Monday, January 4, 2016

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N5104D: Fatal accident occurred January 03, 2016 in Wayne, Nebraska

KENNETH L. LYONS:   http://registry.faa.govN5104D

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA073 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 03, 2016 in Wayne, NE
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N5104D
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 3, 2016, about 1840 central standard time, a Cessna 172N airplane, N5104D, impacted terrain near Wayne, Nebraska. The airplane sustained substantial damage and the private rated pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the destination airport and the airplane was not on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Columbia Regional airport (KCOU), Columbia, Missouri about 1540 and was en route to Sioux City, Iowa. 

A preliminary review of air traffic control communications with the pilot, revealed that shortly after departing KCOU the pilot requested and received visual flight rules (VFR) flight following. As he neared his destination, the controller reported instrument weather conditions at the airport, however the pilot reported that he was VFR on top. The reported weather conditions at the Wayne Municipal Airport (KLCG), Wayne, Nebraska, were 10 miles visibility with scattered clouds at 200 feet above ground level, so the pilot decided to land at KLCG. Shortly after the pilot started his visual approach to KLCG, radar and radio communications were lost with the pilot. 

When family members reported the airplane overdue, an ALNOT (Alert Notice) was issued. A search located the airplane wreckage in a field, about eight miles east of the Wayne Municipal airport. 

The on-site examination of the wreckage revealed the airplane's right wing impacted an open area of a snow covered, harvested, corn field. From the initial impact point, the wreckage path consisted of a large crater, then several small fragments of airplane. The wreckage path then continued to the main fuselage. The wreckage came to rest inverted, facing the direction of the wreckage path. Both wings had heavy leading edge damage; the main cabin was severely crushed; the empennage had only light damage, and was nearly severed just aft of the baggage area. The engine and front cowling also had heavy impact damage; the two bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. 

After the initial on-site documentation of the wreckage, the airplane was recovered for further examination.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Lincoln FSDO-65

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

 James Christopher Birk

We're finding out more about the pilot whose plane crashed in rural Nebraska over the weekend.

According to an area pilot and a co-worker of the man, the pilot was 31-years-old James Christopher Birk, better known as Chris by friends. He was flying the Cessna 172 when it crashed Sunday evening.

Birk was employed by Performance Contractors of Louisiana, which is the company doing construction on the CF Industries expansion.

According to his obituary, Birk was born in Lecedale, Mississippi, and most recently moved to Sioux City for work. He will be laid to rest on Jan. 9th in Savannah, Tennessee. Click here to read the entire obituary.

Birk was suppose to land in Sioux City, but was diverted to the Wayne airport because of foggy conditions.

Here is part of the exchange between Birk and air traffic controllers.

Chris Birk, pilot: "Sioux City approach this is Cessna n5104 delta; you read me?"

Chris Birk was nearly at Sioux Gateway airport when he was denied permission to land because of low visibility. He was redirected to the airport in Wayne, Nebraska.

Air Traffic Controller: "Cessna 04 delta - yeah, keep me advised on how the weather is on your way over there. We're showing VFR skies over Wayne, but we are socked in here in Sioux City and it might be spreading over that way. Keep us advised and we'll get you down safe."

Conditions worsened, apparently, impacting visibility.

Chris Birk, pilot: "5104 delta. Have not identified the ground yet."

Controller: "04 delta, roger, and we are now showing a scattered layer at Wayne at 200 feet."

It was around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday night when air traffic control last had contact with Chris.

Air Traffic Controller: "04 delta I'm starting to lose you on radar. What's your current altitude?"

Chris Birk, pilot:"Altitude is 1,800. No ground."

Air Traffic Controller: "04 delta, radar contact lost."

Air Traffic Controller: "04 delta still up?"

Chris Birk, pilot: "04 delta approach (cuts off)"

NTSB has finished the investigation on scene and have taken the debris to Colorado for further research.

They hope to have a cause of the crash determined by next week.

Story, video and photo gallery:



The investigation continues into the death of a pilot whose plane crashed near Pender, Nebraska.

The plane was a single engine Cessna.

The small plane took off from Columbia, Missouri and was headed to Sioux City.

But airport officials diverted the flight because of bad weather.

"I got a call to be looking for a plane landing here at the Wayne Airport and this was approximately seven p.m. last night," said Wayne Hoffman of the Wayne Municipal Airport. "And we did a search here at the airport runways and everything. We did not find the plane and it did not show up here."

Crews searched the area between Pender and Concord for the missing plane overnight.

The wreckage was found around 1:30 Monday morning according to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

The name of the pilot has not been released at this time.

Kenny Thomsen, the owner of the farm says he didn't find out about the crash until hours after it happened.

"You never know when it's at and this morning, vehicles kept going by the house and highway patrolmen went by," said Kenny Thomsen, the owner of the farm where the plane crashed. "And I seen- and I knew it had to be close and then when the fog lifted, I could see it."

Monday, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Federal Aviation Administration officials were on scene to investigate.

Nebraska State Troopers were also there to safeguard the area.

Thomsen says he spoke with an FAA official Monday.

"He said that as soon as talked to a mechanic in Wayne, they'd come out with a flat bed and asked if I could help lift it up on there," said Thomsen.

An FAA spokesperson says the National Transportation Safety Board will be leading the investigation.

She said it could take between a year and 14 months to complete.

The spokesperson says there are lots of different agencies involved, and sometimes parts of the aircraft are sent to the manufacturer.

Previous Story:

The FAA has been called in to investigate a crash of a small plane near Pender, Nebraska. It happened on Sunday night and authorities said the crash claimed the life of the pilot.

The plane disappeared after being diverted from landing at Sioux Gateway Airport because of bad weather.

It was a single-engine Cessna that had left Columbia, Missouri and was bound for Sioux City.

Authorities said it was cloudy and foggy at the time of the crash.

It was reported missing from radar at 7:18 by officials at Sioux Gateway.

The plane should have arrived in Wayne about seven Sunday night.

Crews searched the area between Pender and Concord for the missing plane overnight.

"We did a search here at the airport runways and everything but we did not find a plane. It did not show up here. The police department came out and said there was a missing plane. So from there on it was search and rescue. I guess about two o'clock this morning we got news that they did find the plane," Jim Hoffman, with the Wayne Municipal Airport said.

The wreckage was found about 1:30 Monday morning outside Pender.

Authorities said the pilot was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

The name of the pilot has not been released at this time.

The Wayne County Sheriff brought FAA officials to the plane crash site to investigate on Monday according to Nebraska State Troopers.

The pilot of a small plane is dead after the plane crashed in northeast Nebraska Sunday night.

Previous story:

According to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, the wreckage of the single-engine Cessna 172 was found about 1:30 Monday morning in rural Wayne County. The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene. Their name has not yet been released.

The plane, which took off from Columbia, Missouri, was scheduled to arrive in Wayne at 7 o'clock, but went off the radar.

Authorities say the Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City notified Wayne officials about the missing plane at 7:18 Sunday night. Sioux Gateway authorities diverted the flight from SUX to the Wayne Municipal Airport due to bad weather. Dense fog and thick clouds in the area at the time created low visibilities.

Crews searched the area between Pender and Concord for the missing plane overnight.

Tom Becker manages the Wayne County facility, and he says Columbia, Missouri was the last known stop for the aircraft.

Federal authorities are investigating the crash.

Story, video, comments and photo gallery:

Nebraska State Troopers are keeping the area around the crash secure. They say the NTSB is expected to come out here.

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