Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Cessna 182 Skylane, N5776B: Fatal accident occurred December 07, 2021 near Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport (KTBR), Bulloch County, Georgia

Catherine L. Kloess
Cathy doing what she loves, flying.

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 Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas


Location: Statesboro, Georgia 
Accident Number: ERA22FA083
Date and Time: December 7, 2021, 21:24 Local
Registration: N5776B
Aircraft: Cessna 182 
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On December 7, 2021, at 2124 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182 airplane, N5776B, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Statesboro, Georgia. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to a family member who spoke with the pilot the evening of the accident, she had flown from Florida into the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport (TBR), Statesboro, Georgia, for a meeting in the local area and planned to return that night.

Review of preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data found that the airplane departed runway 14 at 2121. Shortly after takeoff, the flight track turned south, climbed to about 1,000 ft mean sea level (msl), and then about 1.8nm south of TBR, the airplane entered a left turn. 

The airplane continued in a left 360° tightening turn where a maximum altitude of about 1,800 ft msl was reached, which was subsequently followed by a rapid descent. The final position recorded at 2124:32 was about .10-mile from the initial impact which showed the airplane headed east at an altitude of 575 ft msl. Figure 1 displays the ADS-B flight track, main wreckage area, and witness locations. 

Multiple witnesses reported observing and/or hearing the airplane in-flight. An witness located at the TBR airport parking lot saw the takeoff. The airplane’s lights were on, and it sounded as if the airplane was climbing “steeply”, and the engine noise was loud.

Two additional witnesses who were together, located near the airplane’s final few seconds of flight, reported seeing the airplane while outside in a driveway. One witness reported, she heard a low flying airplane that sounded like a “crop duster” and “got louder.” She then saw the right side of the airplane and it appeared to be flying in a “curved” descent that continued into a “rapid descent.” 

When the airplane first came into view, she could not recall observing lights or a glow from the airplane, however, as it flew away from her position, she saw a “sparkler glow” before it impacted the ground. The other witness also reported observing the airplane fly nearby in a descent that continued into a rapid descent into a field just beyond his view. He added that when the airplane flew by, he could see “lights on the bottom” of the airplane. When asked specifically if he recalled seeing the airplane on fire in the air, he stated “No. It was not.”

Two additional witnesses heard the airplane while in their houses. One of these witnesses was a private pilot and reported that due to the proximity of his house to the airport, he was accustomed to hearing airplanes, but this airplane was “unusually low.” He added that the sound dissipated, but a few minutes later, he heard the airplane again where it sounded like “the engine was screaming” as if the “throttle was through the panel.” The other witness located near the accident site in her home reported that she heard an engine noise until a “thud” was heard.

According to Federal Aviation Administration airman records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, with instrument airplane. She was issued a second-class medical certificate on December 3, 2020, at which time she reported a total of 4,000 flight hours and 200 hours within the last 6 months of the exam.

The wreckage was highly fragmented and was oriented on a debris path of about 110° magnetic. The initial impact ground scar was located about 220 ft from the main wreckage final resting location and the elevation was about 175 ft msl. Evidence of thermal damage was observed at the main wreckage. Figure 2 provides an overview of the major components of the airplane located at the accident site.

All major components of the airplane were located in the debris path. Debris located in the initial impact scar indicated that the airplane impacted terrain in a descending left bank which was evident due to the co-location of the left-wing tip and additional left-wing fragment.

Partial flight control continuity was established from the respective flight control surfaces to the flight controls. The flight control cables that had separated were observed to be consistent with overload and impact related separation. 

The fuel selector had separated from its attach point. Its valve position was found set the BOTH position. The elevator trim jack screw was observed to be in a position near the takeoff setting.

The instrument panel was heavily fragmented, but several instruments were located in the debris path. A turn coordinator was found displaying a left turn, beyond a standard rate turn.

The heading indicator displayed 090°. The attitude indicator displayed a 50° left bank and a 30° pitch up attitude. The altimeter was found to display 480 ft with an altimeter setting of 30.07. An oil pressure gauge was found indicating 30 psi, which was in the green range. The oil temperature gauge indicated 150°F.

The engine sustained heavy impact and thermal damage. Its underside displayed significant damage that allowed the core of the engine to be visible without disassembly. The camshaft was continuous from the forward and rear section of the engine. Each cylinder displayed varying degrees of impact damage. The top spark plugs were examined and displayed combustion signatures ranging from normal to worn-out normal when compared to the Champion Aerospace Aviation Check-A-Plug chart.

Each cylinder was examined with a borescope. Each valve displayed varying degrees of carbon deposit build-up, however, no cylinder or piston head displayed mechanical damage and each cylinder was free from any large debris.

The engine was attempted to be rotated by hand. It could not be rotated through a full engine cycle due to impact damage, however, a small degree of rotation resulted in the movement of valves on both sides of the engine.

The vacuum pump remained attached to the accessory section of the engine with safety wire and screws firmly secured to its casing. It rotated normally when its drive gear was rotated by hand. The fuel manifold remained intact and the respective fuel lines were continuous to the cylinders. The propeller had separated from the propeller hub. Its blades exhibited varying degrees of blade polishing, leading edge gouging, chordwise scratches, and torsional twisting.

According to FAA contract Flight Service Station provider Leidos, there was no record that the pilot filed a flight plan or requested an official weather briefing via telephone or online. There was also no record of the pilot contacting FAA air traffic control before or during the flight.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N5776B
Model/Series: 182 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC 
Condition of Light: NightDark
Observation Facility, Elevation: TBR,187 ft msl
Observation Time: 21:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C /13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 150°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 600 ft AGL
Visibility: 7 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.08 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Statesboro, GA (TBR) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 32.444496,-81.734249 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 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.

Update 8:37 p.m. 12/8/21: According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane was only in the sky for three minutes before it crashed.

The plane crashed about two miles from the Statesboro/Bulloch County Airport where it took off.

The NTSB says it's going to take some time for them to determine exactly what caused the crash.

"The purpose of this investigation is not only to figure out what happened, but why the accident happened so we can issue safety recommendations to prevent future accidents," said Adam Gerhardt, a Senior Air Safety Investigator for the NTSB.

We're told at this point, the NTSB has not been able to track down any kind of flight plan from the pilot.

"We don’t have any information right now if there was a flight plan, however, there are several different entities within the FAA to see where the flight plan existed. We don’t have information that the pilot contacted Air Traffic Control, but that doesn’t mean the flight plan isn’t perhaps out there," Gerhardt said.

We asked if weather could have been a factor in the crash.

Gerhardt said, "Preliminary data suggests there was an overcast cloud layer, but we have a lot more information to delve into when it comes to what the weather conditions were and that is a standard component of every NTSB investigation."

The NTSB said they plan on publishing their initial findings within the next ten days.

It will likely be another 12 to 16 months before the final report is published.

Update 1:30 p.m. 12/8/21: The Bulloch County Coroner has identified the victim as Catherine Kloess, owner of The Jumping Place.

The Jumping Place is a skydiving business based at the Statesboro Airport.

Their website lists Kloess at the top of their staff page.

According to her biography, Kloess made her first jump in 1986 and has made more than two thousand skydives to date.

The Jumping Place was involved in another deadly plane crash back in 2018. Four people died in that crash.

Initial report: The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating after a deadly plane crash Tuesday night in Bulloch County.

Officials say the single-engine Cessna 182 crashed near the 150o block of Jones Mill Road around 9:30 p.m. after the pilot departed from Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport.

 Adam Gerhardt, Senior Air Safety Investigator for the NTSB.

Catherine (Cathy) Kloess, 61, owner and operator of The Jumping Place Skydive Center in Statesboro, has been identified by Bulloch County Coroner Jake Futch. She was the pilot killed in the Tuesday, December 7, 2021 plane crash in Bulloch County. Ms. Kloess was piloting The Jumping Place blue and white Cessna plane at the time of the crash.

Ms. Kloess was a resident of Zephyrhills, Florida but also had a temporary residence in Statesboro. The plane crash was very close to her Statesboro residence.

The crash occurred around 9:30 pm in a wooded area within eyesite of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport by air.

Aline Davis, owner of Aline Printing was a friend of Cathy’s. She lived beside her business and the crash site is behind her business on Jones Mill Road. She spoke fondly of her friend.

“Cathy was a feisty lady, so full of energy and life. She was a pleasure to be around and the only thing she loved more than flying was her children and grandchild. She really enjoyed sharing stories about them,” said Davis. “She lived in Florida, but would travel up here weekly to operate The Jump Place. She was our neighbor while in town and was a loyal customer of our printing business. We will miss her and send our condolences to her family.”

Sounds of Distress

In a statement from the FAA, they said the single engine Cessna 182 had departed from the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport prior to the crash. They confirmed the pilot was the only person on board the plane at the time of the crash.

Grice Connect received multiple messages from people who lived in the area of the crash. They all reported hearing a small plane in obvious distress. Then moments later they heard the impact of the crash and saw flames coming from the wooded area.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will be in town on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 to begin the investigation into the crash.

The 1956 Cessna 182, 4 seater, single engine plane was owned by TJP@Jax Incorporated based in Zephyrhills, Florida.

The Jumping Place Fatal Crash in 2018

On August 25, 2018 a Cessna 182A, N4785D also operated by The Jumping Place Skydiving Center was involved in a fatal crash in Swainsboro.

Andrew “Drew” Swenson, Aliaksandr “Alex” Bahrytsevich, Christopher Eldridge and Justin Duff were killed in the 2018 crash.

William Middlebrooks was rescued from the wreck and spent almost five weeks in ICU before he was released in September, 2018.

Grice Connect extends our condolences to Ms. Kloess’s family, friends and co-workers.

BULLOCH COUNTY, Georgia — A woman died in a plane crash Tuesday night, according to Bulloch County emergency crews.

Bulloch County coroner, Jake Futch says Catherine Kloess, 61, of Zephyrhills, Florida died in the crash. Futch said Kloess attended the Bulloch County Commission meeting Tuesday night in hopes to reopen her skydiving school in Statesboro.

The 61-year-old moved to Florida — after her shutting down the skydiving school in Statesboro — to reopen the business. After the meeting, she took off from the Statesboro airport back home to Florida when her plane later crashed.

According to the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), the small single engine aircraft went down in the area of Jones Mill Road and Sandy Hill Lane. BCSO says they responded to the scene around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

BCSO and the FAA continue to investigate the crash.


  1. METARS for the time period:

    KTBR 080235Z AUTO 16006KT 7SM OVC006 15/13 A3008
    KTBR 080215Z AUTO 15004KT 7SM OVC006 15/13 A3008
    KTBR 080155Z AUTO 14004KT 10SM OVC008 15/13 A3008
    KTBR 080135Z AUTO 14004KT 10SM OVC008 15/13 A3008

    Arrived at KTBR a few hours earlier:

    2015 photo:

    News station WTOC photo:

  2. From the flightaware track, it looks like the pilot did a little dipsy-doodle (as Martha King would say) over Jesup Wayne airport.

    1. Based on the reported METARS at KJES at the time of the dipsy-doodle maneuver, it looks like the classic "scud runners drop" from 12,000 to get through a hole in the clouds and under the overcast at 2,800 feet.
      KJES 072315Z AUTO 00000KT OVC026 19/16 A3010 RMK AO2 PWINO
      KJES 072255Z AUTO 00000KT OVC028 19/16 A3010 RMK AO2 PWINO
      KJES 072235Z AUTO 00000KT OVC028 20/16 A3010 RMK AO2 PWINO
      KJES 072215Z AUTO 00000KT OVC030 20/16 A3009 RMK AO2 PWINO
      KJES 072155Z AUTO 00000KT OVC030 20/16 A3010 RMK AO2 PWINO

    2. That was during an earlier flight. Flightaware doesn't have the accident takeoff crash from Statesboro.

  3. The pilot has been identified:

  4. Look like the plane considered landing at another airport then abruptly went lower. Mechanical issue most definitely.

    1. The last flight track shown on FlightAware was from an earlier flight. There is no track log of the accident flight, which crashed shortly after takeoff.

  5. Airmen Registry shows commercial certificate, ASEL, AMEL, Instrument.

    Crash location at Jones Mill Road and Sandy Hill Lane is two miles south of departure airport KTBR. Reports of hearing a small plane "in obvious distress" didn't include a description of what was heard.

    What is heard during power-related malfunctions while climbing on-course can be very different from what is heard during LOC events due to disorientation climbing in overcast. Either seems possible in this case.

    1. agree, "distress" appears to be the standard law enforcement / media term from lack of meaningful specific witnesses' comments, and which conveys zero.

  6. If those Metars are accurate my take is there is only one thing dumber than scud running in the day and that is to do it at night!

    1. There's something more to it if the plane was up only a few minutes. Inside the cockpit it is dark as those planes don't really have much lighting inside besides some on the instruments and easy to switch the fuel tank selector to off or even miss it was on off or the empty tank etc...
      Of course an engine failure in those conditions is a world of hurt, especially if the airport is surrounded by forests everything dark. Looks like she was trying to make it to a lighted road.

    2. The picture of the crash looks more akin to a total loss of control, not a forced landing. I'll stick with spatial disorientation in low visibility conditions.

  7. Pilot focus can be disrupted by frustration from events of the day.

    The pilot arrived in Statesboro on December 7 to attend the Bulloch County Commission meeting Tuesday night that was scheduled to start at 5:30 PM EST in hopes to reopen her skydiving school in Statesboro. Her presentation is listed as Item VII on the 7 December agenda.

    The Flightaware track of the inbound Tuesday, 7 December flight shows N5776B approaching KTBR at 5:48 PM EST. The 5:30 meeting was already in progress before she landed. The crash occurred after the meeting.

    The agenda packet from a prior Board meeting on 5 October documented ongoing issues with skydiving customer family members and friends being in the aircraft operating areas. The pilot's efforts in adding cones to define customer boundaries and briefing the customers apparently were not sufficient. Meeting minutes show that a decision was made during that meeting to terminate the lease.

    There had to be a great deal of frustration associated with making an appeal at the 7 December board meeting. A daylight return flight to Florida the next day would likely have been the better decision.

    October 05 Meeting agenda packet (See pdf pages 17 to 43):
    October 05 Meeting minutes (See Item IX):
    December 07 agenda (See item VII):

  8. It appears at initial face value that she was qualified and proficient in terms of flying. Her proficiency in IFR departures is unknown. Whatever happened, mistakes, or otherwise, do not discriminate. She was the American Dream, an entrepreneur and go-getter. Very sad ending.

    1. She gave me my first chance as a CPL... great person and awesome place to work while I did the drops as a skydive pilot. I flew both planes that crashed too. She was self made and was able to put 5 kids through college with the skydive business so I cannot imagine a worst fate on someone so resilient and driven. Aviation is a harsh mistress. Let this remind us to cherish life and make the best of it. She did.

  9. Weather, disorientation, possible engine issues, compounded by emotional stress from arriving late for an important meeting, and then have that meeting end in (for her) personal failure, possibly accompanied by potential future financial insecurities. Probably not the best conditions to go flying, with low ceilings, at night.

  10. NTSB final report notes drug quetiapine, an anti-psychotic also prescribed for insomnia. The side-effects outweigh its benefit for sleep. NTSB determined cause as VFR into IFR with spatial disorientation leading to stall/spin.