Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NTSB issues preliminary report on Fla. plane crash that killed Bramlage family

June 20, 2012


— A single-engine plane carrying a Kansas family of six quickly lost altitude after it changed course to avoid bad weather before crashing into a swampy area in Florida, killing everyone aboard, according to a preliminary report issued Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report on the June 7 crash that killed Junction City businessman Ronald Bramlage, his wife, Becky, and their four children details accounts from three witnesses but does not discuss a cause for the crash. The final cause is not expected to be determined for several months.

The Bramlages' plane experienced an in-flight breakup before crashing about 50 miles southwest of Orlando, Fla., according to NTSB investigators.

According to air traffic control communications with Miami, Ronald Bramlage was trying to avoid a large area of precipitation northwest of Lakeland, Fla., just before the crash. Preliminary radar data showed the plane climbed to 25,100 feet and changed direction to the right before it descended to 10,700 feet in exactly one minute, The Kansas City Star reported.

The pilot of a nearby plane reported hearing a mayday call about one minute before hearing the plane's emergency locator signal.

A second witness, who was inside his home about 1.5 nautical miles from the crash site, said he heard "a whooshing high to low sound, followed by a sound he described as an energy release," the report said. "He was clear the sound he heard was not an explosion, but more like mechanical fracture of parts."

The witness ran outside and saw the plane flying below the clouds and noticed it was missing parts, although he did not see any parts come off the airplane. He videotaped the plane spinning directly into the ground.

A third witness, who was less than half a mile from the crash site, heard a boom that sounded like it came from a lawn mower and saw black smoke trailing from the spinning plane. The witness and his brother heard the crash and found the front of the plane on fire when they got to the site.

Investigators said sections of both wings, the horizontal stabilizer and elevator were separated from the fuselage.

Ronald Bramlage was the grandson of Fred Bramlage, the namesake of Kansas State University's basketball arena. His wife, Becky Bramlage, was the president of the Junction City school board. They were returning to Junction City with their four children — Brandon, 15; Boston, 13; Beau, 11; and Roxanne, 8, after a vacation in the Bahamas when the crash occurred.


kufan1146 5 years, 11 months ago

From what I've gathered by a quick Google search, an in-flight breakup appears to be the plane actually cracking/fracturing and splitting apart, causing a crash. Can anyone confirm this? I'm curious if it was operator error or mechanical defects.

gphawk89 5 years, 11 months ago

Over-G condition could have been caused by pilot error or severe turbulence or both. Mechanical defects (stress cracks, whatever) could have played a part. Given the lack of in-flight recording, we may never know exactly what happened.

Terry Jacobsen 5 years, 11 months ago

Who cares? The loss of these dear people is a tragedy.

parrothead8 5 years, 11 months ago

Maybe we should care so that this sort of thing hopefully can be avoided in the future.

William McCauley 5 years, 11 months ago

Well for one thing, anyone who own or is flying around in pilatus pc 12 might have a real interest in finding out how & why the plane came apart in mid flight..... Just like the pilatus pc-6, that has had more then one crash due to wings and tails falling off in flight.

Scott Morgan 5 years, 11 months ago

I agree, and maybe folks will learn something too. The plane is a very expensive and my understanding a performance transport at times used by our military. In short not a Cessna 150.

kufan1146 5 years, 11 months ago

It is absolutely a tragedy and I mean no disrespect by my comment. As those below have said, it is important to know those things. While I do not, and likely never will, own my own plane, it is worth consideration for both the extended family to know what happened for their own peace of mind as well as for the general public and manufacturers to know to avoid future problems.

Budgets_Smudgets 5 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like severe weather turbulance:

Full text NTSB preliminary report here:

Bob Forer 5 years, 11 months ago

From the report:

"Between 1234:01 and 1234:37, the airplane descended from 22,500 to 10,700 feet"

That's a descent of 11,800 feet in 36 seconds, or around 328 feet per second. How is that possible, when a sky diver plummets at only 178 feet per second?

BorderRat 5 years, 11 months ago

An aircraft is under power, a sky diver is free falling. Just a thought.

Bob Forer 5 years, 11 months ago

Makes sense. that's quite a rapid descent. Sounds like he was either diving like mad to avoid some very heavy turbulence, or had lost bearing because of navigational failure, or had lost control because of structural/control failure.
I can't imagine how terrifying the last few minutes of their lives were.

journalworld77 5 years, 11 months ago

most probable was new to make/model, had low time in hard IFR, ran into turbulence during turn and became spatially disoriented.

jaywalker 5 years, 11 months ago

I think gphawk and jw77 are on the right track here. There are some vicious, enormous, storm cells generated over Florida. NW of Lakeland is less than an hour from the Gulf, so after soaking up all that moisture and then rocketing upward as a cell crosses over hot land, the turbulence and shear generated are incredibly powerful. Really feel terrible for that poor family, such a terrifying end.

Liberty275 5 years, 11 months ago

It's tragic for a lot of people. From what I've seen, they were thought of fondly by those that knew them and most everyone in their community.

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