NTSB report: Landing gear down before plane struck building

Airport crash
Airplane crash at Mid-Continent Airport (Photo Courtesy: Jon Weaver)

WICHITA, Kansas – The pilot of a small plane that crashed into a flight training building at a Wichita airport last week declared an emergency about a minute after taking off, saying he had “lost the left engine,” the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

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The NTSB’s preliminary report said witnesses on the ground estimated the plane was fewer than 150 feet above land when it began a left turn. Witnesses reported the plane had its landing gear down before it hit the Flight Safety International building at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The pilot and three people in the building died. Six others were injured, two of them seriously.

The left wing separated after hitting the building just below the roof line. The nose struck the roof and the plane slid for about 20 to 30 feet before the tail section came over the top, followed by a large explosion.

One expert KSN talked to said that from the moment that pilot, Mark Goldstein told the tower that he had lost that engine, to when the plane hit the building, was mere seconds.

Ron Ryan, a friend of Mark Goldstein, said the NTSB report is pretty straightforward and there is nothing unexpected.

But, the NTSB report does indicate there is surveillance video that will be reviewed from somewhere nearby.

The report also states that Goldstein’s plane had the landing gear down, and the plane was only about a 150 feet above the ground and running on just one engine.

“So now you’ve got a whole lot of power on one side and a whole lot of drag on the other side. And they said it was the left engine and that’s going to turn you to the left,” said Ryan.

Ryan said his friend had only seconds to react, and likely the plane didn’t respond enough to save his life and those lives on the ground.

Now, that NTSB final report will take some time before more conclusions are reached based in fact.

While the investigation may eventually shed more light on what happened, Ryan said he is certain Mark Goldstein did everything he could to not only save himself, but save lives on the ground as well.

“Knowing Mark, that’s the kind of guy he was. It would bother him more that he hurt somebody else than he killed himself,” said Ryan. “I mean, that would just haunt him. And that’s the kind of character this young pilot was.”

Ryan told KSN he wants everyone to know that Goldstein was an excellent pilot, a cautious pilot. Why one engine went out on the plane during takeoff still remains a mystery.

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The NTSB said it had obtained surveillance video from surroundings buildings along with a cockpit voice recorder. The plane was also equipped with flight data units.

Authorities had previously identified the pilot as Mark Goldstein, 53, of Wichita. Goldstein was an experienced pilot who had logged 3,000 hours of flight time as of Aug. 4, the NTSB said. He had worked as an air traffic controller for 24 years in Wichita before retiring earlier this year. Goldstein was working as a contract pilot and was taking the aircraft to Mena, Arkansas, for painting and interior refurbishing work.

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The twin-engine King Air was registered and operated by Gilleland Aviation in Georgetown, Texas, according to the report. The pilot filed an instrument flight plan before taking off at 9:47 a.m. CDT on Oct. 30 for the flight to Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport. At 9:48 a.m., Goldstein declared an air emergency and stated he had lost the left engine.

One witness told NTSB investigators he heard a reduction in power on one engine before the plane entered the turn. Another said the plane was in a left turn as it approached hangars east of the facility, then the wings leveled as it flew west toward the building. The landing gear was down and locked, the flaps extended, and the right engine was at full power.

Another witness said the plane was in a descending left turn before hitting the northeast corner of the building. He said both propellers were rotating, but he could not determine at what power setting. The left engine struck the building first, followed by a section of the left wing, the report said.

The report is listed below:

The plane, a Raytheon Aircraft Company King Air B200, N52SZ, impacted the Flight Safety International (FSI) building located on the airport after departure from the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.

The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. Three building occupants were fatally injured, two occupants sustained serious injuries and four occupants sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by Gilleland Aviation, Inc., Georgetown, Texas, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a business flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight originated at 9:47 and was en route to the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport in Arkansas.

According to the air traffic control recordings, at 0947:06, the airplane departed runway 1R and was instructed by the controller to fly runway heading.

At 0948:17, the pilot declared an emergency and stated that he “lost the left engine.”

According to witnesses on the ground, after the airplane departed runway 1R, a left turn was initiated and the airplane’s altitude was estimated less than 150 feet above the ground. One witness observed the airplane shortly after it became airborne and heard a reduction in power on one engine before it entered the left turn. Another witness saw the airplane from about 20 yards away. He said the airplane was in a left turn and approached the hangars east of FSI, then the wings were level as it flew west toward FSI. The airplane’s landing gear were “down and locked”, the flaps were extended, the rudder was neutral, and the right engine was at full power. The witness did not see the left engine. The airplane then disappeared from his view and he heard the sound of an impact. Another witness observed the airplane in its final seconds before it impacted the FSI building. He said the airplane was on a heading of 240 degrees and was in a “gradual” descending left turn. He thought the airplane was going to land on the west runway, but then it collided with the northeast corner of the FSI building. The witness said the landing gear were extended and both propellers were rotating, but he could not determine at what power setting. He said the airplane’s left engine struck the building first just below the roof line, followed by the outboard section of the left wing. When the wing impacted the building it separated and the airplane rolled to about 70 degrees bank angle. The nose of the airplane struck the roof of the building and the airplane slid for about 20-30 feet before the tail section came over the top of the airplane followed by a large explosion. A postimpact fire ensued.

Surveillance video from the surrounding buildings was obtained and will be reviewed.

The airplane was equipped with a Fairchild Model A100S cockpit voice recorder (CVR). The unit was removed from the wreckage and sent to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for download.

The airplane was equipped with two Sandel ST3400 Terrain Awareness and Warning System / Radio Magnetic Indicator (TAWS/RMI) units. These units were retained by the NTSB and will be examined for recorded flight data.

At 0953, the automated weather observation at KICT reported wind from 350 degrees and 16 knots, 10 miles of visibility, a few clouds at 15,000 feet, temperature 59° Fahrenheit (F), dew point 37° F, and altimeter setting 30.12 inches of mercury.

The wreckage has been retained for further examination.

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