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Volume 25, Number 33b
August 15, 2018
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Pilot Crashes Jet Into House
Mary Grady

A professional pilot, Duane Youd, stole his employer’s Cessna Citation 525 jet and deliberately crashed it into his own house, in Payson, Utah, about 2:30 a.m. Monday, according to police reports. Youd’s wife and a boy, who were in the house, escaped without injury, but he died in the crash. Youd’s relation to the boy was unclear, according to Payson Police Sgt. Noemi Sandoval. The house was heavily damaged and the jet was destroyed by fire. Youd, age 47, had been arrested about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday in a nearby canyon after witnesses called police to report he was assaulting his wife. He was held in a local jail for several hours and then released on bail. The couple had gone to the canyon to talk over their problems, and reportedly had been drinking, according to Sandoval.

Within hours of his release, Youd drove to the Spanish Fork-Springville Airport, about 15 miles north of his home, and took off in his employer’s jet. He flew directly to his neighborhood and smashed into the house, Sandoval said. The jet clipped a nearby shed, which could have altered the jet’s trajectory. "We don't know what his ultimate goal is, whether he meant to hit [the house] low like he did or he meant to hit it higher," Sandoval said. "The lucky thing for us, if anything, in this whole situation is that we have destruction of property and we have one male deceased, but it could have been so much worse than what it was." Court records show Youd had previously been charged with disorderly conduct after a domestic violence incident in April, and was released on probation and ordered to attend counseling.

A Suicide in Seattle
Aweb Staff

Now that it has sunk below the fold—or will have by the time you read this—the most surprising thing about Friday’s bizarre stolen Q400 incident is that it wasn’t streamed live on Facebook. Now that I’ve typed that, I realize someone will send a link saying, oh, but it was.

I’ve been scanning the domestic press for the inevitable overreaction, but thus far, it has not materialized. I haven’t seen the shrill call for tighter security or more Rorschach and lie detector tests for ramp workers. Give it time, I guess. One reason might be that the entire thing was so utterly stupefying, it’s difficult to think it through a full circle. Perhaps even the usual suspects who call for more rules, procedures and restrictions actually realize that this time.

Anyone in aviation won’t be perplexed about how the worker—now named as 29-year-old Richard Russell—got across the ramp and into the airplane. Ramp workers are security cleared, dressed for success and have largely unfettered access to aircraft owned by the companies they work for. A challenge from a co-worker would be unlikely. The ramp is not necessarily a see something, say something kind of place.

Lighting up the airplane and actually taxiing it for takeoff struck me as, well, impressive. I remarked to a skydiver friend of mine that I have thousands of hours, an ATP and a little turboprop time and I doubt if I could even start the engines. Then, just for the hell of it, I unearthed the Q400 checklist on the web and … yes, there are six items on the pre-start. All labeled. Probably anyone with flying experience could do it. We don’t know if Russell had any.

I saw a forum comment from a Q400 pilot who was likewise impressed with Russell’s aerobatics in a 60,000-pound airplane. The loop, caught on the cellphones that make it impossible to do anything in modern life without digital immortality, finished breathtakingly close to the surface of Puget Sound. I’m certain I couldn’t do that because I’d be too scared to try.

There will be an investigation, of course, which will describe the how and attempt to explain the why. But I can’t imagine there will be a satisfactory explanation, just as there was no explanation for Andreas Lubitz crashing an Airbus with 150 people aboard into the French Alps in 2015. By explanation, I don’t mean how Lubitz’s known medical issues slipped through the screening gaps, but why one human’s response to the demons of depression and mental illness is to take his own life along with 150 others.

In contrast, if you listen to the tape of Russell describing his torments, he seems … quite normal. Not agitated; just resigned. Tell me if you learned anything from listening, because I did not. It didn’t take the online world long to manufacture the usual memes, which are meant to be funny but are really just mean. Personally, I couldn’t summon so much as a smile. As a society, we’re not always good at seizing the broken, the fallen and the weakened among us by the elbows and lifting them out of the dark before they do something to themselves or others that defies explanation. Often, we don't even know their names.

There are 7.4 billion people on the planet, any number of whom suffer from mental illnesses serious enough to contemplate suicide. In this case, one of them happened to intersect with the aviation world. And that’s likely all the explanation there will ever be.--Paul Bertorelli


Because the nearest airport to me is largely a regional facility, feeding nearby hubs in Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle, I spend a lot of time on Q400s, including those owned by Horizon Airlines. Lacking anything else to do while the plane is prepared for taxi, I have, over the years, developed a mental checklist on the start procedure. It’s not that I think I’ll ever fly anything much bigger than the Cessna 140 that occasionally separates me from terra firma. But if the procedure is interrupted, I can usually predict whether we’re waiting for a slot or headed back to the gate.

So, with the incident in Seattle and all the hand wringing that has gone with it concerning security and safety, it got me thinking that it couldn’t be that hard to start up a Q400 and get it into the air. 
I like to think I would have a leg up in that regard over Richard Russell, the ramp worker who stole an Horizon Q400 and tragically crashed it intentionally on an isolated island on Friday. After all, I sort of know how to fly an airplane.
But after a 30-minute cruise on YouTube,  I’m not so sure being a pilot would give me much advantage over someone like Russell. He saw and participated in the turnarounds of hundreds of Q400 flights in his three years working the ramp at SeaTac and probably had a pretty good understanding of what all that switch flicking in the cockpit did in practical terms.
One of the things Russell said in his chillingly calm conversations with ATC while he tooled around Puget Sound in the 76-seat aircraft for 90 minutes on Friday is that he had played video games and basically understood what he was doing. So, I typed “Q400 Startup Procedure” into Google and the fourth item was a remarkably detailed video by the same name from a U.K. gamer who calls himself Durka. Using FSX, Durka, who’s a big fan of the virtual Q400, goes through every step of the start up in detail. Every switch is clearly located and its position described, every procedure is described in elegantly simple language. It’s more complicated than “flicking a single switch” as some media are portraying it but anyone with an interest in it should be able to do it. The guy should get out of his basement. He has a future in real-world sim training.
I don’t know if this was the video game Russell referred to in his chat with the calm and professional Seattle controller but Russell seemed like a smart guy and I’m sure it, or one like it, in addition to his own experience, would have been plenty for him to get the engines started. But starting it is one thing. Could he actually get it off the ground by watching a how-to flight simulator video? I think that could very well be what happened. 
A lot of the comments about this story have mentioned Russell’s smooth flying through some pretty aggressive and complex maneuvers. A few weeks ago, at Farnborough Air Show, a highly experienced Lockheed Martin pilot stunned spectators by looping a civilian model Hercules transport. Russell made it look easy to do the same in a Q400. His loop and recovery in the airliner were smooth and stable, his near-knife-edge turns looked crisp and professional. It’s been confirmed he had no formal fight training. Landing it would have been a different story but Russell told the controllers that he wasn’t planning to land, anyway.
When something like this happens, the natural reaction is to “do something” to prevent it. Maybe the cockpits of empty airliners could be a little more secure but as far as locking them up or adding security devices goes,  it strains credibility as to whether that’s worthwhile. Although I guess a copycat repeat of this bizarre incident is possible, it just doesn’t seem likely. There are certainly easier ways to end it all.
And that brings to mind something that might actually help prevent this and other media spectacle suicides.
Rather than concentrate solely on the ramp and aircraft security, the video games and the flicking of switches, I hope the investigations dwell somewhat on what was going on with Russell and what might have prompted him to choose this type of exit.
As a species, we are remarkably adaptable and inventive and it’s usually what gives our lives structure and purpose. Russell had plenty to live for. He had a loving family, lots of interests and pastimes and a long and productive life ahead of him. But the long list of celebrity suicides in recent years suggest that “having it all” is not enough for some people to keep going. I would suggest that no regulatory or enforcement action will prevent another occurrence of this spectacular nature but some work on the mental health issues that are manifesting in this way might actually do some good.--Russ Niles


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ADS-B On The Tail: tailBeacon Is Latest ADS-B Out Solution
Larry Anglisano

uAvionix says the $1999 tailBeacon is nearly a carbon copy of the wingtip-mounted skyBeacon ADS-B Out system, which is priced at $1849. The repackaged device for mounting on the tail includes both mandate-compliant ADS-B Out and a WAAS GPS (TSO is pending for the end of September 2018, uAvionix said), a pressure altitude sensor and an LED tail position light that meets TSO specs for C30c Type 3 aircraft exterior lighting. The Aviation white LED light has a 40-candela intensity and draws little current compared to the incandescent system it replaces.

Like the skyBeacon, the idea is to utilize the existing tail position light wiring (two-wire power and ground), the existing circuit breaker/fuse and mounting hardware (two screws to attach the skyBeacon to the existing light cutout). The ADS-B antenna is built onto the skyBeacon, so there is no need to install a separate L-band antenna for the ADS-B transmitter. Still, there will be installations that require more modification when replacing some tail position light assemblies.

The pressure altitude encoder in the tailBeacon interacts with the existing transponder through a patent-pending wireless interface that uAvionix calls a "power transcoder," reading pressure altitude and current squawk code. Decoding Mode A, C and S codes through a DC power input, it's not intended to replace the existing certified altitude digitizer.

Configuration and setup is done through the uAvionix skyBeacon Installer tablet app. Here you program the aircraft call sign, ICAO address and anonymous mode, plus the app has a performance monitoring utility so the installer can verify that the system is operational before flight testing it.

uAvionix is currently selling the experimental version of the system, called the tailBeacon EXP, for $1649, which is fair game for ADS-B mandate compliance on LSA and experimental aircraft. 

Visit for more on the device and installation. 


Alaska Wreck Declared Unrecoverable
Mary Grady

The National Park Service has ended its efforts to reach the crash site of a de Havilland Beaver, operated by K2 Aviation, that hit the side of a mountain during a sightseeing flight in Denali National Park last week. In a news release issued on Friday, the NPS said after the weather cleared, a ranger inspected the site for nearly an hour while suspended below a helicopter. He confirmed that the pilot and four passengers were still in the airplane, and all were dead. The NPS said no attempt will be made to recover the bodies or the wreckage. “Hazards at the crash site include, but are not limited to, avalanche danger, steep snow/ice, crevasses, unstable seracs (blocks of ice loosely attached to the mountain) and aircraft-related concerns such as protruding pieces of jagged metal,” the NPS wrote.

“The aircraft is broken in half behind the wing, and the tail section of the fuselage is actively pulling down the aircraft towards a glacier 3,500 feet below,” according to the NPS. “Additionally, more than two and a half feet of new snow has fallen at the crash site and loaded the nearly 45-degree slope just above the aircraft. … The crevasse where the wreckage sits is a dangerous and potentially fatal terrain trap should even a small avalanche occur.” Clint Johnson, chief of the Alaska region NTSB, agreed with the Park Service's decision. "It's a tough decision, but I support the decision 110 percent," Johnson told the Anchorage Daily News. "We're used to working in tough spots, but this is out of our league."

Bill Promotes Flight Training For Veterans
Mary Grady

A bill now under consideration in the U.S. Senate would provide grants to flight schools to help them recruit veterans to train to become commercial airline pilots. The bipartisan American Aviator Act, introduced by Senators Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., proposes to authorize up to $5 million per year to fund the program for the fiscal years 2019 to 2021. The money would go to up to 10 flight schools, which must have established pathways to employment with commercial air carriers, according to Senator Baldwin’s office. The grant funding also may be used by the flight schools to subsidize costs for individual veterans, beyond what is available through their federal benefits.

The legislation was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. Senator Baldwin’s office said the plan is to introduce the proposal as an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill that the Senate is expected to address in the fall. The proposal has won support from the Air Line Pilots Association, Air Wisconsin, Fox Valley Technical College and others. The legislation aims to help ensure there will be enough qualified pilots in the future to provide safe and reliable air service to rural airports across the country, according to Senator Baldwin’s office.

NTSB: Turbulence Forecasts Need Improvement
Mary Grady

The National Weather Service needs to do a better job of forecasting low-level turbulence, which can affect GA pilots, the NTSB said in a recent Safety Recommendation (PDF). The recommendation is part of the safety board’s ongoing investigation of the crash of a Pilatus PC-12 in April 2017. The PC-12, operating as an air ambulance, crashed shortly after takeoff, killing the pilot and two crew members. In its report, the NTSB says its investigation is ongoing; however, based on its analysis of weather data, the board was concerned that low-level turbulence may have been present over Amarillo below 8,000 feet on the night of the accident, yet there were no AIRMETs active that warned of turbulence below 10,000 feet at the accident location at the accident time.

The NTSB investigators found that forecasters with the Aviation Weather Center may have “varying professional criteria” for issuing advisories for turbulence (such as AIRMETs) when convective significant meteorological information (SIGMET) advisories are active in the same region. Also, the NTSB said low-level turbulence is not adequately covered in formal training for AWC or other NWS aviation forecasters. “Although the cause of this accident is still under investigation and the role of low-level turbulence has not been specifically identified as a factor or cause, the safety risks associated with significant turbulence encounters are well known and can include serious injuries to passengers and crew,” the NTSB wrote. “Therefore, it is important that issuance of turbulence-related weather products directed to pilots be consistent and that these products address the turbulence potential at all operating altitudes.”

The NTSB recommends that the NWS should provide formal training to aviation weather forecasters on the analysis, interpretation and forecasting of low-level turbulence, and also revise its written instructions to include clear guidance on what advisories should be issued, and when.

Healthy Pilot #14: Bad Back? Welcome to the Club
Tim Cole

Your body’s wondrous structure of bone, muscle, tendons, ligaments and assorted odds and ends is a fantastic erector set that keeps vital organs safe, and allows for all of life’s perambulations. It lifts, twists, bends on command, and permits pilots to go about their cockpit tasks without a second thought.

But throw a monkey wrench into any part of this complex machine and expect pain, immobility and prolonged downtime. Your aging back is particularly susceptible. It can get even more complicated when it’s not just sore muscles, but bulging discs, displaced vertebrae, compressed nerves or a host of other maladies. If you can’t press the rudder pedals because your feet are asleep due to back-associated neuropathies, you can see why back pain might be just the tip of the iceberg. Your flying privileges may well be at stake.

We’ve once again turned to our sister site University Health News for some guidance. The website has excellent free posts related to back pain, plus free guides on bone and joint health, and managing pain in general. The UHN special health report, Managing Low Back Pain, is especially useful.

The first question you’ll have to ask is: “Where is my pain coming from?” The origins of your back pain will vary from case to case, but family history, gender; age and work history can all be a factor. Is your pain emanating from soft-tissue injuries? Or are your discs—those spongy shock absorbers between the vertebrae—and the dark forces of your nervous system also at play? Is your back pain high near the neck (cervical), mid-back between your shoulder blades (thoracic), in your lower back (lumbar) or the lowest part of your spine, the sacrum? This link is especially useful if you think your back pain is high; and this link might help if your pain is in the mid-back. 


Describing the pain you’re sensing, and where, will help your doctor localize the problem when he or she orders imaging for a closer look. If it’s soft tissue, you might be experiencing pain with movement, a dull ache, a muscle spasm, tightness or stiffness, swelling, bruising or weakness. Soft tissue injury can usually be treated conservatively with superficial cold or heat, exercise therapy and over-the-counter pain relievers.  Muscles, ligaments and tendons can be dense and fibrous and take days or weeks to fully heal. Some kind of light physical activity is usually advised so muscles don’t get stiff or weak.

Low-Back Pain

Here’s where things start to get complicated, and your discs are usually the ringleaders in the plot to keep you immobilized. First, your doctor will be looking for a bulging disc impinging on a nerve. There are surgical solutions for this kind of situation, but as always, the surgery comes with a degree of difficulty that will need to be assessed. It will require your knowledge and participation in the decision-making.

Degenerative disc disease—between the lower lumbar vertebrae and upper sacral, also known as L5-S1—often causes shooting pains down one or both legs leading to tingling and numbness in one or both feet. The precise term for this condition—in case you hear if from your doctor—is lumbosacral “radiculopathy.” If you get shooting pains and numbness from the buttocks down to your feet and it also involves “the saddle” area of your upper inner legs from genitals to anus, see your doctor immediately. This might be cauda equina syndrome, and without immediate surgical intervention could lead to incontinence and prolonged immobility.

Spinal Stenosis

With spinal stenosis, the spinal canal becomes narrow and compresses nerves, causing pain. A number of factors have been identified that lead to this condition, but all are related to mechanical destabilization of the spine over time. Discs are degenerating, providing less cushioning effect between vertebrae. Arthritis is causing spinal narrowing. Ligaments become less flexible with age and tug the vertebrae closer together. People with spinal stenosis may also develop bone spurs on the back wall of the spinal column, further narrowing the spinal canal.

What’s a Body to Do?

Depending on your situation, your doctors will be reluctant to jump right into surgery to deal with your bad back. You’ll first hear the words “conservative care,” and that usually means a tight-knit family of interventions that will likely relieve your pain and get you back in the game.

No one likes to hear it, but losing weight will be high on the list of things to do. Extra pounds lead to extra stress on knees, hips, and especially backs. Shedding pounds will relieve stress on discs, nerves and soft tissue. You won’t have to deprive yourself, but you will have to look at food in a different way. Start by eliminating sugar and salt from your diet to the extent possible, then process carbohydrates, usually in the form of bread or sweets. Stick to a plant-based diet, and have piece of fish twice a week. Don’t forego the steak! Just stick to a filet and skip the marbled ribeye (as much as we hate to admit it).


Next, get to the gym and start working on your core. There’s some very good information on simple core exercises here. You’ll want to speak to a trainer who can take you through some basic moves like “the dead bug,” and the “plank.” Good gyms now have foam rollers that help you get the kinks out. The idea is to keep moving, but don’t overdo it to the point where you injure yourself and incur downtime. Slow and steady effort wins the race

Over-the-counter pain meds will help ease any discomfort. But opioids are probably a no-go for serious pilots.

Your attitude about your back pain will become very important at this stage. You have to come to grips with the idea that some kind of back issue will be part of your future. As such, back pain often can’t be entirely eliminated but at least accommodated. You owe it to your colleagues and your family to give this supreme challenge your best shot so you come out on top.

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Picture of the Week, August 9, 2018
We were about 45 NM north of EYW on the 2nd leg of my first flight in a Cirrus SR22 GTS. N900KP was rented from Paragon Flight (KFMY) and flown from Page Field to Key West International (KEYW). Photo by Robert Murray.

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General Aviation Accident Bulletin

AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine, and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s website at Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

May 1, 2018, Reno, Nev.

Thunder Mustang Experimental

At about 1930 Pacific time, the airplane sustained substantial damage during a forced landing. The solo air transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed. The airplane was participating in an air-to-air photography mission with another Thunder Mustang and a third airplane.

At the conclusion of the photo mission, the airplanes approached the airport from the north. At this time, the accident pilot transmitted a “Mayday” call and stated he intended to land on Runway 14. The other Thunder Mustang’s pilot observed the accident airplane over the runway. As it neared the end of the runway, it veered off the right side and nosed over, coming to rest inverted. The cockpit canopy was shattered, and the pilot’s helmet “appeared to be impinged against the gravel surface,” according to the NTSB.

The airplane was equipped with a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 12-cylinder engine. The engine’s various accessories were driven via pulleys and two parallel serpentine belts. Examination revealed the water pump pulley had separated from the pump drive flange. Both serpentine belts had detached, along with the top of the engine coolant outlet hose.

May 2, 2018, Marathon, Texas

Kitfox III Experimental

The airplane sustained substantial damage during a forced landing at about 1100 Central time, immediately after takeoff. The airline transport pilot and his passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later reported the airplane rolled violently to the right during takeoff, at about 15 feet AGL. He applied full aileron and rudder opposite the roll, but the airplane didn’t respond. Its right wing struck the ground and it then impacted a mesquite tree. Examination revealed three of the four hinges connecting the right flaperon hanger rib had come loose. The wood of the flaperon appeared to by dry-rotted where the hinges connected. A 1991 service bulletin from the airplane’s kit manufacturer advised reinforcing the flaperon attachment area with a metal fixture. The accident airplane did not have the fixture installed.

May 3, 2018, Tamiami, Fla.

Cessna 152

At about 2241 Eastern time, the airplane collided with terrain. The private pilot and pilot-rated passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. Night instrument conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site; no flight plan was filed.

The airplane took off into dark night conditions and subsequently flew into instrument conditions near the accident site. The airplane owner later stated that the pilots lost control of the airplane while in the clouds, “entered a spin from which they recovered, then entered another spin. After recovering from the second spin the airplane collided with terrain.”


May 6, 2018, Fort Apache, Ariz.

Grumman TBM-3

The airplane is presumed to have impacted terrain following the 1338 Mountain time bailout of the pilot and passenger due to a partial loss of engine power. The private pilot and the pilot-rated passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions existed.

The flight’s purpose was to relocate the newly purchased airplane from California to Illinois. In preparation for the trip, both pilots wore parachutes. While in cruise and as the airplane approached the highest terrain of the trip, the pilots heard a loud bang. Thick smoke entered the cockpit. The engine was not producing enough power to maintain altitude; the pilot-passenger observed oil exiting the right side of the engine cowling.

As the airplane descended, the pilot determined there were no safe landing areas, so he decided they would bail out from about 2,500 feet AGL. The parachutes deployed successfully, but the two received serious injuries after landing in trees and falling to the ground. Although there was no cell phone coverage, a fire service truck passing through the area found the survivors at about 1100 the next day. Radar data indicate the airplane continued eastbound on a stable, descending flight path and is presumed to have impacted terrain.

May 7, 2018, Broomfield, Colo.

Cessna 182 Skylane

At about 1139 Mountain time, the airplane was substantially damaged while landing. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later reported that he had made two uneventful full-stop landings at a private airstrip he owned. He made a normal approach and initially touched down on the main landing gear. However, the airplane immediately swerved to the right when the nose wheel contacted the runway. It nosed over in the grass area alongside the runway and came to a stop.

A witness reported the airplane’s nose wheel was rotated about 75 degrees from its normal alignment. When it contacted the runway, it did not align with the runway heading and the airplane immediately swerved to the right. Preliminary examination revealed that the nose landing gear scissor assembly had fractured, allowing the nose wheel to rotate freely on its strut.

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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