In Memory of Matt Gaither and Graham Borland

2 candlesOn August 14 2014, a Cessna 150 crashed on the field at Mt Pleasant Regional Airport (KLRO), instantly killing both occupants, 20-year-old Matt Gaither and Graham Borland. Our deepest sympathies go to both the families and friends of both men.

What happened? Witnesses at the scene stated that the plane took off with full flaps, struggled to climb out of ground effect, then turned back to the field, crashing nose first before they could complete the turn. It will be a year before the NTSB makes a final determination as to the cause of the accident, but one interesting observation made by those who responded to the scene is that the flaps were in the full up position when they arrived. One possibility is that the plane, fully loaded on a very hot day(density altitude was reported at 2200’), was at the edge of its envelope. If the flaps were retracted from full to none all at once, that, coupled with the turn and the airplane’s limitations, may have contributed to the stall at low altitude.

We may never know what happened in the cockpit but every accident is an opportunity to re-examine our own limitations and those of the airplanes we fly. To that matter, we at Charleston Flight School have created a scenario that mirrors the situation of that day. It is meant to be a training aid and is available for any pilot or instructor, at no charge. We believe this training is both valuable and timely, and for that reason, it is offered to the aviation community free of charge. Just call us at 843-478-4334- the scenario will start with hot conditions and an airplane at max weight and ready for takeoff, which is not an unusual summer flight here in the Lowcountry.

Update- On September 22, 2016, the NTSB issued their final report on this accident. You can find another version here.