Saturday, April 30, 2022

Barrows LSA, N1908A: Fatal accident occurred April 30, 2022 in Kalispell, Flathead County, Montana

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; Helena, Montana 

Location: Kalispell, Montana
Accident Number: WPR22FA169
Date and Time: April 30, 2022, 08:04 Local
Registration: N1908A
Aircraft: Bearhawk Barrows LSA
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On April 30, 2022, about 0804 mountain daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Bearhawk LSA, N1908A, sustained substantial damaged when it was involved in an accident near Kalispell, Montana. 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 planned to fly to Eureka Airport (88M) for breakfast with a group of friends flying in two other airplanes. They departed Kalispell City Airport (S27) at 0759, and the accident airplane was the last in trail.

The other pilots in the group stated that the takeoff was uneventful, with clear skies, good visibility, and no significant weather. They did not see the accident airplane after takeoff but were tracking it on their ADS-B receivers until a few minutes later when it disappeared.

Preliminary ADS-B data indicated that after departing from runway 31, the accident airplane climbed on runway heading for about 4 minutes to 4,900 ft msl, at a ground speed of about 88 knots. It then levelled off and accelerated to about 115 knots. One minute later, the data abruptly ended, with the airplane still travelling on the same track.

The first identified piece of wreckage consisted of the right wing and outboard section of its lift strut, which came to rest on a road, about 350 ft northwest of the last ADS-B target. The inboard section of the strut was located about 100 ft northwest of the wing, and the rest of the airplane was located another 850 ft northwest, in a flat grass field, at an elevation of about 3,090 ft. The right wing sustained crush damage and abrasions along the length of its root rib, consistent with ground impact after separation. A deep indentation that appeared to match the dimensions of the main landing gear tire was present on the underside of the leading edge, just forward of the lift strut fitting.

The main wreckage came to rest in a nose down attitude in a grass field. The airframe sustained extensive crush damage and fragmentation through to the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer. The left wing remained partially attached to the airframe by its lift strut, and the forward spar end cap. 

The bolts that connected both the forward and aft wing spar end caps and the lower strut remained in place and attached to their respective steel fittings and weldments on both sides of the airframe.

Multiple witnesses heard a loud bang, and observed a wing falling to the ground, however no person came forward as a witness to the initial breakup event. A north-facing security camera, located on a building about 650 ft from the main wreckage, captured the airplane about one second before impact. It was in a direct nose-down attitude and spinning to the right. The right wing was missing, but the left wing and empennage were still attached.

The airplane was composed of a fabric-covered tubular steel airframe, and an aluminum wing. It was built by the pilot from plans, with construction completed, and its airworthiness certificate issued, in June 2018. Maintenance records indicated that the last condition inspection was completed by the pilot on June 3, 2021, and the last entry, on February 5, 2022, was for an engine oil change. At that time, the Hobbs-hour meter read 242 hours.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bearhawk
Registration: N1908A
Model/Series: Bearhawk LSA 
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: KGPI, 2963 ft msl 
Observation Time: 08:00 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 2°C /0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 20°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Kalispell (S27) 
Destination: Eureka, MT (88M)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 48.285913,-114.40329 

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances. 

Date: 30-APR-22
Time: 14:05:00Z
Regis#: N1908A
Aircraft Make: EXPERIMENTAL
Aircraft Model: BEARHAWK
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 2
Flight Crew: 1 fatal
Pax: 1 fatal
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: DESTROYED
City: KALISPELL
State: MONTANA

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. 


The right wing of the Barrows LSA that crashed in the West Valley on April 30. A preliminary report released by the NTSB indicated the wing separated from the plane prior to impact.




A surveillance camera captured the kit-built plane — missing a wing — hurtling toward the ground immediately prior to the April 30 crash in the West Valley that killed two Flathead County residents.

A preliminary report into the crash released by the National Transportation Safety Board last week referenced the camera footage, taken from a nearby building, summarized witness accounts and offered an examination of the wreckage. While multiple people saw the body of the aircraft and its right wing hit the ground separately, no one saw the Bearhawk plane come apart, the document said.

The report offers the most comprehensive view yet of the crash that killed Joe Angle, 63, of Kalispell and Kimberly Hebert, 61, of Hungry Horse. Local authorities released the victims’ identities on May 19.

The plane was one of three aircraft headed that morning from Kalispell City Airport to Eureka Airport for a breakfast trip, departing about 8:04 a.m., according to the report. The pilots of the other planes reported clear skies and good weather.

They were tracking the Bearhawk on their automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) devices when it vanished, but did not see the crash, the report said.

According to ADS-B data, the Bearhawk climbed to about 4,900 feet above mean sea level after takeoff, flying at a speed of roughly 88 knots. It leveled off and accelerated to 115 knots before data from the plane “abruptly ended,” the report said.

People on the ground heard a loud bang, according to the document, and several saw a wing fall out of the sky. The rest of the aircraft came to a rest about 850 feet away from where the wing landed.

The video taken, which captured the final second before the crash, showed the Bearhawk descending nose down and spinning to the right. The aircraft suffered “extensive crush damage and fragmentation through to the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer,” the report said. Investigators found the left wing still attached to the main body by its lift strut and forward spar end cap.

According to the FAA, Angle owned the plane, a popular model among enthusiasts. Bearhawks are typically built from a set of plans, with buyers able to purchase components from the company or find their own parts. The NTSB report listed Angle as the builder.

FAA records indicate that the Bearhawk was deregistered at the time of the crash, the registration having been canceled in June 2021. A review of Angle’s certifications shows that he last earned medical approval to fly in 1997. Third class medical certificates must be renewed every two years for pilots over the age of 40.



Kimberly Hebert


Kimberly Hebert, 61, of Hungry Horse died unexpectedly on April 30, 2022. Her family and the local community are shocked and deeply saddened by her passing.

Kimberly was born on Aug. 25, 1960, to Donald and Virginia Ewbank in La Jolla, California. She spent her youth surfing, horseback riding, and running track for Mesa Verde High School. Kimberly obtained her real estate license at 18 years old, and her appraisal license shortly afterward. In 1992 Kimberly moved her husband and two small children to the Flathead Valley so that they could have a safe and wonder-filled childhood.

Since then, Kimberly served the Flathead Valley for over 35 years. While her expertise was as a Realtor and appraiser, Kimberly was a woman of endless skills and talents that were demonstrated in her many volunteer, work, and other professional opportunities she explored. Throughout everything she did, she never had clients or employers, but soon to be friends. Years later, you would often see her playing racquetball, hiking or rafting with people who had started out as clients. This was because she was genuine, compassionate, and always put their best interests before her own.

Kimberly always took pride in her community and was eager to find new ways to give back and get involved. Back in the days of “Big Mountain,'' she enjoyed volunteering on the ski hill and teaching ski lessons. She was also always passionate about the theater. She gave time to the O’Shaughnessy Center and believed that the arts are important aspects of our community. When she wasn’t working/volunteering, she enjoyed skiing, hiking, traveling, learning, spending time with her family, and making everyone smile. Over the decades she played pivotal roles in our local school boards, youth athletics, church communities, local boards and chambers, hiking groups and so many other wonderful causes.

Kimberly is survived by her son Casey Hebert (32), daughter Kassandra Buckley (29), grandson Cormac Buckley (1.5), and expectant granddaughter.

It is impossible to convey the amazing life of friendships, experiences and contributions that Kimberly made here in the Flathead Valley. But to boil it down, she loved her family and community above all else.

Anyone who knew Kimberly knew that she was incredibly kindhearted and brought a ray of sunshine with her wherever she went. She had an immense passion for her work and was always a source of positivity. Kimberly’s family and friends will miss her more than words can say. She would go out of her way to put a smile on a stranger’s face or lift up a friend in need. She spread sunshine wherever she went and, without her, we will all have to work a little harder at spreading sunshine around the community. She wouldn’t want to just be “remembered,” she would want for her memory to live on through acts of love and kindness every day.

There will be a memorial service held in her honor at 10 a.m. at Christ Lutheran Church on May 28. Those who wish to send flowers or other acts of kindness, please send them to Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish on May 28. If you cannot attend, but wish to share a story about her or contribute in another way, please send a note to her email montanakimberly@gmail.com.

41 comments:

  1. RIP .... yellow, and looks like the "conventional" landing gear of a taildragger.

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  2. I know Joe Angle, the pilot/builder (from scratch) personally. Per a second hand report of a friend who was the pilot of his 182, the flight of at least two were flying from Kalispell, Montana S27 to Eureka for breakfast, about 90 miles. The Bearhawk disappeared from ADS-B about 9 miles out, so the 182 went back and found the bright yellow Bearhawk in a pile in a field NW of Kalispell. Apparently the wing had separated, possibly due to a wing strut weld failure, killing both Joe and his girlfriend. These facts are unsubstantiated since I received this via a mutual friend. Joe was an active member of our local EAA 102 Chapter, as well as a light sport CFI and talented homebuilder. 16:00 04/30/2022
    -Christian von Delius

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    Replies
    1. I too was a friend of Joe’s and only a few years ago he and I were roommates for three weeks as we took LSRM / Rotax repair courses in Wisconsin. What a great guy and such a tragic loss. I will so miss his humor and contagious laughter. Rest In Peace my friend and know I will sorely miss our calls and conversations.

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    2. Is this the same Christian von Delius that trained as a pilot at LCC flight technology in the 1990s? You probably wouldn’t remember me but I went on an observation flight with you with a couple other students once. It left an impression. Glad to see you are still enjoying flying.
      Jeff Shultz

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    3. Jeff-Yes, that is me. My main ride is a Varieze, and I am active in our local EAA.

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    4. For the record, regarding comment from vondeliusc. That was not his girlfriend he was flying with, they were simply friends. She will be surely missed by us all who loved her.

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    5. As I said, all was unsubstantiated, thank you for the correction. Sunday was a hard day for me, as I am sure it was for many others, and still in shock. In no way was I being disrespectful, definitely not my intention, just trying to disseminate some actual information, since 'official' sources tend to be vague.

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    6. BRS would have saved him. Mike Patey said this is the reason he put a BRS on his latest build Scrappy.

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  3. This breaks my heart. Joe and I were good friends and roommates for three weeks during LSRM/Rotax training in Wisconsin a few years back. Great and funny guy. You will be deeply missed ole buddy.....very deeply missed! 😔😢😢

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  4. Joe Angle was my supervisor when I was at Malmstrom AFB, that's when he bought his first ultralight. He was a great mentor and friend. He will be missed. My heart goes out to his family and his girlfriend's family. RIP my dear friend.

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  5. Joe was my first flight instructor and mentor.

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  6. Kimberly was one of the brightest souls I’ve ever met. It’s an unspeakable tragedy for her children and friends that her life was lost due to a build failure. I hope lessons have been learned from this and every pilot/builder double & triple checks every weld and every bolt so this doesn’t happen again.

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    Replies
    1. To Anonymous: We’re all grieving for the losses, but how could you say such a thing? To try and throw blame at the builder is based on what? The suspicion that a part/parts failed? Need you be reminded that even corporate jet airliners sometimes have parts fail and fall out of the sky? To infer that the builder is at fault in this instance is cold and way out of line!

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    2. Ofcourse accidents can and do happen with any air crafts, but anyone who dares to fly more risky experimental build kit planes should fly ALONE. .

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    3. Nah, tell that to the people in certified pipers falling out of the sky before the wing spar AD was issued, for example. I’d trust my 1 year old experimental strut braced wing any day over those 60 year old “certified” low wings with stress cracks.

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    4. The total count for Pipers in the last 60 years is - two.

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  7. you will be missed, we will see you soon.

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  8. Deregistered for almost a year. https://registry.faa.gov/AircraftInquiry/Search/NNumberResult

    Sad to see an innocent passengers live get taken when a "Great Guy" is flying an aircraft that is not legal to fly...

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    Replies
    1. I couldn't agree more. And if people want to fly these kit experimental planes then so be it, but fly alone. Flying is dangerous enough much less flying in some more risky experimental craft. She was an innocent victim that will be missed by all of us who loved her. I can't even imagine what her family is going through.

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    2. Remember that people make their own risk decisions. The aircraft was legally labeled experimental with a passenger warning on the dash. Besides, what is more dangerous? An plans built experimental with hundreds flying or a 73 year old certified? Experimental can mean more dangerous, or less dangerous, it all depends on what it is, and who was maintaining it.

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    3. It's well known that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be an expert in any area. If you plan on building your own plane, you better be ready to spend 10,000 hours practicing first. If that's something you are prepared to do (or already have done), then great, go do that and then build your own plane! If not, you are just fooling yourself about your abilities and should leave building planes to the experts, especially if the lives of others are at stake.

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    4. Even Gladwell wouldn't say it is "well know it takes 10K hours".

      Seems pretty obvious you aren't involved in aviation at any level. Go take a look at some of the experimental airplanes- RV's, Sling's, and many others. They are as well engineered and built as many other certified aircraft. Also, they are inspected along the way, and prior to flight by the FAA or a DAR to confirm they are airworthy. These aren't scratch built kits designed on the kitchen table for the most part- they are well engineered planes.

      I've got plenty of time in certified aircraft and experimental's as well. Many of the certified fleet are 30-60+ years old and can fail too.

      please do a little research before you post nonsense.

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    5. Ah the "100 hour expert" rears their head!

      Seems pretty obvious you aren't involved in aviation at any level.

      LOL, please name the parts of the ACS that require knowledge of, let alone any interest in, experimental aircraft. There are plenty of very experienced pilots that are happy to stay far away from experimental aircraft.

      If experimental category aircraft were every bit as safe as certified aircraft, then why does the FAA place so many limitations and warnings on experimental aircraft? I guess you feel that you individually possess more knowledge and sound judgement than the combined decades of experience of those at the FAA? Good to see that the "macho" attitude is alive and well in the cult of experimental aircraft.

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    6. Please stop the ignorance!! There are hundreds, if not thousands of major airline Captains who have built and flown their own aircraft, as well as many more that are doing so now. Thousands upon Thousands of "very experienced pilots that are very happy" to stay real close and very involved with building and flying their own aircraft. You are sounding like our Government talking about Covid, if you care to know. We all sure know the true facts about that now, don't we!! It's very, very obvious that you know absolutely nothing about experimental aircraft, the regulations or anything else aviation related for that matter!

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  9. You can’t regulate tragedies. They happen. People commenting on this tragedy, who feel like blaming the pilot, don’t deserve the information access they’ve been granted with technology. You might use this opportunity to change your judgmental ways, and learn to be curious.

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  10. Everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how rude, disrespectful or uneducated. Be careful about assumptions and hearsay. Was anyone there for the preflight or inspections? Did it happen in calm conditions or was there a turbulence or wind shear event? Where violent maneuvers necessary to dodge a flock of geese? Before you judge Mr Angle or his aircraft, be sure you know absolutely everything. My condolences and prayers to the family and friends of both the victims of this tragedy.

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    1. And also - it's in Montana, where the state is coming out of the winter season, making it possible that an aircraft that lapsed registration during the pandemic just recently had the registration renewed in the owner's effort to return it to service and records are simply lagging.

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  11. Replies
    1. I wouldn't say definitely. If the loss of a wing causes a rapid roll that wraps up the parachute or a dive that rapidly exceeds the max deployment speed, you are still going to be a pancake.

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    2. BRS roll-wrap is also a major obstacle to producing a viable "air taxi" among the EVTOL designs that lack wings and control surfaces for gliding.

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  12. BRS roll-rap could be managed with a quick enough system/robust design. Also a rotor stop on failure detection could work in 100s of milliseconds.

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  13. A real mystery trying to understand how the wing got a dent under the leading edge from possible tire contact, doesn't suggest severed strut while in tension.

    A compression-folded strut condition that would allow the wing to hinge from the wing root and come into contact with the tire would only seem possible if the aircraft was falling with gear toward the sky.

    All bolts still in position at wing and strut attach points.

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    1. Wing came off inflight, no reg. no license, looks like capt. cut corners...The bolts were probably the strongest part of the plane...How a dent got in the wing? It fell a 1000ft...

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    2. Bolts being found still in place is significant because that indicates it wasn't lost fasteners at attach points that released the strut or wing root connections.

      The breakup circumstances of how the underside of that wing came into contact with the landing gear before fluttering away and being found away from the main wreck isn't likely to be explained as the strut suddenly realizing that the registration paperwork was out of date.

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    3. The photo does suggest that the strut failed in compression buckling based on the mid-strut failure point and the flattened area near the break.
      Also interesting that the wing is bent upward near the strut attach station. Did this result from ground impact? Or was it a spar failure that initiated the sequence of events?

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    4. Interesting to consider spar yielding as a cause. The wing is reportedly made from 2024T-3 sheet aluminum with hand-formed ribs and layered spars placed forward and aft in the wing, no center spar. Riveting skins over that ladder-style rib and spar arrangement ought to make a strong box.

      Mr. Barrows's 2019 crash from snagging powerlines didn't make either wing's skin over spar structure buckle near the strut in spite of what looks to be an upward tweaked starboard wing outer portion in the third photo, here:

      https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket/Document/docBLOB?ID=8035029&FileExtension=pdf&FileName=Photo%20array%20TA157-Rel.pdf

      Sometimes aircraft sit around disassembled and rodents inhabit wings left stored on edge up against a wall, creating a possibility of internal corrosion on spars from corrosive waste. Kind of a long shot, but could be possible for an aircraft with lapsed registration if it was stored in that manner before being put back in use.

      Lots of build photos showing wing ribs, spars and such here:
      https://www.kitplanes.com/building-the-bearhawk-lsa-2/

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  14. @bearhawkaircraft
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    ReplyDelete