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My San Antonio
By Eva Ruth Moravec
February 28, 2012 : Updated: February 29, 2012 1:05am
As federal investigators concluded their fact-finding mission into what caused a single-engine plane to crash, authorities Tuesday released the names of the two men killed.
Willie Ed Bolton, 63, and Forrest Horecka, 54, died of massive traumatic injuries, the Bexar County medical examiner’s office reported.
Bolton was an experienced pilot. Horecka, his passenger was issued a pilot’s license in 2010, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
National Transportation Safety Board Investigator Tom Latson said he had been in touch with relatives of both men. Bolton’s daughter answered the door at his home in Schertz but declined an interview request.
A local pilot, Wejay Bundara, said he met Bolton about a dozen years ago through the Bronze Eagles Flying Club, established in 1968 for African American pilots, and their paths often would cross at Stinson Municipal Airport, where both had planes.
“He was one of the finest men you could ever find,” Bundara said. “People are in shock; there’s a great deal of sorrow, because he was such a good friend, a good instructor and an upstanding member of the community.”
Bolton, retired from the Air Force and self-employed, was a certified flight instructor and airline transport pilot — the highest FAA certification, Latson said. He enjoyed teaching people how to fly, and had had thousands of students, Bundara said.
On Sunday evening, Bolton was flying a Mooney M20 on a “maintenance repositioning flight” from Stinson to the Gillespie County Airport in Fredericksburg, Latson said. San Antonio police said Bolton was having new radios installed.
Winds were moderate and weather was appropriate for flying, Latson said, and the plane was cleared for takeoff from Stinson at 5:07 p.m. Two minutes later, the pilots radioed the tower and said they were returning. The communication was cut short, Latson said, and the tower controller looked up to see the plane fall and black smoke rise into the air.
Bundara said the fact the pilots turned the plane around shocked local fliers.
“None of us can believe that Willie Bolton, being the instructor that he is, would have done that,” he said. “When you have engine trouble on take-off, you fly straight ahead and land where you can. You don’t try to turn.”
He said if the plane was having problems, it would have been flying at a low level and with low power, and in those conditions, the aircraft becomes uncontrollable very quickly.
Latson said evidence from the crash site indicates the plane hit the ground nose-first about a mile south of Stinson, then burst into flames.
Pieces of the wreckage, including the engine and part of the fuselage, were removed for further investigation before a contractor trucked the burned aircraft to a storage facility near Dallas, Latson said.
The cause of the crash remains undetermined, Latson said, but a preliminary report will likely be filed in the coming days.
To view National Transportation Safety Board Accident Report click here
NTSB Identification: CEN12FA170
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 26, 2012 in San Antonio, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/13/2014
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N9224M
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
On February 26, 2012, about 1709 central standard time, a Mooney M20E airplane, N9224M, impacted terrain during initial climb after departure from Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, Texas. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and the pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Niclan Corporation, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed SSF at 1707, and was destined for Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas.
The pilot was cleared for takeoff to the southeast from runway 14 with instructions to turn left to the northeast because of traffic approaching the airport from the south. After takeoff, when the airplane was about 200 feet above ground level (agl), the SSF tower controller noticed the airplane in a right turn and again instructed the pilot to make a left turn to the northeast. An incomplete radio comment from the pilot indicated he was turning back. The controller saw the airplane flying southwest bound at a low altitude and shortly thereafter saw a cloud of black smoke about 1/2 mile south of SSF.
One witness was watching the airplane while it was turning to the right. He saw the wing of the airplane then suddenly roll sharply to the right and the airplane pointed about 45 degrees nose-down and the airplane went into a dive. A second witness heard sputtering, looked up and saw the airplane as it banked to one side and dove toward the ground. A third witness also heard sputtering and then heard the sounds of a crash and an explosion.
Evidence at the scene showed the airplane impacted terrain in a nose-down attitude and came to rest inverted. There was a postimpact explosion and fire.
Certified Flight Instructor
The CFI, age 63, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land, airplane single engine sea, glider, and instrument airplane ratings. He held a type rating for CE-500. In addition, he held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multiengine, glider, and instrument airplane privileges. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate, with limitations, on February 3, 2012.
The CFI’s personal medical records showed he had been treated with tramadol once or twice daily since at least 2009 but continued to report chronic pain. In addition, in May, 2011, the CFI reported feeling depressed and was prescribed sertraline (an antidepressant marketed under the trade name Zoloft). In August 2011, the prescription was switched from sertraline to paroxetine (Paxil). His personal medical records showed the CFI had been intermittently treated with paroxetine at least as early as 2007. In September, 2011, the CFI reported to his primary care doctor that his depression was incompletely treated and that he was having trouble concentrating. He requested and received an increase in his paroxetine dosing. Although the CFI visited his primary care doctor, his urologist, and a rheumatologist in the ensuing months, there is no record of that any of his physicians addressed the status of his depression after September, 2011.
The toxicology report stated: NO CARBON MONOXIDE detected in Blood; NO CYANIDE detected in Blood; NO ETHANOL detected in Urine.
The following additional findings were noted:
Amlodipine detected in Urine
Amlodipine detected in Blood
Azacyclonol detected in Urine
Azacyclonol NOT detected in Blood
Fexofenadine detected in Urine
Fexofenadine detected in Blood
Paroxetine detected in Urine
Paroxetine NOT detected in Blood
0.116 (ug/mL, ug/g) Tramadol detected in Blood
Tramadol detected in Urine
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chief Medical Officer reviewed the factual report narrative, the autopsy report, the toxicology results, the CFI’s FAA airman medical certification file, and the CFI’s personal medical records.
FAA records showed the CFI was first issued an airman medical certificate in 1987. In 1990 he reported a hospital admission for “hypertitis” and having previously had a negative evaluation for hematuria. On that visit, a heart murmur was detected but the pilot reported it had previously been evaluated. On a FAA airman medical certificate application in 1993 he denied taking any medications and reported having previously had surgery on a knee and shoulder. He was granted a first class medical certificate, limited by the need to wear corrective lenses. In 1997 he reported to the FAA that he had had his tonsils removed but in 1998 he recorded the procedure as a “UPPP” which stands for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. This is a surgical procedure performed on the posterior parts of the throat to limit snoring, usually on patients diagnosed with sleep apnea. There is no record of any further evaluation by the FAA and the CFI did not report a diagnosis of sleep apnea.
In 2006, the CFI reported treatment for hypertension and after he supplied additional information about his cardiovascular condition, he was issued a second class airman medical certificate. The CFI continued to be medically certificated and his last FAA airman medical exam was performed on February 2, 2012. At that time he reported taking Lotrel for his hypertension (a combination medication containing amlodipine and benazepril). His blood pressure was measured at 129/78.
The toxicology testing revealed amlodipine in urine and cavity blood; fexofenadine (a non-sedating antihistamine marketed under the trade name Allegra) in urine and blood and its metabolite azacyclonol in urine; paroxetine (an antidepressant marketed under the trade name Paxil) in urine but not in blood; and tramadol (an opioid pain medication marketed under the trade name Ultram) in urine and in cavity blood at 0.116ug/ml.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s inadvertent overboost of the turbocharged engine during initial climb, which resulted in detonation and a partial loss of engine power followed by the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed and the instructor’s delayed remedial action, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the instructor’s improper judgment in acting as a pilot with disqualifying medical conditions and while taking impairing medications.