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Helicopter Crash in West Galveston Bay Kills One, Injures Two

boats parked in a marina with an american flag in foreground

According to KHOU, one person is dead and two were injured in a helicopter crash that occurred off the coast of Galveston, Texas, on Monday night.

About the Helicopter Crash

The helicopter accident happened approximately 2.5 miles offshore from Jamaica Beach in the West Bay at around 7 p.m. The Coast Guard says communications were lost with the helicopter around this time as it crashed into the gulf.

Three people were on board the private helicopter at the time of incident, reports KHOU. The helicopter was operated by Republic Helicopters, which said on Tuesday that one of the passengers died in the crash. The pilot of the helicopter and the second passenger were rescued by boat crews.

Republic Helicopters claims to have no prior reported incidents or safety issues regarding their helicopters on their website. KHOU reports that the helicopter was being used to take workers to and from cargo ships in the gulf.

The identities of the victims have not been released, reports KHOU.

Common Causes of Helicopter Accidents

According to HelicopterSafety.org, these are the most common causes of helicopter accidents:

  • Controls being mishandled
  • Drivetrain failure
  • Wire strike
  • Maintenance error
  • Collision with object on ground
  • Engine losing power
  • Engine failing

Investigation Reveals Hot Air Balloon Pilot Had Drugs in System at Time of Crash

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Alfred “Skip” Nichols had an array of drugs in his system at the time of the balloon crash in Texas that killed him and 15 others on July 30th, according to reports. Investigative records show that Nichols’ past included multiple drug and traffic related offenses.

Details of the Texas Hot Air Balloon Accident

The hot air balloon crashed at 7:45 am on July 30th after striking a power line near Lockhart, Texas. The balloon burst into flames and crashed into a nearby pasture, killing all 16  persons on-board.

Investigators claim that the balloon, owned by Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides, had “no evidence of pre-existing failures, malfunctions or problems”.

Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides is owned by the deceased pilot’s mother.

According to the Balloon Federation of North America, this was the deadliest balloon crash to ever occur in the Western Hemisphere.

About the Hot Air Balloon Pilot

Reuters News reports that documents released by the NTSB last week show that the 49 year old pilot, Alfred Nichols, had oxycodone in his system at the time of the crash, as well as other drugs such as ADHD medication and antidepressants. FAA guidelines indicate that pilots under the influence of sedatives, such as oxycodone and most antidepressants, should not fly.

Investigative records show that Nichols had previous convictions and two periods of incarceration.

Missouri St. Louis County records show that Nichols had pleaded guilty to charges of drunk driving at least three times between 1990 and 2010. In 2000, he went to prison after pleading guilty to a charge of drug distribution.

The drunk driving conviction from 2010 sentenced him to seven years in prison, yet he was released on parole in 2012.

Hot Air Balloon Crash Statistics

From 1964 to 2014, the NTSB has investigated 775 hot air balloon crashes in the United States. 70 of the 775 crashed involved fatalities.

16 people died in hot air balloon crashed from 2002 to 2012, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Pilot of Fatal Texas Hot Air Balloon Crash Had Many Prescription Drugs in System

several bottles of prescription pills and single pills on table

According to multiple media sources, the pilot of the fatal hot air balloon crash near Lockhart, Texas, that killed 15 passengers in July had several prescription drugs in his system at the time of the flight.

Pilot Had Five Previous DWI Convictions

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released information that shines some light on the condition of the pilot in the deadly hot air balloon crash. A toxicology report revealed that the pilot, Alfred “Skip” Nichols, 49, ingested seven different prescription drugs, including painkillers and sedatives, before liftoff.

These pills are forbidden by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) due to the impairment they cause to judgment and motor skills.

The NTSB also revealed that Nichols suffered from several ailments, including type II diabetes, depression, and chronic pain for fibromyalgia. Officials remark that some conditions that Nichols had would have barred him from operating an aircraft.

Balloon pilots find themselves in a regulatory loophole, allowing them to avoid enforcement of certain regulations that would apply to other pilots. The FAA says they will examine safety issues raised by the fatal balloon wreck.

NTSB Lobbied for Tighter Regulations in 2014

On July 30, the balloon carrying 15 passengers struck a high-tension power line, roughly 60 miles northeast of San Antonio. Nichols and the 15 passengers all died in the crash. The fatal accident was the worst aviation incident in the United States since 2009.

In addition to the dangerous cocktail of drugs Nichols consumed prior to the ride, Nichols was able to slip through the cracks after serving two prison terms for drug and alcohol-related convictions. The FAA has declined to add stricter rules and regulations to hot air balloon pilots, citing the difficulty to do so and the relatively low risk compared to other aviation areas.

Photos posted by passengers showed the balloon traveling over clouds, which is generally not recommended for hot air balloon travel due to the reduced visibility of objects below. In a recorded call with an FAA weather station, Nichols was told the clouds may be a problem – he replied that he would just fly between them.

Helicopter Collision that Killed 12 Marines Caused by Pilot Error

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According to CBS News, a collision between two helicopters in January the resulted in the death of 12 marines was found to have been caused by pilot error, inadequate training, and an issue with command.

Details of Helicopter Collision

The collision between the two helicopters occurred on January 14 around 11 P.M. after two CH-53E helicopters did not return to the Kaneohe Bay Base after their scheduled training mission. The debris of the helicopters was spotted two-and-half miles off Oahu several hours later.

The findings of the collision suggest that during the training exercise pilots failed to maintain a necessary amount of distance between the two helicopters. The helicopter in training slammed into the lead helicopter resulting in the collision. No mechanical issues were found with either helicopter.

Also, officials investigating the collision determined that the training exercise should not have occurred in the first place as the unit commander had been fired days before the collision.

The helicopters destroyed in the crash were known as Super Stallions and were part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The marines who were killed were between 21- and 41-years-old and were from several states.

Common Causes of Helicopter Accidents

According to HelicopterSafety.org the following are common causes of helicopter accidents:

  • Controls being mishandled
  • Drivetrain Failure
  • Wire Strike
  • Maintenance error
  • Collision with object on ground
  • Engine losing power
  • Engine failing

Single-engine Plane Crash Leaves Two Dead

small airplane parked on runway

According to the Lake Sun, two people in a single-engine plane died after crashing the plane near Lee C. Fine Airport in Miller County, Missouri.

FAA Investigating Fatal Crash

The victims in the crash, Bruce Hensler, 56, and Sarah M. Hensler, 30, hailed from New Britain, Pennsylvania. Officials received word of a small aircraft crash at around 3:30 p.m. local time on October 22, according to the Lake Sun.

Emergency personnel discovered the wreckage of the Beechcraft airplane in a wooded area. Both plane occupants were pronounced dead at the scene. The Lake Sun reports that officials believe Bruce Hensler piloted the plane.

Investigators are unsure of the circumstances surrounding the crash and where the aircraft originally took off from. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the fatal plane wreck.

Small Plane Accident Statistics

According to LiveScience, there are not as many wrongful deaths of people involved in small plane accidents as one would think:

  • Since the 1970s, there has been a 75 percent drop in the number of wrongful deaths in small plane accidents in the United States.
  • The current fatality rate hovers just over 1 death for every 100,000 hours of flight time.
  • In 2013, there were a total of 1,297 general aviation accidents that resulted in 387 fatalities.

One Dead, One Injured in Small Plane Crash

”plane

According to the Hartford Courant, a plane crash that left one man dead and another injured on Tuesday afternoon is being investigated by the FBI on whether the crash was intentional.

Crash Occurred Outside Defense Contractor Building

At around 3:40 p.m. local time, the twin engine Piper PA-34 Seneca plane struck a utility pole, caught on fire, and crashed to the ground on Main Street in downtown Hartford, Connecticut.

The two occupants of the plane included a flight instructor and a student out of Hartford-Brainard Airport. The student, identified as Feras M. Freitekh, died in the plane crash. According to the Hartford Courant, Freitekh, 28, had a license to fly a plane.

The pilot was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries, but he was able to talk with emergency crews. The Hartford Courant reports that the pilot told officials that the plane crash was not an accident.

Local police contacted federal investigators due to the proximity of the crash to the defense contracting firm Pratt & Whitney. Witnesses told the Hartford Courant that they saw the plane flying too low before colliding with the utility pole and power lines.

The plane nearly hit a minivan in the street as it crashed to the ground. Two people inside the minivan received treatment for minor injuries at local hospital, reports the Hartford Courant.

A slew of federal and local investigators were on the scene, including the FBI, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the Fire and Explosion Investigations Unit. Police said the investigation will be lengthy, possibly lasting several days.

Airplane Crash Statistics

According to an article in LiveScience, there are not as many wrongful deaths of people involved in small plane accidents as one would think:

  • Since the 1970s, there have been a 75 percent drop in the number of wrongful deaths in small plane accidents in the United States.
  • The current fatality rate hovers just over 1 death for every 100,000 hours of flight time.
  • In 2013, there were a total of 1,297 general aviation accidents that resulted in 387 fatalities.

One Dead, One Injured in Texas Plane Crash

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According to KPRC2, a small plane crashed in Hitchcock, Texas, leaving one man dead and another critically injured.

 “Very Experienced Pilot,” says friends

The deadly plane crash occurred on Tuesday night near the intersection of FM 2004 and FM 646 in Hitchcock, roughly 40 miles southeast of Houston.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still trying to determine the cause of the crash. According to KPRC2, no distress signal was made prior to the crash. The two men were believed to be on a training flight when the plane accident occurred.

Brian Arnott, 69, died in the crash. Arnott, a member of the Bay Area Aero Club, according to KPRC2, had logged significantly more flying hours than the other pilot.

The other pilot, a 38-year old man who has not been identified, survived the crash. He was taken to the hospital where he is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries, reports several news outlets.

KPRC2 says the NTSB investigation into the cause of the crash could take up to a year to complete.

Important Information About Small Plane Crashes

According to an article in LiveScience, there are hundreds of wrongful deaths of people killed in small plane accidents every year in the United States:

  • In 2013, there were a total of 387 small plane accident fatalities.
  • During the same year, there was an average of one fatality per 100,000 flight hours in the United States in small planes.
  • There were a total of 1,297 general aviation accidents in the United States in 2013.

Father and Daughter Injured in Texas Plane Crash

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According to KRIS6, a man and his 7-year-old daughter were injured in a plane crash on Saturday morning near Austin, Texas.

Todd Put Madelyn First, Shielding her from Flames

Todd Hornbuckle, 41, and his daughter Madelyn were taking a flight from Corpus Christi to Austin to see his son run a cross country race. About a quarter mile from the airport, the plane’s engine stopped, causing it to crash.

The Piper Cherokee plane crashed to the ground and caught on fire. The Hornbuckles survived the plane crash, but Todd Hornbuckle sustained burns on more than half of his body. Madelyn Hornbuckle suffered injuries as well and is being treated at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin.

Todd Hornbuckle is currently being treated at the Brooke Army Medical Center’s burn unit in San Antonio. According to KRIS6, Todd’s father said the road to recovery is going to be long.

The family says Todd Hornbuckle took his daughter in his arms, shielding her from the flames and protecting her from burns.

According to KRIS6, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the plane crash.

Important Information About Small Plane Crashes

According to an article in LiveScience, there are hundreds of wrongful deaths of people killed in small plane accidents every year in the United States:

  • In 2013, there were a total of 387 small plane accident fatalities.
  • During the same year, there was an average of one fatality per 100,000 flight hours in the United States in small planes.
  • There were a total of 1,297 general aviation accidents in the United States in 2013.

Hotel Owner, Family Die in Plane Crash


According to multiple news sources, the owner of several hotels in Michigan and Florida and his family died in a plane crash on Saturday after crashing in southeastern Montana.

National Transportation Safety Board is Investigating

Timothy Brown, 64, the owner of the historic Colonial Inn Hotel in Harbor Springs, Michigan, was on his way to Rapid City, South Dakota, with his wife and son when their plane crashed. Trisha Verhelle Brown, 45, and Theodore Brown, 13, were killed in the crash.

The family departed from Billings, Montana, and the crash occurred approximately 12 miles south of the small town of Boyes, Montana. The plane was a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron, according to multiple sources.

Sources say that they family was ultimately heading to Michigan, where one of the Brown’s hotel is located.

Aircraft Accident Statistics

While the number of aviation accidents has dropped over the years, the number of deaths resulting from these accidents remains high. Information below provided by the Aircraft Crashes Record Office (ACRO):

  • 2010– 130 accidents resulting in 1,115 deaths
  • 2009– 122 accidents resulting in 1,103 deaths
  • 2008– 156 accidents resulting in 884 deaths
  • 2007– 147 accidents resulting in 971 deaths
  • 2006– 166 accidents resulting in 1,294 deaths
  • 2005– 185 accidents resulting in 1,459 deaths

Hot Air Balloon Accident Reignites Regulations Debate

Hot Air Balloon Accident

News reports indicate a hot air balloon that crashed over the weekend in Texas killing 16 people was piloted by a man with four DUI convictions. Critics claim this reflects an oversight in FAA regulations.

Details of the Fatal Hot Air Balloon Accident

Alfred “Skip” Nichols had four DUI convictions, spent time in jail twice and had a long history of customer complaints dating back to 1997. Nichols was a recovering alcoholic who was also the pilot of the hot air balloon that crashed over the weekend in Texas killing 16 people.

When pilots apply for a ballooning certification with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), they are not required to disclose any prior drunken driving convictions, only drug convictions, said Patrick Cannon, a spokesman for the Balloon Federation of America trade group.

Balloon pilots also do not have to get regular medical exams from FAA-certified examiners. They are only required to write a statement certifying that they have “no medical defect” that would limit their ability to pilot a balloon.

In this way the requirements for a hot air balloon pilot are much less stringent compared to those of a plane or helicopter pilot. However, lives are still at stake whether it’s an airplane, helicopter, or even a hot air balloon.

For years, officials have criticized the level of oversight for balloon tour operators. In 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board urged the Federal Aviation Administration to strengthen safety standards for balloon tour operators and bring them up to par with standards for airplane and helicopter air tour operations, CBS Austin affliate KEYE reported.

As for this latest accident, investigators said they do not yet know why the balloon operated by Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides hit high-tension power lines before crashing near Lockhart about 60 miles northeast of San Antonio.

FAA Hot Air Balloon Certification Requirements

According the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA)  this is some information needed  to needed to obtain a certification.

  • An airworthiness certificate is an FAA document which grants authorization to operate an aircraft in flight.
  • A registered owner or owner’s agent of an aircraft may apply for an airworthiness certificate.
  • Only FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors and authorized Representatives of the Administrator are authorized to issue an FAA airworthiness certificate.
  • The FAA can revoke an existing airworthiness certificate in any category  if the aircraft no longer meets its approved design and/or is not in an airworthy condition