ERA10LA389
ERA10LA389

On August 1, 2010, about 1420 eastern daylight time, a Cessna A185F, N4976E, operated by Frontier Skydivers, Inc., was substantially damaged when it impacted trees, during the initial climb after takeoff from Hollands International Airport (85N), Newfane, New York. The certificated commercial pilot and four passengers sustained minor injuries. One passenger was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local skydiving flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

During a telephone interview, the pilot reported that he had completed seven or eight uneventful flights prior to the accident. A jump instructor was on board the accident flight, with a student and a videographer; and two additional "experienced" jumpers. The two jumpers intended to exit the airplane at an altitude of 5,000 feet, and the parachute instructor intended to conduct a tandem jump with the student from an altitude of 12,500 feet.

The flight departed from runway 25, a 2,875-foot-long, 75-foot-wide, turf runway. The airplane accelerated and lifted off normally; however, during rotation the jump door opened, which was located on the right side of the airplane. The pilot said he was not concerned with the door, which would not have critically impacted the airplane's performance. One of the experienced parachutists attempted to secure the door, and the pilot yelled at him to stop. The parachutist continued to attempt to secure the door to the point where he was partially outside of the airplane. The pilot physically grabbed the parachutist and tried to pull him back into the airplane. During this time, the pilot became distracted, which resulted in the airplane veering left toward trees, while flying at a low airspeed. The airplane subsequently struck a stand of trees and impacted the ground.

The airplane came to rest inverted in a wooded area, with the roof of the cabin and empennage separated.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector and a representative from the airframe manufacturer did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions. In addition, the pilot reported that the airplane performed as expected, without any mechanical issues.

The inspector noted that the jump door, which was hinged to open upward, was separated and in the latched position. The jump door and surrounding structure were distorted due to impact damage.

The videographer noted that the door was checked prior to takeoff and appeared to be secured.

The airplane had been operated for about 55 hours since its most recent annual inspection, which was performed on July 1, 2010.

The pilot reported 3,985 hours of total flight experience, which included 559 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on April 27, 2010.

The reported weather at an airport located about 12 miles southwest of the accident site, at 1353, was: wind from 110 degrees at 3 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; few clouds at 4,800 feet, scattered clouds at 12,000 and 25,000 feet; temperature 28 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 16 degrees C; altimeter 29.98 inches of mercury.

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