By Fred Gibbs


We are now 6 months into 2022 with five fatal accidents here in Arizona since the beginning of the year, with seven fatalities. There was also one fatal accident over in California involving an Arizona-based pilot and aircraft. It appears that the current numbers are tending to mirror the average rate over the past many years I have been tracking fatal accidents.

The first accident was the Van’s RV-7A that crashed under unknown circumstances near the Triangle Airpark (AZ50), White Hills, Mohave County, Arizona. The pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured.

a students long arduous march plane1

The 2nd accident, a Robinson R22 helicopter, crashed short of the runway at Gila Bend Municipal Airport. The sole pilot onboard was fatally injured. The cause of helicopter crash in Gila Bend is still uncertain, according to NTSB. The student pilot was the only person aboard and was declared dead at the scene after the helicopter crashed short of the runway. According to the NTSB report, the helicopter was flying from Chandler Municipal Airport to Gila Bend’s airport as a training flight. The report said a witness about a half-mile west of the crash site reported seeing the helicopter approach the runway and then go into a “rapid, near-vertical descent” despite the main and tail rotor blades still apparently rotating. The witness said the helicopter struck the ground about 212 feet from the edge of the runway. NTSB officials said the heavily damaged helicopter was retained for further investigation.

The 3rd crash occurred on June 15. The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report on the recent crash of an experimental plane near Gila Bend Municipal Airport that killed a passenger. Authorities said one person aboard the experimental plane, the passenger, was ejected upon impact and pronounced dead at the scene while the other person was airlifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The NTSB report didn’t name the two men, but said the pilot was the one who was injured. According to the report, the plane’s owner had just bought the Covie Quickie and was flying it to his home in Texas. A witness told authorities that the plane struggled to gain altitude after takeoff. After getting about 50 feet in the air, the aircraft reportedly made a left turn, then stalled and crashed about 200 feet west of the runway before bursting into flames. The NTSB report said most of the plane’s frame was destroyed by the fire.

a students long arduous march helicopter

The 4th accident occurred on June 18th over in Buckeye. Authorities were called out to the airport around 7 a.m. The Federal Aviation Administration said that two people were on board a Beech E35 plane that crashed in the desert northwest of the airport. The Buckeye Police Department said 56-year-old Daniel Keen died at the scene, while 32-year-old Emmanuel Flores was taken to a hospital where he later died from his injuries. FAA officials have since confirmed that the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) is now leading the investigation as both agencies try to determine what led up to the crash. No further details were available.

A 5th accident occurred On May 25, 2022, about 1750 mountain standard time. A Cessna C-172F airplane, N5532P, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Show Low, Arizona. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was as operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight. Witnesses at Show Low Regional Airport (SOW) observed the airplane attempt a takeoff from runway 25. They stated the airplane became airborne two or three times but did not climb out of ground effect. The airplane touched down as it approached the end of the runway and was observed as “getting squirrely” and sliding sideways. The pilot then taxied back to the approach end of runway 25 and performed a run-up before attempting a second takeoff. Two of the witnesses stated the engine was “sputtering” and did not sound right on the first takeoff and when it taxied back to the run-up area. The pilot then attempted a second takeoff. A pilot witness said the pilot “milked it off the runway, set it back down, and milked it off the runway again.” The airplane remained at a low altitude and began a left turn towards downwind. When the airplane reached a downwind heading, the airplane sank out of sight behind terrain. The pilot witness said the engine “sounded rich, like it was bogged down,” during the second takeoff. The airplane impacted a stream in an open field about 1 mile southwest of the departure end of runway 25. The airplane was substantially damaged. A post-accident examination of the airplane’s engine revealed that the No. 4 cylinder exhaust valve was seized, in the open position. The engine and No. 4 cylinder were retained for further examination.

a students long arduous march mooney

There was also a fatal accident over in California involving a Mooney flown by an Arizona-based pilot, their identity and home base is unknown at this time. Authorities are investigating after a plane from Phoenix crashed in a field in California. According to the Ventura County Fire Department, the plane struck a building on the south side of the 101 freeway after taking off from the Camarillo Airport. Emergency responders found parts of the plane on the roof of the building it struck. Officials say one person died. Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters set up a grid around the field and searched the area for additional victims but didn’t find anyone. According to the FAA, the plane was heading back to Phoenix when it crashed. Officials have not identified the person who died or said what caused the plane to crash.





Just to be clear, the opinions and statements made within my articles are strictly mine and may not necessarily reflect any policy or position of the Arizona Pilots Association.

a students long arduous march north mountain shaw butte preserve

This is a true story of a student’s long, arduous march to achieving a dream to becoming a pilot. It is a story of one of my many students, her trials and tribulations, successes and failures, swings and misses, laughter, and tears, but a story of dedication and perseverance, and ultimate success.

As most of you know, I run the Flight School for Wiseman Aviation up here in Flagstaff. One day a young lady came to my office with a long story about starting flight training at another flight school that shall go nameless. She had just over 100 hours of flight time logged in her logbook but was totally frustrated with her progress at that flight school. She wanted to know if I would take her on as a student and help her achieve her dreams of becoming a pilot. Of course, I did. Our first flight was an eval flight to see what she knew and could do. I was a little taken aback by her lack of stick and rudder skill, lack of procedure, lack of checklist application, and just overall approach to process, especially after all those hours. It took many hours of training and bad habit breaking, and two tries to pass the private pilot check ride, but she succeeded and was on the road to her dreams.

Then there was the instrument rating. She decided to go to another school that convinced her they could do her instrument rating quickly. That turned into a disaster, with more bad feelings and habits. She came back to me to help her earn the rating. Process and procedure remained a big challenge, as were improving her stick and rudder skill, better heading and altitude control, breaking more bad habits and, especially, staying ahead of the airplane. These challenges remained throughout her training. I even stuck a post-it note right in the middle of the glare shield that said “Plan Ahead” to continually remind her to be thinking of the next move, rather than dwelling on where she was or the minor mistake she just made. It took many hours of flight training, many hours of academic give and take in the conference room, several pep talks to keep her spirits up and clear up the tears after a bummer lesson, but she persevered. It took 3 tries, one check ride and two retests, to finally pass the rating. Holding patterns were her nemesis; we spent a whole lot of hours discussing, diagramming, entering, and flying holding patterns, but she finally figured it out and passed the check ride.

a students long arduous march

Then she charged into the commercial training. Again, requiring significantly better stick and rudder skill, better heading and altitude control, and breaking old habits. Planning entries and flying the maneuvers were the big challenges. Again, several pep talks to keep her spirits up and clear up the tears after a bummer lesson were not uncommon, but she persevered. The commercial check ride went pretty well until the 180-accuracy landing. Mother Nature just would not play nice, throwing in strong winds and low-level wind shear, and, as luck would have it, the landing went south. Another failure, but she was not deterred nor defeated. The following week she hit the 180-accuracy landing and attained the commercial pilot rating. She had achieved her dream of becoming a commercial rated pilot.

Then good fortune and fate descended upon her, resulting in her reaching her next dream, obtaining a job flying for her employer, the National Forest Service. She is on her way to a great career and is a perfect example of perseverance and dedication to a dream.

Yes, it took a lot of work, a lot of time and money, and a lot of check rides. The satisfaction of actually helping someone achieve their dream is significantly more important than just a pass rate that the FAA looks at for every instructor. YUP, it took seven tries to pass the three check rides, seven tries to succeed. She never gave up, never quit! My pass rate is irrelevant compared to her success! I get a lot of students from other flight schools looking for someone to help them earn their pilots license, not just fly them around to earn flight time. I have another young lady student with over 20 hours flight time logged in her logbook from another flight school at a towered airport. Amazingly, she was not allowed to talk on the radio, has never actually done, or logged, a landing, has poor stick and rudder skills, is not anywhere close to soloing, and does not know how to fill out her logbook. Her instructor did it for her!

But her newly minted flight instructor got paid and built his hours!



a students long arduous march n93541 come home





a students long arduous march bellanca

Well, after 3 months at the Bellanca aircraft repair facility over in Sulphur, Oklahoma, the “Speed Monster” is finally back home in Flagstaff. In case you did not know it, Bellanca Super Vikings are unique birds. The fuselage is made of steel tubing, covered in fabric – like the old days – and the wings are made of wood, i.e., Sitka spruce and mahogany, covered in fabric and slick as a whistle. It is not an aircraft that just any shop can do repairs on. Woodworking and fabric is almost a lost art nowadays, and even the paint is special. It must have an elasticizer (I think that is a word) in it so it flexes with the fabric, or it would crack all over the place! Three major repairs and several minor fixes/adjustments were done to it. A fuel leak in the left wing turned out to be the 49-year-old hose connecting the two tanks in the wing. To get to it, they had to literally cut a hole into the top of the wing replace the hose, scarf in a new cover for the hole, seal that, then lay in new fabric, dope and seal that, then re-paint the wing to match. Then, of course, Murphy’s law kicked in. When re-calibrating the fuel gauges, the right wing started to leak in the exact same place, necessitating a repeat repair job on the right wing. Actually, I was quite glad it did that while there, and they knew exactly how to fix it, and the repair of both hoses gives me great peace of mind. All is well that ended well!

Then there was the 2nd major repair. Removal of the horizontal stabilizers and elevators, strip all the old fabric off and replace it with new fabric, repaint and re-install. That is a very tedious job and took almost two months to complete, but man, do they ever look great – and shiny!!

a students long arduous march plane3

The 3rd major project was to install a 14-volt external power receptacle that I had bought from the factory years ago with the intention of having it installed locally. HA! Not a chance. Seems that when the aircraft was built, the external power receptacle was an option – if you ordered it with the initial build order, fine, but if not part of the original build, no mounts were installed. And guess who did not have the mounts! YUP me, so the factory had to install them, then install the power receptacle. Funny thing, when I got there to pick up the airplane, naturally, I walked all around the airplane but could not find the power receptacle and had to ask if they really did install it. YUP, there it was, right in the belly, right under the baggage door, only a foot or so away from the battery, looking like it was always there. Great installation job, even painted to match! With the rest of my entire wish list completed, a test flight around the pattern confirmed all is well, and after a brief fuel stop, off to Flagstaff I went. 730NM/5 hours later, averaging 146kts ground speed into a headwind, we were home.

Like Alka-Seltzer always says, “Oh what a relief it is.”’




  1. The other day I flew into Angel Fire Airport, New Mexico (AXX), airport elevation 8380MSL? When I departed, I pushed the throttle in, and only got 19 inches of manifold pressure, compared to 27 inches when I left Chandler? What is wrong with my airplane?
    1. I got engine problems!!
    2. Could Density Altitude be the cause?
    3. I had the mixture at full rich just like I did at Chandler
    4. 19 to 20 inches is the correct manifold pressure for that airport on a standard day for a normally aspirated engine

a students long arduous march sectional chart

  1. Looking at my Sectional chart, I see a skinny grey line labeled VR1345. What the heck is that?
    1. A major train railroad useful for ground navigation.
    2. A military training route for all kinds of military aircraft.
    3. A military training route for IFR operations at or above 1500AGL.
    4. A military training route for VFR operations at or below 1500 feet AGL.
  1. When pre-flighting my airplane prior to flight, why does my flight instructor keep insisting I only clean the windshield with the plastic cleaner and only go up and down the windshield, not circular or sideways motions to clean those pesky bugs off?
    1. He/she is just being bossy!
    2. Bugs only splatter up and down on the windshield
    3. Swirls and/or sideway wiping causes stress on the windshield
    4. Up and down cleaning/top to bottom wiping motions prevent swirls that scatter light or horizontal scratches that can trap moisture and can limit or decrease visibility through the windshield.

a students long arduous march plane4

  1. You probably won't hear this one over the radio, but if you do, it's an ATC request for a pilot to stop using their electronic jamming equipment…
    1. Stop NoComms
    2. Stop Stream
    3. Stop Block
    4. Hey Maverick, stop jamming…

5, This is for all you drone operators out there. If you are inspecting the high-intensity lights on top of a radio tower 5 1/2 nautical miles southwest of a class C airport that does NOT penetrate the shelf of the class C airspace by about 100 feet, would you need prior authorization from ATC?

    1. No, because you’d be under the shelf of Class C airspace
    2. Yes, because you’d be operating in Class C airspace
    3. No, because you’d be operating outside and below Class C airspace

(Answers at bottom of Safety Programs)




There are NOT a lot of FAASTeam safety programs on the schedule over the next couple of months around the state, but hopefully that will change in the near future. Simply log on to the Internet and go to WWW.FAASAFETY.GOV , click on “Seminars” and start checking for any upcoming seminars, but don’t expect a lot during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there are a lot of great webinars online, each about an hour long, and worth credits towards your WINGS participation. 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.



Quiz answers: 1.d, 2.d (Low AND fast, so be careful!!) 3.d, 4. b and 5.b (When inspecting tall towers, you have a 400-foot leeway all the way around, including over top of the tower, so that 400 foot leeway over the top would put you into the Class C airspace)

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