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By Fred Gibbs

 

2021 TO DATE:

By the time this publishes it will be 2022, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and that Santa Claus was good to you, your family and your airplane! Below please find the latest NTSB data on fatal crashes here in Arizona. So far, up thru the end of November of this year, the record still stands at 7 fatal accidents, with 8 fatalities (6 pilots and 2 passengers), with 2 accidents listed as info not available, as listed below from the NTSB web site. A summary of the fatal accidents will be compiled for the year and published in the January issue, and with any luck, the NTSB might have more information for us on the two accidents currently listed as N/A. I am not sure of its accuracy, NOR DOES IT LIST THE ACCIDENTS DISCRIBED BELOW.

2022 january gaarms accident list

 


 

NEWS FLASH

Wednesday, Dec. 22nd, 2021

A Utah man and an 11-year-old girl from Tucson died after their small plane crashed Wednesday afternoon northeast of the Show Low Regional Airport in a remote area near Long Lake, according to fire officials.

2022 january gaarms accident plane

The pilot was identified as 40-year-old David A. Gillette of Utah, and the passenger was identified as 11-year-old Lorelai Johansen of Tucson, the Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District stated on its Facebook page. Families of both the pilot and passenger were notified, officials said.

The two were aboard a Vans RV-6A aircraft when it crashed and caught fire near Show Low Regional Airport around 4:45 p.m., according to Tammy L. Jones, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration.

FOR INFORMATION ON ALL ACCIDENTS/INCIDENTS THAT OCCURRED LAST MONTH, REFER TO JIM TIMM’S ACCIDENT SUMMARY HEREIN.

 


 

Location: Page, AZ

Accident Number: WPR21FA352

Date & Time: September 22, 2021, 16:24 Local

Registration: N3906X

Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200 

Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious

Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On September 22, 2021, about 1624 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28R-200, N3906X, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Page, Arizona. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration captured the airplane’s climb out at 1211 Pacific daylight time about 1 nm north of its departure airport in San Martin, California. The mean sea level (msl) altitudes below are reported as geometric altitudes and were obtained from the ADS-B data. The airplane slowly turned to the southeast as it continued to climb. At 1302, the airplane reached a cruise altitude of about 12,000 ft msl and subsequently turned to the south about 15 minutes later, at which time it arced around the southern base of the Sequoia National Forest. At 1528, the airplane descended to about 7,700 ft msl while passing to the north of Las Vegas, Nevada. The airplane then descended further about 1615 and 30 nm west of Page Municipal Airport (PGA), Page, Arizona near the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument to about 7,250 ft msl (1,100 ft above ground level (agl). At 1623, the airplane descended to about 6,600 ft msl where it remained until about 1623:46 when it began its final descent from 500 ft agl. The final ADS-B data point was captured at 1624:15, when the airplane was 200 ft agl and about 0.5 nm northwest of the accident site.

The airplane was located about 11 nm west of PGA on a mesa at a field elevation of about 6,150 ft msl. The airplane came to rest at a level attitude on a heading of 227° magnetic. The first point of impact (FPI) was identified by a 12-foot-tall Juniper tree and several broken tree branches. A debris path was marked by parallel ground scars that began about 20 ft forward of the FPI and was oriented on a heading of 155° magnetic. The outboard right stabilator was located on the left side of the debris path.

The main wreckage marked the end of the debris path and was located 62 ft beyond the FPI. The nose and main landing gear had collapsed and the fuselage was flush with the ground. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage; the left wing displayed a large compression wrinkle about midspan at the leading edge and the top skin. The inboard section of the right wing exhibited compression wrinkles about midspan. Both wings were punctured inboard above the right and left main landing gear. The ailerons and flaps were connected to their respective wings and were mostly undamaged, with exception of the right and left flaps, both of which exhibited upward bends at the inboard trailing edges. The left side of the stabilator had advanced forward several inches in a divergent path to the right stabilator, which had moved aft. Additionally, the right stabilator leading edge was crushed aft along the outboard leading edge about midspan. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were not damaged. The cowling and engine were displaced slightly downward, and the engine had separated from some of the upper mounts. Three propeller blades remained attached to the engine at the propeller hub. One blade was bent aft about midspan, one blade was bent at the blade root beneath the engine and the last blade was straight. Two of the propeller blades did not contain any visible chordwise scratches, nicks, or gouges. The third propeller blade was observed beneath the engine and could not be inspected. All major structures were accounted for at the accident site.

 

2022 january gaarms accident piper

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 

Registration: N3906X

Model/Series: PA-28R-200

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: KPGA,4310 ft msl 

Observation Time: 16:53 Local

Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles 

Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C /-4°C

Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 

Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 20°

Lowest Ceiling: None

Visibility: 10 miles

Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg

Type of Flight Plan Filed: None

Departure Point: San Martin, CA (E16)

Destination: Page, AZ (PGA)

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage: Substantial

Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious 

Aircraft Fire: None

Ground Injuries: 

Aircraft Explosion: None

Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious

Latitude, Longitude: 36.905783,-111.68978

 


 

Fred’s Perspective –

Few pilots have declared an emergency, and even fewer have actually had an incident or accident. No body I know wakes up in the morning and says to themselves “I think I will go crash today!” (I hope). However, the probability of surviving a plane crash varies with the type of crash. If your gear collapses, you’ll probably survive. If you hit something while VFR in IMC, well, you might make the news and Fred’s next GAARMS article!

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The number of people who find out about your “holy crap” issue starts with the controller you tell. Of course, if you are out in the middle of nowhere and start to have problems it’s best to let ATC know well before hand so they can monitor and send help. And, Yes, I know up here in northern Arizona, radar coverage is not great, and flight following is often hard to get unless you are really high, BUT you can still monitor the frequency with Center and have an instant friend if “the fit hits the Shan” and declare an emergency with them and they will do everything possible to assist you. You are NOT alone!

So, I asked around - “What would you do if X happens, and Y fails?” It was a small sampling, but about half didn’t even plan to tell ATC. Of that half, 90 percent of them said they would not be on Flight Following, “but just squawking 1200.” PS – in today’s technological world, that is not a good operating procedure! The sample group believed their chances were higher by concentrating on flying the airplane and trying to get down safe. Getting down safe is one thing, but what about when you’re on the ground with your airplane in pieces, in hostile weather, far from … anything or anywhere?

Whether pilots believe talking to ATC is important or not is a big deal when handling an emergency that could potentially turn from incident to accident. Altitude can certainly buy you time, but ATC can improve your survivability chances. When a pilot squawks 7700, lots of things happen behind the (ATC) scene and people all the way up to DC could learn of your plight. Crash statistics show that someone on the ground knowing what’s happening increases your chance of survival by decreasing response time.

Statistically speaking, the probability that something catastrophic will happen is very low. Nonetheless, anything could happen at any time. Want proof? A couple years ago a wing literally fell off a Piper Arrow, engines have been known to just quit, and mid-air’s do happen! So, yes, “stuff” happens. Despite those sad events, ATC and other aircraft provide a quick location for authorities.

ATC really perks up upon hearing the magic words “declaring” or “emergency.” Of course, in my days in the Flight Service world, I’ve also heard expletive-laced exclamations that were sufficiently informative that I actually declared an emergency for them. Back then, and yes, I know, I am dating myself here, but VFR traffic did not talk to ATC, but only to Flight Service stations. We handled all the VFR emergencies, from lost aircraft to aircraft encountering MVFR to IFR inflight conditions and looking for escape routes to aircraft going down!!! Today, with Flight Following, ADS-B out position reporting and FlightAware, locating lost aircraft or crash locations is significantly improved, and responding within the 1st – or Golden Hour – is critical to saving lives. Flight Following is highly recommended. I always use Flight Following, and I require my students to learn the procedures and necessary radio phraseology when ever we go dual cross country and especially when they go solo cross country. And my students are taught (required) to advise ATC they are student pilots, and then the ATC guys/gals sorta take extra care of them.

2022 january gaarms accident trees

A “non-event” is an emergency that has a good outcome, i.e., the aircraft lands safely and no one is hurt, and nothing is damaged. Again FYI, once an emergency starts, the controllers working the emergency are generally not relieved until the event is over. However (if staffing permits) another controller will come to monitor the position. It’s great to have a second pair of eyes in a higher-workload, higher-stress environment. As a side note, if an accident does occur, controllers can be held for drug testing and relieved from their position for a short period of time. This is not disciplinary; it’s just standard procedure.

Now what? Let’s assume that you declared an emergency. It varies by exactly where you declare, but if near a towered airport that has “Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting” (ARFF) equipment, the Tower will alert them, and they most likely will follow you down the runway all the way to where you stop. Again, a little side note here – been there, seen that, and actually met the firefighters when I shut down. Now, I did NOT declare any emergency – I actually pre-coordinated a NORDO arrival with the tower, but, apparently, they declared it for me. I apologized to the firefighters for having them miss the last 15 minutes of the football game on TV!!

If you are out in the middle of nowhere, the approach or the ARTCC controller you are talking to will run their internal emergencies checklists, and that will start alerting higher authorities. It starts with ARFF (if applicable) then moves out to the closest rescue station. If there are none, it goes to the ARTCC Ops desk, and they get in touch with Search and Rescue (sometimes a Civil Air Patrol airplane or search team) to dispatch immediately.

Keep in mind that safety comes first. If it’s bad weather, they won’t send another aircraft out to find a downed one; initial efforts would be ground-based only. After all is done with search and rescue, the Regional Operations Center (ROC) is notified. This adds exponential resources to assist if needed. The ROC works with many other entities such as NTSB and FSDO, who are at the top of the notification list immediately. After that, the original CIC or supervisor then notifies the Domestic Events Network (DEN).

2022 january gaarms accident crash statistics

The DEN is an interagency teleconferencing system that allows certain agencies to communicate and coordinate their response to violations of restricted airspace. It was established just after 9/11 in response to the attacks. It is basically an open line that any ATC facility and a few other agencies can call and use to coordinate and/or communicate things happening across the country in real time. One thing that will put facilities on the line is if someone squawks 7500. Not only would ATC radars make a loud buzzing noise, but it would also be heard (sic) all the way up in DC. And if ATC determines it’s real, the closest fighters will be airborne.

The DEN is also used for certain VIP movements. So, from beginning with one controller who heard the pilot say something, within 10-15 minutes, up to 50 people could know about an emergency. If that emergency turns into an accident, that number goes up to the hundreds. FSDO and NTSB are at the top of that list because if the worst happens, they need to be first on scene right behind fire/rescue. Immediately after an accident or crash is when most critical evidence is present. If the crash happened on or near the airport, the airport operations supervisor is notified, who then notifies airport authority and manager. Finally, if needed, the ATM will notify the Washington Ops Center. That call typically isn’t made unless another 9/11 or anything involving Air Force 1 happens.

 

2022 january gaarms accident storm

Final Outcome

As you can see, there are significant resources for not just emergencies, but accidents. Walking away alive is a variable highly determined by the actions of the pilot before the crash. Of course, I am a firm believer in aviate, navigate, communicate, but these are NOT 3 separate and distinctive activities: They should be 3 logical planned processes to follow. Don’t just aviate, don’t just navigate, and then NOT communicate. “Communicate” is a vital part of the process and must and should be included as soon as possible. This is also why I highly encourage filing IFR whenever possible, or at least utilizing Flight Following—you’ll always have a helping hand for assistance just a push of the press-to-talk button away. ATC can’t help you fly the airplane, but can offer other kind of assistance, like nearest airports, terrain, winds and weather, etc., and will immediately initiate rescue efforts.

My goal here is to change the minds of some pilots who don’t talk to ATC at all, or are not very helpful with exchanging information. Since most professional pilots are flying on IFR flight plans, talking to ATC is not an issue. Where does that leave the rest of us? You aren’t taught “aviate, navigate, communicate” just to throw the last part out. Help ATC help you. Simply talk to them. You might even find that ATC is actually friendly and helpful.

 

2022 january gaarms accident plane3

Safety Programs

There are NOT a lot of FAASTeam safety programs on the schedule over the next couple of months all around the state, but hopefully that will be changing in the near future. Log on to the Internet and go to WWW.FAASAFETY.GOV , click on “Seminars” and start checking for any upcoming seminars, and there are a lot of Webinars you might be interested in. You might find one that is really right up your alley or tickles yer fancy!!

Should you desire a particular safety or educational program at your local airport or pilot meeting in the future (post COVID-19), like the BasicMed program, our “Winter Wonderland” snow season special, or my newest one on LIFR approaches discussing the how’s and pitfalls of shooting an approach all the way down to minimums and missed approaches, simply contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call me at 410-206-3753. The Arizona Pilots Association provides the safety programs at no charge. We can also help you organize a program of your choice, and we can recommend programs that your pilot community might really like.

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