Safe Mode: On
Fatal plane crash video released 25 years after it happened

Raw video.Colorado.This video is 6 minutes long but captures the events but shows the kind of eeriness surrounding the crash and what led to it.

Text from Source:

Document #1 -- The tragic tale of the missing Cessna L-19E

Cessna serial number 24527 - FAA Reg. Number N4584A - January, 2009 Intended Flight Route: Granby, Colorado to (Jeffco County) Denver, Colorado. Lost: August 10th, 1984 at approx. 13:00 hours Found: August 23rd, 1987, near Tabernash, Colorado

It’s a very tragic tale – unwittingly caught on film by the gentleman who died in the crash along with a friend riding in the back seat. It was first shown to me (along with many others) at an FIRC (Flight Instructor Renewal Clinic) over 20 years ago.

The family of the deceased had put a 20-year moratorium (via the FAA) on the release of the film to the general public with the only stipulation that it (at the FAA’s request to the family of the deceased) be shown ONLY to Flight Instructors at FIRC’s and workshops such as the ones I attend every two years (for the purpose of renewing my flight instructor’s license; along with discussing the lessons learned herein with private & commercial pilot applicants so that the knowledge gleaned from the tape could be used and disseminated to help prevent this kind of thing from happening to someone else). Last year the moratorium was up and not renewed – so it effectively became “public domain”.

Here’s what happened: The gentleman flying this aircraft (a restored single-engine Cessna L-19E “Bird Dog” - commonly used by the US Army (beginning in 1962, it was also known as the “O-1” during the Vietnam War – the last one retiring from active service in 1974) & the USAF in Korea & Vietnam for general spotting (F.A.C.) & liaison duties as well as a basic training airplane in the US) had been offered a contract by the Colorado Dept. of Forestry to videotape a particularly nasty type of beetle infestation that had been ravaging hundreds of acres of Colorado forest in and around some of the higher-elevation foothills surrounding some of the Rockies. One thing that was unique about this particular flight was that the pilot had mounted a VHS video camcorder atop the instrument panel for the purpose of visually recording any beetle infestation that was observed along the flight route. The pilot started the camera shortly after takeoff and it ran until the aircraft crashed down through the trees – approx. 6-1/2 minutes later.

The problem, as you’ll see in this (approx.) 6-1/2 minute video, was that he was flying into what can be clearly seen as gradually ever-ascending terrain altitude. However, because of the density altitude conditions which existed at the time of the accident (remember, this was in August), he was already at or above the airplane’s effective “service ceiling” – the point at which a plane cannot maintain at least a minimum of a 100 foot-per-minute rate of climb – in this case, he was flying a normally-aspirated (meaning no turbocharger or supercharger on the engine) single-engine plane at or above it’s normal level of (density) altitude for which it was capable of maintaining – again, considering the abrupt bank angle attempted at the end of the flight which culminated in the crash itself.

As he flew along – with his friend in the back seat (this being a “tandem-seat” aircraft - fore-and-aft seating – like a Piper Super Cub), you can see the terrain continually slowly increase in altitude, until right at the very end of the tape, when he makes his second – and fatal – error. He makes a moderately steep turn to the right (in excess of 45 to 50 degrees angle of bank) in an attempt to turn around quickly – the plane loses considerable lift and initially stalls twice; then on the 3rd stall (with the stall warning horn blaring in the background), enters the traditional “stall/spin” syndrome and flips upside down as the left (up-wing) wing stalls completely and the plane, flipping over on it’s back, plunges straight down through the trees – but not before capturing the pilot’s last mournful cry to his friend in the back seat: “Damn, hang on Ronnie!!”; the plane smashes downwards through the thick tree branches (you can hear the heavy “thuds” as the plane’s wings smash into these while heading for the ground); it crashes & burns – killing both the pilot and back-seat passenger.

There is a small fire which consumes some of the wreckage but no forest fire is started and since the plane plunged straight down through the trees to the ground, there was no visible tree damage for any would-be rescuers to use to spot the wreckage or crash location. One additional important factor that added to the delay of the discovery of the wreckage was the fact that the fuselage (the main body) of the plane came to rest upside down – on top of the ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) antenna, effectively silencing its emergency signal to satellites and other would-be rescue aircraft.

Note: The above photo text is wrong in that it was just over three (3) years from the crash date of Aug. 10th, 1984 until its initial discovery on Aug. 23rd, 1987.

The wreckage laid there for approximately 3 years (Aug. 10th, 1984 to Aug. 23rd, 1987) until it was found by a pair of backpackers hiking through that particular location. The wreckage was removed and after the NTSB & the FAA released their findings (based on both crash evidence as well as lack of prior logged maintenance problems with the plane); the wreckage was then released to the family of the deceased pilot as the plane had belonged to him. The family kept what they wanted and gave the rest to a scrap yard for final disposition.

Dale Wood, a Colorado deputy sheriff investigating the wreckage and the crash scene, discovered the shattered video recorder within the wreckage and “rebuilt” the tape (which was in pieces and had been exposed to the elements for 3 years – some of it hanging from tree branches during that 3 year period of time!!) and turned it over to the NTSB for final review. The end result was what you see here – the pilot had recorded, on video tape, his “…continued flight into rising terrain – combined with a high density altitude condition existing at that time – along with an abrupt maneuver (approx. 45 - 50+ degrees angle of bank) resulting in a fatal “stall/spin” accident…” – he had unwittingly recorded his own death.

The fire had warped and partially melted the VHS recorder into a misshapen hunk of plastic that no one at the NTSB or FAA could recognize, so they initially passed on a closer examination – thinking it was apparently some sort of item that could not be attributed to playing any conceivable role in the accident.

This is that tape – converted to DVD/WMV file format. The intermittent gaps in the “engine rumbling noises” and the electronic “glitches” in the video and audio portions of the tape were caused by tree and ground impact damage along with heat from the fire as well as exposure to the elements for three years – I saw this tape approx. 20 years ago and its exactly as I saw it back then. - Finis -

The Cessna L-19E “Bird Dog” – 2-seat (“tandem” – fore & aft seating) spotter (F.A.C.) and general-duty liaison aircraft used extensively in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well as in the US as a US Army and USAF basic training aircraft. Engine: Continental O-470-11, 6-cylinder, 213 hp.

Introduced in the very early 1950’s (around the start of the Korean War), this aircraft is the “forerunner” of what eventually became the Cessna 170 series of civilian light planes. There are approximately 120 Cessna L-19’s (also known as “O-1’s”) still registered & flying in the US today.

Check the link for further reading.

Loading the player ...
Embed CodeSwitch Player
Plays: 309350 (Embed: 750)

Added: Aug-6-2009 Occurred On: Aug-10-1984
By: jdischord
In:
LiveLeaks, Other
Tags: Fatal, plane, crash, video, released, 25, years, after, it, happened
Location: Granby, Colorado, United States (load item map)
Marked as: featured
Views: 334760 | Comments: 268 | Votes: 57 | Favorites: 57 | Shared: 5582 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
You need to be registered in order to add comments! Register HERE
Sort by: Newest first | Oldest first | Highest score first
Liveleak opposes racial slurs - if you do spot comments that fall into this category, please report them for us to review.
  • Comment of user 'dibbles1983' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • He really screwed Ronnie...

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (6) | Report

  • very sad

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (6) | Report

  • From the point on the pilot says "very pretty - light" above the lake he seems to be distracted to one side while flying into the mountain ahead until its to late for a right turn.A left turn would have been my decision.

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (6) | Report

    • Yeah that's what I was thinking... a left turn should have got him out of it. Why he turned right is beyond me.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (3) | Report

    • He would have stalled either way.

      Check the 5th paragraph of the big wall-of-text
      above the video.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (2) | Report

    • Comment of user 'k57' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • Can't any of you idiots be bothered to read?

      The plane was at max service ceiling - it doesn't matter which way you would have turned, you would have lost life and altitude regardless.

      You can't turn out of max ceiling, you just have to pray there aren't mountains right below you.

      100% pilot error in getting into that situation in the first place.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (10) | Report

    • I disagree. He turned into the slope rather than away from it. He could've done a left turn much more gradual. Therefore he would've prevented a stall.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (1) | Report

  • Strange, I fly for a hobby, that engine at times sounded a bit sick, secondly he was flying far too low but why in the end he stall's it is beyound me, good find JD

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (4) | Report

    • You have to read the wall of text. It wasn't so much that he was flying low, but that the terrain was rising to meet him.

      Eventually, he was well above the planes maximum service ceiling (relative to sea level), and the air was too thin for the plane to maintain a good rate of climb. The engine was normally aspirated, and it began to starve.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (22) | Report

    • Maybe you should read all the text first before you say something stupid like you just did, mr. "hobby flyer".

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (2) | Report

    • he was flying in Colarado
      if im not mistaken the altitude is something like 10,000 ft above sea level
      by the time you add mountains im sure he would be exceeding his ceiling limits.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (2) | Report

    • He may have had a pretty good head wind which slowed his ability to climb and when he made his turn he not only lost his speed but was now facing a tail wind which helped push the plane into a quicker decent.. just a guess as I'm not a pilot.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (-2) | Report

    • It stalled because he performed a steep turn when the aircraft was already operating above it's flight limitations. A turn creates additional drag, the amount of which is proportional to the angle of the turn.

      A normal 2 minute turn would likely not have stalled the wings but in this case it looks like he boxed himself in and panicked.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (1) | Report

  • Almost chilling. Appreciated the very thorough info provided. At least these two deaths have helped to prevent future occurrences.

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (4) | Report

  • I have NEVER seen so many pilots / aviation exports in one place... bunch of posers!

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (4) | Report

    • Perhaps there are a few "posers" in here, but some of us are actually licensed pilots. I earned my PP/SEL airman's certificate in 1982 and have been at it ever since. Earned my USPA (and U.S. and Chinese) parachutist wings long before that, which means I am intimately familiar with the effects of density altitude <g>.

      Happy landings!

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (2) | Report

  • Comment of user 'wambamss' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Rip :(

    poor guy

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (4) | Report

  • 1) Don't fly outside your airplane's operating limits;
    2) Pay attention to density altitide, *especially* when you're pushing the envelope;
    3) Be aware that tight turns--especially at higher density altitudes--can induce an accelerated maneuver stall at even a relatively high speed;
    4) Don't ever fly too far into a closed-ended (box) canyon.

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (3) | Report

    • Sounds like somebody else knows how many more ways he screwed up besides whats in the report. He had to have known he was going after the edge even without instruments. Waaaay before he ever got to his turn around point. Maybe just showing off to his friend in the back or he was an idiot. His bank was horrible given that situation. Maybe just panic after he realized he went too far with the extra weight....

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (2) | Report

    • You forgot; Kiss your wife goodbye.

      Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

      (0) | Report

  • Ghosts from the past. voted

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (3) | Report

  • RIP This is one of the best post ever on LL. Thanks for sharing. As a private pilot this video will be in the back of my mind as I fly low & slow. I seen that coming before the pilot did. A stall warning horn is never a good thing that low & slow in SUPER thin air.

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • That's what Nancy Reagan always said to her husband...."Damn, hang on Ronnie!"

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • this is why we do performance planning before EVERY flight, civilians don't have to...over weight/out of CG/high DA/high alt all contributed...

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • Comment of user 'k57' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • So, this is how suddenly death will find us. RIP.

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • How very sad; hearing the last words of someone always pulls at my heartstrings. I wonder if he knew he was going to die or if there was a flicker of hope at that point. Like, "maybe if we hold on, we'll be alright?"
    Sad they were there for 3 years!

    Posted Aug-10-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • Very good find - man it was all over very quick though huh...

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • Very creepy.

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • I guess its easy to forget your altitude above sea level when you're in mountains and your relative altitude isn't very high. Doesn't matter how close you are to the land, but how dense the air is. I was surprised just how quick the final fatal stall happened. Also, I don't think the plane inverted because of the stall, but because it clipped a tree.

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • Thanks for the upload, very sad video indeed.
    I hold a ppl and don't understand the actions taken by the pilot. That engine sounded very rough, similar to when you need to lessen the mixture at higher altitudes. I would have been very concerned with that and would have been looking for a place to land. Why did he turn to the right into higher ground, there was more sky to his left so if he was in fact at his ceiling and thus low airspeed he should have accounted for this and planned a gentle lef More..

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • I hope this never happens again

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (2) | Report

  • My uncle is actually the Manager of Air Safety Investigations at Cessna. I'm gonna have to ask him if he remembers this one.
    He told me that one time they found a plane that had been missing for a while. When they looked in it, the skeleton of a dog with its collar around its neck was sitting in the passenger seat of the plane. It must have survived the crash, but couldnt get out because its master had died. Sad...

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (1) | Report

  • ...and just in the blink of an eye, it was all over. Dense forest, I can see why it wasnt found for a long time.

    Posted Aug-6-2009 By 

    (1) | Report

  • Comment of user 'RCinPAWA' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!