Friday, March 18, 2022

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, N8357Y: Fatal accident occurred March 17, 2022 in Pond Creek, Grant County, Oklahoma



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; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania


Location: Pond Creek, Oklahoma 
Accident Number: CEN22FA145
Date and Time: March 17, 2022, 16:38 Local
Registration: N8357Y
Aircraft: Piper PA-30 Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On March 17, 2022, about 1638 central daylight time, a Piper PA-30 airplane, N8357Y, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Pond Creek, Oklahoma. The pilot and 2 passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Preliminary radar and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data indicated that the airplane first appeared at 1509 about 1.5 nautical miles west of the Mineral Wells Regional Airport (MWL), Mineral Wells, Texas. The airplane tracked north and climbed initially to a cruise altitude of 8,500 ft and then later climbed to 16,500 ft. The airplane began a descent after it passed over Vance Air Force Base (END), Enid, Oklahoma, and turned momentarily to the east. The airplane then turned west and back to the north while it descended. The ground speed decreased from over 200 kts to under 100 kts. About 1631, and 5 miles southwest of Pond Creek, Mode C position reporting data was lost followed by the loss of all track data.

The airplane was not in contact, nor was it required to be in contact, with Air Traffic Control.

A witness in the area reported that he heard what sounded like engines revving. He looked up and saw the airplane come straight down in a right-hand nose down spin. He followed the airplane until he could no longer see it. He reported that the tail of the airplane came off the airplane just before he lost sight of it. 

The accident site was located across several fields about 6 miles southwest of Pond Creek. The airplane main wreckage was located on the west side of a creek bed in a field. The elevation of the accident site was about 1,100 ft and the terrain was predominately flat and consisted of tall grass. The airplane main wreckage consisted of the forward fuselage, cabin, and baggage compartment, left and right inboard wings, left and right engines, and nacelles, and came to rest inverted. The wreckage was crushed aft and fragmented and showed evidence of a near vertical impact.

The aft fuselage and empennage consisted of the vertical stabilizer and rudder. The inboard sections of the horizontal stabilators were broken and held to the main wreckage by the flight control and trim cables. Both wings were broken about 5 ft outboard of the nacelles. The broken sections showed upward bending, aft twisting, and fractures consistent with overload failures. Several impact marks and paint transfers were found along the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer indicative of a component striking it before ground impact.

Outboard sections of the left and right wings and outboard tip tanks were located about 600 ft southsoutheast of the main wreckage. Also located in this area were the left and right propellers. An outboard section of the left wing was in a field about 1,146 ft west-northwest of the main wreckage. Pieces of wing skin, cowlings, plexiglass, and the outboard sections of the left and right horizontal stabilators were found in adjacent fields west and northwest of the main wreckage.

The left propeller hub was broken open and one propeller blade was broken out. The blade showed no damage. The blade that remained with the hub showed S-bending, chordwise scratches, and trailing edge gouges. Two inches of the blade’s tip was missing. The hub was attached to the flange and 3 inches of the left engine crankshaft. The right propeller was also attached to the flange and about 3 inches of the right engine crankshaft. Both blades were bent slightly forward and showed chordwise scratches and trailing edge gouges.

The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for further examination.



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N8357Y
Model/Series: PA-30 
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: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KWDG, 1167 ft msl
Observation Time: 16:45 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 17 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 21.1°C /7.2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 50 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 190°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 90 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.64 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Mineral Wells, TX (MML)
Destination: NE

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 36.628657,-97.887604 (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.


William (Bill) Joseph Lauber
December 19, 1962 ~ March 17, 2022 (age 59)


Revered funeral director, father, brother, and grandfather William (Bill) J. Lauber, of Milford, passed away on March 17, 2022, north of Pond Creek, Oklahoma at the age of 59.

Bill was born in Geneva, NE on December 19, 1962, the youngest child of Wendell W. Lauber and Norma R. (Kuiken) Lauber. Bill was a 1981 graduate of Geneva High School, attended Kearney State College, and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s degree in Mortuary Science. During his college years he was also a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. In January 1992, Bill purchased the Moore’s Funeral Homes of Friend, Milford, and Beaver Crossing where he spent many years conducting funerals for various families and communities. Bill’s career legacy was laced with achievement. In 2002-2003 he represented the State of Nebraska serving as the President of the Nebraska Funeral Director’s Association and also served as a Policy Board Member for the National Funeral Director’s Association. Bill later went on to serve a five year term on the Board of Examiners, Funeral Directors and Embalmers, and the Nebraska State Department of Health. Up until his passing he was the chairman of the Legislative Committee for the NeFDA and was instrumental in various legislative bill passages. In 2018 he opened Blue Valley Crematory as an addition to Lauber Funeral Homes to serve the communities increasing needs for crematory services. Bill was also a part of various community organizations including being a member of the Milford United Methodist Church, Milford Chamber of Commerce, Milford Kiwanis Club, Milford and Friend Masonic Lodges, Shrine, Scottish Rite and Order of the Eastern Star.

In addition to his lengthy career, Bill was known for his family values and larger than life personality. Bill was married to his high school sweetheart, Christine M. Merritt, on June 28th, 1986 in Norfolk, Nebraska. From this union came four children: Whitney, Michael, Madison, and Regan Lauber. Bill enjoyed the outdoors and lived life to the fullest, participating in many activities to include boating, flying, golfing and scuba diving. He particularly loved boating and created a family tradition of spending a week at the Lake of the Ozarks annually. Bill also had a passion for flying after obtaining his pilot’s license and spent the past several years traveling the country with his beloved wife and family flying his father’s Twin Engine Comanche plane. Bill will be remembered for his vivacious spirit, animated jokes and stories, and devotion to his Christian faith. He was an avid Husker football fan, sports connoisseur, and had a taste for eclectic music that ranged from punk to the classics.

Survivors include daughter and son in law, Whitney and Colton Chrisman of Lincoln, NE, son Michael Lauber and girlfriend Kaylee Chrisman of Lincoln, NE, and daughter Madison Lauber and boyfriend Caden Foster, of Austin TX, brother Jerry and sister-in-law Sharon Lauber of Geneva, NE, twin brothers Brad and Bryan Lauber of Geneva, step mother Louise Lauber of Lincoln, step brothers Chris and Sally Barnard of Lincoln, Paul and Linda Barnard of Aliso Viejo, CA, grandchildren Carver and Kyla Chrisman of Lincoln, NE, father and mother-in-law James and Elenore Merritt of Norfolk, NE, brother and sisters-in-law Steve and Kathie Merritt of Kearney, NE, David and Heidi Merritt, Brent and Cary Meyer, Patrick and Mary Hammond all of Norfolk, NE, Aunt Helen Witmer, cousin Eric and Susan Witmer all of Philipsburg, KS along with several nephews, nieces, cousins and relatives.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Wendell and Norma Lauber, and uncle Claiton Lauber.

Funeral services for Bill Lauber will be 2:00pm Saturday March 26, 2022 at the Milford High School gymnasium, 301 South G Street. Visitation’s will be Thursday March 24 from 1:00pm to 9:00pm and Friday March 25 from 1:00pm to 9:00pm with family greeting relatives and friends Friday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Lauber Funeral Home, Milford. Services to be live streamed on Facebook, Lauber Funeral and Cremation Service.

Memorials may be directed to the family for future designation and scholarships.


Christine (Christy) Marie Lauber
May 14, 1963 ~ March 17, 2022 (age 58)


Beloved mother, sister, daughter and grandmother Christine (Christy) Marie Lauber of Milford, NE, passed away on March 17, 2022, north of Pond Creek, Oklahoma at the age of 58.

Christy was born in Fremont, Nebraska on May 14, 1963, the eldest child of James and Elenore (Hansen) Merritt. She was a 1981 graduate of Geneva High School and went on to attend Kearney State College where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education in 1986. During her college years she was also a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority. Christy was a teacher for several years at various schools including Beatrice, Milford, Lincoln Cavett and Pershing Elementaries. She was adored and coined a “favorite teacher” by many of her students. In addition to being an educator, Christy developed a passion for dancing at a young age which continued into her adult life as she opened her own dance studio “Step Above,” in Beaver Crossing, located above her husband’s mortuary. Many of her family’s dearest memories include times where she would spontaneously burst out in song and dance. In the past several years, Christy began pursuing another passion of interior decorating where she established her own business, Lauber Decorating Den. Christy enjoyed helping others transform their homes into beautiful masterpieces using her creativity, wisdom, and knowledge of aesthetics. Christy was also involved heavily in her community serving as a Sunday School teacher, Youth Group leader, and Bible School director along with various other roles within Milford’s United Methodist Church.

One of Christy’s biggest values was family and she is considered the “glue” that held her family together. Christy was married to her high school sweetheart, William (Bill) Lauber on June 28th, 1986, in Norfolk, NE. From this union came four children: Whitney, twins Michael and Madison, and Regan Lauber. Christy loved Bill and the two of them were considered partners in crime as they were avid travelers and companions. She enjoyed participating in several activities with her husband including boating, skiing, scuba diving, and flying. Christy is remembered for her kind, gentle spirit, ability to light up any room she entered, infectious laugh, along with being a cherished grandmother to her two grandchildren.

Survivors include daughter and son in law, Whitney and Colton Chrisman of Lincoln, NE, son Michael Lauber and girlfriend Kaylee Chrisman of Lincoln, NE, and daughter Madison Lauber and boyfriend Caden Foster, of Austin TX, grandchildren Carver and Kyla Chrisman of Lincoln, NE, mother and father James and Elenore Merritt, of Norfolk, NE, brother and sister-in-law Steve and Kathie Merritt of Kearney, NE, brother and sister-in-law David and Heidi Merritt, sister and brother-in-law Cary and Brent Meyer, sister and brother-in-law Mary and Patrick Hammond all of Norfolk, NE, brother and sister-in-law Jerry and Sharon Lauber, brothers-in-law Brad and Bryan Lauber all of Geneva, NE, aunt Leanna Jacobson of Ames, IA, cousins Melissa Downey of Overland Park and Joel Jacobson of Ankeny, IA, many nephews and nieces.

Christy is preceded in death by her grandparents Willis and Margaret Merritt, Carl and Marie Hansen, uncles Kenneth and LeRoy Hansen, father and mother-in-law Wendell and Norma Lauber.

Funeral services for Christy Lauber will be 2:00pm Saturday March 26, 2022 at the Milford High School gymnasium, 301 South G Street. Visitation’s will be Thursday March 24 from 1:00pm to 9:00pm and Friday March 25 from 1:00pm to 9:00pm with family greeting relatives and friends Friday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Lauber Funeral Home, Milford. Services to be live streamed on Facebook, Lauber Funeral and Cremation Service.

Memorials may be directed to the family for future designation and scholarships. 


Regan Victoria Lauber
August 17, 2000 ~ March 17, 2022 (age 21)
 

Cherished sister, daughter, aunt and friend Regan Victoria Lauber, of Milford, Nebraska, passed away on March 17, 2022, north of Pond Creek, Oklahoma, at the age of 21.

Regan was born in Lincoln, NE, on August 17, 2000, as the youngest child of William (Bill) and Christine (Christy) Lauber. Regan was a Milford High School graduate of 2018 and was in her senior year of college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, set to graduate in May 2022 with her Bachelor of Arts in English. Regan aspired to continue her education and wanted to move to Austin, Texas, to be with her sister, Madison, while attending graduate school. Regan was an exceptional reader and writer and particularly liked reading fiction, young adult, and gothic novels. She also wrote a book with her dear friend Kyhana that they were planning to publish. During Regan’s high school career she was heavily involved in dance, being a member of the Milford High School dance team along with participating in Milford’s Elements Dance Concept where she competed in dance doing ballet, point, jazz, pom, production and hip hop. Regan also helped teach dance as an instructor and was loved by her students. In addition to performing on stage as a dancer, Regan was part of the Milford Speech team where she excelled in acting and was known to be able to impersonate anyone.

Regan was the youngest sibling of the Lauber family, with older siblings Whitney, Michael and Madison. She will be remembered for her artistic qualities, her uncanny humor, her admiration for One Direction boy band, love for music and making playlists for her friends and family, her tendency to stay up playing SIMS computer game relentlessly, her beauty and being a renowned make up artist. Anyone who met Regan was inspired by her tenacity for life and genuine kindness.

Regan is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Whitney and Colton Chrisman of Lincoln, NE, nieces Carver and Kyla Chrisman of Lincoln, NE sister Madison Lauber and boyfriend Caden Foster of Austin, TX, brother Michael Lauber and girlfriend Kaylee Chrisman of Lincoln, NE, grandparents James and Elenore Merritt of Norfolk, NE, uncle and aunt Steve and Kathie of Kearney, NE, aunts and uncles Cary and Brent Meyer, Mary and Patrick Hammond, Heidi and David all of Norfolk, NE, uncle and aunt Jerry and Sharon, uncles Bryan and Brad Lauber all of Geneva, NE, cousins Mackenzie and Ryan Swogger of Omaha, NE, Tessa and Emerson Meyer, Benjamin and Max Hammond, Maggie and Kate Merritt all of Norfolk, NE, cousins Bradley Jr and Stacy Lauber, Dana and Whitney Lauber, Phil Lauber all of Geneva, NE along with second cousins Macye and Kyle Witmer and Malorie Greene, among other relatives.

Regan is preceded in death by her parents, Bill and Christy Lauber, grandparents Wendell and Norma Lauber, cousin Karoline Lauber, and great-grandparents, and dear friend, Trevyn Roth.

Funeral services for Regan Lauber will be 2:00pm Saturday March 26, 2022 at the Milford High School gymnasium, 301 South G Street. Visitation’s will be Thursday March 24 from 1:00pm to 9:00pm and Friday March 25 from 1:00pm to 9:00pm with family greeting relatives and friends Friday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Lauber Funeral Home, Milford. Services to be live streamed on Facebook, Lauber Funeral and Cremation Service.

Memorials may be directed to the family for future designation and scholarships. 

29 comments:

  1. Looks like ran into some weather, tried to climb over it, then something happened. Ground speed became very erratic.

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    1. I agree that it looks like they tried to climb over some weather (backed up by the radar returns at the time.) However, their ground speeds looks like what you'd expect climbing into a stronger tailwind from the south. Their ground speed increased as they climbed and reached altitude, and then decreased during the parts of the s-turn they made that were not parallel with the winds aloft. https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?icao=ab6e51&lat=36.583&lon=-97.891&zoom=13.8&showTrace=2022-03-17&trackLabels&timestamp=1647550962

      It was only right at the end when the airspeed dramatically increased as they flew into a death spiral and then lost control. My guess would be either spatial disorientation in the clouds (the pilot was not instrument rated), hypoxia from a failed oxygen system or icing.

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    2. Good point as far as the winds aloft, I didn't take that into consideration!

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  2. The FlightAware track shows only about 10 minutes above 15,000 ft - well within the FAA's Time of Useful Consciousness for a healthy individual (AC61-107B). So hypoxia is probably not it...

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, but if they were above 10000-12000ft, they were in trouble if they did not have oxygen.

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    2. Regs are one thing, hypoxia is another, hypoxia cannot read.

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    3. Bobby Joe Blythe I’m with you on this one. Batchman would agree

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    4. Mr Safari, A day doesn't go by I don't miss him.

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    5. The original comment by "Unknown" on March 19, 2022 at 9:50:00 AM EDT is dead wrong. 14 CFR § 91.211 requires that at the minimum, flight crew be provided with and use supplemental oxygen after 30 minutes of exposure to cabin pressure altitudes between 12,500 and 14,000 feet and immediately on exposure to cabin pressure altitudes above 14,000 feet. Every occupant of the aircraft must be provided with supplemental oxygen at cabin pressure altitudes above 15,000 feet.

      Furthermore, the AIM encourages that for optimum protection, pilots use supplemental oxygen above 10,000 feet during the day, and above 5,000 feet at night.

      It is extremely unlikely that they would be flying that high without an oxygen source available. The big question is if it was working properly.

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    6. Regulations are Regulations you need to take in consideration his personal health, everyone's personal health is different and may not tolerate higher altitudes without O2.

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    7. Yes, 14CFR91.211 requires the use of oxygen. That does not change the Time of Useful Consciousness as described in AC61.107B. Do not confuse regulations with physiology.

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    8. "Unknown" please stop posting garbage.

      If you actually bothered to read AC61.107B, you'd see this large caution statement under the TUC table stating "TUCs are based on data that represent average values and reflect wide variation among pilots in terms of time to incapacitation"

      Also in AC61.107B "While other significant effects of hypoxia usually do not occur in a healthy pilot in an unpressurized aircraft below 12,000 ft MSL, there is no assurance that this will always be the case. Furthermore, the altitude range of impairment due to hypoxia is best described as a continuum; there is no definitive altitude at which the effects of hypoxia begin or end. To mitigate the risk associated with these variations, if hypoxia is suspected, a descent to altitudes below 10,000 ft MSL is recommended."

      Loss of consciousness is only one of the MANY impairments that hypoxia can cause and the other impairments often strike sooner. So if you read AC61.107B and concluded hypoxia could not occur if you only spent 10 minutes at 15,000, I really hope you are not a pilot.

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  3. You should not fly above 10k without having oxygen in the plane. Your blood oxygen level goes down with altitude most are not effected but some are pre-existing conditions etc

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  4. I,open,empty awareness,am aware of thoughts, feelings,sensations and perceptions but am not made of any of these. all these come,go,move and change,whilst I remain as I am,without birth,death,movement or change-eternal and infinite . Rupert Spira

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  5. IF he wasn't IFR rated and current he had no business putting his family in a light twin in a cross country trip scenario. He did he get Insurance? There is always weather somewhere waiting for you. My family owned two Aztecs, and I wasn't allowed to even sit in the left seat without an instrument rating and a check flight. I was fortunate to have a CFII Dad as a mentor to bounce stuff off of regarding trips in the Aztecs. We flew the airplanes safely, but cancelled some trips and never flew to a schedule. If you got stuck, you made the best of it and explored your new airport until the weather was within limits, no trip was worth your life, flying is supposed to be fun and safe....ended up in some fun places by deviating...

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    1. FAP33 cool story and I agree, have done the same thing.

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  6. If you look at FAA Airman's Statistics it shows that the majority of private pilots in General Aviation are NOT Instrument Rated. (And that is General Aviation - Commercial and ATP are separate and of course all Instrument rated) If you exclude Student Pilots it looks like about 1/3 of GA pilots have their Instrument ticket. I don't understand the Insurance comment because yes all GA pilots are eligible to get insurance, Instrument Rating or not - it is just a matter of money. And yes, insurance or not, Instrument Rating or not, GA pilots fly friends and family all the time. And yes sometimes cross country. They just have to avoid clouds and weather.
    I will say it is odd to get a Multi Engine Rating without also getting the Instrument Rating. The Multi Rating is more difficult than you think because flying a plane slow with one engine out is a real handful - unbalanced torque and
    and forces that are not aligned along the center of the plane.
    Sadly inadvertently entering clouds (VMC into IMC) can be deadly as you get disoriented - and the Instrument Rating is no guarantee - Instrument Pilots crash too. Yes flying can be fun - but Flying has a higher degree of danger than other forms of transportation - period.

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  7. Personal Information

    WILLIAM JOSEPH LAUBER

    MILFORD NE 68405-9798
    County: SEWARD
    Country: USA
    Medical Information:
    Medical Class: Third Medical Date: 11/2020
    MUST HAVE AVAILABLE GLASSES FOR NEAR VISION.
    BasicMed Course Date: None Basic Med CMEC Date: None
    Certificates
    PRIVATE PILOT

    Certificates Description
    Certificate: PRIVATE PILOT
    Date of Issue: 4/5/2018

    Ratings:
    PRIVATE PILOT
    AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND
    AIRPLANE MULTIENGINE LAND


    Limits:
    ENGLISH PROFICIENT.

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  8. There are far too many private pilots who end up killing not only themselves, but their family too. This website is a never ending update of carnage, death and destruction. Nothing seems to change. I am a retired APT and would not fly in a light aircraft for free.

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    1. Um, the whole purpose of this website is to be an update of aviation carnage, death, and destruction. The truth is the aviation accident rate has been steadily declining over the decades. With things like GPS, EFBs like Foreflight, TAWS, 4-point restraints, airbags, etc, flying has never been safer. Yeah people still do dumb things and kill themselves, but we just didn't have a site like this 30 years ago, so we have much better awareness now. Imagine if there was a Kathryn's Report for automobiles covering the 42,060 people killed in auto accidents in 2020 alone? You wouldn't want to drive in a car for free after reading that site for a few hours!

      P.S. What's an "APT"?

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  9. your will not fly as a PIC in a light aircraft, or pax? AOPA notes that "About 90 percent of all general aviation accidents are attributed to pilot error. Worse, poor pilot decision making accounts for more than half of the fatal pilot error accidents."
    There is a wealth of information and resources on "Pilot judgement skills," question is who is taking advantage; and current, proficient and evaluated at least annually? Yet, in the end GA relies on voluntarily following good practices and rules.

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  10. VFR pilot into IFR conditions..... this and CFIT are the top two causes of fatal GA accidents and have been for many years. Those who scud run or fly into IFR conditions without the appropriate rating, equipment, training, and proficiency are playing Russian Roulette and the statistics will absolutely catch up to you one of these days.

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    Replies
    1. Russian Roulette with six chambers, thus a 1/6 chance of dying.

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  11. The preliminary report is out on this one.

    "The aft fuselage and empennage consisted of the vertical stabilizer and rudder. The inboard sections of the horizontal stabilators were broken and held to the main wreckage by the flight control and trim cables. Both wings were broken about 5 ft outboard of the nacelles. The broken sections showed upward bending, aft twisting, and fractures consistent with overload failures. Several impact marks and paint transfers were found along the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer indicative of a component striking it before ground impact."

    Sounds like the pilot was either disoriented or suffering from hypoxia and lost control of the aircraft. Either the pilot or front seat passenger used incorrect recovery technique and pulled up too hard when the plane was going well over Va (maneuvering speed) and ripped the wings off.

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  12. Looking at their flight path on Flightaware, it looks as though he was hand flying the whole time. I'll never understand why more pilots don't take advantage of their autopilots. ATPs virtually never hand fly after takeoff and there is a reason for that. It is safer. Think about JFK Jr nearing KMVY on heading select. Looking down at charts and radios (etc) in dark conditions isn't such a big deal. Know and use your autopilot. I turn mine on when I reach cruising altitude and leave it on until I'm on long final.

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    1. Using autopilot a lot can be a double edged sword, because you want to take advantage of it, but still need to maintain your proficiency for hand flying. Also, there is no guarantee that this plane even had an autopilot.

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  13. Two things:
    1. Everest Base Camp is at 17,598 feet and no one uses oxygen in camp and they are not passing out from lack of O2.
    2. In IFR let go of the yoke/stick and only fly with the rudder and elevator trim tab. You don't need the yoke for stable level flight. Only with hands on the yoke will you over stress the airframe.

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