In the past 12 months, three airplane crashes captured the attention of news consumers in the Prescott area. Two involved the deaths of Quad Cities residents, and one was a remarkable crash on a Prescott roadway where the aircraft’s three occupants walked away with only minor injuries.
Each crash was investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). One of those investigations has been completed, while the other two are still ongoing.
EMERGENCY LANDING ON IRON SPRINGS ROAD
A Piper PA 46 occupied by a California couple and their friend was about 15 minutes from reaching its intended destination of the Prescott Airport Tuesday evening, May 29, when the engine lost power.
What occurred in the following minutes was both dramatic — and fortunate.
According to an aircraft incident report filed by the pilot, Derek Hood, 34, of Irvine, California, he tried switching fuel tanks and got power back for a few moments. The engine then cut out again, so he declared an emergency, telling air traffic controllers at the Prescott Airport his plane was out of fuel and wasn’t going to make the remaining nine or so miles it would take to reach the airport.
The air traffic controller guided the pilot to the nearest major roadway — Iron Springs Road in Prescott — where he made what was considered by authorities to be an unbelievable landing.
“It was a remarkable landing considering the extreme circumstances, landing at night on a road that has some curves to it,” Airport Director Robin Sobotta said shortly after the incident.
Soon after the aircraft touched down on the road, its right wing struck the base of a pole and was ripped off. The airplane slid about 300 feet and eventually came to rest upside down near powerlines.
An investigation by the FAA Aviation Safety Inspector found that the aircraft had simply run out of fuel on its way to Prescott from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, at the fault of the pilot.
The inspector reported that during his interview with the pilot, “the pilot changed his story from fuel exhaustion, to fuel contamination.” The inspector reported that there were no signs of fuel contamination during the examination of the airplane’s fuel system, and that everything else with the aircraft appeared normal except that the fuel lines were dry.
According to the fixed base operator at John Wayne Airport, the pilot had initially ordered 20 gallons of fuel for the aircraft, but decided to leave before the order could be filled.
“It was the time of day that the fuelers were busy, and the pilot ended up canceling his order,” according to the final aircraft accident incident report.
ONE DEAD AT PRESCOTT AIRPORT
On Wednesday, Aug. 29, at around 8:35 p.m., a Cessna P210 crash landed in the dry grassy fields short of Prescott Airport’s runway.
Its pilot, Brian Brantner, a 71-year-old working physician in Prescott, was the sole occupant of the aircraft and was declared dead at the scene. Brantner was an avid pilot who held multiple pilot certifications, according to his obituary.
According to a preliminary accident incident report, Brantner was performing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings that night.
Just before the accident, he was flying around the airport waiting for one of the runways to free up when something apparently went wrong.
His last recorded flight trajectory, according to the report, looked to be in line with an intended landing, but the aircraft ended up crashing about 1,900 feet from the approach end of the runway. No additional information about the cause of the accident has been released.
PV COUPLE CRASH IN KINGMAN
The most recent airplane crash reported by The Daily Courier occurred near Kingman on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019.
Two Prescott Valley residents, Heidi Dowland and Christopher Anderson, were in the single-engine Piper PA22-160 when it crashed under unknown circumstances in the Hualapai Mountains, according to the FAA.
Dowland, 38, was declared dead at the scene, while Anderson, 43, suffered significant injuries and was transported to a Las Vegas hospital in critical condition; his current condition is unknown. A preliminary investigation report by the NTSB has yet to be released about the crash.
Dowland was a co-owner of Prescott Med Spa. She was also the mother of three children.
Aircraft transaction records show Dowland had recently bought the airplane and she was keeping it at a private hanger at the Prescott Airport, said Doug Whitney, the airport’s operations supervisor. However, there are no records of her having had a pilot’s license.
Anderson received a student pilot certification in 2014, but student pilots aren’t allowed to command an aircraft that has passengers in it. Ignoring this FAA rule is considered a serious violation that usually results in that pilot’s certification being revoked, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
A memorial service was recently held in Dowland’s honor in Prescott. To help raise money for the ceremony, her children used GoFundMe, a for-profit crowdfunding platform. Their goal was to raise $10,000 and they ended up raising $13,118.
Attempts to reach Dowland’s immediate family were unsuccessful.