Saturday, December 12, 2020

Beech V35B Bonanza, N5470U: Fatal accident occurred December 12, 2020 in Attalla, Etowah County, Alabama

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 did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama 
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
FAA/FSDO; Birmingham, Alabama 

Leadlay Aircraft LLC

Location: Attalla, AL 
Accident Number: ERA21LA068
Date & Time: December 12, 2020, 12:49 Local 
Registration: N5470U
Aircraft: Beech V35A 
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On December 12, 2020, about 1249 central standard time, a Beech V35A, N5470U, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Attalla, Alabama. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot was flying from Kyle-Oakley Field Airport (CEY), Murray, Kentucky, to Merritt Island Airport (COI), Merritt Island, Florida. According to Federal Aviation Administration audio recordings and ADS-B data, the flight departed CEY under visual flight rules about 1131, and shortly after takeoff the pilot contacted Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center to obtain an instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance. The flight was radar identified 2 miles south of CEY and was cleared to climb to 9,000 ft mean sea level (msl). The flight remained on a southerly heading until about 1133, then turned left to a southeasterly direction.

At 1236:35, the pilot established contact with Birmingham Air Traffic Control Tower and the controller issued the current altimeter. The airplane remained on a southeasterly heading at an altitude of 9,000 ft msl until about 1248:09, when it began a right descending turn that was not directed by the controller or announced by the pilot. At 1248:41, the airplane was at an altitude about 7,000 ft msl, the controller attempted to contact the airplane and the pilot replied, “yeah im with you im…;” however, the rest of the communication was unintelligible. The airplane completed a 360° right turn and at 1248:47, while flying about 5,500 ft msl, it continued the right descending turn; however, the radius of the turn decreased. The controller broadcast that radar contact with the airplane was lost, but there were no further communications from the pilot. The last ADS-B target at 1248:54 recorded the airplane over a wooded area at an altitude about 3,600 ft msl.

The airplane impacted an open field about 1,260 ft northeast from the last ADS-B target. The airplane was heavily fragmented. Both stabilizers and ruddervator trim tabs, and pieces of both ruddervators were found near the main wreckage; the tip of one ruddervator was not located.

The wreckage was recovered and retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech 
Registration: N5470U
Model/Series: V35A NO SERIES 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KGAD,569 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C /15°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 210°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1100 ft AGL
Visibility: 5 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Kyle-Oakley Field Airport Murray, KY (CEY)
Destination: Merritt Island Airport Merritt Island, FL (COI)

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: 34.093008,-86.086574 (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 

Elliot George Charles Leadlay of Merritt Island

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WBRC) - Etowah Co. officials report the death of a Florida man after his plane crashed in an open field in the Sand Valley area of western Etowah County Saturday afternoon.

The Etowah Co. Sheriff’s office received a 911 call around 12:53 p.m. reporting that it sounded like a plane had crashed somewhere near Buster Willet Rd.

Deputies began searching the area when a second 911 call came in saying the crash site had been located in a open field behind a home in the 200 block of Kelley Lane off Sand Valley Rd.

First responders arrived to find pieces of a small plane scattered across an open field along with the remains of the pilot, identified as Elliot George Charles Leadlay of Merritt Island Fl.

According to Mr. Leadlay’s family he was an experienced pilot with decades of flying experience. Aviation officials and family confirm he was flying home to Florida after visiting a friend in Kentucky when the crash occurred.

SAND VALLEY, Alabama (WIAT) — One person was killed after a small plane crash in Sand Valley Saturday afternoon.

Around 12:50 p.m., the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call stating that it sounded like a plane had crashed somewhere in the area of Sand Valley near Buster Willet Road. Deputies were dispatched and began canvassing the area when a second call came in at around 1:05 p.m. A citizen reporting that he had found the crash site located in an open field behind a residence located in the 200 Block of Kelley Lane off of Sand Valley Road in a rural area of the west side of Etowah County. 

When deputies arrived on the scene, along with members of local volunteer fire departments and others, they found a large open field with debris from a small plane scattered across acres. Deputies were able to identify the plane by locating the numbers on the tailpiece and identifying the operator with aviation authorities. He was flying a Beechcraft V35B Bonanza.

Authorities were able to identify the pilot who is the victim of the plane crash as Elliott George Charles Leadlay of Merritt Island, Florida.

Family members of Leadlay stated he was an experienced pilot with decades of flying.  Aviation officials, along with family members, confirmed he was flying a route from Kentucky, where he had been visiting a friend, and returning home to Florida at the time of the crash.  Identification was quickly obtained in various ways including a prosthetic limb that was known to have belonged to him.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified and will assist in the investigation to probe the cause of the crash.


  1. Whenever I read of wreckage scattered across acres, it usually turns out to be some sort of LCIF and in-flight breakup. Sad.

    1. all appears normal than at 01:48:01 PM ...
      01:45:20 PM 34.1895 -86.1673 ↘ 145° 148 170 8,900 Level
      01:45:54 PM 34.1703 -86.1508 ↘ 145° 149 171 8,900 Level
      01:46:14 PM 34.1586 -86.1408 ↘ 145° 149 171 8,900 Level
      01:46:43 PM 34.1423 -86.1269 ↘ 145° 151 174 8,900 Level
      01:47:04 PM 34.1302 -86.1165 ↘ 145° 153 176 8,900 Level
      01:47:22 PM 34.1196 -86.1075 ↘ 144° 152 175 8,900 Level
      01:48:01 PM 34.0973 -86.0884 ↘ 144° 151 174 8,900 -194 Descending
      01:48:24 PM 34.0843 -86.0827 ↙ 208° 119 137 8,700 -330 Descending
      01:49:32 PM 34.0586 -86.0972 ↙ 208° 217 250 8,400 -265 Descending
      and WU station KALALTOO12 (Elev 945 ft, 34.07 °N, 86.16 °W ) recorded @ 12:49 PM 58.1 F 57.0 F 96 % NW 1.3 mph 1.5 mph 29.92 in 0.05 in 0.10 in

    2. flightaware time is always shown as EST, Eastern Standard Time. Etowah County, AL (GMT-6) is Central Standard Time

    3. Looks like it was descending at the end. Did that cause the accident?

    4. Weather Radar archive shows weather in the area of the crash at the time. Use link below, see the area just North of Gadsden, then vary the time around the 12:46 PM CST starting point to have a look where he was traversing:

  2. Elliot lost his son Michael in a similar solo crash in 2012. Both were very experienced pilots. Many years of quality service to the General Aviation community between them. R.I.P., friend.

  3. If anyone is interested, the son's crash was in a Piper PA-28R-180 (N11ML). Happened in Tifton, Georgia.

  4. Regarding Mr. Leadlay's son Michael - the NTSB report number is ERA14FA002; event date 10/18/2013
    R.I.P. father and son

  5. RIP
    I'd suggest pilot incapacitated.
    "Little-known facts about bird strikes. The laws of physics dictate that the greater the mass and velocity, the greater the likelihood that any damage from an encounter will be severe.

    The force of the impact on an aircraft generally depends on the weight of the bird, the difference in velocity, and the direction at impact. The force increases with the square of the speed difference—although a low-speed impact of a small bird on a car windshield generally causes no damage, high-speed impacts with aircraft can cause considerable damage.
    The impact of a 12-pound bird at 150 mph equals that of a half-ton (1,000 pound) weight dropped from a height of 10 feet (ouch).

    In non-migratory periods, more than 90 percent of the reported bird strikes occur below 3,000 feet agl, and 61 percent occur below 100 feet agl. However, strikes at higher altitudes are common, especially during migration."

  6. Is it time for FAA to start requiring heart rate monitors for private pilots beyond 50 years of age? Once again a catastrophic accident by a geriatric experienced pilot and everyone wonders what happened.

    1. Over 50 should require heart rate monitoring? Was that an even an issue with this pilot? Or you 'just know' his heart failed. Funny, I didn't see any mention of the pilot's medical history. Hope you're not assigned to investigate ANYTHING, especially an aviation accident.

    2. The danger of a car-driver on the L.A. freeway having a heart attack and killing multiple people is greater than that of a pilot of small aircraft. Should every car-driver over 50 have a "heart-rate monitor"? Pilots take regular physical exams. Should we require this of car-drivers? Knee jerk opinions aren't helpful.

    3. That statement is ridiculous. No one knows what caused this yet. The pilot was still able to talk with ATC after the plae had started descending. Maybe he had his hands full trying to control the plane. It has an AD regarding the aileron cable becoming detached. Many don't know it, but full opposite rudder and 135 kts minimum can allow the pilot to regain control - sometimes. I have personally seen pictures of nothing but the safety wire keeping the cable attached. So as I said earlier - don't speculate that his health had something to do with it. There are plenty of 40 year old pilots who are ripe candidates for a heart attack or stroke.

  7. Certainly seems a bird strike could be one of many possible causes. Probably be a year before we have the NTSB official finding.

  8. The weather front he flew into is a likely contributor to the crash.

  9. Okay, I'm not a pilot, but I have a question, it said that the pilot had a prosthetic limb. Is it legal to fly a plane with a prosthetic limb? So very sad that the pilot lost his life, and that his son also died tragically in a plane crash in 2012. But flying a plane with a prosthetic limb, maybe its legal, I don't know, but it just blows my mind.

    1. There are Commercial, Private and Military amputee pilots. See examples of amputee pilots in writeup starting at the bottom of page 27 through page 32 at the link below:

    2. There is a pilot named Jessica Cox who is flying after earning her license in spite of having been born with no arms. She flies entirely with her feet. Google videos she has posted. Amazing.


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