Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Cessna 177B Cardinal, N24RG: Fatal accident occurred April 07, 2021 at Great Valley Airport (N56), Cattaraugus County, New York

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Rochester, New York

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances after takeoff. 

Date: 07-APR-21
Time: 16:00:00Z
Regis#: N24RG
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 177
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
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

William H. Mandelare
Albion, New York
May 20, 1940 - April 7, 2021

William H. Mandelare, age 80, died suddenly April 7, 2021 as a result of an aviation accident.

He was born May 20, 1940 in Holley to Dominic and Anna (Paduano) Mandelare and had lived in the WNY area most of his life. 

Bill was a US Air Force Veteran of the Vietnam War and retired from the Greece Central School District as an Industrial Arts Teacher.

He was a private pilot and flight instructor who held multiple flight ratings and was also a certified aircraft mechanic.

He was a former member of the Model A Restorers Club, CORSA and was an avid shooting enthusiast, having won several awards in shooting competitions. 

He was always polite, courteous, gentle and was a person with absolute perfect manners. Mr. Mandelare was predeceased by his parents and his brother, John.

He is survived by his son: Daniel Mandelare of Lockport, his former wife and mother of his son: Polly-Ann Mandelare-Lewis, two nieces: Diana Mandelare-Au, Patricia Mandelare, and 2 great nieces: Paige and Lyndsey.

A Celebration of Bill's life will be held at a later date. Private Entombment will be in St. Mary’s Mausoleum-Holley.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Genesee Country Museum, 1410 Flint Hill Rd., Mumford, NY, 14511.

A pilot killed in a small plane crash Wednesday at Great Valley Airport in Cattaraugus County was well known at the Genesee County Airport.

William Mandelare, of Brockport, a former flight instructor at Genesee County Airport, died in the crash, which seriously injured Raymond Groetsch, also of Brockport. Groetsch, who also frequently flew in and out of Genesee County Airport, is reported in critical condition. 

Mandelare, 80, was an experienced pilot who taught Batavia flight instructor Pete Lockner and gave him his commercial license in 1982, Lockner said this morning. 

Jeff and Carol Boshart, who own the aircraft maintenance shop at Genesee County Airport, also knew Mandelare well.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of such an enthusiastic member of the aviation community,” Carol said. “Bill used to often hang out at the airport and talked to all the pilots here. He taught tons of people to fly, many of them out of Genesee County.”

Lockner is also saddened by the news. He said Mandelare retired in 1982 as a mechanical drawing teacher in the Greece School District. He came to Genesee County Airport to be a flight instructor for Dick Drilling, who ran the airport at the time.

Initially, authorities were uncertain as to who was flying the plane, but it is now reported that Groetsch told authorities he was the pilot.

Mandelare, who was a short man, was known as “Little Bill” to his friends. Lockner speculates that his diminutiveness could have contributed to the crash which killed him; he may not have been able, as copilot, to reach over and commandeer the plane once trouble was apparent.

Lockner speculated as to what could have happened.

He said Mandelare always used a little seat when flying so he could reach the pedals, and that when in a plane, he always insisted on riding right seat. If he wasn’t flying the plane and didn’t have his seat, he it is unlikely he would have been unable to assist the pilot in an emergency, Lockner guessed.

Lockner described the Cessna 177 Cardinal as a tricky plane to fly. That model has a stabilator in the horizontal tail, rather than an elevator. That means when landing, the plane as to be put in a nose-up position to adjust the pitch.

If the pilot forgot to readjust the pitch when taking off, the plane could have been in too sharp a nose-up position, causing it to stall. When a plane stalls, the left wing always drops and hits the ground first, and then cartwheels, which is what it appears happened in Mandelare’s case. 

Lockner himself has been flying since 1981 and has been giving flight instruction since 1986, so is familiar with the configuration of many aircraft.

GREAT VALLEY — Officials have identified the victims in Wednesday's small plane crash at the Great Valley Airport as federal investigators piece together the incident.

Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office officials reported Thursday afternoon that William H. Mandelare, 80, of Brockport, was killed in the crash of a Cessna 177B Cardinal at around 2:10 p.m. at the airport.

Severely injured was Raymond E. Groetsch, 72, of Brockport, who was airlifted by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition.

While sheriff’s deputies did not identify the pilot of the aircraft, Federal Aviation Administration records indicate both of the men on board the small plane were licensed pilots.

Groetsch was the owner of the aircraft and a licensed private pilot and aircraft mechanic. Mandalare possessed a commercial pilot license with single-engine landing and instrument flying ratings, as well as flight instructor, ground instructor and mechanic certificates. However, both had third class medical certificate dated for 2008 in the database -- pilots over the age of 40 with a third-class certificate must have a new medical exam and certificate every two years. A request for verification from the FAA was not immediately returned. 

Deputies reported they were assisted by Great Valley/Ellicottville, Kill Buck and Salamanca firefighters, as well as Ellicottville police, New York State Police and New York State Forest Rangers.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, and no cause has been publicly released.

The NTSB reported via Twitter that the plane involved was a Cessna 177 Cardinal, a single-engine airplane with four seats, and that its investigators would lead the review.

According to the FAA’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing System on Thursday morning, the plane — a Cessna 177B with registration N24RG — crashed under unknown circumstances after takeoff.

A witness said the plane took off from the north end of the runway and was heading south when the wings tilted slightly, according to the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office. A few seconds later the witness saw black smoke after the plane had crashed.

Local residents told the Times Herald on Thursday that investigators worked through the night at the site, placing portable floodlights to illuminate the area for the probe.

The FAA aircraft inquiry database reports the plane, which was unmodified, was manufactured in 1973 — about midway through the production run of the Cessna 177. Around 4,300 such aircraft were built in the late 1960s through the late 1970s. Of the 177B variant, there are 843 registered with the FAA, including 18 based in New York.

According to the FAA’s public Airman Inquiry database, Groetsch received his current private pilot license in May 2009, and was certified as an airframe and powerplant mechanic at the same time. Mandelare's current license was issued in May 2009, with his flight instructor certificate issued in January 2020.

No accidents or incidents involving that tail number, the airfield or either pilot appear in the NTSB database.

According to the FAA database of airports, the facility is a privately-owned, public-use airport with a 3,800-foot-long turf runway.

The last airplane crash reported in Cattaraugus County was June 5, 2020, when a single-engine aircraft crash-landed off the runway at the Cattaraugus County-Olean Airport. The pilot was treated at the scene and released.

The last fatal accident in Cattaraugus County, according to the NTSB database, was in 1985 when a homebuilt copy of a Sopwith Triplane exploded in midair near Allegany and claimed the life of Dr. George Clapp, a dentist, who built the aircraft.


  1. No medical certificate in the last ten years for either pilot. Fly anyway. The rules don't apply to you. You're special. The rules are there for the rest of us to follow.

    1. database isn't always up to date, also the possibility of them flying on basic med exists??

    2. Original poster is incorrect on Mr. Groetsch.

      Pilot GROETSCH in the airmen registry with same name and address as the aircraft registration is within the 24 month Basicmed course date and 48 month Basicmed CMEC date reqirements:

      BasicMed Course Date: 7/6/2019 BasicMed CMEC Date: 6/5/2017

      It does seem odd that Mr. Mandelare was issued a renewal of his flight instructor certificate in January 2020. His last medical date was 2008, and no Basicmed. Although the instructor certificate is only valid with his pilot certificate, seems like a unrecognized hole in the issuance verification process.

    3. Sad that the news organization messed up reading the airmen registry lookup and said both pilots' medical status was 2008. They obviously did not look carefully at the Groetsch information.

      The story even goes on to talk about renewal requirements and that "A request for verification from the FAA was not immediately returned."

      The news story error harms pilot Groetsch's reputation in the community. They presumably did not intend to print misinformation, but they did. Would they correct their story if someone made them aware of the error?

      Last name: Groetsch
      First Name: Raymond E

  2. A Cardinal is a difficult airplane to fly? Any airplane CAN be difficult. Don't blame the airplane.

    1. I think the report said "tricky to fly" because it has a stabilator. Yeah, boy those planes with a stabilator are tricky to fly.

      It also says: "when landing, the plane as to be put in a nose-up position to adjust the pitch" Wth?

      Not much to go on.

    2. Pilot Groetsch has owned the Cardinal since 1997, per registration history. Had 24 years experience flying that plane.

  3. an attempted description from airman Lockner to cub reporter fails to describe a possible cause related to what appears to be the "Elevator Trim Tab."