Cirrus Accident 05-29-02

I’m not sure why, but posts by others on this were deleted.

Duluth-based small plane crashes on New Mexico mountain
Associated Press
Published May 29, 2002
ANGEL FIRE, N.M.—A single-engine airplane registered in Duluth, Minn., crashed and burned on a northern New Mexico mountain shortly after taking off from the airport at this ski resort, killing the pilot, authorities said.
Angel Fire police were withholding the name of the pilot, the only person aboard the Cirrus SR20, which crashed about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday east of Angel Fire.
The four-seat airplane, made last year in Duluth, Minn., was registered to Flying Club Ltd., in care of John E. Swanstrom Jr. of Duluth, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. It was not known whether Swanstrom was aboard.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were investigating the crash, said John Clabes, the FAAÂ’s southwestern region spokesman.
“We’re all kind of reeling at this point because we all knew this guy,” Bill King, Cirrus Design Corp. vice president for business administration in Duluth, said of the pilot. “He was a very good friend of us.”
King said the NTSB would not allow him to confirm the pilotÂ’s name.
The airplane crashed in a heavily wooded area about 75 to 100 yards from the peak of a mountain, said Jack Coppy, an area resident.
Coppy, 47, was at the crash scene Tuesday evening.
“It was a plane completely burned up,” he said.
The airplane crashed approximately 2 miles east of the airport and about 5 miles south of Eagle Nest Lake, Coppy said. The airplane was “completely mangled,” Yasmin Hahn, a Sangre de Cristo Chronicle reporter, told the Associated Press.
“The tail of the plane was up in a pine tree,” she said.
Coppy and Hahn said the fire burned a small circle before it was contained by area firefighters.
The Cirrus SR20 is equipped with an airframe parachute deployed by a solid-fuel rocket fired from the rear of the airplane. The parachute is designed to position itself over the airplaneÂ’s center of gravity, lowering the craft at almost 27 feet per second.
King said he did not have any information on whether the parachute was deployed.
“It’s your last line of defense in the event of some catastrophic failure or some situation in which the aircraft is not controllable,” he said.
King said his company was participating in the investigation.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

One dead in Tuesday plane crash near Angel Fire

By Cornelia de Bruin, The Taos News

May 29
One unidentified man was killed Tuesday afternoon when the four-passenger Cirrus SR20 aircraft he was piloting failed to gain enough altitude to clear a mountain east of Angel Fire shortly after he took off from the Angel Fire Airport at 4:30 p.m.(May 28).

Fire Captain Randy Weber of Angel Fire said the pilot stopped at Angel Fire to refuel his plane and check charts.

“When he took off, he didn’t gain enough altitude to clear the mountain,” Weber said. “It could have been a lot worse; if he’d crashed 100 feet sooner or later he would have landed in nothing but trees. He hit a rock facing cliff.”

The mountain is on the border of the C.S. Cattle Company Ranch. Owner Kirk Davis did not know the name of the peak, however.

The plane burned on impact, and the fire was reported by a tourist. Anticipating another forest fire, dispatchers at Red River Fire Department requested several pieces of fire fighting equipment from the Taos area, and headed for the scene.

Fifteen firefighters from Angel Fire, six from Rio Fernando and two Forest Service officials responded to the blaze. Weber said the two Forest Service workers remained at the scene overnight to monitor any fire activity.

When first responders reached the scene and found the burning plane, they put out the fire, canceled their request for extra equipment and alerted both F.A.A. and N.T.S.B. officials.

Alex Lemshko, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (N.T.S.B.), was on the scene of the crash Wednesday morning (May 29).

Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) officials in Fort Worth, Texas — the agency’s regional office — confirmed late Tuesday that the crash had occurred.

Angel Fire is a difficult airport at 8300 feet with high terrain east and west. Late afternoon and a hot day (here in ABQ) only add to the challenges. A lot of classic flatlander accidents happen there. Local pilots advise in marginal situations a departure to the south, following the valley to friendlier terrain.

Duluth executive dies in N.M. plane crash
Robert Franklin
Star Tribune

Published May 30, 2002
When Jack Swanstrom founded a Duluth-area tool company, he wanted it to reflect his feelings for his country, so he named it Swanstrom Tools USA.

Swanstrom was “probably the most patriotic person I have ever met,” said Christabel Grant, who told that story Wednesday.

Grant is executive director of a center honoring World War II pilot Richard Bong, and Swanstrom was a board member. Friends said Swanstrom, who once headed an old-line Duluth manufacturing company, also was a philanthropist, a hands-on executive, a former Air National Guard fighter pilot, an active member of the Air Force Association and a flying enthusiast.

John E. Swanstrom Jr., 58, died Tuesday when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed and burned near Angel Fire, N.M., a mountain resort town 25 miles east of Taos. He was alone in the four-seat Duluth-made Cirrus aircraft when it crashed near a mountain peak. The cause was not immediately known.

Swanstrom let his flying lapse for a while, but was recertified a few years ago and bought the Cirrus SR20 with several friends last year, said Todd Larson, resource manager of Swanstrom Tools. The 55-employee specialty tool company is in Superior, Wis.

“He was a little leery about the mountain trip. It was his first trip through the mountains with that aircraft,” Larson said.

But, Larson said, “He died doing what he really loved to do.”

Swanstrom had been president of the family-owned Diamond Tool and Horseshoe Co., which employed several hundred workers in west Duluth before it was sold in 1982. He was a past president of the Boys and Girls Club of Duluth and was an Air Guard member for 13 years, rising to the rank of major.

Grant said he was gregarious, enthusiastic, devoted to family and friends and one of the best board volunteers for the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center in Superior. The center will open in August in memory of the Wisconsin native, a Medal of Honor winner and flying ace noted for the number of enemy planes he shot down.

Swanstrom “thought it was such an important thing to honor people who served their country,” she said, and he sponsored a remembrance for Diamond Tool employees who won government recognition for their company’s contribution to the war effort.

Swanstrom also had a special interest in children. When Larson was a boy, he said, Swanstrom helped him try a flight simulator at the then-Duluth Air Force Base and loaned him an airplane manual.

Bill King, vice president for administration of Cirrus Design Corp., manufacturer of the plane that crashed, said Swanstrom was “a good friend of all of ours.”

King said the company sent a team to the crash site and is cooperating with an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

An initial model of the Cirrus SR20 crashed in Duluth during testing three years ago, killing the company’s chief test pilot, Scott Anderson. A mechanical problem was blamed, and King said the craft – “a very capable little airplane” – has undergone “a lot of modifications” since then.

Cirrus has sold more than 400 of the planes and has a “several-year” backlog of orders, he said.

Airplanes “don’t enjoy the same kind of performance” in thinner, higher-altitude air as in lower places, King said. The Angel Fire airport is at an altitude of about 8,400 feet and is ringed with 10,000-foot mountains, while Duluth International is at about 1,400 feet.

The SR20 is equipped with a parachute that can ease a fall, but King said he did not know if the parachute opened on Swanstrom’s plane.

Swanstrom was on a combined business and pleasure trip, according to a statement issued by his wife, Patricia, through Bell Brothers Funeral Chapel in Duluth. He had been to a wedding in California and apparently had had breakfast with a daughter, Jennifer, in Arizona.

Other survivors include a son, John of Alaska, and another daughter, Sally of the Twin Cities. Services are pending.

– Robert Franklin is at .

I am saddened to hear the identity of the pilot. I met Jack only briefly at the Whiteman airport when he was visiting California. He seemed to be an exceptionally happy man and spoke very fondly of his adventures with his family. Our short visit left a lasting impression.