Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Pitts Model 12, N112JH: Fatal accident occurred August 09, 2021 in Ocklawaha, Marion 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 traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Joseph M Hutton Jr

Location: Ocklawaha, FL 
Accident Number: ERA21FA318
Date & Time: August 9, 2021, 13:35 Local
Registration: N112JH
Aircraft: Pitts 12
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On August 9, 2021, about 1335 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Pitts Model 12, N112JH, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Ocklawaha, Florida. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot and passenger were friends, and the purpose of the flight was a local aerobatic flight. A witness who recorded video of the airplane on her cell phone, stated the airplane had been performing loops and rolls over the lake. The recorded video showed the airplane in an inverted flat spin, followed by a nose down spin to water contact. The pilot and passenger were wearing parachutes. The pilot was observed exiting the airplane at a low altitude. The video did not capture the parachute deploying before water contact; however, witnesses stated that the parachute was open and floating in the water.

Examination of wreckage revealed that the wood and fabric wings were destroyed by impact with the water. The fuselage remained intact and was impact damaged. The rudder and elevator remained attached to the fuselage. The left elevators were displaced down 90°. Flight control continuity was established from the rudder and elevator to the control stick in the cockpit. The throttle control was full forward, and the propeller control was mid-range. About 6 ft of the upper wing remained attached by cables and was impact damaged, the aileron remained attached to the wing and the control rod was fractured. Other wing pieces were found floating in a large debris field.

The engine was impact damaged and remained attached to the airframe by cables and wires. The front spark plugs in the radial engine were fractured, the rear spark plugs were removed and showed normal wear signatures. Several push rods were impact separated. The rear accessory case was impact damaged and several components were separated. The propeller remained attached to the engine; however, all three propeller blades were separated at the hub. The engine was rotated by hand at the propeller flange; it rotated smoothly, and continuity was established throughout the engine. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Pitts
Registration: N112JH
Model/Series: 12
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: LEE,75 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 33°C /24°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 140°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Ocala, FL (FC04)
Destination: Ocklawaha, FL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 29.025393,-81.947834 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Scott "Scotty" Bingham

Scott "Scotty" Bingham

Ocala, Florida - Bingham, Scott ("Scotty"), formerly of Miami, passed away Monday, August 9, 2021 at the age of 72, in Ocala, Florida.

Scott was a loving husband to his Miami Killian High sweetheart of 48 years, Judy Bingham (Sofge) and a wonderful father to their daughter Becky, whom he dearly loved. He shared a special bond with his son-in-law Brian and thoroughly enjoyed being "Pop Pop" to his darling granddaughter, Grace.

Scott's love for aviation began at an early age flying control line airplanes with his father. He earned his glider rating by the age of 14 and obtained his license for private powered aircraft by 17. Scott attended Miami Dade and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University where he pursued a career in aviation and became a corporate pilot for Southeast Banks and Florida Power and Light.

Scott was also a certified flight instructor in aircraft, helicopters and gliders. He enjoyed teaching aspiring pilots of all ages and sharing his love for all things "aviation".

Scott is preceded in death by his father, Captain Harold D. Bingham and mother, Elizabeth. He is survived by his wife, Judy; daughter, Becky Becker (Brian) and granddaughter, Grace; his sisters, Debbie Neely (Ken) and Carol Maggiore (Kevin), along with niece and nephews, Chris and Jeff Neely, Mike, Michele and Anthony Maggiore.

A private family service will be held September 4th at Hiers-Baxley Funeral Home, 910 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, FL. Regretfully, due to Covid concerns, a Celebration of Life has been postponed and may be possible at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, donations to SSA.org (Junior Soaring scholarship), angelflightse.org., proclaimaviation.org. or a charity of your choice would be greatly appreciated.

Joseph Morgan Hutton Jr.

Joseph Morgan Hutton Jr., age 64, of Ocala, Florida passed away on Monday, August 9, 2021. Joseph was born August 25, 1956.

Marion County Sheriff's Office - 
At approximately 1 p.m. on Monday, August 9, 2021, Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies responded to Carney Island Park located at 13275 SE 115th Avenue in Ocklawaha, off of Lake Weir, in reference to a plane crash. 

When deputies arrived, they located citizens who had pulled the pilot, Joseph Hutton (DOB: 8/25/1956), from the water after they witnessed him jump from the falling plane.  

Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) responded and pronounced Hutton deceased. 

The MCSO Underwater Recovery Team began a search of the submerged aircraft for other victims. 

Divers located the second victim, Scott Bingham (DOB: 7/30/1949), deceased inside the wreckage.  

MCSO Major Crimes detectives will be conducting a death investigation and officials with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating the cause of the crash.

OCALA, Florida (WCJB) - The Underwater Recovery team with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office spent several hours Monday night searching Lake Weir after a plane crashed into the water.

Tuesday morning the destroyed yellow plane was taken from the park.

It has been confirmed that the pilot, 65-year-old Joseph Hutton and his passenger, 72-year-old Scott Bingham both died as a result of the crash.

Both were Marion County residents.

Hutton was ejected from the plane before impact and received help first, but divers didn’t make it to Bingham until much later.

“This plane was sitting in about 21 feet of water so visibility from my understanding from the divers I spoke to, anywhere from six inches to a foot, and so once they get down there and things get stirred up, visibility was down to zero so it’s by touch,” MCSO Public Relations Director Sgt. Paul Bloom said.

Detectives said after speaking with family, both of these men died doing something that they loved.

During this flight officials said they were just out enjoying the day.

The Underwater Recovery team stayed at Lake Weir until just before midnight searching.

“They made the decision from a safety stand point for the diver’s safety, to bring the whole plane up with the body of the second victim still strapped inside,” Bloom added.

MCSO will investigate the deaths of the two men, while the investigation on how the plane went down will be left to the federal agencies, with the National Transportation Safety Board is taking the lead.

A NTSB representative told TV20, one of the first things investigators will do is document the scene and examine the aircraft which is expected to begin Wednesday.

The aircraft has been recovered one of the investigator’s priorities will be to begin the process of documenting the scene and examining the aircraft. This is expected to begin tomorrow.

It is extremely early in the investigation and part of the investigation will be to request radar data, weather information, air traffic control communication, airplane maintenance records and the pilot’s medical records.

At this early stage of an investigation, NTSB does not state a cause but will only provide factual information when available.

For information about the victims, you may want to check with the local authorities to see if they have information to release. The NTSB does not release identities or other personal information about those involved in accident investigations.

In about 12 business days, it’s likely a preliminary report will be available and posted to the NTSB’s website. It can take 12-24 months before a probable cause and final report is issued and posted to the website.

You can also follow on Twitter @NTSB_newsroom for additional information regarding the ongoing investigation that will be released as it becomes available. 

Authorities have identified the two people killed in a small plane crash on Lake Weir on Monday.

Joseph Hutton Jr., 64, and Scott Bingham, 72, both died after Hutton’s Pitts Model 12 plane crashed in the northeast section of the lake just before 1 p.m.

Both Hutton and Bingham lived at Leeward Air Ranch and were next-door neighbors in the fly-in community.

Hutton was piloting the aircraft during the crash.

Records show he registered the plane, which was built in 2002, in March.

Online tracking of the flight shows the plane approach Lake Weir from the east just before 12:45 p.m. The plane flies over the southern end of the lake before circling back and making a series of maneuvers over the lake. The plane then flies along the west end of the lake before turning west and flying over land to near the 5800 block of SE 132nd Street Road. There, the plane makes a sharp turn back east toward the lake. Near the lake, the plane veers north and flies over the Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area before turning east over the lake. The tracking ends in the northeast part of the lake at 12:56 p.m.

The plane’s altitude ranged from between 3,400 feet to 4,600 during the flight, which, according to witnesses, included some aerobatic maneuvers. The Pitt Model 12 is a high-performance aerobatic biplane.

Just before the crash, however, the plane made a steep climb to about 5,400 feet.

That’s when witnesses said the plane began to nosedive, and they saw Hutton jump from the plane. Boaters pulled Hutton from the water and brought him to shore. He was pronounced dead by Marion County Fire Rescue.

The sheriff’s dive team later recovered Bingham’s body from the submerged plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.


  1. Flight track:


    1. Photo from a happier time:

      News story with video of descent into lake:

    2. You jump from higher than 100 feet....you die.

    3. Not necessarily. My own father, an ironworker, got knocked off the original Bay Bridge around 1951, near the Annapolis tower. He was in dry clothes and back on the bridge deck an hour later.

      That's only about 200 ft. There are survivors who fell from much higher.

    4. the key is not hitting the water flat.....go straight in---standing position---your ankles may look like broken flower pots....but you'll live....if you can swim.

    5. RIDICULOUS! The replies here about "hitting the water" in this case are ridiculous. When coming out of the sky with an airplane out of control (from 5,000') and you exit the plane, your body is going to be close to its terminal velocity (120 mph). At those speeds, body position doesn't matter. You're dead.

  2. The low ground speeds in the last recorded data points suggest significant maneuvering. Perhaps the person who went out of the cockpit had unbuckled to reach for something and then an upset followed.

    56:14 5200 137
    56:16 5400 22
    56:21 5200 31

    1. I also think the person was thrown out of the plane. Instead of jumping, seat harness failure, or not properly fastened, while doing some aerobatic maneuvers.

    2. I think he was thrown out to given the distance between him and the airplane at the time they both impacted the water.

    3. he had a parachute....this was an attempt to live

    4. This was my father, Joe Hutton. I can assure you, he absolutely jumped from his plane and tried to survive. Thank you for seeing that.

      I'd like to ask folks to comment respectfully on here....my sister and I read these things...please be gentle and have compassion. We are devastated. He was our dad and we miss and love him so much.

    5. My name is Dan Richards. I worked with your dad for over 10 yrs at Mast industries. We traveled the world together and became good friends. He was like a brother from another mother. He spoke of you both often. I was in disbelief when I heard the news. I spent a weekend at his air ranch and we flew several flights over that same lake doing aerobatics in his Pitts. Your dad was a skillful pilot and a good man. Something catastrophic ( mechanical)happened to that plane to cause the crash. I do not believe it was pilot error. Knowing your dad as I did and knowing he had parachuting experience, he definitely jumped as a last ditch effort to live. My heart felt condolences go out to you both. I lost a good friend but he will always be remembered in my heart.

    6. Hi Dan,

      Its Christen, Joe's oldest daughter. I know your name well from my Dad! He spoke so highly of you! I am so glad you got to fly with him at the Ranch...he absolutely loved to fly. Anyone who knew the capabilities of not only my Dad, but also Scotty, his very good friend who also died that day, knows it was not pilot error. Dad and Scotty were excellent pilots, and subsequently, the accident is still just incredibly unbelievable. Dan, thank you for your thoughts and kind words about Dad. I know he was equally fond of you, and sincerely appreciated your friendship. -CH

  3. Preliminary report describes un-recovered spin. Sad that both wore parachutes but no benefit.


  4. For those aware of comments about an alleged pulley failure disabling elevator control on a Pitts 12, the push-pull rod elevator control connected from sticks to tail is easily seen in the fully rigged photo linked below.

    No pulleys are used in the Pitts 12 elevator or elevator trim controls.


  5. This sad incident reminds me of another also involving a Pitts Special flown by Art Scholl, a famous acrobatic pilot who usually flew a Dehavilland Chipmunk. He was flying the Pitts out over the pacific filming something for the movie Top Gun when he got into a flat spin and couldn't recover. The plane crsshed into the ocean in 600 feet of water and was never recovered,

  6. MY Goodness, I was looking for a Pitts pilot online and this came up. I am So sorry for both pilots and their families. I worked at Galaxy Aviation and had the privilege to know Scott while he was flying Helo's for FPL. This nicest man you could ever expect to meet. We had many laughs together. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  7. Interestingly, the CFI who ferried the plane from the point of purchase to Hutton's airport called the FAA and NTSB to make it clear that Hutton arrogantly refused any instruction when he offered it, claiming that it was "too expensive". Hutton's wife wanted the CFI/ferry pilot to say that he had provided instruction. How much money will it cost to settle the lawsuits?

    1. And now, the rest of the story.........