Sunday, May 09, 2021

Ted Smith Aerostar 600, C-FAAZ: Fatal accident occurred May 06, 2021 near LaBelle Municipal Airport (X14), Hendry County, Florida

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.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Location: La Belle, FL 
Accident Number: ERA21FA212
Date & Time: May 6, 2021, 15:20 Local
Registration: C-FAAZ
Aircraft: Ted Smith Aerostar 600 
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On May 6, 2021, about 1520 eastern daylight time, a Ted Smith Aerostar 600, Canadian registration CFAAZ, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near La Belle, Florida. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured, and the pilot-rated passenger was seriously injured. The local personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary radar data revealed that the airplane departed La Belle Municipal Airport (X14) about 1500. The radar track showed the airplane in a cruise profile on a westerly track about 3,500 ft and 170 knots groundspeed until it was about 5 miles east of X14, where it began a decelerating descent. The airplane continued its descent and slowed before the target disappeared about .5 miles east of the accident site, when at an altitude of about 200 ft and a groundspeed of 110 knots.

A witness reported to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector that she was travelling eastbound in her car when the airplane appeared immediately in front of her at treetop height travelling westbound. The airplane was in a wings-level attitude and she heard no engine sound. It appeared that the propellers were not turning, and the landing gear was down. The witness believed the airplane would land on the road she was travelling on, when it turned slightly right, struck the top of a tree and then struck the ground in a flat, nose-right attitude, before it continued into trees and a memorial garden on the church property where it came to rest. The witness said that she was familiar with airplanes because her brother operated a flight school, and she had “several hours” of flight experience but no pilot certificate.

A doorbell camera that was located about 500 ft east of the accident site captured the airplane as it passed overhead at low altitude. The engine sound was smooth and continuous as it passed into and out of the camera’s view. Seconds later, the sounds of impact were heard.

The pilot-rated passenger reported that he was the proprietor of an aircraft maintenance facility at X14, and that the pilot, who was also the owner of the airplane brought it to the shop for a 100-hour inspection. He said as they began work on the airplane, they found discrepancies that required more work than originally anticipated. The pilot/owner wanted everything corrected and asked that the shop go ahead and perform a “full annual inspection” on the airplane, which they did.

The work was completed almost 1 month prior to the pilot’s arrival to pick up the airplane on May 6, 2021. When asked about the overall condition of the airplane, as well as its handling and performance, he said, “It was a nice airplane. A little on the older side, but a nice airplane.” The passenger said that he flew the airplane a “couple of times” while it was at his shop and that he “turned everything on” and all the systems and components worked as designed.

The passenger said that the pilot reported that he had not flown the airplane “for a long time” and asked if they could go for a flight and he agreed. The passenger said they went for a short flight, returned, serviced the airplane with 130 gallons of fuel, and then departed again. He was asked how the pilot performed on the preflight, engine start, taxi, takeoff, and the flight and he responded, “He seemed thorough… he was good.”

The passenger reported that he had no memory of the accident flight. He further stated that he typically conducted familiarization and test flights east of the La Belle Airport “over by Lake Okeechobee” where the terrain was mostly rural and sparsely populated.

The Government of Canada issued the pilot an airline transport pilot certificate for helicopters with multiple type ratings. He was issued a private pilot certificate for airplanes in April 2017, with ratings for single and multiengine airplanes. The pilot’s most recent medical examination was completed on April 4, 2019.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site revealed the wreckage path was oriented about 270° magnetic and about 230 ft long. The initial impact point was in a tree about 50 ft tall, and pieces of angularly cut wood were found beneath it.

The airplane came to rest upright, with both wings displaying significant impact damage. Each engine was secure in its nacelle and the flaps appeared to be set between 10° and 15°.

The left propeller blades were secure in the hub, and each displayed similar twisting, bending, and chordwise polishing. The blades of the right propeller were secure in the hub and were in the feathered position.

The tail section of the airplane was separated and rested upright adjacent to the fuselage. The windshield posts were cut by rescue personnel and the roof was folded back over the cabin area. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit area, through several breaks, to the flight control surfaces. The fractures at the breaks all displayed features consistent with overstress. The flap control handle was found in the “neutral” position, about midway between “up” and “down.”

The wing fuel tanks were void of fuel, and a slight odor of fuel was detected. An estimated 35 gallons of fuel was drained from the center fuselage tank, which remained intact. 

The airplane was recovered from the accident site, and examination continued at the recovery facility. The airplane was powered using its own battery, and the fuel selectors were manipulated through each position, and the corresponding fuel valves energized, and their respective actuator arms moved as designed. Both fuel boost pumps worked when energized.

The left engine was rotated by hand at the propeller and continuity was established from the powertrain through the valvetrain to the accessory section. Compression was confirmed using the thumb method. Borescope examination of the cylinders revealed normal wear and deposits. Ignition timing was confirmed, and when the magnetos were removed and energized with a drill, they produced spark at all terminal leads. The engine-driven fuel pump was removed, actuated with a drill, and pumped fluid. Examination of fuel and old screens and filters revealed they were clean and absent of debris.

The right engine was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Ted Smith 
Registration: C-FAAZ
Model/Series: Aerostar 600
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
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: KRSW,31 ft msl 
Observation Time: 14:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 23 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C /22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / 19 knots, 270°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: La Belle, FL 
Destination: La Belle, FL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 26.75829,-81.410371 (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

Michael Stockton, 67, is being remembered as an amazing man with a passion for flight. He died in a plane crash near LaBelle Municipal Airport on May 6, 2021. 
(Photo courtesy of Chris Stockton)

Jimmy Mullen
Mullen's Aviation LLC

LABELLE, Florida (WSVN) — Newly released surveillance video captured the heart-stopping moment a plane swooped dangerously close to homes in a Southwest Florida community before it hit the ground, killing the pilot and leaving residents shaken.

Footage from the May 6 crash showed the aircraft as it flew right over homes in LaBelle before it crashed nearby. The camera captured audio of the impact seconds later.

Area resident Colton Summerlin said he was at work when the plane went down.

“I didn’t realize until we looked back at the footage that it flew over, right over our house,” he said.

Summerlin said he’s thankful his family was not hurt.

“It could have been our house if it was 30 seconds sooner, you know, and I got a lot of kids,” he said.

Neighbors who viewed the footage said they didn’t realize just how close the plane came to crashing in their community.

“Wow, that’s terrible. Oh, my God,” said Carlos Rivera.

Resident Cassie Lott gasped when she heard audio of the crash.

“So, that was the sound I heard. We heard it from here inside the house,” she said.

According to a report, a woman saw the plane flying low, just above the trees. She said the plane wasn’t making any noise, and it appeared as though the propellers weren’t moving.

On top of that, the woman said, the landing gear was down.

“I’m so sorry for what happened to the person. Someone lost their life,” said Lott. “I mean, I’m thankful it didn’t fall on our homes, but that’s scary.”

Neighbors have been left with an uneasy feeling after watching the video. They described the sound of the crash as chilling,

“That was really close to the ground, what I just saw on there,” said resident Terrie Pearce.

Even though the pilot did not survive, a passenger on board did.

Investigators are working to determine what led to the crash.

OTTAWA -- An Ottawa Valley man who died last week in a plane crash in Florida is being remembered as a spirited and happy man, and a loving father and grandfather.

Mike Stockton, 67, died when the plane he was in, a Piper Aerostar 600, crashed on Thursday afternoon in a field in Labelle, Florida, about 50 km east of Fort Myers. The Hendry County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook that the plane crashed about 40 yards (36.5 m) from a local church. A second person in the plane was injured.

Stockton's son Chris Stockton called his father an amazing man who cared deeply for his friends and family.

"He was my mentor and helped me evolve to me the family man I am today. He will be extremely missed by so many people including his 33-year-old handicapped daughter Ashley Dawn and beloved wife Karen. The type of man he was; he would hold Ashley Dawn overnight before bed until she was fast asleep."

Chris said his father used to fight forest fires as a helicopter pilot and was an air ambulance pilot in Ottawa in the 1990s. He became a pilot in his twenties and had a lifetime passion for flight.

"He was just overall a happy, spirited man," Chris said.

"He devoted all of his time enriching, teaching, guiding, and caring for his children. He was always ready to help anyone and had a zest for life. He welcomed his daughter-in-law, Jessica with such a warm heart. He was an amazing fun Grandpa to his grandsons Jet (5) and Jagger (2.5).

"He will be missed beyond words. We are all devastated but appreciate the love, support, and understanding we have received. Thank you."


  1. Although I didnt know him it’s saddens me when a great man as this loses his life!

  2. What a tragic end for a great aviation guy. The crash happened near Mr. Mullen's Aerostar parts and maintenance facility. We can assume this was a test flight of some sort, before or after work done on the aircraft. From local news photos they went into trees at almost level attitude. No fire.