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Rockwell AC69 Crashes in Superstition Mountains near Phoenix

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APACHE JUNCTION - A small plane crashed in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix on the eve of Thanksgiving, and six people aboard are feared dead. As of 10 p.m., a child between the ages of 5 and 9 has been found deceased. Multiple witnesses reported a plane crashed into the top of a mountain in the Flat Iron area and burst into flames just after 6:30 p.m. They described the plane flying level and then trying and failing to pull up at the last second. A 9-year-old boy described the sound… (www.myfoxphoenix.com) More...

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jdmille2
jdmille2 0
gabor, my point re the altimeter is that radar showed them at 4500' which, as you know, is a vfr altitude - the hghest you can be under a 5000' class b floor. so no, i dont think the altimeter was mis-set.
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
Pinal County Sheriff Office Live Audio Feed: http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/?action=wp&feedId=2103
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
Indications so far that this is NOT a commercial a/c . FAA says they have no a/c missing
flyingcookmosnter
Probably not on a flight plan then if it were an aircraft.
flyingcookmosnter
"...all aircraft are accounted for." Of course meaning all IFR or aircraft on a flight plan. Probably VFR for that reason but from the pictures it does seem reather large.
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
ABC 15 is reporting that they are hearing it was an EMBRAER EJ135 - it is NOT a commercial a/c - apparently a private a/c connected to a California company
julianjim
jim garrity 0
Go to abc15 comments, just more wannabe NTSB (I bet non-pilots) with unknown answers! The PIC was in the back? Did they see or think he got into the left seat before take-off? It was night,and how could anyone see at the departure end of the runway anyway? Only the fuel monkey would know who was in the plane since HE WAS THERE! May those lost in this crash rest in peace,and my heart goes out to the family&friends. Just a thought,this aircraft did fly from Ind. to Az.prior to this accident,even if it sat for two years!!
Hollywoode135
This is completly Un-acceptable. Hot doggin at night around mountains with kids on board is dumb. A clear "moonlit" night opens the door for a lot of beautifly scenery, but at 5000 feet agl. I have flown a Turbo commander and all this does is just ruin it for the rest of the pilots out there.
Cudaman415
Gabor Zolna 0
I am a private pilot and my son is an Air Force F-16 fighter pilot that just transitioned to fly the B-2 Stealth Bomber. The Rockwell Commander took off from Safford Arizona that has an elevation of 2,917" and he then took off from Mesa Airport that has an elevation of 1,394". If he neglected to re-set his altimeter after having departed Stafford, he would be approximately 1,500" lower than his altimeter would indicate, resulting in hitting the face of the mountain and his altimeter would indicate that they were much higher than they actually were. That is what I believe actually happened which shows you how unforgiving aviation really is.
Cudaman415
Gabor Zolna 0
I am a private pilot and my son was an F-16 Fighter Pilot who is now transitioning to fly the B-2 Stealth Bomber.The Rockwell Commander that flew into the face of Superstition Mountain took off initially from Safford Arizona which has an elevation of 2,917". They landed at Mesa Airport which has an elevation of 1,394". If the two pilot's neglected to re-set their altimeter they would be flying around 1,500" lower than their altimeter would indicate. If you watch the security of the video you will notice that the strobes showed the plane on a level and steady course flying directly into the =face of the very top of Superstition Mountain. They would have cleared the tops with only a few hundred additional feet and if they thought that they were higher based on their altimeter reading that small error as part of their required pre-flight might be the true cause of that unfortunate accident. Aviation offers a great many pleasures but it is unforgiving if someone makes a fatal error as what might have happened with this Rockwell Commander.
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 0
You don't know how an alt. works apparantly. 1500' would be one big pressure change in the same area
lakewood85
lakewood85 0
It is a sad tragedy and I am very sorry for those directly or indirectly involved. I would like to see like to see better training or safety requirements to decrease accidents.
jdmille2
jdmille2 0
if you plot kffd -> ksad you see it goes right past the mtn. easy enuf to get slightly left of track, esp in a fast, unfamiliar airplane, and wo moving map youd be oblivious to the big rocks. they were at 4500' - skirting under class b, at night, towards terrain, in an unfamiliar acft. god knows why. why not ifr, or at least on an airway through the mtns? not current? "too much hassle"?

one more reason i'll be putting syn vis in the mooney...

re the altimeter - maybe you learned in another country? here we do not set the alt to zero on the ground, but to the baro setting, which matches the field elevation, so now way that would account. beaides, radar shows em at 4500', just under the class b. it *is* possible, however that their DG wasnt set before take-off and they were thus off the intended course. even a few degrees from track would do it. but more likely they just got further NE on departure then expected and headed right into the mtn when they pointed for home.

very sad.
Cudaman415
Gabor Zolna 0
If they flew out from their home airport in the morning and if they departed Mesa in the early evening and if they did not set their altimeter at Mesa and used the same setting that the plane had at Safford, might that not possibly caused a significant change in barometric pressure? Is it also not possible that they never set their altimeter taking off from Safford? I know we are only second question, but that's how we learn unfortunately from other pilot's mistakes.
julianjim
jim garrity 0
Gabor, you can second question (guess) all you want, be an IFR pilot and then join the NTSB,then you will be able to answer those unknown questions!! Either way, they always say it was "pilot error",since he's DEAD!
Cudaman415
Gabor Zolna 0
Jim, do you read Aviation Safety, if not it's a great worthwhile publication. I submitted three articles and they published all three of them. I have learned a great deal from many of their articles. i am not trying to play NTSB just trying to put together what might have happened as general overall information, if for no one else other than myself.
julianjim
jim garrity 0
Gabor, yes I have and your right,it is a good info.mag. Go to the NTSB website to really inform yourself. It's just that sooo many people post things here that have NO clue,(like the media),and make it look like flying is un-safe! I don't mean to chastise you or your trying to figure out what may have caused this crash,we all do. There are so many factors like a/c a/w, pilot phy/med.condition,wx@ time of crash and so on. Keep up the thinking process and when the NTSB comes out with the cause,see how close you were? Congrats to your son,and thank him for his service to our country keeping us safe!! Safe skies and keep your head out of the cockpit,(unless your IFR,then keep it in!!).
Cudaman415
Gabor Zolna 0
Jim, I started flying twenty years ago, I am spin certified, acrobatic certified is a Zlynn and high performance rated. I had enough time in a Duchess for my twin rating but just prior to my check-ride the plane crashed at Carlsbad Airport (CRQ) when the plane turned right cross wind to a right down wind and a Mooney came in over the ocean and did a left down wind, they crashed together at pattern, there were no survivors. I also have 40 plus hours of IFR training but since I do not own but rent and I do not fly enough to feel safe, in IFR I never took the check-ride. I guess I am a fair weather pilot with some solid spin and acrobatic training to insure that I stay as safe as possible.
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
Link to ABC local live coverage http://www.abc15.com/generic/news/live-video
mschacht44
Mike Schacht 0
They are talking on ABC 15 in Phoenix that it might be an ERJ-135 down.
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
Crash caught on video! At about 50 seconds you can see a huge explosion

http://www.themediahaven.com/2011/11/shocking-video-airplane-crashes-at.html?spref=tw
jamescagney2000
DPS NOW RPTG TWIN ENGINE PLANE THAT TOOK OFF FROM FALCON FIELD, 3 ADULTS/3 CHILDREN ONBOARD
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
It is being reported that the aircraft was a Rockwell Turbo Commander 690
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2065517/Pilot-children-feared-dead-plane-crashes-Superstition-Mountains-holiday-tragedy.html
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
Allen Kinitzer of the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that the plane was a twin-engine Rockwell AC69 that had just departed Mesa's Falcon Field. The plane was registered to Ponderosa Aviation Inc. of Safford.

Ponderosa declined comment Wednesday night, saying it was not yet prepared to discuss the incident.



Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/pinal/articles/2011/11/23/20111123arizona-plane-crash-superstition-mountains.html#ixzz1eaq7jdAq

http://ponderosaaviation.net/
KevinBrown
Kevin Brown 0
Press conference to start shortly at 11:30 PM EST watch live:

http://www.abc15.com/generic/news/live-video
dakotadoc
dakotadoc 0
N690FD and N93ME are the 690s registered to Ponderosa
dakotadoc
dakotadoc 0
N690SM is a 690A reg. to Ponderosa. Those listed above are 690Bs.
rgbynet
Richard Byrne 0
Many years ago I owned a residence out in Fountain Hills, Arizona. From my entryway and upper balcony there existed the most incredible view of those very same Superstition Mountains. What a tragic way to begin the Thanksgiving holiday. May they rest in peace!
treehouse4rent
Carlos Bea 0
Controlled, level flight prior to dissapearing behind a mountain. Possible CFIT. But, the profound diservice the "press" does to the aviation community by saying that the aircraft exploded...........
latinpilot
juan Malave 0
The pilot took off from Falcon Field which is about 10 nm west of the Superstition Mountains (crash site), he was heading to Safford in the SE AZ, why he was flying east and right below class B when he need to go southeast to avoid the mountains?. It was a Turbocommander 690 which is a pretty fast airplane that can easy climb out to avoid terrain but you need to contact PHX app first because you are going to be inside of class B .Ok you can go VFR at night and made the trip,but in a dark night like this without moon you should be aware of the terrain and request a flight following that could advise you about other traffic as well in that busy area ( departure corridor for Phoenix Skyharbor and the General Aviation traffic from Mesa ,Chandler and Williams Gateway airports )that is sad that happen in the night before of Thanskgiven.
BoeingFan59
Troy Raiteri 0
Actually I think the pilot wasn't aware of the Mountains being so close to the departure airport which is a pretty stupid answer to your remark but could've happened you may never know. I do know that I was listening to the archives of PHX APP and I have not heard any contact including an Rockwell aircraft not even any GA aircraft. So yeah one thing for sure it was a VFR flight.
clearfortakeoff83
Zach Katona 0
I feel terrible for this family. To have a tragedy happen like this on the night before Thanksgiving is awful and I can only imagine how they must feel. My condolences go out to them and I wish them the best of luck going forward.
jdanish
John Danish 0
Sad, prayers be with them, appears to have been good VFR? GPS should have alerted them....
jmoylan
jmoylan 0
http://www.genesisaircraft.com/11337.php I think this is the accident aircraft...looks to be well equipped, except GPS is outdated KLN90B...no terrain info.
smoki
smoki 0
My guess and its only a guess at this stage is that with a sunset of 5:22pm for the PHX area and darkness descending quickly this time of year the mountain tops were likely obscured by darkness at the time of the crash, i.e. just after 6:30pm. The pilot although on a VFR flight plan as is being reported was probably to a great extent inside the cockpit and unaware of his being below the highest terrain along his flight path. That of course begs the question: Why VFR if there's insufficient visual reference to a horizon especially with precious pax cargo on board?

Anytime you're nighttime VFR in an area with rising terrain it is essential to familiarize yourself with the minimum safe altitude (MSA) in said area. Even in such darkened conditions in clear air the silhouette of rising terrain closing fast in front of him especially if alerted by a LAWS warning tone might have caused the pilot to initiate a sudden pullup but at turboprop speed of this aero-commander it was too little too late.

If the pilot wasn't he should have been on PHX approach as a safety backup for traffic advisories/flight following in the area when transiting beneath class B airspace whence he would have likely been advised of being below the MSA by ATC and this terrible tragedy could have been avoided. Shoulda, woulda, coulda - The three most common words used to summarize a pilot error accident if indeed that turns out to be the case.
JDMK
God please be with them and their families !!!!
lakewood85
lakewood85 0
Another reason to ban night-time GA flights.
chiphermes
Chip Hermes 0
What are you talking about?
fredrok
Fred White 0
Go away. Idiot.
lakewood85
lakewood85 0
No Fred, I am not going away. GA accounts for the highest number of air accidents in this country. Lack of training, pilot error, fatigue, poor judgement by airmen all account for the many accidents highlighed in Flying Magazine every month and many more that don't even make the pages including all of the incidents in Alaska every year. GA has a sad history of accidents and this incident highlights the need for more strict regulations. It was just a couple of years ago when a pilot did the same thing after departing one of the Las Vegas airports. GA must have stricter regulations in order to keep pilots and the public safe.
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 0
You can regulate all you want, but there will still be accidents. They had a very capable a/c, just didn't get high enough. Airliners have also run into mountains not just GA.
vettdvr
James Corkern 0
I totally disagree with banning night GA flights. I do agree knowing MSA is critical and knowing terrain and objects is manditory. It is a true family disaster when this happens and "may God be with them at this time".

I don't fly SE at night but have no issues with flying Twins or more at night with proper equipment and flight planning.
WeatherWise
WeatherWise 0
From what I've read in the Phoenix news, the PIC who would normally be at the controls was in the back with his daughter while the other pilot on board was flying the aircraft. Maybe this pilot wasn't as familiar with the route? Also this Commander was just purchased by Ponderosa Aviation a couple of weeks ago and before that hadn't been flown for a couple of years. This, again, per Phoenix news media.

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