Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Van's RV-6A, N74MS: Fatal accident occurred June 15, 2021 in Buckingham, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

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; Allentown, Pennsylvania
Lycoming Aircraft Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Location: Buckingham, PA
Accident Number: ERA21FA253
Date & Time: June 15, 2021, 10:30 Local 
Registration: N74MS
Aircraft: Vans RV6
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On June 15, 2021, about 1030 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Vans RV6A airplane, N74MS, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Buckingham, Pennsylvania. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

On the morning of the accident, the pilot flew from Doylestown Airport (DYL), Doylestown, Pennsylvania to Sky Manor Airport (N40), Pittstown, New Jersey. He arrived at N40 about 0827 and departed about 30 minutes later to meet friends for breakfast at South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY), Mount Holly, New Jersey. He arrived at VAY about 0913 and subsequently departed about 1013 to return to DYL.

About 1020, the pilot transmitted over the DYL common traffic advisory frequency that he had an emergency and was making a straight-in landing to runway 5. About 1 minute later, he transmitted that he had an inflight fire and was inbound to DYL to land on runway 5. There were no further communications from the pilot.

According to witnesses, the airplane was observed flying in a northwesterly direction. The engine sounded rough and was heard to sputter and then pop. The airplane appeared to be on fire and was trailing smoke. It banked right, then left, and was quickly descending while on a flight path toward DYL. The airplane was observed to clip trees, which was followed by the sound of an impact and visible flames. A review of video camera footage revealed that bluish gray smoke was trailing from the airplane before impact.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane struck a tree about 50 ft above ground level before it came to rest upright in a wastewater spray field on a 148° magnetic heading, about .5 nautical miles from runway 5.

Examination of the airplane revealed that it came to rest on top of a standpipe mounted sprinkler head which had vertically punctured through the right wing. The right wing remained attached to the fuselage and a large depression consistent with a tree strike was visible on the leading edge. The right-wing fuel tank was breached. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage, and the left-wing fuel tank was about half-full of fluid, which was consistent with 100 low lead aviation gasoline. The wing flaps and flight controls remained attached and flight control continuity was established for pitch, roll, and yaw.

Most of the instrument panel was consumed by fire, and the forward portion of the cabin back to the front of both seats had been exposed to the fire. The fuel selector handle was in the left-wing fuel tank position. The canopy displayed thermal, and impact damage, and was almost completely separated from the fuselage. The exterior of the fuselage and wings displayed sooting on the sides and top surfaces, with areas of heavy thermal and fire damage toward the front of the airplane, both near and adjacent to the firewall, and on the sides and bottom of the fuselage.

Examination of the propeller and engine revealed that the propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange, and the engine remained attached to the engine mounts. The propeller blades displayed minimal damage.

The engine was damaged by fire; a crack was observed in the crankcase above the No. 1 cylinder, and a large hole was present in the crankcase above the No. 4 cylinder. The No. 4 connecting rod was separated from the connecting rod cap. The connecting rod large end was laying against the camshaft and the tappets for the No. 4 cylinder were exposed. A borescope inspection of the cylinders did not
reveal any anomalies. The oil sump contained ferrous and non-ferrous metal of various sizes and portions of the connecting rod cap material and connecting rod bolts from the No. 4 connecting rod. Drivetrain rotation was achieved, and thumb compression and valvetrain continuity were established for cylinder Nos. 1, 2, and 3.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans 
Registration: N74MS
Model/Series: RV6 A
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: KDYL,394 ft msl 
Observation Time: 10:21 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C /16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1800 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.79 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Mount Holly, NJ (VAY)
Destination: Doylestown, PA (DYL)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: In-flight
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 40.327769,-75.114718 

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

Martin Sailer, Jr., 79, of Upper Black Eddy, was killed when his plane crashed in a wooded area of Buckingham Township on Tuesday. He is pictured here with his grandson. 

DOYLESTOWN, Pennsylvania — Friends and family members are mourning the loss of a Bucks County man who was killed in a plane crash in Buckingham Township on Tuesday morning.

Martin Sailer Jr., 79, of Upper Black Eddy, was the pilot and sole occupant of a small plane that crashed in a wooded area near Cold Spring Creamery Road and Charter Club Drive around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are working to determine the cause of the crash, an investigation that could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, according to FAA officials.

Known to friends and loved ones as "Marty", Sailer was flying in a red-and-white, single-engine Vans RV-6 aircraft that he built for himself years ago.

Bob Ferguson, president and flight coordinator of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 78, said Sailer carried a wealth of knowledge about planes and aircraft.

"The knowledge that he had on aviation was mind-boggling," said Ferguson, who last spoke with Sailer and his wife several months ago at the EAA annual chapter dinner at Giuseppe's Pizza of Warminster.

At the annual air show at Doylestown Airport, Sailer would display his RV-6A aircraft, Ferguson said. He also volunteered with the chapter's Young Eagles Flights program, helping to train the next generation of flyers navigate the skies.

"He was a hell of a pilot, a first-class gentleman," recalls Lino Flego, a pilot and fellow EAA Chapter 78 member. "If you needed anything, he was right there for you."

Todd Sailer describes his father as a friendly, outgoing and loving person who took countless people with him on plane rides. From the time his father was a teenager, he always wanted to fly planes, he said. Growing up in Richboro, his father witnessed a plane landing, and from that point on, he made it his goal to navigate the skies.

"A lot of people told me they chose their career patch because of him," Sailer said. "He was always willing to mentor anyone."

Todd Sailer (left), with his father, Marty Sailer

In 1961, Sailer enlisted in the Navy, where he flew a submarine hunting aircraft. He then became a commercial pilot for Trans World Airlines, where he worked until his retirement.

Marty Sailer was a commercial airline pilot for Trans World Airlines for several decades.

Todd believes that in his father's final moments in the air, he went off course to avoid houses in a final act of thinking of others.

"He told me one time, 'In an emergency, you look for anywhere you can put it down to avoid casualties on the ground,'" Sailer said. "It's what he would have done, no doubt about it."

BUCKINGHAM TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The pilot of a small plane was killed on Tuesday morning after the aircraft went down in a wooded area just behind some homes near Doylestown, Bucks County.

The call went out at approximately 10:30 a.m. for police, firefighters and medics to respond to the 3800 block of Charter Club Drive in Buckingham Township.

There, authorities confirmed a plane down in the trees behind the residential area.

The view from Chopper 6 showed the damaged red-and-white plane on the ground with firefighters nearby.

The lone occupant of the plane was pronounced dead at the scene, Buckingham Township police said.

The victim has been identified as 79-year-old Martin Sailer Jr. of Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania.

The FAA said Sailer was the only person aboard the aircraft, which is a Van's RV-6A.

"I saw the plane hit the top of trees and I was expecting to hear a crash but it was more of a thud," said Tom Kanyok, who lives about 200 yards from the crash site.

After hearing the crash, he and a neighbor went towards the sound to see if they could help.

"We got about a few steps into the woods but the flames were pretty much engulfed in front of the cockpit," said Kanyok.

Action News has learned the pilot was flying in the region for about two hours before the crash.

Officials say Sailer contacted the tower to say the plane was on fire and crashed as he was coming in for a landing.

The crash scene is about two miles away from the Doylestown Airport.

Both the NTSB and the FAA will be involved in the investigation.


  1. ATC Audio released on YouTube indicates the pilot declared an emergency due to a fire in the cockpit. A friend of mine listening on guard also heard this at the time of the accident.

  2. Replies
    1. In the background of the accident pilot's radio transmission, there is a very loud rattling sound. It sounded like the exhaust separated but the engine is still running smoothly. If there was a broken fuel line I would think the engine would have quit? Maybe a panel fire?

  3. I hope we get a good investigation on this one - probably something here for all of us learn. From what I hear we lost a very good pilot and an even better person in this incident. RIP.