Two private aircraft collided mid-air on Monday, May 28, 2012 at 4:02 p.m. local time five miles south of the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport (KHWY) in Sumerduck, Va. killing 2 and injuring another, as reported on Tuesday, May 29 by WFMY-TV, the Aviation Safety Network, KOCO-TV, an FAA Accident Report, and other news sources.
The planes involved in the fatal accident were a 1979 Beechcraft V35B Bonanza, N6658R, registered to James M. Duncan of Bethesda, Md., who was employed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and a 1965 Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N23SC, owned by 70-year-old Thomas R. Proven of Broad Run, Va.
Mr. Proven is also a government employee who works for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He survived the collision, is being treated for his injuries at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va., and is expected to survive.
His Piper PA-28 landed in a cow pasture with the plane’s right wing separating from the fuselage, and also sustained extensive damage to the tail section, as seen in the attached slide show which accompanies this report.
There is also a video clip of a mid-air near miss incident.
The severely damaged Beechcraft, and its two occupants were not as fortunate. It crashed and burned in a secluded clump of trees, killing the 60-year-old pilot, James Duncan and his passenger, 57-year-old Paul Gardella, Jr. of Burke, Va.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which usually investigates fatal accidents in the United States, has released a statement saying that it has handed the case over to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada due to the unusual coincidence that the planes were owned and operated by FAA and NTSB employees.
Such a delegation of responsibility may be intended to avoid any possible impression of conflict of interest or bias by the NTSB. It was made by NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, in consultation with FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta.
Witnesses on the ground at first thought the two aircraft were taking part in an aerial stunt maneuver, and were shocked when the planes collided. As Bill Iames described it, after running to the site of burning debris, “You couldn’t even tell it was a plane.”
The Beechcraft Bonanza was first introduced in 1947, and is still in active production, with over 17,000 aircraft built. About 873 of the V35B model were built from 1970-1982. The plane has a top speed of 209 miles an hour, a cruising speed of 198 miles an hour, a stall speed of 59 miles an hour, a rate of climb of 1,167 feet per minute, and a service ceiling of 17,858 feet.
The Piper PA-28 Cherokee was introduced in 1960 with over 32,778 planes built. The model PA-28-140 came out in 1964. The aircraft has a top speed of 144 miles an hour, a cruising speed of 135 miles an hour, a stall speed of 52 miles an hour, a rate of climb of 820 feet per minute, and a service ceiling of 15,000 feet.
We offer our sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the two men who died in this tragic accident.
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