Archive for Thursday, July 1, 2010

New York couple killed in Jefferson County plane crash

Air traffic control recording indicates plane lost power to its engine, was trying to land in Lawrence

Wreckage from a small airplane crash lies in a field near Phillips Road off of Highway 24 in rural Jefferson County.

Wreckage from a small airplane crash lies in a field near Phillips Road off of Highway 24 in rural Jefferson County.

July 1, 2010, 8:09 a.m. Updated July 1, 2010, 4:47 p.m.


2100 block of Phillips Road
Local pilot heard New York couple signal for help

A local commercial pilot heard the couple calling out for help while he was flying Thursday morning.

Air Traffic Control communications pertaining to Jefferson County plane crash

This 2:30 clip of audio contains audio from an air traffic controller asking another plane to look for the plane that crashed in Jefferson County. The air traffic controller said the pilot lost his engine and was trying to land in Lawrence.

Greg Collis and his wife Pindi died in a plane crash in rural Jefferson County on Thursday.

Greg Collis and his wife Pindi died in a plane crash in rural Jefferson County on Thursday.

A Jefferson County rancher saw a plane flying very low Thursday morning, then a gust of wind shot the aircraft to the ground.

The rancher and one of his workers called 911 and rushed to the scene, where they discovered that two people had died when the small plane crashed nose-first into a hayfield in rural Jefferson County, about 10 miles northwest of Lawrence.

Killed in the crash, which occurred about 7:50 a.m. Thursday, were the plane’s sole occupants: Gregory Collis, 56, and his wife, Pindi Williams, 54. The couple were from suburban Syracuse, N.Y., and on their way to New Mexico to visit relatives when the plane went down in a field about two miles north of U.S. Highway 24, just out of sight of nearby Phillips Road.

Air traffic data, reports from law enforcement and an audio recording from the air traffic control center in Kansas City, Mo., provide details about how the 1987 Beech Bonanza operated by an experienced pilot crashed on a sunny, clear-sky morning.

“I have an airplane that may have gone down north of Lawrence,” said the calm voice of an air traffic controller, asking another pilot in the sky to help locate the plane. “We’ve communicated with him. He lost an engine.”

“He was trying to get into Lawrence,” the controller said. “He just didn’t have enough altitude to get in there. … The last I heard, he saw a road.”

Collis was trying to make an emergency landing at Lawrence Municipal Airport.

About 20 minutes earlier, he’d taken off from Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City, Mo.

According to Federal Aviation Administration flight tracking data, the westbound plane abruptly turned south when it was about five miles east of Perry Lake. Witnesses to the crash said the plane was heading south before it crashed.

The plane went down on the J Bar Ranch, owned by Mike Jamison, who was at work on his property with ranch hand Matt Walder.

“It was flying so low,” Jamison said. “It caught some air, and it went down immediately.”

The Kansas Highway Patrol, in conjunction with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, were handling the crash investigation, said Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig.

The plane originally flew out of Hamilton Municipal Airport in Hamilton, N.Y., landing in Kansas City on Wednesday night. Collis and Williams were then scheduled to fly to St. John’s, Ariz. Louie Peterson, a mechanic at Hamilton Municipal Airport who knew Collis, said the couple were on their way to visit Collis’ sister in New Mexico.

Collis was a experienced pilot and knew the plane well, Peterson said.

“He’s flown that thing all over the country,” Peterson said. “From Colorado to California.”

Peterson said Collis flew out of Hamilton airport a couple of times a week, and had owned the plane for at least a couple of years.

Flight tracking data shows that Collis’ plane had flown seven times in the past two weeks.

Collis was an administrator for the Manlius Home for Adults, a nursing home in Manlius, N.Y. Peterson said that Collis also owned a small aviation business, Syracuse Aviation Services.


Kontum1972 7 years, 10 months ago

that is not good....hope they all walked away...

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

Ashley, we forgive you your errors.

Kontum made the post early in the morning when the headline only read that a plane was down, nothing more.

silentilproven 7 years, 10 months ago

Two people in the airplane, both people were killed.

Terry Jacobsen 7 years, 10 months ago

How sad. I lost both of my parents in a plane crash when I was 19. That was 31 years ago this month. It still hurts. I'm so sorry to hear about this. My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved.

silentilproven 7 years, 10 months ago

I have talked with people that are at the crash scene and I've been told by them it was a small four passenger plane but only two people were onboard.

Red Harrell 7 years, 10 months ago

I was out flying a little bit this morning and I picked up their ELT signal. I found out from Kansas City Center that they had a plane go down. My heart just sank.

countrygirl 7 years, 10 months ago

So sad. Lost family friends to a small plane crash about 15 years ago. So sudden and hard to handle. My prayers go out to the families of the victims.

kernal 7 years, 10 months ago

Condolences to their family and friends.

Kontum1972 7 years, 10 months ago

how tragic.....esp with the holiday weekend upon us....being a former army aviator its tough when you hear of something like this....Bummer!

William McCauley 7 years, 10 months ago

(quote)the plane left Kansas City about 7:30 this morning and headed west then south before abruptly turning back toward Kansas City, southeast of Salina.(quote)

Sounds like a case of get home fever, never a good idea and will bite you in the arse most of the time, why turn back to try to make KC or Lawrence when there was so many other airfields over flown on the way to the crash site that could have been made. Always better to take a long taxi ride or walk then be carried 20 feet.

William McCauley 7 years, 10 months ago

(quote)I understood the term (quote)

Really? yet you first chim in and try to bash me with the following : (quote)Kindly show us where the article says they had any "home" connection whatsoever to KC or Lawrence.(quote)

That don't sound like you had a clue WTF I was talking about based on your choice of words you wanted to read into my post.

Then you go on to say (quote) Nice try of reading the deceased pilot's mind (quote)

Never tried to "read the pilots mind" it is well known that turn arounds in an engine out will bite you in the ass and have killed a number of people over the years.

Now you chime in again and claim I was (quote) along with W's initial criticisms (quote)

Did you see me say anything like "what a dumbass or how stupid" NO you didn't, at 10:35 am it was reported he was in Salina Ks and turned around and tried to return to KC or KLWC, when I posted MY QUESTION as to why would a pilot over fly many other airports if having LOP or engine fail, when it's well known in flying circles that is not a wise thing to do, in other words it didn't make any sence as to what was being reported at that time! So a normal pilots responce to that report is what I posted!

Now that it has come to light he was in fact just north of KLWC, I will still stand by earlier comment of possible "get home fever" that offten in aviation history has got many a good pilot trying to make an airport instead of picking an open field that they can make and end up in more of a corner by running out of time and then ditching as a last resort because they come up short of the airport.

That may or MAY NOT be the case here!

How about you try not putting words in to other peoples mouth or posts, and tone down your bitchy attitude towards others as the armchair posting police! Two people died flying today and that sucks, and like many other pilots the first thing we all do is review in our minds standard operating pratices for such events as an engine out or loss of power, more so if you've have ever had the fan quit, because as we see today it can get you killed even if you do it text book perfect and should not be taken lightly, it requires training and review before every take off so you have a plan on where your going to go should you need to ditch, it requires calm & quick thinking. My comments were nothing more then such a review in mind, based on the info provided by LJW @ 10:35 Am.

BlackVelvet 7 years, 10 months ago

that's the kind of thought you should just keep to yourself. it serves no good purpose to say something like that.

Matt Schwartz 7 years, 10 months ago

southeast of perry lake, turned around....quote.

anitliars 7 years, 10 months ago

The picture shows the FAA # of this plane. That can be looked up on the FAA web site to find the owner and make of the plane;

domino 7 years, 10 months ago

If they turned back when they were southeast of Salina, they would have been able to make it to the airport in Salina. How sad. My heart goes out to the families involved.

inatux 7 years, 10 months ago

"Peterson said the two deceased, a man and his wife, were en route to visit his wife in New Mexico. St. John’s, Ariz., is on the Arizona-New Mexico border."

Huh? Did he have two wives?

wmathews 7 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for catching that. We've made the change in the story.

kristyj 7 years, 10 months ago

How terrible!

Also, to the online editors, could the following paragraph be edited to clarify if the wife was on the plane or if she was at the destination?

"Peterson said the two deceased, a man and his wife, were en route to visit his wife in New Mexico. St. John’s, Ariz., is on the Arizona-New Mexico border."

nekansan 7 years, 10 months ago


Looking at the Flight track data in detail I do not believe this aircraft was ever SE of Salina. It was just SE of Oskaloosa when it's airspeed slowed and it began a descent as well as turned South towards Lawrence. This indicates to me that the engine failure occurred at this point and the pilot make an immediate turn to the south towards Lawrence. I suspect that the remained of the flight track data is the system extrapolating the remained of the flight plan and is not reflective of the actual travel of the flight.

Tristan Moody 7 years, 10 months ago

I wonder why the pilot turned right to head south to KLWC. From the graph, it looks like he came dangerously close to stalling out while turning south, and his descent rate came close to 1200 ft/min during that time. I wonder how much altitude he could have saved by turning left...

nekansan 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't have any time in a Bonanza, but the rate of decent did seem a bit high, most of my time is in Skyhawks and Cherokees and with power full back they settle in at about 750 ft/min. The Bonanza is a much heavier airplane though. I wondered about the 270 as well, though I don't suspect he was in danger of stalling. My only guess was he began a 180 and realized that things were more serious and then continued the turn to KLWC. A standard rate turn is 180 degrees/min so the extra turn would have cost him roughly that so figure 750-1200 ft. It's assuming a lot though.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 10 months ago

p>" is withholding the name of the victim pending notification of family members"

I have to object. This person is known to people in Lawrence (per the article). The I.D. no. of the plane is on the photo and details of the itenerary are in the article. Frankly, if any family read this story, they found out just by the information provided in the article that they just lost a loved one.

Ray_Finkle 7 years, 10 months ago

Where does the article say anything about the people being known to anyone in Lawrence? Hamilton Airport is in NY.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 10 months ago

My bad. I thought that was a LMA mechanic.

Jonathan Kealing 7 years, 10 months ago

I guess I have two thoughts here. One, we weren't given the names by law enforcement, we were given them by a mechanic in New York. So I'm not comfortable going with it. But, more importantly, I want a family member to hear from law enforcement. If you were a friend of the sister, for example, you might know the brother's name. But you probably wouldn't know his plane's tail number. So this gives law enforcement the change to make contact.

JayViking 7 years, 10 months ago

I have to agree. I think the victim's name should be withheld, but if you're going to include all the other identifying factors, why bother?

William McCauley 7 years, 10 months ago

Just because you look up an 'N #" don't mean that is who was in the plane.

William McCauley 7 years, 10 months ago

Just because you look up an 'N #" don't mean that is who was in the plane.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 10 months ago

This is so sad. My thoughts are with the family.

I follow a blog called Her and her husband were in a bad plane crash a few years ago. She was burned on 80% of her body and has had to figure out how to be mom to their four kids while dealing with all the issues of being a burn victim. It is really inspiring but it does make me think twice about going up in a private plane.

William McCauley 7 years, 10 months ago

There is risk in everyday life, could happen anyone of us on the drive home from work, look at the two people killed last month in the turnpike from a blown tire and they left behind 4 young kids. You can try to wrap yourself in bubble wrap and hide in fear of everyday life, or you can grab life by the balls and enjoy it to the fullest because sooner or later your going to die one way or the other.

jackpot 7 years, 10 months ago

Maybe she didn't take husbands name but used her name. Maybe she was in business for herself and didn't want the legal cost to change everything.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 10 months ago

Good follow-up work, LJW. These were people, not "news-makers".

bearded_gnome 7 years, 10 months ago

sad sad sad.

looks like there's a big loving family with a big d---d hole in it now

those who are second guessing the pilot's judgment in such a crisis mostly don't know what the he|| they're talking about here.

did he turn to the right because of prevailing winds? did he have to turn right because of an equipment failure not yet identified?
was there pilot impairment too?

and of course, it is always easy to second guess from the safe confines of your mancave where your life is not about to be terminated in 48-seconds.

Terry Jacobsen 7 years, 10 months ago

When my parents crashed and died when I was 19, I had been waiting for hours for them to come home. I knew that something was terribly wrong. I watched the KC news and saw nothing about their crash. Lucky for me, I was watching the only news station in KC that didn't have the story. No one identified them, but refered to a "Lawrence Kansas couple". Our phone started ringing off the hook with people calling to see if my parents were home or not. When I todl them no, and I was worried about it, they politely hung up and waited for the police to come and tell me about the accident. That was a good thing, because it allowed me time when I saw the police car in front of our house to prepare for the bad news. It was devastating, but there was a chaplain who was very kind with the police officer who offered a lot of good comfort. Thank you too to Sgt. Dalquist for helping me through a rough time!

Deja Coffin 7 years, 10 months ago

This story must bring up a lot of terrible and vivid memories for you. Not only am I sorry for the loss of these two people in the story but I'm also sorry for your loss. I'll be praying for peace and comfort in all of your hearts.

angel4dennis 7 years, 10 months ago

Sad news for all the friends and family that are left. My deepest condolences.

workinghard 7 years, 10 months ago

Terrible loss for the family, hopefully they recieved the same kind treatment as T_J.

clubtuki 7 years, 10 months ago

this is really sad and bad news. Condolences to the family. It's really heart breaking.

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 10 months ago

"An early report that he flew to Salina was based on an inaccuracy in FAA data."

Uhhh. Jonathan & LJW....It is OK to be wrong, but then to blame "accuracy of FAA data...... I'm not sure I agree. Please tell us which FAA data was incorrect. Or admit it was your mistake.....not the FAA's.

We amateurs could tell based upon public information sources that the actual flight track data had nothing to do with being close to Salina. You know......the same sources that your sports (entertainment) department spent over a day closely tracking for that plane from the Pac 10 to fly from Austin to Kansas city a few weeks ago.


Dean Dunlap 7 years, 10 months ago

After reading the comments and watching information being collected by the various sources, I'm deeply saddened by the loss of two lives in this accident. I'm also mystified as to the fatal outcome to this crash.

I'm a commercially rated pilot from long ago, who also worked for several different aircraft manufacturers. Additionally, I owned an almost identical Bonanza aircraft and have hundreds of hours in this model. It is an extremely safe and reliable aircraft.

What has me puzzled is that in knowing the area well around Perry and Lawrence, there are acres and acres of relatively flat unobstructed farmland onto which this aircraft could have been landed without power without this tragic outcome. Weather was obviously not a factor. I couldn't tell from the photos if the landing gear had been extended, which could have caused problems in a soft field. Short of an airframe failure, which is highly unlikely, this will remain a mystery to me until the final NTSB report is issued. I have faith in the NTSB as true professional investigators, having been involved with them in the past. They make the criminal investigators portrayed on tv look like rank amateurs.

Again, my condolences to the family and friends of the couple lost in this accident.

Bobo Fleming 7 years, 10 months ago

Very experienced pilot with a great airplane and flat fields everywhere. There may never be an answer to this one. My guess is that he was trying to "make the airport" and tried to extend out his airtime available going from one good place to land to another. Only a guess. Its a rookie mistake that they talk about from the start of flight training. But this is only a guess and as I say it would probably be chalked up to "pilot error" because nothing else can be figured out. I know this, if I had to pick a way to go it would be flying and not in a hospital bed.

artlover 7 years, 10 months ago

If man were meant to fly we would have wings.

Danimal 7 years, 10 months ago

That's too bad, what a horrible tragedy. Most aircraft crashes (seriously, I think it's around 70%) are caused by pilot error. This appears to be one of the rarer cases where mechanical failure is at fault. My condolences to the families.

nekansan 7 years, 10 months ago

The engine failure was a mechanical issue, but likely not the reason these people died. An airplane is still very able to be flown and controlled after an engine failure. We may never know exactly what happened but it is the pilots responsibility to land safely after an engine failure.

MantisBot 7 years, 10 months ago

Hey everyone, thanks for the condolences. I'm one of Greg and Pindi's nephews. I've flown many times with them both and I can say I never felt a moment where I thought things would go wrong. Greg was meticulous in the way he checked, double checked, and triple checked everything, and if he thought flying was a bad idea at all he wouldn't go up. He was also very experienced with this aircraft as he owned a Beechcraft Bonanza of his own for several years and he was an avid pilot. As for Pindi, she never got around to finally getting her license, but all that was left were her solo flights. In fact, she even got a perfect score on her written exam. When she initially got her results she was told she got one question wrong, but after looking it over, she was certain she got it right. After pointing this out to the testing authority they agreed.

They were both no strangers to airplanes and were very careful and attentive people who had been successfully running Greg's businesses for some time now. They were no strangers to quick and difficult decisions.

And still they crashed.

Greg and Pindi loved flying and nothing made them happier than sharing the things they loved with their friends and family. They were giving people and they will be missed. If anyone in the area has some contact information for the owner of the land that they crashed on I'd like to thank him and his employees for doing all they could for my aunt and uncle. Thanks again for the condolences and well-wishes and take it easy out there.

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