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Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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

June 20, 2012

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— 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.

Comments

Quantrell 1 year, 9 months ago

Grandparents take heed: Son-in-Laws with an airplane license are strictly forbidden to take wife and all your grandchildren up in the air. My heart goes out to those grandparents, who must suffer the loss of both children & grandchildren. unthinkable... :-/

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Jayhawk1958 1 year, 9 months ago

Effects from the Bermuda Triangle?

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jaywalker 1 year, 9 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.

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journalworld77 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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Bob Forer 1 year, 9 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?

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Budgets_Smudgets 1 year, 9 months ago

Sounds like severe weather turbulance:

Full text NTSB preliminary report here: http://tinyurl.com/dx63geq

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TJ_in_Lawrence 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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kufan1146 1 year, 9 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.

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