Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Van's RV-6A, N94PJ: Fatal accident occurred June 07, 2021 at Porterville Municipal Airport (KPTV), Tulare County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances after departure. 

Fashionable Fittings Inc

Date: 07-JUN-21
Time: 21:20:00Z
Regis#: N94PJ
Aircraft Make: VANS
Aircraft Model: RV6
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 eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

 Lt Col Billy “Taz” Sullivan

The 144th Fighter Wing family is deeply saddened at the sudden loss of one of our own. On June 7, Lt Col Billy “Taz” Sullivan suffered a fatal accident while flying his personal aircraft. 

Billy was a force multiplier for all who knew him and was truly larger than life.  His death will impact many people because he had a mission to help and connect with everyone he knew.  He had a thirst for life and wanted to share his love of aviation and passion for adventure with anyone and everyone he encountered.  

Taz was a 2006 graduate of the USAF Academy, had over 1,500 hours in the Mighty F-15 Eagle, served as both an instructor pilot and evaluator, and was recently appointed as the Director of Operations for the 194th Fighter Squadron.  He was at the pinnacle of his Air Force and aviation career and truly the future of the 144th Fighter Wing.  Our condolences and sympathies go out to his wife, Diane, and his family and friends.

PORTERVILLE, California (KFSN) -- The sound of a skipping engine caught Adrian Rodriguez's attention on Monday afternoon.

He was working outside near the Porterville Municipal Airport at the time.

"I look back, I'm looking at the airport and in between the buildings and I see it going," he said. "As soon as it lifts off, that's where the motor just shut off and you can hear him trying to turn it back on like it's trying to kick back on and nothing happened."

Rodriguez then saw the pilot of the single-engine, homebuilt plane try to turn back towards the airport.

That's when he says it took a nose dive towards the ground.

"The tree line was blocking it where I couldn't see if he maybe had brought it back up, and he dove straight down, I saw the white smoke and I knew right away," he said.

Porterville Fire crews put out the flames.

But the pilot, identified as Lt. Col. Billy Sullivan of the 144th Fighter Wing, was pronounced dead at the scene.

As part of a statement, the 144th Fighter Wing said: "Billy was a force multiplier for all who knew him and was truly larger than life. His death will impact many people because he had a mission to help and connect with everyone he knew. He had a thirst for life and wanted to share his love of aviation and passion for adventure with anyone and everyone he encountered."

On Tuesday morning, Sullivan's body was removed from the crash site and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board had arrived on scene for their investigation.

The airport also reopened.

"After I spoke to the airport manager this morning, he said that because of the proximity of the aircraft to the end of the runway, he felt comfortable with opening up the airport," says Porterville Fire Dep. Chief Bryan Cogburn.

The plan on Tuesday afternoon, according to Porterville Fire Deputy Chief Bryan Cogburn, was to move the plane debris from the crash site to a nearby hangar, where federal authorities could continue their investigation.


  1. The registration was cancelled on June 3rd, 2020, according to the FAA.

    1. why was registration cancelled?, so many such "unknown", de-registered and unidentified aircrafts, most of the time cessna and helicopters are flying over Vegas sky?, no accountability, no oversight and simply dangerous levels of unauthorized, and morons flying in the sky. Just today, while I was posting this, a "Unknown" Cessna was loitering in the sky over west side of Vegas in Summerlin, anyone interested take a look at and see for yourself, it is a de-registered Cessna N no: DEREGISTERED AIRCRAFT: N6499D, the reason for De-registered: it was exported?, how did a exported Cessna's registration was filed in US (FAA)?... someone using the registration no of this cessna and flying or doing some sh...t spy or surveillance work or some of the agencies faking their identify using this?... one can spot a no of such unknown or unregistered crafts over Las Vegas sky!? a Lot!. Hello FAA? or Transport authorities??.

    2. Registration (Delaware) expired 1/31/2020. Registry sent canx notice (Delaware) Mar 2020. Feb 19, 2021 the builder submitted AC8050-1B Aircraft Registration Renewal Application (California). May 11, 2021, the AC8050-1B was rejected by Registry due to several errors. Registry file contains several returned attempts to notify registered owner (Delaware). Perhaps using one of the aircraft title services in OKC was a better option. Any ideas re insurance in cases like this?

  2. Condolences. The aircraft registration expired 1/31/2020. March 2020 FAA Registry sent cancellation notice to registered owner (Delaware address). Feb 19, 2021 registered owner (California address) submitted FAA 8050-1B application for aircraft registration. May 11, 2021 FAA sends notice to registered owner (Delaware address) that the application has several issues needing correction. The FAA Registry suspense file contains several "return to sender" notices.
    Perhaps using an OKC aircraft title company would have been a better option. Any ideas if an unregistered aircraft will be problematic for insurance?

  3. Farm plots available off both ends of the runway, such a terrible thing to perish attempting the impossible turn there at KPTV. Here are street views at each end, no light poles, just chain link fences and ditches as hazards - spin the views and see for yourself:

    Southeast end (Departing on RW 12):
    Northwest end (Departing on RW 30):

    1. Damn, that is truly shocking that a guy of his skill level would try to turn back with those options he seemingly had. What a price to pay to try to avoid some probable minor damage, perhaps even no damage with fields as flat as those.

    2. Perhaps it was intended to be a test hop once around the field after months of frustrating but not yet completed effort at getting the registration squared away.

      A desire to avoid landing off airport while not in compliance with requirements could influence a turn back decision if that was the true circumstance in the accident flight.

  4. Not sure why all the excitement over the registration status. You cannot attribute a registration issue to why it crashed or that the pilot or owner was somehow “dangerous” or a “moron”. The guy was obviously very accomplished. Had his engine failed a minute earlier or a minute later the outcome likely would have been completely different.