Sunday, June 20, 2021

SkyStar Kitfox Series 6, N617Y: Fatal accident occurred June 20, 2021 in Likely, Modoc 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. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada

Location: Likely, CA
Accident Number: WPR21FA232
Date & Time: June 20, 2021, 09:00 Local 
Registration: N617Y
Aircraft: Kitfox Series 6
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On June 20, 2021, about 0900 Pacific daylight time, a Kitfox Series 6 airplane, N617Y, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Likely, California. The pilot was seriously injured, and the passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight.

Witnesses located near the accident site reported that they had spoken to the pilot and passenger about 10 minutes prior to the accident. Following their conversation, they watched the pilot and passenger board the airplane. The witnesses stated that the pilot attempted to takeoff from the field on a westerly heading, however, appeared that they could not get enough speed. The witnesses heard the engine throttle down and watched the airplane turn around 180° and initiate a second attempt to takeoff. The witnesses stated that the airplane had become airborne about 20 yards from the canal road and had climbed to about 10 to 20 ft above the ground. As the airplane approached the canal, it began to descend and impacted the upper eastern edge of the canal, spun around, and slid down into the water.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted the eastern edge of an irrigation levy as seen in figure 1. Debris remained within about 5 ft of the main wreckage. The fuselage came to rest upright on a magnetic heading of about 243° magnetic, with the engine and left wing partially submerged within water. A ground impression consistent with the size of a tire was observed about 4 ft north of the main wreckage. 

Examination of the field the airplane was departing from revealed flattened grass, consistent with tire tracks, extended from the western edge of the field toward the canal. The length of the field from the western edge to the eastern edge was about 1,151 ft as noted in figure 2. The field featured rough terrain, with vegetation about 2 to 3 ft in height as seen in figure 3.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Kitfox 
Registration: N617Y
Model/Series: Series 6
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
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: KSVE,4149 ft msl 
Observation Time: 08:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 52 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C /3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Likely, CA
Destination: Alturas, CA 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 41.249255,-120.53129

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  You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290. 

Frank Randall Bethel
01/11/1956 - 06/20/2021

Frank "Randy" Bethel was born to Frank and Leta Bethel on January 11th 1956. He passed away on June 20th 2021 at the age of 65.

Randy was well known and loved. He was in the propane and HVAC businesses and was often seen happily talking to people.

He is survived by His Wife Jennifer, his children Daniel and Joey Bethel, his brother Wayne and his mother Leta.

Services are pending at this time.

LIKELY, California - The man who died in a plane crash in Modoc County on Sunday was identified, according to the Modoc County Sheriff's Office.

65-year-old Frank Randell Bethel died in the SkyStar Kitfox Series 6 crash that happened just after 9 a.m. Sunday.

Tim Harris, 65, was the pilot and was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. He is in stable condition.

The crash is under investigation. 

LIKELY, California – One Modoc County man is dead and another injured after a plane crash Sunday morning near a ranch in Likely, California.

The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office said at 9:08 a.m. their dispatch received a report of the crash of a small aircraft.

Deputies say the plane was seen taking off from a field at the ranch, but a witness said it appeared the plane was unable to get a high enough altitude and then crashed.

A 65-year-old man from Modoc County died in the crash. Next of kin have been notified but authorities have not yet released the man’s identity.

The pilot was also a 65-year old man from Modoc County. The Alturas resident was flown to Redding for medical treatment of “major injuries.” He has not been identified by authorities at this time.

The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office said they are working with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on an investigation into the cause of the plane crash.

Multiple agencies responded to the deadly crash on Sunday morning including the Modoc County Sheriff’s office, the Likely Fire Department, SEMSA Air, Modoc Medical Center EMS, CAL FIRE, BLM Fire, and the California Highway Patrol.

One man was killed and another was hospitalized after a plane crashed in Modoc County on Sunday morning.

The 65-year-old was apparently a passenger in a plane that was taking off from a ranch in Likely, a town that is about 15 miles south of Alturas on Highway 395, according to the Modoc County Sheriff's Office.

The pilot, another 65-year-old man, also was injured in the crash, according to the sheriff's office. He was flown for treatment to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, officials said.

The sheriff's office did not provide the names of the two men on the plane.

A witness who reported the crash said the plane was taking off shortly after 9 a.m. and "failed to get altitude," according to the sheriff's office.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, officials said.

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