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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.

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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.

Comments

MantisBot 3 years, 9 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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Multidisciplinary 3 years, 9 months ago

I second that about family knowing the numbers, and not only planes. I can vouch for car tags, and boat numbers as well, and I'm talking young kids too. The dads would bring the boats to the house to load, or they would be parked beside the house. The kids played there, and kids are kids, they memorize numbers because that's what kids do. Mom may not know for certain, lol..but ask the kid.

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Danimal 3 years, 9 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.

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artlover 3 years, 9 months ago

If man were meant to fly we would have wings.

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senegal66025 3 years, 9 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.

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Dean Dunlap 3 years, 9 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.

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Boston_Corbett 3 years, 9 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.

Salina?

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ArrogantBovine 3 years, 9 months ago

High Flight

(John Gillespie Magee Jr.)

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there, I've chased the shouting wind along and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace, Where never lark, or even eagle, flew; And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

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clubtuki 3 years, 9 months ago

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

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workinghard 3 years, 9 months ago

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

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angel4dennis 3 years, 9 months ago

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

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TJ_in_Lawrence 3 years, 9 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!

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bearded_gnome 3 years, 9 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.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 3 years, 9 months ago

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

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cheeseburger 3 years, 9 months ago

Who wrote this story? The first reference to the female passenger is Pindi Williams. The second reference is that the Collises were en route to New Mexico.

Shall we clean this story up a bit?

Prayers to the families of the deceased.

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think_about_it 3 years, 9 months ago

Ban airplanes now. They kill people.

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balishag 3 years, 9 months ago

Hmmm....possibly looks like they stalled it at the last moment.

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LoveThsLife 3 years, 9 months ago

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

I follow a blog called http://nieniedialogues.blogspot.com/ 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.

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TheBigW 3 years, 9 months ago

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

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TheBigW 3 years, 9 months ago

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

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JayViking 3 years, 9 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?

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 3 years, 9 months ago

p>"LJWorld.com 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.

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nekansan 3 years, 9 months ago

Tragic.

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.

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kristyj 3 years, 9 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."

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inatux 3 years, 9 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?

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domino 3 years, 9 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.

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anitliars 3 years, 9 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;

http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/Serial_Inquiry.aspx

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TheBigW 3 years, 9 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.

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Kontum1972 3 years, 9 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!

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kernal 3 years, 9 months ago

Condolences to their family and friends.

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countrygirl 3 years, 9 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.

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artifex 3 years, 9 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.

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silentilproven 3 years, 9 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.

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TJ_in_Lawrence 3 years, 9 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.

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silentilproven 3 years, 9 months ago

Two people in the airplane, both people were killed.

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Kontum1972 3 years, 9 months ago

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

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