in renewing his instrument currency. The pilot also told him that the airplane’s autopilot was recently repaired and he wanted to test its functionality. On the day of the accident, the pilot landed at ASD and the instructor boarded the airplane while the engine remained on. After departure from ASD, the pilot completed two RNAV GPS approaches at a nearby airport. The instructor reported that the engine was operating normally, but the autopilot “would not track the course in NAV mode.” The pilot returned to ASD, landed, and dropped off the instructor on the ramp, while the engine remained on. The instructor entered the airport terminal and did not see the airplane depart. He added that the pilot was relaxed
and under no apparent stress.

A review of the recorded automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data revealed that the airplane departed ASD at 1315 and proceeded north. The flight track showed that the airplane maneuvered north of ASD for about 1 hour, then appeared to land at ASD at 1421. The flight track continued again about 10 minutes later at 1431:32 as the airplane departed runway 36 to the north. After the airplane crossed the departure end of runway 36, it made a left turn. The final ADS-B point was recorded at 1431:47, about 200 ft above ground level. 

A pilot, who departed ASD about 1800, reported that he observed smoke and fire in the woods to the northwest of the airport. When the fire department arrived to extinguish the burning trees that surrounded the airplane, they reported that the airplane was no longer on fire and was cold to the touch. 

The airplane impacted the ground in a nose low attitude and came to rest upright. A postimpact fire consumed the engine compartment, cockpit, forward fuselage, and left wing. The rest of the airplane sustained thermal damage and distress. Figure 1 shows the accident airplane where it came to rest in the woods. The center and left side of the airplane are mostly consumed by fire. The right wing sustained thermal damage but remained mostly intact.

The wreckage has been retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech 
Registration: N35DC
Model/Series: V35 A 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KASD,27 ft msl 
Observation Time: 13:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C /21°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 30°
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Slidell, LA 
Destination: New Orleans, LA (NEW)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 30.355421,-89.823368 (est)

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  

S. Gene Fendler

The single-engine plane that crashed at Slidell Airport Wednesday has been identified by attorney Jim Blazek as the Bonanza V35A Bonanza that he has owned with a friend for about 20 years.

That friend is New Orleans attorney Gene Fendler, who Blazeck believes was flying the plane when it crashed.

“From what’s left, and it’s horribly wrecked and burned, it appears to be the plane that Gene and I co-owned,” Blazek said.

Blazek, a Lacombe resident, went to the crash site with FAA officials on Thursday morning to identify the plane. He was accompanied by Fendler's law partner, Don Abaunza.

The St. Tammany Parish Coroner's Office has not identified the person who authorities say was killed in the crash. They have also not confirmed how many people are believed to have been in the plane.

Fendler, the former managing partner of the Liskow & Lewis law firm, was an experienced amateur pilot who flew to Slidell regularly, according to Blazek.

His car was found parked at Blazek's hangar at Lakefront Airport.

“As far as a pilot, he was an exceptional pilot, very safety oriented,” Blazek said.

Fendler, 73, was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2019 by the LSU Law Cnter. He graduated first in his law class at LSU in 1973 and was editor-in-chief of the Louisiana Law review. He clerked for federal Judge Alvin B. Rubin and after spent his entire 45-year career with Liskow and Lewis, according to the firm's website.

The plane is believed to have crashed as early as 2 p.m. in a dark and heavily wooded area off the airport's runway due to the degree of fire damage, Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said Thursday morning. A pilot who was flying a plane for St. Tammany's mosquito abatement district took off at the municipal airport some time after 6 p.m., spotted smoke and some debris and called 911, Airport Manager Richard Artigue said. 

Artigue said that the plane's last document move was at about 2:30 p.m.

"He had flown with somebody else here a little while and dropped the other guy off and was leaving, I guess, to go back to New Orleans," Artigue said.

While the cause of the crash has not been determined, Artigue said it appears to have gone down moments after it took off and it looked like the pilot tried to turn it around.

"It appears to me — and I'm not an expert — but it appears to me that the engine was not turning when he crashed," Artigue said.

Slidell Police, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office and St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 1 assisted at the scene, spending much of Wednesday night working to find the plane's tail number and other distinguishable features in what was described as a "large debris field" where the plane crashed.

Responders had to cut a hole in the fence to get to the wreckage, according to Artigue.

The Coroner's Office arrived to the scene Thursday morning, as did the FAA — which is now in charge of the crash investigation.

1 comment:

  1. Link to preliim report: