Monday, January 25, 2016

Wittman Tailwind W-8, N1983T: Accident occurred January 24, 2016 at Big Bear City Airport (L35), San Bernardino County, California

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA121
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 25, 2016 in Big Bear, CA
Aircraft: GLINES KENNETH TAILWIND W 8, registration: N1983T

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

An experimental aircraft was found on its roof Monday morning, Jan. 25, at Big Bear Airport.

The pilot of the plane, authorities say, was nowhere to be found.

That is until later in the morning, when the pilot called airport and San Bernardino County Sheriff's authorities to tell them that the plane crashed about 7:30 p.m. and that nobody was hurt, according to an airport news release.

Airport authorities did not release the pilot’s name Monday. 

Plane registration records show the plane is registered to Robert Earhart of Dallas, Texas.

Airport maintenance worker Ryan Goss said the pilot attempted to land on the runway, but was unable to turn on the airport's lights. The lights are "pilot-controlled" and can be turned on by keying the microphone five times.

The plane missed the runway, and hit snow.

The wheels, which had been deployed, dug into the snow and caused the plane to flip over.

Following standard procedures, the airport temporarily closed after the plane was found and Federal Aviation Administration, police and fire authorities were contacted. 

Goss said he and other Airport workers have never come across a situation where a plane crashed and the pilot was nowhere to be found.

About 10 a.m., FAA officials gave the airport approval to remove the plane from the runway area. Airport staff, using its own equipment, righted the plane up on its wheels and towed it away. Debris was cleaned up and the airport opened back up by 10:30 a.m.

Story and photo:

A single engine airplane crashed at Big Bear City Airport sometime during the night. The pilot apparently walked away, then drove off the mountain.

The aircraft was discovered early Jan. 25 when airport personnel arrived to open the airport. As part of the opening routine, a sweep of the grounds, including the runways, is made, according to Dustin Leno, Big Bear airport manager. Staff discovered the plane on the northwest edge of the airport, just off the runway. There was no one inside, and no sign of the pilot, officials said.

The runways were immediately shut down, and emergency personnel notified, along with the FAA. According to Leno, the FAA advised the airport not to move the aircraft as the pilot was missing.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, called the Big Bear City Airport around 9:30 a.m. Jan. 25 to notify them of the accident, according to Leno. The plane, which is described as a single engine high-wing tail dragger, possibly a kit plane, was found upside down. The plane is registered out of Dallas, Texas.

Once the pilot was identified, the FAA gave permission to move the aircraft. Big Bear City Airport was re-opened by 10:30 a.m.

It's unknown exactly what happened, or when the accident occurred. It's also unknown if the pilot sustained any injuries in the crash, and whether he drove himself off the mountain.

Story and photo gallery:

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