Friday, March 11, 2016

Remos GX, N28GX, New Mexico Sport Aviation LLC: Fatal accident occurred March 11, 2016 near Ohkay Owingeh Airport (E14), Espanola, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico


NTSB Identification: CEN16FA122
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 11, 2016 in Española, NM
Injuries: 2 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 March 11, 2016, about 1627 mountain standard time, a Remos Aircraft GmbH Flugzeugbau model Remos GX, special-light sport aircraft (S-LSA), N28GX, was destroyed during a postimpact fire following a loss of control in the airport traffic pattern at the Ohkay Owingeh Airport (E14), Española, New Mexico. The private pilot and the pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by New Mexico Sport Aviation LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed for the personal flight that departed E14 about 1620 with the intended destination of Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF), Santa Fe, New Mexico.

According to the aircraft owner, the pilot had rented the airplane to gain familiarization with the takeoff-and-landing procedures used at the Los Alamos Airport (LAM), Los Alamos, New Mexico. When operating at LAM, all landings are made on runway 27 and all departures are made to the opposite direction on runway 9. A review of available Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) radar data indicated that the airplane departed SAF about 1350, preceded north-northwest toward LAM, and subsequently landed on runway 27 about 1405. At 1417, the airplane reappeared on ATC radar after it had departed LAM on runway 9. The flight then proceeded about 8.5 miles northeast of LAM before returning to land on runway 27 about 1427. At 1433, the airplane reappeared on ATC radar after it had departed LAM on runway 9. The flight again proceeded about 8.5 miles northeast of LAM before returning to land on runway 27 about 1443. At 1448, ATC radar data indicated the airplane had departed LAM and continued northeast toward E14. At 1455, the airplane descended below available radar coverage about 3.3 miles southwest of E14.

The airplane was equipped with a GlobalStar SPOT satellite tracking device, which reported its position every 5 minutes when activated. According to available track data, the device recorded the airplane on the ramp at E14 about 1503. During the next 15 minutes, the device recorded three stationary data points while the airplane situated on the ramp. There were no position reports received between 1518 and 1627. At 1627:31, the final GlobalStar SPOT data point was recorded near the approach end of runway 16. The GlobalStar SPOT data did not include any altitude information. Additionally, there was no ATC radar data for the accident flight because the airport traffic pattern altitude was below available radar coverage.

There were two witnesses to the accident flight. Both witnesses were standing outside a residence located about 0.4 miles southeast of the runway 16 departure threshold. One of these witnesses reported seeing the airplane make left traffic for runway 16 and land. The witness reported that the airplane made a second takeoff and continued to make left turns. He reported that as the airplane was turning from the crosswind-to-downwind leg, he heard a reduction in engine power and saw the airplane descend toward the ground in a nose level attitude. The airplane subsequently descended behind a hill which was followed by an explosion. The second witness reported that he heard the airplane takeoff from the airport, and as the airplane was making a left turn, he saw it descend nose first toward the ground. He noted that there was a large explosion and ascending fireball upon the airplane impacting the terrain. The same witness reported that the engine sounded as if it was operating normally during the accident flight.

The wreckage was located in an open field about 885 feet east of the runway 16 departure threshold. The initial impact point was where the engine had impacted the ground on a heading of south. No discernable wreckage debris path was projected from the initial impact point. The main wreckage consisted of the entire airplane. All major structural components and flight controls were identified at the accident site; however, a majority of the carbon-fiber composite fuselage, wings, and empennage had been destroyed during the postimpact fire. The pitot tube, located on the leading edge of the left wing, had penetrated the ground at a 45 degree angle. A majority of the flight control push-pull tubes for the elevator and ailerons were destroyed during the postimpact fire. Flight control cable continuity for the rudder was confirmed from the control surface to the cockpit. The engine had sustained significant thermal damage during the postimpact fire. A partial disassembly of the engine revealed no mechanical failures of the crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons. No anomalies were noted with the cylinders or valve assemblies. Normal wear and combustion signatures were noted on the upper spark plugs. The magneto assembly, located on the rear of the engine, was destroyed during the postimpact fire. No anomalies were noted with the reduction gearbox assembly. Two of the three propeller blades exhibited impact and fire damage. The remaining propeller blade appeared undamaged.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot, age 46, held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane rating. Her last aviation medical examination was completed on May 4, 2015, when she was issued a third-class medical certificate with a limitation for corrective lenses. A search of FAA records showed no previous accidents, incidents, or enforcement proceedings. Her last flight review, as required by FAA regulation 61.56, was completed upon the issuance of her private pilot certificate dated January 2, 2016. The pilot's flight history was reconstructed using pilot logbook information. Her most recent pilot logbook entry was dated March 9, 2016, at which time she had accumulated 132.9 hours total flight time, of which 41.8 hours were listed as pilot-in-command. She had logged 127.1 hours of flight time in a Remos GX special-light sport aircraft. She had accumulated 4.1 hours in simulated instrument meteorological conditions and 4.6 hours at night. She had flown 132.9 hours during the prior 12 months, 89.5 hours in the previous 6 months, 36.8 hours during prior 90 days, 23.5 hours in the previous 60 days, and 12.5 hours in the 30 day period before the accident flight. The flight instructor's logbook did not contain any recorded flight time for the 24 hour period before the accident flight.

The accident airplane was a 2009 Remos Aircraft GmbH Flugzeugbau model Remos GX, serial number 356. A 100-horsepower Rotax model 912 ULS reciprocating engine, serial number 6783105, powered the airplane through a fixed-pitch, three blade, Neuform model CR3-65 propeller. The airplane had a fixed tricycle landing gear, was capable of seating two individuals, and had a certified maximum gross weight of 1,320 pounds. The special-light sport aircraft (S-LSA) was issued an airworthiness certificate on May 13, 2010. The current owner-of-record, New Mexico Sport Aviation LLC, purchased the airplane on February 21, 2011. According to dispatch documentation, the airplane's HOBBS hour meter indicated 2,916.7 hours before the accident flight. The airframe had accumulated a total service time of 2,916.7 hours. The engine had accumulated a total service time of 916.7 hours since new. The last condition and 100-hour inspection of the airplane were completed on March 1, 2016, at 2,898.8 total airframe hours. A postaccident review of the maintenance records found no history of unresolved airworthiness issues. The airplane had a total fuel capacity of 22 gallons (21 gallons useable) contained in a single fuselage tank. A review of fueling records established that the airplane fuel tanks were topped-off before the accident flight departed SAF.

The nearest aviation weather reporting station was located at Los Alamos Airport (LAM), Los Alamos, New Mexico, about 14 miles southwest of the accident site. At 1556, the LAM automated surface observing system reported the following weather conditions: wind 190 degrees true at 12 knots, gusting 24 knots; visibility 10 miles; few clouds at 10,000 feet above ground level (agl), scattered clouds at 18,000 feet agl, broken ceiling at 25,000 feet agl; temperature 26 degrees Celsius, dew point -9 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 29.69 inches of mercury. A peak wind velocity of 27 knots was recorded at 1525.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Albuquerque FSDO-01

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

Karen Young and her husband at the Los Alamos Airport after a recent flight.

Thomas Spickermann was a proud supporter of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s “Young Eagles” program, a program that showed young people the many pathways into the aviation field one could take. One of the highlights of the program was taking kids through the preflight checkup, the flight, and a question and answer session afterward. 

Karen Ann Young, left, stands with her son, Charlie Young, and Piñon Art Educator Stephanie Rittner.

The Los Alamos aviation community grieved the loss of two enthusiasts and friends this week, after they crashed in a small airplane near the Ohkay Owingeh Airport outside of Española Friday afternoon. 

Shortly after the tragic news swept through the local community, members started coming forward to share their thoughts about Thomas Spickermann, 47 and Karen Ann Young, 46.

Young and Spickermann were performing landing and takeoff maneuvers during a training flight when the plane went into a spiral and crashed.

The aircraft was a Remos GX fixed wing single engine “light sport” aircraft. According to initial reports, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have yet to release a preliminary report about what caused the accident.

One member of the local aviation community emailed a statement to members after the accident.

“I have always known that what makes New Mexico Sport aviation great is the wonderful group of people who have come together to pursue a passion for flying,” the member wrote. “This tragic accident has shown what a close family we’ve created. I am extremely grateful to everyone who has shared their condolences and offered to help in our difficult time. Please remember (Young’s husband) and (their children) and Thomas’s family, no doubt they could use your love and assistance.”

Spickermann was a member of EAA’s (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 691, the EAA’s local, northern New Mexico chapter.

“Experimental aircraft” is a category used by the FAA to describe airplanes that are built by individuals, instead of a factory.

Experimental aircraft are inspected and certified as flightworthy by the FAA. The airplane Spickermann and Young were flying was not classified as experimental, but Spickermann owned at least one experimental aircraft, a Zenith CH750 STOL that he built himself.

According to members, Spickermann once served as vice president and president of the chapter at various times. The chapter represents Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Española and northern New Mexico. According Chapter 691’s website, Spickermann was serving as the site’s newsletter editor and webmaster.

Will Fox, the organization’s technical counselor and flight advisor, recalled Spickermann’s passion for flight and experimental aircraft. Spickermann often brought guests to the meetings to talk to the chapter members about aviation and the technical aspects of experimental aircraft, Fox said.

Fox first met Spickermann when he approached Fox for help on building his Zenith, the first aircraft he built by himself.

He recalled Spickermann’s optimistic spirit when it came to tackling the literal nuts and bolts of the project, he said. Spickermann, whose professional background was theoretical physics, had to learn how to use a rivet gun as well as other specialized tools required to build it.

“He started right from scratch without a lot of the skills needed to build those planes,” Fox said.

“Finish it he did, and when he was done, he had a good solid airplane.”  

Spickermann was only too happy to share his accomplishment, which served to inspire his friends and fellow pilots, Fox said.

“As soon as he got done, he started giving everybody rides,” Fox said. “He used to say that if he could build one, then anyone can build one.”

Fox was also lifelong friends with Young’s father, and he knew Young well.

“Karen was an incredibly enthusiastic young lady, real quick with a smile,” Fox said. “Very outgoing, a very positive person … very inquisitive. If she wanted to find out about something she wouldn’t hesitate to call you and ask you questions till she wore you out. She reminded me a lot of her dad.”

Young worked as an engineer at LANL in the same division as Spickermann. One day, Spickermann offered to take Young up in his Zenith, and that’s when she became fascinated with small aircraft flight.

She had only recently got her private pilot’s certificate about two months ago.

While Spickermann helped Young with flying, it soon became apparent that Spickermann himself was going to need help losing weight and getting in shape for a flying trip to Alaska they planned to take.

Young, an avid runner, helped him with that, and soon had Spickermann running, bicycling, and competing in various races and meets.

A statement in the email sent out to the aviation community also talked about how Spickermann’s enthusiasm for aviation, and flying grew on Young.

“His passion for aviation was contagious, enough so that his friend and coworker, Karen Young decided to join him on the Alaska trip,” a statement in the email to the aviation community read. “To be a more helpful passenger, Karen planned to take a few lessons ... Karen soon became hooked on flying and went far beyond ‘just a few lessons,’ earning her private pilot certificate.”

According to the email, Young also enjoyed sharing her enthusiasm for flight, especially with her husband and children.

“Karen took each of (her children) to experience the joys of flying, and just a week ago flew her husband to Taos for a picnic lunch under the wing of the airplane,” according to the statement.

Even though Young and Spickermann were experienced pilots, the Alaska trip was to be their first big flight. Fox said Spickermann also was an avid photographer, and was looking forward to bringing his camera with him.

“He always took a camera with him whenever he went flying, he was always taking pictures from the air. He would take pictures until the batteries died or he ran out of storage,” Fox recalled. “I don’t know what he liked more, flying or taking pictures from the air ... This trip to Alaska was going to be a great opportunity for them to take turns flying and taking pictures of their trip.”

Shortly after the accident, EAA 691 posted this statement on its website:

“Two of our members were fatally injured in an airplane crash on Friday, March 11. Thomas Spickermann and Karen Young. Both were shining lights not only for our club but for everyone they touched. Our thoughts and love go out to the families of both of these wonderful beings. Please keep the children and family members in your thoughts.”

Original article can be found here:

Karen Ann Young, like her father before her, dreamed of flying to Alaska in a small, single-engine airplane.

Following his advice to gain experience as a pilot, Young was flying at about 4:30 p.m. Friday a quarter-mile east of the Ohkay Owingeh Airport.

Her hopes and her life ended there.

Young had rented the two-seat, single-engine Remos GX airplane that crashed with her at the controls. She and her passenger, experienced pilot Thomas Spickermann, both died in the crash. They were training for the trip north.

Weather did not appear to be a factor. Winds were calm and clouds that would build before snow fell the next day weren’t yet on the horizon.

Young’s 81-year-old father, Charles Cummings, said he doesn’t know what happened.

“I was pretty excited about it, but, you know,” he said Monday of his daughter’s Alaska plans. Then his voice trailed off. “Things don’t always work out like you wanted them to.”

Young, 46, was the deputy leader for an engineering group that ran the radio frequency systems used in the particle accelerator at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She leaves a husband and two sons, 11 and 9. They live in Los Alamos.

Spickermann, 47, ran the team that operated the lab’s particular accelerator. He lived in Los Alamos and was married.

Young had obtained her pilot’s license in January, hoping to fly the more than 3,000 miles to Alaska with Spickermann, her father said in a phone interview from Oklahoma. Cummings had made the trip numerous times in his youth, and fears he gave his daughter the idea of emulating him.

Cummings, also a former Los Alamos laboratory engineer, said he used to fly single-engine Cessnas to Alaska, stopping every several hundred miles to refill the small fuel tanks. He said he loved learning the country one airstrip at a time.

His daughter’s sense of adventure is partly his fault, he said. He knows flying is dangerous, and said that was in the back of his mind when he suggested that she get her pilot’s license. But he supported her interest in aviation. She was preparing to buy her own Cessna when she crashed, he said.

He doesn’t regret her choice. “I regret her death,” he said.

Others occasionally saw Young and Spickermann logging flight hours together in Northern New Mexico, training for the big trip to Alaska. Spickermann was even building an experimental airplane for it, and he’d talk constantly about it at work, said his boss, Mark Gulley.

“He’d come in and there’d be a Band-Aid or two on his fingers,” which he’d blame on rivets he’d fastened to his plane that weekend, Gulley said.

Spickermann was recognized in 2013 by the Federal Aviation Administration for his high level of pilot training.

His and Young’s deaths are a blow to the lab, Gulley said.

Spickermann kept his experimental plane in a hangar at the Ohkay Owingeh Airport. Gulley said he’d already built and sold an experimental model, replacing it with the larger, more powerful aircraft to allow him and Young to fly farther. He spent most weekends tinkering with it, said the airport’s manager, Ron Lovato.

Wiggy Greacen, an aircraft mechanic in Gilbert, Ariz., said Spickermann invited him to New Mexico a few times to examine the plane, which someone could spend 1,000 hours building.

“He did meticulous work,” Greacen said. “It was a very nice aircraft.”

The plane, an experimental model by Zenith Aircraft Co., now sits in Hangar No. 8 without wings.


Two people died in a single engine plane crash Friday in Rio Arriba County. 

The incident took place near the Ohkay Owingeh Airport at El Llano Road and NM 241 north of Espanola.

New Mexico State Police said the incident happened around 4:30 p.m.

Due to the extent of the destructive nature of the crash, officers are still working to identify the aircraft and the identity of the deceased.

The crash remains under investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration will be on site tomorrow to figure out the cause.

The Office of the Medical Investigator is working to determine the identity of the deceased. 

Story and video:

A small, single-engine airplane crashed outside the Ohkay Owingeh airport Friday afternoon, killing at least two people, according to emergency personnel on the scene. 

The crash, around 4:30 p.m., occurred on the edge of Ohkay Owingeh property, 50 feet  from the fence that encompasses the airport, on the southern end.

It was not immediately known how many people were in the plane. 

The aircraft appeared to be circling the airport before the crash, according to witnesses and emergency responders.

The wreckage burned for some time before emergency responders were allowed to extinguish it and the Office of the Medical Investigator has yet to take custody of the bodies to perform autopsies.

Plumes of smoke billowed off the wreckage until firefighters, using 4-wheel drive fire trucks, were able to reach the wreckage. 

City of  Espanola firefighters and Santa Clara Pueblo firefighters initially responded to the crash and cut through a fence at the airport to access the wreckage.

State Police officers took over the investigation, pending the arrival of officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which regulates flight in the country.

Original article can be found here:

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) - Authorities have released the identities of two people who were killed in a small plane crash in northern New Mexico.

New Mexico State Police say 46-year-old Karen Ann Young and 47-year-old Thomas Spickermann, both of Los Alamos, died when the single-engine plane went down Friday afternoon near the Ohkay Owingeh Airport near Espanola.

State Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Armijo says there were no others on board.

She says Young is believed to have been the pilot and Spickermann the co-pilot.

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