Friday, July 30, 2021

Ryan Navion A, N114ST: Accident occurred July 29, 2021 near Ferguson Airport (82J), Pensacola Escambia 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. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama

Anthem Towels LLC

Location: Pensacola, FL 
Accident Number: ERA21FA308
Date & Time: July 29, 2021, 14:28 Local
Registration: N114ST
Aircraft: Ryan Navion
Injuries: 3 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Posted on Kathryn's Report
On July 29, 2021, at 1428 eastern daylight time, a Ryan Navion A, N114ST, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Pensacola, Florida. The airline transport pilot and 2 passengers sustained serious injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, who was also the owner of the airplane, they were departing their home base, Ferguson Airport (82J), Pensacola, Florida, and were flying to Executive Airport (ORL), Orlando, Florida (about 350 nautical miles away) for a soccer game. The pilot stated the airplane was loaded to 180 lbs. under maximum gross weight and the weather was hot, “at least 94° F.” He computed they would need between 2,000 ft and 2,500 ft of runway to take off. The preflight inspection, engine runup, and associated magneto checks yielded normal results and the flight control checks were accomplished without any anomalies detected. During the takeoff roll, the airplane’s acceleration appeared “ok”, and the takeoff roll was longer than normal as he expected. All engine indications and temperatures appeared in the normal operating range. After rotation and initial climb, he retracted the landing gear. The moment he put the gear up, the engine rpm started decreasing from 2,600 rpm down to about 2,300 rpm, and the manifold pressure remained normal. The engine sounded normal; there were no indications, roughness, or abnormal noises coming from the engine that he could feel or hear.

About 200 ft mean sea level, he could no longer maintain level flight and the airplane descended. He made a right turn and attempted a forced landing on a school running track. At the completion of the turn, he realized he could not make it and told his passengers to brace for impact. He left the landing gear retracted so he could maintain the airplane’s airspeed. The airplane impacted a tree and 6 ft-tall chain linked security fence before impacting the parking lot and coming to rest.

Several eyewitnesses at 82J stated that during the takeoff roll, the airplane engine sounded “rough” and the airplane, which they had previously observed taking off at the midpoint of the runway, used nearly the entire length (3,225 ft) before becoming airborne. Video security footage from the school near where the pilot performed the forced landing showed the airplane during initial climb from left to right, before flying out of the frame, then about 45 seconds later, it showed the airplane come into the frame from right to left on the school property. The airplane was in a nose high pitch attitude and the wings were level as it impacted a tree and the security fence before impacting the paved parking lot. An opposing security camera captured the post-impact fire that immediately ensued.

The airplane contacted tress and a chain link security fence before coming to rest in a paved parking lot at an elementary school about 3/4 of a mile from the departure end of runway 18 at 82J. Wreckage debris and broken tree limbs were scattered along a path about 100 ft-long and oriented on an approximate 310-degree magnetic heading. The final wreckage site was compact, and all engine structural components and flight control surfaces were accounted for at the scene.

The fuel tanks were breached during impact and the security video showed that the postimpact fire burned for about 10 minutes before being extinguished. The fire consumed the inboard half of the right wing, the entire cockpit, instrument panel, and sections of the aft right side of the engine compartment. The accessory section of the engine was extensively heat damaged.

Flight control continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit. The two-blade, metal, constant-speed propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft flange and one blade was curled back mid-span about 50° aft and nearly contacted the engine. There were nicks and gouges on the leading edge of one propeller blade and a piece of metal that had the appearance of chain link fence was found on the blade. The opposing blade was relatively intact. Both propeller blades showed no evidence of polishing or chordwise scraping. The propeller spinner was slightly damaged on one side and exhibited no rotational damage. The engine remained attached to the engine mounts and firewall. The carburetor detached from the engine and was extensively impact damaged.

The airplane was retained for further examination.
Posted on Kathryn's Report

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Ryan 
Registration: N114ST
Model/Series: Navion A 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: NPA,30 ft msl 
Observation Time: 13:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 33°C /25°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 4100 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 200°
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: Pensacola, FL (82J)
Destination: Pensacola, FL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 30.386464,-87.357422 

Noah Vegas, Tiffany Hancock Keever and Philip Keever

Tiffany Hancock Keever and Philip Keever

The family of three onboard the small plane that crashed Thursday afternoon in Pensacola was flying to a soccer tournament in Orlando when their aircraft lost power and tried to make an emergency landing, according to a relative.

Pilot Philip Keever experienced a power outage shortly after taking off in the single-engine Ryan Navion 881AT and tried to land on the track at Blue Angels Elementary School, his sister-in-law told the News Journal on Friday.

"He said that he was aiming for the school," said Michelle Smith, whose sister, Tiffany Keever, and nephew, Noah Vegas, were passengers on the plane.

But the plane didn't make it to the track, instead touching down in front of the school and hitting a gate before coming to rest about 80 feet from the school's main entrance and being engulfed in flames.

The Keevers and their 16-year-old son were transported to the hospital and all three remained hospitalized Friday with extensive injuries sustained in the crash, Smith said.

"Philip is hanging in there, and so is Noah," Smith said. "But my sister, she is in bad shape."

Tiffany Keever suffered a broken back, a broken femur, a broken ankle, three broken ribs and internal bleeding in both her liver and spleen, according to her sister. Keever is listed as a first-grade teacher at Blue Angels Elementary, according to the school's website.

"My sister goes into surgery for her femur soon, and then they'll do her spinal surgery right after," Smith said Friday morning.

Philip Keever had a skull fracture, a broken nose and compressed back fracture on top of several burns. He was in the burn unit of a hospital in Mobile, Alabama, where he was expected to have facial surgery to fix his eye socket and nose, Smith said.

Keever served for 12 years as a naval aviator during a 22-year career in the military, according to the website for his company.

Vegas, the couple's teenage son, had a small hole in his lung and injuries to his hand and wrist, according to his aunt. Smith said the family was flying to Orlando for the teen's soccer tournament when the crash happened.

Smith said that by Friday morning, Philip Keever had started to regain some of his memory of the events that led to the wreck and was starting to piece together what happened. 

"Philip thinks that he lost power to the engine right after takeoff," Smith said. "Philip is trying to remember. It’s coming back slowly."

The official cause of the crash remains under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board is the lead agency investigating the incident, along with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Smith said her nephew also was having a hard time remembering the exact events of the crash the following day.

"Noah was actually able to run out of the plane and run inside and get help," Smith said. "He doesn’t remember any of that."

Vegas is a rising sophomore at the West Florida High School of Advanced Technology where he played on the school's varsity soccer team as a freshman. Smith confirmed the teenager also is a member of the Perdido Bay Futbol Club. 

"Being able to travel with varsity as a freshmen for our regional games has been the most fun for my career so far as I grow as a player in the upcoming years," Vegas wrote in a personal statement posted below his Next College Student Athlete 2023 recruiting profile. "I plan on helping lead the team to go farther into regional games and state as I grow as a player in high school and hopefully take that on into college in the future."

The plane that the family was flying in Thursday was manufactured in 1950 and was registered to Philip Keever's company, Anthem Towels LLC, according to the FAA's registry. 

Anthem Towels provides services that include "single and multi-aircraft flyovers" for special occasions such as birthdays, funerals and weddings and human remain ash dispersal "via vintage WWII Warbird Aircraft or water dispersal by boat," according to its website.

The company also sells patriotic towels that it says customers can use to counter-protest when players kneel during the playing of the national anthem at sports events, the website states.

Escambia County authorities on Thursday initially credited several U.S. Navy students from nearby NAS Pensacola with helping rescue the family from the flames, saying they happened to be driving by the school when the crash happened and leaped into action.

Cmdr. Brian Wierzbicki, the public information officer for Naval Education and Training Command at NAS Pensacola, confirmed that four members of the Navy did help the family escape from the plane, but clarified they were not naval students.

Two are instructors at the Naval Aviation School Command. Wierzbicki said they declined requests for interviews.

A third sailor involved in the rescue is an instructor at the Aviation Survival Training Center, and the fourth was attached to the Naval Hospital, according to Wierzbicki.

Escambia County School District Superintendent Tim Smith said some staff members were inside the school when the crash occurred. None of them were injured and the district is providing them counseling.

"What we've done immediately is have counselor support for staff members who were there because there were some staff members at the school yesterday, and it was a tough thing to go through," he said. "You just don't see that every day."

The district also issued a press release Friday evening recognizing Blue Angels Elementary Principal Jayne Murphy, Assistant Principal Michel Henry-Slater, members of the office staff and other district staff members for helping after the crash.

Henry-Slater helped Vegas move away from the burning plane to safety, while Murphy and another individual pulled Tiffany Keever from the burning plane, according to the school district.

"These heroes acted selflessly in extremely dangerous conditions," the release stated. "Their quick actions resulted in lives being saved. They were joined by citizens who assisted, and we are thankful for these brave citizens. The district is extremely proud and grateful for the Blue Angels Elementary School's brave administration, faculty and staff, the helpful citizens who assisted, as well as all other district personnel who provided support on campus."

Smith had a message for everyone who has reached out with kind words since the accident and provided support for her family. 

"Just keep praying," she said. "And thank you to all of those who pulled them out of the plane."


  1. Crash location is 3,700 feet from the departure end of Ferguson Airport (82J) RW18. The track area at the school is about 500 feet in the long dimension.

    A video of landing on RW36 at Ferguson has a good view of the school at 1:30 time mark and being a 360 video, allows moving the image around to see what the surroundings looked like from a "reverse flyby" perspective in 2019:

    Pinned map location of wreckage:

    Street view shows power lines over the school entrance drive:

  2. For sale ad in 2009 said the military paint scheme was put on in 1992.

    A logbook entry in the 2009 ad-linked pdf showed performance of Service Bulletin 106A fuel system checks (includes vacuum leak checks) that were a annual requirement if selector valve replacement per Service Bulletin 101A of 2005 had not yet been performed.

    The original fuel selector valves that had to be vacuum checked annually for stem leaks would not be expected to remain in currently maintained aircraft, but owners can check for the original brass valves by looking overhead in the nose wheel bay and comparing to Service Bulletin 101A photos.

    Service Bulletin 106A:
    Service Bulletin 101A

    1. Here is the omitted ad link:

  3. He flew the airplane into the crash, no stall and no spin. Not many choices at that altitude and area. Although injured, they lived. That’s the most important issue.
    I understand that the injuries were severe, my prayers for all three to recover and live out life well.

  4. Not really any good options after departure from this airport with all the trees off the departure end of the runway.

    Other than trying for the school track the only other options I see are the long semi-open field surrounded by trees just before the crash site (it looks like it could have tall bushes or small trees throughout the field) or a slight right turn then left turn to try to land on S. Blue Angel Parkway (this option risks their being a lot of cars on the road).

    He did a good job flying the plane thru the crash.

    Prayers for a quick and complete recovery for all involved and a big thank you for the brave folks that rushed to help save this family.

    1. That field just before the crash site is visible in the 2019 flyby video. Probably pasture or tilled land. Have a look, cued link:

    2. No one flies a plane through a crash, that's why it's called a crash and not a flight.
      The poster "Leo" above, however, correctly states "into the crash" as that's where the flight ends.

      Once parts of or entire lifting surfaces get bent or ripped off, all control is lost and with slowing speeds (and without propeller slipstream) the diminishing aerodynamic forces can no longer control the remaining kinetic energy of the airframe.

    3. Agreed. Unfortunately, most all power failures at departure involve flying into the crash with full to nearly full gas tanks along with the inevitable fire. Cockpits are not the easiest to escape, especially for back seat passengers.
      My monthly routine is to go through the series of moves following an departure engine out in my Bonanza. Push the nose down being the first, and has to occur within a couple of seconds. I always do a engine out briefing if I have passengers, no fail. Everyone must know the fastest egress. Knowing the airport environment ( fields, roadways, options ), no matter where I fly into, is a personal absolute.
      I’ve always felt training with a CFI, student or biennial, should truly drive these points home.

  5. Did a google maps and street view myself, combined with the pics above it's a miracle they are still here albeit severely injured. Hopes for speedy recoveries.

  6. A snippet of ADS-B suggests they finished on a 345 degree heading to slide thru the open gate from the car parking loop. Definitely did not land on 180 heading in that 100 feet of driveway coming from the road.

    Lots of lighting poles sticking up in his final air path into the car parking loop. Played out the hand he was dealt better than most.

    ADS-B snippet:

  7. From the write up: "Mid field takeoff", "engine sounding rough". WHAT! Can't believe someone would fly with their family in the plane like that.