Three of Four People Killed in Mid-Air Plane Crash Were Flight Instructors, NTSB Says

Three of the four people killed in a mid-air plane collision north of Phoenix late last month were certified flight instructors, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report.

The NTSB report says the planes were on a similar path the morning of May 31, before they both made turns toward one another and collided.

See also:
-Flight Instructors Were in One of the Planes in the Deadly Midair Collision
-Planes Collide in Midair Outside of Phoenix, Four People Killed

"Both airplanes executed their turn simultaneously," the preliminary report says. "Shortly after each target completed its turn the paths of both targets intersected."

There were no survivors, and the collision was seen by another pilot, as well as a man riding his bike, who both called authorities to the crash site near New River, in the north Valley.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman told New Times the collision occurred around 10 a.m., about 15 miles west-northwest of the Deer Valley Airport.

The NTSB usually takes several months to determine the probable cause of accidents, and this preliminary report was just released yesterday.

Paul Brownell and Basil Onuferko, both employees of TransPac Aviation Academy, were aboard one of the planes. Hot Air Expeditions president Margie Long and project manager Carl Prince were in the other plane.

A statement from Hot Air Expeditions identifies Prince as the certified flight instructor, and Long as his student.

Prince had been providing flight instruction to Long since August 2012, the statement says.

All the details released by the NTSB can be found on the next page:

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA254B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 31, 2013 in Anthem, AZ
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N2459K
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 31, 2013, at 1003 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28-181, N327PA, while airborne at 900 feet above ground level (agl) collided with a Cessna 172S, N2459K, that was also operating at 900 feet agl, 3 miles west of Anthem, Arizona. Both certified flight instructors (CFI's) occupying the Piper were fatally injured, the CFI and student pilot occupying the Cessna were also fatally injured. Both airplanes impacted desert terrain in the vicinity of the collision and were destroyed. The Piper was registered to Bird Acquisitions LLC and operated by TransPac Academy, the Cessna was registered to Westwind Leasing LLC and operated as a rental airplane. Both airplanes were operated as instructional flights under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and both airplanes had company flight plans. The Cessna departed Deer Valley Airport, Phoenix, AZ at 0917 and the Piper departed the same airport at 0930.

Radar data shows two targets operating VFR (visual flight rules) about 1 mile apart. The western target was operating at 2,500 msl and 106 knots ground speed, as recorded by the radar playback. The eastern target was operating at 2,600 feet msl and 92 knots as recorded by the radar playback. The western target was on a northerly heading and made a 180 degree right turn to a southerly heading. The eastern target was also on a northerly heading and made a left turn to a southwesterly heading. Both airplanes executed their turn simultaneously. Shortly after each target completed its turn the paths of both targets intersected.

The wreckages of both airplanes were in the immediate vicinity of the radar depicted target intersection. The Piper had impacted the flat desert terrain in a flat and upright attitude. All essential components of the airplane were at the accident site. The Cessna wreckage was located 468 feet southwest of the Piper wreckage. The Cessna impacted the desert terrain vertically, imbedding the engine and propeller into the ground and the wings were crushed accordion style from the leading edges aft. The entire Cessna wreckage was consumed by a post impact fire. The vertical stabilizer and left elevator of the Cessna was located 1,152 feet north of the wreckage.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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