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Pilot Experienced Engine Problems Instructed To Land At Airport That Did Not Exist


August 24, 2015 - A preliminary report by the NTSB has been release on the plane crash of a Beech C35, N5946C (manufactured in 1952) that crashed on the 16th in which the aircraft collided with a railroad grade crossing cantilever arm and terrain in Hicksville, New York killing the commercial pilot, Joseph Milo, 59, of Westhampton Beach and injuring the passenger, the aircraft then burst into flames. 

The Beech C35 aircraft which was owned by Milo crashed between Hicksville and Bethpage stations of the Long Island Rail Road at about 7:45 AM. The aircraft had departed under Part 135 from Westhampton Beach, New York (FOK) for Morristown, New Jersey (MMU) under VFR conditions. The passenger was identified as Carl Giordano, 55, of New Vernon, New Jersey. Giordano had sustained a broken jaw, cuts and bruises. 


According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) voice communication and radar position information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was flying at 6,500 feet above mean sea level on an easterly heading, about 8 nautical miles (nm) northwest of Republic Airport, Farmingdale, New York (FRG).

The pilot reported to ATC that he was "having a little bit of a problem" and may need to return to FRG. The pilot then reported that he would have to "take it down…" The controller provided the relative locations of LaGuardia and JFK Airports, and stated that Westchester Airport was to the north and FRG was to the southeast.

The pilot responded that FRG was the closest airport to his location. The pilot then indicated that he may not make FRG. The controller then provided information on "Bethpage strip" and informed the pilot that the airport was closed; however, there was a runway there.



The airplane was then observed tracking toward the Bethpage area while descending. The next several transmissions between the controller and pilot revealed that the pilot was unable to see the runway while the controller continued to provide heading and distance to the Bethpage runway. Radar and radio contact were eventually lost and emergency responders were notified of the accident.

The passenger was interviewed after the accident. He reported that the flight was in cruise when he heard a loud "pop" sound, with a flicker of light from the engine area, followed by an "oil smell." The engine then began to "sputter" and lose power. The pilot attempted to restart the engine without success.

The pilot, age 59, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine, multi-engine, and instrument airplane ratings. He reported 3,300 hours total flight time on his most recent application for an FAA second-class medical certificate, dated December 22, 2014. Records provided by the FAA revealed that he completed a Part 135.299 line check (check ride) on June 18, 2015.

The main wreckage was found inverted and burned, on the railroad tracks for the Long Island Rail Road. The wreckage debris field was about 100 ft in length and about 20 ft wide, oriented on a heading of about 150 degrees. All major structural components of the aircraft were found within the confines of the debris field. The propeller assembly separated from the engine during the accident sequence. The right wing was found under the grade crossing cantilever arm, which separated from its mount structure during the initial impact. The engine was retained for further examination.

An examination of the area of the former Bethpage Airport revealed that industrial buildings occupied the former runway surface area. The accident site was located about 0.25 nm northwest of the former runway's approach end.
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