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Couple Sues Aircraft Maintenance Company After Tail Section Falls Off At 15,000 FT
By Steve Hall

August 31, 2013 - Joseph Skilken, his wife Karen, their two daughters, ages 9 and 12, along with his parents-in-law departed from Port Columbus International Airport (KCMH) on May 31 at about 9:50 AM for Colorado Springs in their Cessna 441 airplane, N383SS. The family was to celebrate Karen’s 50th birthday however, what was to be a celebration tuned into a nightmare for the family. 

At about 12 PM, Joseph, 63, a multiengine instrument rated pilot, began his descent from 15,000 feet for Colorado Springs Airport (KCOS). Joseph began to experience some light turbulence when all of a sudden a section of the tail fell off the aircraft and it began a violent yawing oscillation. 

The oscillation was so severe the fluid from the Cessna’s toilet exploded throughout the cabin and the onboard tables came out of their holders and snapped off. Objects were being tossed throughout the cabin. "It was like being in a clothes dryer on the tumble setting,” said Joseph. Karen said, "I truly thought we would die." 

Joseph contacted ATC and made an emergency landing. The aircraft landed hard, Karen along with the other passengers received minor injuries. As a result of the hard landing the aircraft received damage to the nose wheel, airframe, left propeller, engine damage, damage to the interior components and other damage. 

The day before the flight, Joseph had gone to Oxford County Regional Airport to Oxford Aviation to go up in his plane for a flight test after his airplane had been freshly painted. It was not a pleasant experience for Joseph as he had taken his plane in for a new paint job back in early May and the company had promised him the aircraft would be ready on May 29. 

When Joseph walked into the hanger where his aircraft was it was in pieces “all over the place”. Joseph reported at about 5PM the aircraft was put together and he went up for a test fight with one of Oxford Aviation’s mechanics. To Joseph everything appeared to be ok. He flew his Cessna 441 back home.  



Joseph has now filed a lawsuit alleging Oxford Aviation failed to properly secure a portion of the tail section to the tail after the aircraft was repainted, causing the aircraft to make an emergency landing and sustained damage. In the lawsuit it alleges Oxford Aviation was in breach of contract, breach of warranty, negligence, negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent misrepresentation. If not for Joseph’s flying skills the Cessna would have suffered a catastrophic and uncontrolled crash, which likely would have killed or caused extremely serious injuries to every passenger onboard.

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