The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

November 30, 2012

Report details 2011 fatal plane crash

OTTUMWA — Federal investigators have finished gathering information on a fatal plane crash that occurred in Ottumwa last year.

Around 5:30 p.m. June  30, 2011, a small plane crashed a few hundred feet short of a runway at Ottumwa Regional Airport. Bystanders who saw or heard the crash rushed to help the pilot. Despite the risk, they removed the pilot from the burning plane.

Pilot Rex Yoakam, 60, of Hedrick, survived the crash but died hours later due to his injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration found that the plane impacted terrain and a tree while attempting to land at the Ottumwa airport.

Federal investigators talked to witnesses, inspected the crash site and put parts of the engine back together to see if it ran without trouble. The cause of death was listed, and a final autopsy report last month found medicine typically used for the treatment of rapid heartbeat. None of these factors was listed as contributing to the crash, but any of the details could be important as experts struggle to discover why the plane crashed.

“This is why [it takes time and] people wonder what’s taking so long,” said FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro at the agency’s Kansas City office.

Because there was a fatality, the National Traffic Safety Board runs the investigation.  

“We gather all the information for the investigation, then hand it over to the NTSB,” Molinaro said.

The current three-page “Factual Information Report” will be used by the NTSB to issue a final statement, a “probable cause” report. There is no timeline, however, on when the cause will be determined.

A spokesman at the NTSB on Thursday said it’s “usually within a couple months” that the final report will be issued.

What is known, however, is that the plane was having some sort of problems in the days prior to the crash.

This initial report says the  pilot flew the airplane to Ottumwa on June 28 and fueled up, but when he went to leave, was unable to start the plane. A receipt for parts to repair the starter was dated June 30.

A witness to the accident reported that he had talked with Yoakam for about an hour prior to the accident. They reportedly discussed the airplane’s glide characteristics in the event of engine failure. Yoakam said if the engine were to quit that he would have to put the airplane into a dive and get it on the ground.

The witness said after their conversation the pilot took off in the “accident airplane” and performed two low passes down the runway and then left the area. The flight from Ottumwa was going to the pilot's private airstrip near Hedrick.

The witness was in flight later when, in the distance, he saw Yoakam’s plane  approaching. First, it overflew the runway from above other traffic. The airplane proceeded past the end of runway and turned left onto what the witness believed was an approach for runway 22.

When the airplane was on the crosswind part of the approach, “the witness saw the nose of the airplane pitch down and descended and maneuvered toward  the  airport. The airplane subsequently struck a farm field and then a tree. A post-impact fire ensued.”

The plane was “an amateur-built Ray Aerial Spraying model 773 Racer reminiscent of a 1930s air racer.” It had a wingspan of 21.5 feet and a Ranger V-12 engine providing 520 horsepower.

“The direction of travel and location of impact were consistent with an attempted return to the runway,” the report states.

Around that time, recorded weather conditions showed 16 mph winds, 10 miles visibility and clear skies. After the initial impact, the airplane traveled about 250 feet before coming to rest.

Both wings were almost completely consumed by fire.

Examination of the airplane’s flight control system, engine and ignition system revealed no evidence of a pre-impact failure or malfunction.

The carburetor had extensive fire damage, so no guess could be made on how it was running. No evidence that the fire erupted in-flight was found.

This was a qualified pilot, the report indicates. Yoakam also held a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings. He had medical clearance issued in July 2010.

Yoakam held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, multi-engine land and instrument airplane  ratings. An FAA review of records indicated he had 6,581.8 hours of total flight time, most in single-engine airplanes.

 

 

1
Text Only
Ottumwa
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth

    OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National