Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec C, N6521Y: Fatal accident occurred April 30, 2020 near Hemet-Ryan Airport (KHMT), Riverside County, California

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; Riverside, California
Piper Aircraft
Lycoming Engines

Landcare Aviation Inc

Location: Hemet, CA
Accident Number: WPR20LA135
Date & Time: 04/30/2020, 1230 PDT
Registration: N6521Y
Aircraft: Piper PA-23-250
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Other Work Use 

On April 30, 2020, about 1230 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-23-250 airplane, N6521Y, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Hemet, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial survey flight.

According to a second pilot, employed by the same company, he and the accident pilot were conducting aerial survey work over selected areas of land around the city of Palm Springs, California. The two airplanes departed Chino Airport (CNO) to begin the survey flights in two separate areas and remained in radio contact. between 1140 and 1210, the second pilot heard a distress call that sounded like "I'm going down". He attempted to communicate via radio and received a second unintelligible reply. The second pilot reported that he observed, via a flight navigation application on his iPad, the accident airplane descending rapidly.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted steep mountainous terrain and came to rest inverted about 15 miles west of the intended aerial survey area. The debris path was about 300 ft in length, oriented on a heading of about 270°. One propeller was unaccounted for. All other major structural components of the airplane were located within the debris path.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N6521Y
Model/Series: PA-23-250
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Landcare Aviation Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KHMT, 1514 ft msl
Observation Time: 1955 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 200°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Chino, CA (KCNO)
Destination: Chino, CA (KCNO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.618056, -116.865556 (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 

Paul Andre Mitchell
1992 - 2020

On Thursday, April 30, 2020, Paul Andre Mitchell, tragically died in a plane crash at the age of 27 years old in Riverside County, California.

Paul was born on August 10, 1992 in Waltham, Massachusetts to Locksley and Viviene Clarke-Mitchell. Paul graduated from Waltham High School in 2011 and received his Bachelor of Science from Dowling College in 2016 in Aviation Management.

He attended Kennedy Middle School and the Ezra C. Fitch Elementary School. While in elementary school, he received his first job as a newspaper carrier. In high school, he worked at an after-school program for youth at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club and humbly worked on a farm when he was in college. From the age of 2 years old, Paul was interested in flying and wanted to become a pilot when he first entered into the cockpit of an American Airlines plane where he got his first wings from the captain of the plane.

He was determined in his heart to become a pilot. He worked various positions for airline companies and airports through college and his professional career and achieved 1,000 hours of flying time 2 months before his death. He enjoyed reading, photography, and traveling where one of his positions provided him the opportunity to travel to Malta, Africa, which was one of his favorite experiences.

Paul was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, East Coast Aero Club, and Alpha Eta Rho Fraternity.

Paul is survived by his parents, Locksley and Viviene, his brother Mark Mitchell (and wife Lisa), his sister Monique Mitchell, aunts, uncles, cousins, a nephew, girlfriend Jennifer Sylvia and close friends.

The Brasco & Sons Memorial Chapels of Waltham assisted the family with arrangements.

Paul Andre Mitchell
Waltham, Massachusetts
August 10, 1992 - April 30, 2020

WALTHAM, Massachusetts — When Paul Mitchell was very little, his family took a plane trip to visit relatives in Jamaica. The crew invited the chubby-faced child into the cockpit. Not only did Paul become enamored with that interaction — the gears, the view and the possibility they brought — but it set him on a trajectory that would shape the rest of his life.

"Ever since then, his goal from Day 1 was to learn how to fly planes and then become a pilot for a commercial airline," said Mark, Paul's older brother.

Paul was just months from making that part of his lifelong dream a reality when, on April 30, he died in a crash while flying a twin-engine Piper PA-23 near Bautista Canyon in Riverside County, California. He was 27.

Paul was born and raised in Waltham, the youngest of three children. He attended Fitch and MacArthur elementary schools. He then went to Kennedy Middle School and played sports for and graduated from Waltham High School in 2011 and spent a lot of time at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club.

He was the baby of the family and was adored by his parents, his aunts and his siblings — who were convinced, though their mom would never say it, he was her favorite. Paul — the tall, gentle giant — was everyone's favorite.

When Paul's older brother and sister graduated from college in 2008, his parents threw them a party at a hotel. At the event, people were taking turns congratulating the duo when Paul took the mic. His siblings thought the high school sophomore was about to congratulate them.

But in true Paul style, he said, "My name is Paul Mitchell, I'm a future pilot: I'm starting to take donations for flights around the world. Think of it as an investment."

He promised anyone who donated that once he got his pilot's license, he would put it toward their flights.

His family thought it was hilarious.

"We were dying," Mark said. "He made a decent amount of money that day."

Family, friends and children he mentored at the Boys & Girls Club and acquaintances alike all knew Paul as playful, upbeat and kind. Paul and his friends racked up inside jokes, and he was quick and generous with his smile. He just wanted people around him to be happy. He would wow with his dance moves and had a laugh that friends described as nothing less than infectious.

But after being diagnosed with a concussion his senior year in high school on the football field, his dream and his own happiness came into question. He went to see a doctor and, during a scan, found a cyst on his pituitary gland. If not treated, it could cause blindness and would mean he would not pass Federal Aviation Administration health requirements that would allow him to fly.

Paul — the same guy who as a child saved every single paper airplane cutout he lovingly designed, complete with their make and model and carefully drawn windows — was devastated.

But with the support of his mother, Paul got the surgeries necessary and was eventually cleared by the FAA.

"It was probably his happiest day when he got that letter and got cleared by the FAA," Mark said.

Paul studied aviation at Dowling College on Long Island, was known to fly his then-girlfriend from Waltham to her home in New Hampshire, and learned even more about flying. It seemed Paul could tell you anything about the mechanics of it all. Anytime there was a crash, Paul would research it in an effort to understand what happened.

"That's why it came as such a surprise — this plane crash," Mark said.

After college, Paul worked as a customer service representative at a private jet company and then worked at a handful of similar companies in the area. He spent nearly two years as a flight manager at PlaneSense in New Hampshire before he got his most recent job in California flying for a company that surveyed land. The gig would take him to several states, and he loved it. Not least because, instead of having to pay to fly to log hours to get to his next goal, he was being paid to fly.

"Not everyone can say that they love their job. He loved it," Mark said. Paul had plans to work for a commercial airline and had hoped to get a job with Delta in September, settle down with his girlfriend and, eventually, start his own airline in the Caribbean.

Though Paul was seven years younger than he, Mark said in many ways he looked up to Paul for his ability and determination to live his life fully doing what he loved most.

He wasn't the only one who looked up to Paul.

Paul was a "Club Kid" who spent much of his youth at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club and then his early adult years gave back as a staff member and mentor.

Mark said he's been getting texts from other Club Kids saying they looked up to him and sharing how much of an impact he had on them.

"He was kind, caring, and had a great sense of humor," said Waltham Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Erica Young. "He lit up any room he walked into and could easily put a smile on anyone's face. He was a great role model for the youth in our community and made a positive impact on anyone he met."


  1. Born a pilot, humble, and worked hard to make his dreams happen. A rare trait in today's entitlement younger generations where they feel they should be given everything. RIP young man. But you have the ultimate wings now.