Friday, January 08, 2021

American Airlines returns to Stewart International Airport (KSWF)

STEWART AIRPORT – American Airlines, which withdrew its service from New York Stewart International Airport at Newburgh some months ago when federal COVID-19 aid expired, is back flying its Newburgh to Philadelphia route.

The service resumed on Tuesday, January 5 with one daily flight.

“We ‘re always evaluating our network based on supply and demand,” said American Airlines spokeswoman Nichelle Tait. “In light of the extension of the Payroll Support Program, we plan to reinstate service to Stewart International airport in Newburgh, NY and will continue to operate to Philadelphia International Airport on an Embraer ERJ-45.”

Orange County Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Cione said this provides a renewed sense of hope for Stewart.

“This is a sign of recovery. This is a sign that things are looking up. This is a sign that better days are ahead for us, and for American Airlines, which is a legacy airline, it is also an extremely stable airline. So, for them to see the value here is a sign that others may follow,” she said.

The Philly service is one flight per day. In the past, there have been as many as five daily flights aboard regional jets. The flights were originally provided by US Airways, but that airline was merged into American in recent years.

Jet Blue and Delta Airlines, which also suspended service during the pandemic, have not returned at this point. Only Allegiant Air continued its flights from Stewart, with a reduced schedule.

Incident occurred January 08, 2021 in Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida

CLEARWATER, Florida — A helicopter with two onboard made a successful emergency landing during rush hour Friday evening, according to the Clearwater Police Department.

The helicopter experienced mechanical trouble, police said, but was able to land on the 1800 block of U.S. 19, near Crown Acura.

No one on board was injured, police said.

Airlines Make Essential Air Proposals for Alliance Municipal Airport (KAIA) and Chadron Municipal Airport (KCDR)

Three airlines have submitted Essential Air Service propositions for both Alliance and Chadron, with a fourth carrier proposing service out of the Alliance airport only.

Boutique Air, Key Lime Air doing business as Denver Air Connection and Southern Airways Express are all offering 12 round-trips per week to Denver using turbo prop aircraft, and each has offered additional options or perks.

Boutique Air is offering an option for eight round-trips per week to Denver with four more to Omaha, Denver Air Connection has a jet service option out of Alliance, and Southern Airways Express would offer game-day flights from both Panhandle communities to Lincoln for 2021 home Husker games, with possible flights for up to five home basketball games.

SkyWest Airlines is also offering jet service of 12 round-trips per week between Alliance and Denver.

U.S. Transportation officials have asked local community leaders to express their preferences by email no later than February 4.

Abnormal Runway Contact: Cessna 170B, N4344B; accident occurred January 08, 2021 at Schoepflin Airport (WN26), Palouse, Whitman County, Washington

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Spokane, Washington

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Palouse, Washington
Accident Number: WPR21LA083
Date and Time: January 8, 2021, 14:00 Local
Registration: N4344B
Aircraft: Cessna 170B
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Abnormal runway contact
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional


The flight instructor of the tailwheel equipped airplane reported that, during an instructional flight, the student pilot’s landing flare was not sufficient to preclude a bounce. The student added power, and the airplane turned to the left toward hangars. The flight instructor took over the flight controls and continued the left turn to avoid hangars. The airplane departed the runway surface into a field. The wheels became stuck in the muddy ground and the airplane nosed over and came to rest inverted. The wings and vertical stabilizer were substantially damaged.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The student pilot’s improper landing flare and loss of directional control and the flight instructor’s delayed remedial action resulted in a runway excursion and nose over. 


Personnel issues Decision making/judgment - Student/instructed pilot
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Student/instructed pilot
Aircraft Landing flare - Incorrect use/operation
Personnel issues Monitoring other person - Instructor/check pilot
Personnel issues Delayed action - Instructor/check pilot
Environmental issues Wet/muddy terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing-flare/touchdown Abnormal runway contact (Defining event)
Landing-landing roll Loss of control on ground
Landing-landing roll Nose over/nose down

Flight instructor Information

Certificate: Commercial; Flight instructor
Age: 61,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: Lap only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane 
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane multi-engine; Airplane single-engine; Instrument airplane
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: July 1, 2020
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: June 27, 2019
Flight Time: (Estimated) 2174 hours (Total, all aircraft), 11 hours (Total, this make and model), 2046 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 26 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Student pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 39, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: Lap only
Instrument Rating(s): None 
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: December 17, 2019
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 69 hours (Total, all aircraft), 8 hours (Total, this make and model), 11 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N4344B
Model/Series: 170B NO SERIES 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1955
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 26688
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel 
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: September 3, 2020 Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 17 Hrs
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3173.2 Hrs
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT: Installed
Engine Model/Series: 0-300 SER
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 145 Horsepower
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPUW, 2551 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 13:53 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 189°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 12000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 3°C / 0°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Palouse, WA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Palouse, WA 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 2607 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 11 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 1600 ft / 25 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full stop; Traffic pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 46.884969,-117.07687

In Memoriam: Joseph Armstead Diblin

Joseph Armstead Diblin
July 20, 1917 - January 7, 2021

It is with profound sadness to report the death of World War II veteran, longtime aviator, and avid writer/storyteller, Joseph Armstead Diblin, age 103. He died peacefully at Nottingham Village, Northumberland on January 7, 2021.

Joe was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on July 20, 1917, and grew up in Hightstown, New Jersey, where his passion for flight was born. While in high school, he worked odd jobs at a local airport in exchange for flight lessons. Joe was also a sports enthusiast and accepted a basketball scholarship to Bucknell University in 1936. After graduating in 1940 with a degree in journalism and education, Joe enlisted in the the US Army Air Corps and during World War II, became a chief flight instructor for 4 engine bomber pilots, especially for the B-24 Liberator. As a 2nd LT, Joe trained hundreds of pilots to fly and has been lauded for his efforts on numerous occasions.

Following World War II, Joe signed up with Piper Lycoming Aircraft Engines out of Williamsport and spent several decades as a test pilot, instructor and engine troubleshooter. He retired in 1980 and pursued his passion for writing articles and short stories about flying, World War II, and its veterans. Joe felt that "Every vet has a story and it should be told". His storytelling was legendary. Joe's personal story is preserved digitally in the Veterans Historical Project at the Library of Congress and is available online.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents, George and Sarah; and two younger brothers, Donald and Eugene, who died while serving their country during World War II. Preceding him also was his first wife, Maryjane Aumiller and their son Charles "Chuck", and his wife of 31 years, Barbara Jones who passed in 2008 leaving three daughters, Lynn, Susan and Kathy and their families.

Burial will be limited to immediate family due to COVID protocol and restrictions.

In lieu of flowers, consider a memorial gift to a veteran's organization of your choosing or to Bucknell University Gift Processing, 1 Dent Dr., Lewisburg, PA 17837.

Arrangements are by the John H. Shaw III Funeral Home, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 

From Flight Club to Fight Club: Battle over Instruction Erupts at Santa Barbara Airport (KSBA)

Mike Fountaine, left, and David Williams headed to Lake Tahoe for lunch in the club’s Piper Comanche.

Flying clubs offer aviators a chance to share the cost of an airplane, but conflict has broken out at Santa Barbara airport over flight instruction for club members versus flight schools. Here, the Channel City Flyers’ Grumman Cheetah is piloted by Bertie Hope. 

They say flying is the most fun you can have with your pants on — the corollary is that it’s on the ground where the trouble begins.

For most pilots in an urban area like Santa Barbara, the thrill of flying starts with instruction, and the person who teaches you to fly matters. Defying gravity tends to have life-ending consequences, and for student pilots, choosing an instructor is not only a matter of knowledge but even more a matter of trust.

A fight over who gets to instruct has chilled the thrill at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) since 2016. Three million dollars in federal grant money could hang in the balance.

The combatants are the sole flight school left on the field — Above All Aviation — and a flying club that formed in 2016, Channel City Flyers. It’s mostly a grudge match, a fact that even airport staff acknowledges.

Channel City Flyers was started by three pilots, one of them Mike Fountaine, who is also a certified flight instructor. The year before forming Channel City, Fountaine walked out of Above All Aviation over a disagreement with the owners, Shawn and Joel Sullivan, about instruction. He’d taught flying at the airport for 26 years in various capacities, including through his own flight school Fountaine Aviation from 1996 to 2003.

Above All has been the big dog on the field for many years. Fountaine asserts it holds 85-90 percent of the flight instruction at the airport. A second school, Spitfire Aviation, was caught up in an insurance scheme in 2014 and soon changed hands. The new owner, a Chinese company, managed it from Orange County. Airport observers speculated it was chiefly a means for Chinese pilots to practice English and that Spitfire had been a shell company for several years. Spitfire gave up its lease at Santa Barbara’s airport in October 2020. A third flight school listed at SBA’s website, Santa Barbara Aviation, no longer offers instruction and is a charter service.

What’s a Flying Club?

Flying clubs exist under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules to promote general aviation and pilot safety — but their main purpose is to allow members to share the cost of buying, storing, and maintaining aircraft. Even the airport agrees that the field’s two clubs can allow its members to be instructed in club aircraft; the question is how much, a point the FAA leaves up to airports to determine. What differentiates a club from a school is that clubs cannot operate as a for-profit or compete with commercial tenants of the airport in any way, such as offering transportation, photo tours, or instruction to nonmembers.

SBA has two flight clubs. One, Santa Barbara Flying Club, formed in 1947, has about 60 members — several of whom are student pilots — and charges membership fees and for flight time in its three small aircraft. Channel City has about 30 members and similar rules and boasts a Piper Comanche with retractable landing gear. As a new club, nearly half its members are students trying for their pilot’s license.

And that’s where the fight began.

Above All had complained to airport authorities since 2016 about competition and economic discrimination from the new flying club. The Sullivans made a verbal complaint to the FAA in 2018, which resulted in a letter from George Aiken, the airports compliance program manager for the FAA’s Western-Pacific Region. Saying he wanted the airport to resolve the issue — and prevent FAA investigation and action — Aiken reminded SBA of the need to avoid unjust discrimination among its tenants, organizations, and persons “authorized by the airport sponsor to engage in commercial aeronautical activities at the airport, but who are not actual lessees at the airport with leased facilities.”

For Henry Thompson, the airport’s administrator, even an informal complaint, like the Sullivans’, to the FAA is a serious matter. Aiken’s letter clearly linked a resolution of the conflict to the airport’s continuing eligibility for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) money — SBA gets about $3 million a year in AIP grants for maintenance and other necessary work.

In order to comply, Thompson’s staff asked both clubs for a membership audit in order to find out just how many student pilots they had. Channel City replied they didn’t track that kind of information. The back and forth between the airport and the flying club consumed so much of staff’s time this past year that Thompson told the airport commissioners in December that they were “done with it.” Channel City was sent a cease-and-desist letter advising the club to “transfer” its students or its leases would be revoked by the end of 2020.

The Economy or Personality?

In a written statement to the Independent, Shawn Sullivan made the case for Above All’s economic issue: “Aviation is a challenging business environment, both from the standpoint of regulatory complexity as well as financially. … As the cost of operating a flight school (which is built into the regulatory requirements) is a significant factor in the challenges Above All faces in keeping our doors open, any unfair advantage that other providers enjoy must necessarily be opposed if we are to continue to provide for the community.” She added that she welcomed healthy competition.

As a certified flight instructor, Fountaine acknowledged he had almost no overhead compared to Above All, but they have all the credibility an office and a brace of aircraft can offer, he believes. “Are you going to take flight lessons from someone who pulls up in a car?” he asked. Word-of-mouth among pilots is what gets him students, and the student has to have access to an airplane. If Fountaine provided one, he’d be acting as a school.

Many have told the Independent the Sullivans’ complaint feels personal. David Williams is on the boards of both the Santa Barbara and Channel City clubs. He said he was within three hours of completing his student flight time with Above All Aviation when he joined Channel City. The Sullivans kicked him out of the flight school, he said, even though he’d spent $10,000 on lessons with them. His instructor, appalled, texted an apology, Williams said.

Williams finished his time with other instructors, including Mike Fountaine. “He’s got 25,000 hours of experience,” Williams said, “The level of instruction was incredible, in every way. Mike’s always flown single-engine aircraft and knows them in and out.”

Sullivan insisted the economic unfairness was the only reason she filed a complaint to the FAA.

Staying Alive

The clubs came out in force to the Airport Commission meeting on December 16. Among the speakers was one of Channel City’s student pilots. Jason Lee explained to the commissioners that he’d started flying a year ago “when I found the pursuit of flight was within the grasp of a person of modest income.” He’d visited Above All, but online pilot blogs advised trying different instructors. “Given the risks involved in flying,” Lee explained, “choosing an instructor is not to be done lightly.” He went on to say, “The ability of the instructor can mean the difference between life and death” and asked the commissioners not to curtail his ability to choose an instructor.

Constitutional rights were invoked by another speaker. Bob Rice, S.B. Flying’s president, argued the airport administrator was trying to change the rules “so that we would not be able to use the instructors of our choice. Any individual aircraft owner can contract with a federally licensed instructor for the instruction they need, not that some third party says they need.” Darryl Eaton, the secretary for the Santa Barbara Flying Club, said he was actually using the flight simulator at Above All when his club got its audit letter from the airport authorities.

Channel City has lawyered up, hiring Scott Williams, a Thousand Oaks attorney experienced in aircraft law. After first denying the club engaged in commercial flight instruction activity, Williams offered to decrease student membership at the club to 33 percent.

Deanna Zachrisson, business development manager for the airport, said the offer itself pointed to the problem. “The idea of negotiating over the number of students who can receive flight instruction via a flying club instead of in a flight school is illustrative of the issue,” she said. “The purpose of a flying club is not to teach people how to fly.”

Channel City Flyers was given a reprieve until the end of January to conform to the airport’s new rules, though Zachrisson said they were still attempting to find a compromise. While the airport could limit flight instruction at a club, that felt like a heavy-handed tactic, she said, because too much instruction was not typically an issue on airfields, which are highly interested in safety. Once revised, the entire set of new rules regarding instruction would go to public comment before heading to the Santa Barbara City Council for enactment.

At December’s commission meeting, Thompson announced the airport would send a request for proposal to enlist a second flight school. Mike Fountaine is applying. “Above All Aviation is a monopoly, and I think a little healthy competition is good for the consumer,” Fountaine said. If the group he’s formed wins the contract, Zachrisson hoped they and Above All would begrudgingly find a way to compete against each other.

DeHavilland Beaver is one of the most durable and dependable aircraft the world has ever known

Hatch Magazine
by Chris Hunt 

As we glided over the boreal forests of northwest Ontario some years back, the 20-something pilot of the vintage DeHavilland Beaver in the seat to my left gave me a nudge. I looked over at the kid — the first question I asked him upon boarding was, “How many hours do you have?” — and he pointed to the sticks in front me.

His blonde hair poked out like corn silk from under a ball cap and his youthful face bore a questioning look. He glanced again at the sticks, and gave me a nod. Realizing what he was suggesting, I looked him dead in the eyes and mouthed the question, “Me?”

He nodded. I’m sure my eyes were the size of salad plates as I reached forward and grabbed the yoke of the Beaver. My headphones buzzed to life.

“See that big lake at the edge of the horizon?” he asked. I looked out over the black spruce and birch forest below us. There were pothole lakes everywhere. Hundreds of them. But ahead of us on the horizon, through the plexiglass windshield and the blur of the Beaver’s propellor, a larger body of water loomed. I nodded.

“That’s where we’re going,” he said. And he took his hands off the controls, leaving me to fly the plane.


The morning before our flight, my buddy Mark Taylor and I were joined by a couple of other writers for a junket north to chase pike and walleye in the cold, tannic lakes of the northwest corner of Ontario. We got a ride from the tourism bureau based in Thunder Bay from our hotel in Duluth, Minn., along the shores of Lake Superior to the airplane dock on the outskirts of Thunder Bay.

The group of us spent the previous week in Duluth at an outdoor writing conference, and we took advantage of an offer to spend a few days after the meetings in the north country, casting flies to hungry fish. When I noticed the trip on the conference schedule, I immediately pinged Taylor.

“We have to do this,” I said. He hadn’t fished the far north in Canada before, but he and I had fished together quite a bit over the years, from Alaska to Virginia and in my home state of Idaho. I love the boreal north — the peace and quiet of a Northwoods lake broken only by the sound of a modest outboard motor and a skiff skirting over calm, dark water is one of those visceral fly fishing experiences that every serious angler should take in.

After our little road trip along Lake Superior to the dock where our ride north waited, tied to the dock and just oozing with potential, our hosts prepared a great little lunch spread for us. The group of writers, hungry after an hours-long drive, assembled some Dagwood-style sandwiches, scarfed down a few bags of chips and we even dove into a big bowl of cold, fresh Caesar salad. The meal and the great conversation with the tourism folks hit the spot.

And of course, we were dying to get in the plane and head north. The quicker we ate, the quicker we’d be on our way. If we played our cards right, we could be fishing before dark.


Over years of visiting the far north with a fly rod in hand, I’ve had the chance to watch the world glide by beneath me from the unique perspective as a passenger in a DeHavilland Beaver. It might be the smoothest ride there is — altitude is never terribly severe, and it’s largely a fly-by-sight proposition. Good weather, good flight. Bad weather, no flight. Simple as that.

I’ve also watched over the years as pilots hop in after shoving off from a dock in some remote angling outpost and proceed to prime the engine, adjust the fuel mixture and get the flaps just right for takeoff. Once they crank the engine, the first look at the instruments is at the oil-pressure gauge to make sure everything is flowing through the tough but finicky machinery. The report of a Beaver’s engine is unmistakable. If you’ve had the pleasure of riding in one, it’s a sound you’ll never forget. You can recognize its tell-tale growl from both within the plane and from outside as one of these venerable crafts approaches out of the ether to either pluck you from the wild or to deliver you to it.

Takeoff from a body of water — some Beavers have hybrid landing gear that enables them to take off and land on runways, too — is one of those physics-defying moments. Honestly, from within the plane, it’s easy to imagine every possible disaster as the plane starts to glide across the chop of an Alaskan bay or a sheltered cove on some Northwoods pothole. You can envision a wave swamping a pontoon and pulling the plane under the drink. It feels likely that a gust of wind could simply tip the seemingly top-heavy craft and send it to the bottom.

But then, without fanfare, you’re flying. The friction between the water and the craft just disappears, and the water starts to fall away. Suddenly, you’ve got a bird’s-eye view of the land and waterscape below, and the plane starts to eat air miles at a modest altitude.


On our two-hour flight north from Thunder Bay to a remote wilderness outpost, four passengers, myself included, rested heads against the windows and took in the vast country below. From the perspective of the Beaver, you get a detailed look at the natural history of the land and water below. Scorched earth from past fires (you’d be surprised how many fires have burned across the boreal north over the last two decades or so) are easily seen, and the geology of certain areas is easily determinable.

On this flight, the landscape below shifted between sheer black as we cruised over burned-out wildfires, dark green as we glided over old-growth black spruce forests and a fresh, bright green as we topped copses of newly leafed-out birches. The pothole lakes reflected the blue-gray of the hazy afternoon skies, and visibility was stellar.

As I took the yoke, and the pilot relinquished the most basic of controls, I was surprised how sensitive the plane was to even the smallest nudge of the sticks. Keeping the target lake in view, I simply had to maintain the direction. It seemed so simple. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as it looked.


The first DeHavilland Beaver produced for daily service was delivered to the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests in April of 1948. The plane was produced for the next 20 years or so — the original production line ceased operating in 1967 after more than 1,600 planes had been placed into service all over the world. Many of the planes have been rebuilt and improved over the years — replacement parts for the Beaver are still produced by Viking Air of British Columbia — and Beavers are still in service around the globe. The first Beaver retrofitted with an electric motor was tested just over a year ago in Vancouver.

Over time, it’s proven to be perhaps the most durable and dependable aircraft used largely for utility purposes (air taxis, remote postage delivery, etc.) the world has ever known. It’s easily the aircraft of choice for bush pilots the world over, and it has allowed military expeditions to venture into remote country that was once only reachable by foot or boat.

When one of these crafts goes up for sale, a buyer should count on spending about $350,000 to acquire one.


The first challenge I noticed while “flying” the craft was the general tilt of the plane. I had to crane my neck to keep the destination lake in sight because our glide path had the front of the plane slightly elevated. I naturally pushed slightly forward on the sticks to lower the plane’s nose. This, of course, resulted in the loss of altitude — and at 130 mph, it’s a pretty quick descent.

From the corner of my eye, I could sense the grin spreading out across the young pilot’s face, as I struggled to find the “sweet spot” I needed to guide the plane toward our destination while also maintaining our 1,500-foot cruising altitude. I never gave a thought to the loss and then sudden recovery of altitude and what effect that might be having on the guys behind me who had ceased being my fishing buddies and were now my passengers.

A minute or so into my sole Beaver piloting experience, Mark, who was seated in the second row of seats but behind the actual pilot of the craft, reached forward and tapped me on the shoulder. I looked at him.

He gave me a big grin as he mouthed, “Are you flying this thing?” I nodded, my smile likely stretching off the confines of my face. He laughed and sat back, shaking his head from side to side.

I continued to guide the craft as best I could, both exhilarated and terrified at the same time. I’ve honestly never truly had the desire to pilot an aircraft, but I’ve often dreamed of being able to go just about anywhere, anytime thanks to the flexibility of possessing a plane — I think most anglers who love to venture far afield have had the same dream. Unfortunately, those with honest-to-God day jobs rarely make the scratch needed to possess, let along maintain and fly, a Beaver. We must be content with the occasional ride. Or, if you’re like me, with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to simply steer, kind of like when you were riding along a dirt road all those years ago and your grandfather says, “Here, take the wheel for a second while I grab a beer.”

And, of course, the results were likely similar. While I didn’t run us into a ditch or anything (and the pilot was literally right there to regain command on a whim), I did struggle with altitude. Nose up, up we went. Nose down, down we dropped. Subtle ups and downs followed as I worked to get the feel for the craft over the next few minutes.

Then, a familiar scent started to waft through the cabin of the Beaver. Lunch. Specifically, Caesar dressing.

Mark reached up and tapped my shoulder, half laughing and half cringing. Behind me, a younger outdoor writer was busy filling the barf bag with the meal we’d enjoyed just before climbing aboard the aircraft and starting our adventure north. I looked over at the pilot and shrugged. He grinned from under his ballcap and took the controls away from the would-be pilot.

I had induced vomit.

Thankfully, there wasn’t a sympathetic puker among the rest of the passengers, and this little incident has become just another great story on a trip full of great stories. And while it’s easy to make fun of the poor kid for acquiring air sickness, I was reminded frequently that my up-and-down antics behind the yoke were palpable.

“I knew something was different the second you put your hands on the sticks,” Mark told me later that evening over a tumbler of whiskey at the lodge. The poor kid who suffered the most from my short-lived tenure as a Beaver pilot was still too sick to drink, but he agreed completely.

“Listen,” I said in my defense. “When you have more than seven minutes of flight time under your belt, you can complain. The way I see it … we’re all here, safe and sound.”

“You’re welcome.”

Mooney M20J/201, N201DG: Fatal accident occurred May 29, 2019 in Cape May, New Jersey

Lawrence Klimek

Mooney M20J/201, N201DG

 Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Cape May, New Jersey
Accident Number: ERA19FA184
Date & Time: May 29, 2019, 11:15 Local 
Registration: N201DG
Aircraft: Mooney M20J 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot was seen by multiple witnesses flying low just above the ocean surface near the shoreline. One witness stated that he saw the airplane flying about 10 ft above the ocean when it contacted the water, climbed about 100 to 200 ft, then entered a steep dive and impacted the water in a near-vertical attitude. 

Postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact mechanical deficiencies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane. Following a death investigation, the state medical examiner classified the manner of death as suicide.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's intentional flight into water as an act of suicide.


Personnel issues Suicide - Pilot

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying Miscellaneous/other (Defining event)

On May 29, 2019, at 1115 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N201DG, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Cape May, New Jersey. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

In a written statement, a witness described seeing the airplane flying parallel to the beach about 10 ft above the water. He stated that it appeared "stable and in control but then dipped, hit the water, and skipped up out of control." The airplane entered a steep climb to around 100 to 200 ft above the water, “stalled, turned downward, and plunged almost straight into the water." The witness estimated the pitchup attitude of the airplane after it contacted the water at 65° to 70° and its nose-down attitude at 75° to 80° during the descent.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector stated that reports of a low-flying airplane travelling along the beach from north to south were received from several towns north of Cape May. Witnesses reported that the airplane would dive to the surface, fly low along the beach, and climb again.

One witness forwarded a video of the airplane as it passed her position on Diamond Beach, about 5 miles, or about 2.5 minutes, north of the accident site. The airplane was near the shoreline, about 10 ft above the wave break, and the sound of the engine was smooth and continuous throughout. At one point, the airplane descended below the horizon line. About 20 seconds into the 30-second video, the airplane began a steep climb. The airplane was about 200 ft above the surface when the video ended.

State and local law enforcement attempted recovery of the pilot in the days following the accident but were hampered by the strong current, low visibility, and storms. On June 1, 2019, a commercial underwater salvage operator recovered the pilot along with the wreckage.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial 
Age: 58,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: BasicMed Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: September 20, 2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 333 hours (Total, all aircraft), 17 hours (Total, this make and model), 6 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

The owner/operator of the airplane stated that the pilot had "returned" to flying in October 2018. Training and rental records revealed that, since that time, the pilot had completed online FAA flight review training, received 17 hours of dual instruction, and had accrued 44.1 total hours of flight experience.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Mooney
Registration: N201DG
Model/Series: M20J No Series 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1977
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 24-0110
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: February 13, 2019 Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2899 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5233.2 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated 
Engine Model/Series: IO360-A3B6D
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 200 Horsepower
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot school (141)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KWWD,23 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 10:56 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 18°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 260° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 29.75 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 20°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Robbinsville, NJ (N87)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Robbinsville, NJ (N87) 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 38.925556,-74.943054(est)

All major components of the airplane were recovered except for the left wing. The roof, left wing, and empennage were separated from the fuselage. The fracture surfaces displayed features consistent withoverload failure. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit area, through several breaks, to all available flight control surfaces. The fracture surfaces at the breaks displayed features consistent with overstress. The leading edge of the right wing was uniformly crushed aft along its entire span.

The engine was rotated by hand at the propeller and powertrain continuity was confirmed to the accessory section. Thumb compression was confirmed on all cylinders. Examination of the top spark plugs from each of the 4 cylinders revealed signatures consistent with normal wear and saltwater immersion. The single-drive dual magneto was destroyed by impact and saltwater immersion. The engine-driven fuel pump was removed, and when actuated by hand, pumped fluid from the output port. The fuel supply line was removed at the inlet port to the fuel manifold, where trace amounts of fuel were detected.

The propeller was attached at the hub, and all 3 blades displayed similar aft bending.

Medical and Pathological Information

The Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner, Woodbine, New Jersey, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was listed as "blunt trauma of head, neck, trunk, and extremities," and the manner of death as "suicide."

The FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory performed toxicological testing on the pilot. Ethanol was detected in concentrations and distribution consistent with postmortem production. No tested-for drugs were identified. 

Photograph of Hudson Engineers real time scanning sonar showing the sonar tripod in the center, the diver at approximately 100 and the wreckage at approximately 3:00 

Photograph of the sonar image of the aircraft on the sea floor. 

Piper PA-44-180 Seminole, N784LU: Incident occurred January 07, 2021 at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (KSHD), Staunton, Virginia

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Richmond, Virginia

Aircraft landed gear up. 

Liberty University School of Aeronautics

Date: 07-JAN-21
Time: 16:35:00Z
Regis#: N784LU
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA44
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

Cirrus SR22, N989HK: Incidents occurred September 10, 2021 and January 07, 2021

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York

September 10, 2021:  Aircraft landed long and crashed into a fence at East Hampton Airport (KHTO), Suffolk County, New York. 

Glacier Aircraft Leasing LLC

Date: 10-SEP-21
Time: 18:34:00Z
Regis#: N989HK
Aircraft Make: CIRRUS
Aircraft Model: SR22
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

A small plane carrying a pilot and one passenger overshot the runway at East Hampton Airport on Friday afternoon, breaking through a wooden fence and coming to rest across Daniel’s Hole Road.

Jim Brundige, the airport’s director who was at the scene, said there were no injuries and the Cirrus SR22 was towed back to the hangar area.

Mr. Brundige said the plane was attempting to land on runway 34 when it got caught up in the gusty wind, and the pilot was unable to complete his landing safely.

The name of the pilot was not immediately available, although Mr. Brundige said the plane was from Orlando, Florida.

The East Hampton Fire Department responded to the scene, blocking off the road for about a half hour until the plane was towed back across the road and emergency vehicles cleared from the scene.

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

January 07, 2021:  Aircraft landed and veered off runway into the grass at Orlando Executive Airport (KORL), Orange County, Florida.

Glacier Aircraft Leasing LLC

Date: 07-JAN-21
Time: 16:46:00Z
Regis#: N989HK
Aircraft Make: CIRRUS
Aircraft Model: SR22
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91