The pilot of the single-engine plane that fatally crashed in the desert west of the Boulder City Airport declared an emergency after losing a engine cylinder and said he was going to try to land at the airport, according to the preliminary accident report released July 8 by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The debris path was about 80 feet long and 80 feet wide with the wreckage resting upright 40 feet from the first point of contact, according to the report. The three-bladed propeller separated and was in the beginning of the debris field.
Killed in the crash were Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Edwards IV, 41, of Las Vegas, and Pfc. Cody Hall, 23, of North Las Vegas, both off-duty from the Nevada Air National Guard. Both died when a Beechcraft T-34 Mentor crashed 1½ miles short of the runway about 2:45 p.m. June 23. The plane was flying from the Phoenix area to North Las Vegas Airport.
“The pilot requested priority handling because an engine chip light had illuminated” and then reported losing a cylinder, “declared an emergency, and he was going to attempt to land,” the report said.
The pilot reported the situation was under control as he approached the airport with the landing gear down. Las Vegas air traffic controllers, with whom the pilot had been in communication, OK’d his switch to Boulder City’s common traffic advisory system, but then lost contact.
Boulder City does not have an air traffic control tower.
Although the report did not identify the pilot by name, it did state that the “commercial pilot with a certified flight instructor certificate and one passenger sustained fatal injuries.”
According to the Federal Aviation Administration website, Edwards had various pilot licenses but Hall, who turned 23 the day before the accident, did not.
The plane was registered to and operated by Jet Test and Transport, a limited-liability company based in Henderson. According to the company’s website, it delivers and ferries aircraft for third-party clients.
The investigation by the NTSB and FAA should be completed next year.
Edwards and Hall were assigned to the 1st Detachment, Bravo Company, 3rd/140th Security and Support, a small Nevada National Guard helicopter unit based at the North Las Vegas Airport. The detachment flies OH-58, observational helicopters. Its mission includes reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence gathering and is often used in support of civilian law enforcement agencies.
Edwards and Hall were not helicopter pilots with the detachment. Hall was an aircraft electrician specialist and Edwards was a helicopter repairman.
It was the third fatal plane crash in Boulder City since 2010. On March 12, 2010, 45-year-old Brett Beuckens of Phoenix died when his Beechcraft BE35 Bonanza crashed while trying to reach the airport. According to the NTSB report, the plane ran out of gasoline on the way from the Phoenix area to the Henderson airport.
On May 18, 2012, pilot Douglas E. Gillis, 65, of Solano Beach, Calif., and passenger Richard W. Winslow, 65, of Palm Desert, Calif., died after their military-style Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros went down in the desert a half-mile northwest of the airport. According to a NTSB preliminary eport issued June 6, 2012, the pilot called “mayday” three times and said “canopy” before the plane went down, killing both men.
The final report on that accident has yet to be released.
According to the NTSB website database, which dates to 1982, there have been 15 fatalities in 10 aircraft crashes in Boulder City since July 1990. There have been 34 nonfatal accidents in the area since 1983, 18 since 2000.