Findings Verify Aircraft Did Not See Each Other
Transportation Safety Board released its report this week on the
midair collision of a Cessna 172 and a Beech V35B Bonanza near
Cincinnati's Blue Ash Airport (ISZ) last May.
ANN reported on the tragic
accident last year claiming the lives of David Woeste
Jr., 31, and Edward Hitchens, 65, aboard the Cessna and Niels
Harpsoe, 64, aboard the Bonanza.
In its report issued this week, the NTSB determined the pilots
in both aircraft failed to see each other and keep a safe
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the
collision, with clear skies and 10 mile visibility.
The Bonanza departed Blue Ash Airport at 1452 local time,
reports the NTSB, and requested flight following through
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport approach
control. The request was denied due to controller workload.
Radar showed the Bonanza descending and returning to ISZ.
Eight minutes after the Bonanza departed, radar showed another
aircraft, the Cessna, departing ISZ at 1500 local time and
climbing. At 1502 radar displayed the returns coming together.
A witness in a nearby office building reported to the NTSB,
"When the planes were very close, both rolled inside towards each
other and that is when the wings clipped each other." After
collision, both aircraft began uncontrolled descents and impacted
the ground separately in Sharonville, OH. Both aircraft were
destroyed and those onboard both aircraft were immediately killed
The NTSB report may herald the end of the Federal investigation
on the accident, but civil cases are still circling the debated
Blue Ash Airport.
A wrongful death lawsuit and a countersuit have been filed
involving the estates of the three men involved and the city of
Cincinnati, which owns and operates the airport, where both planes
Marcie Woeste, mother
of David Woeste Jr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against
Harpsoe's estate citing that his FAA third class medical
certificate, dated September 22, 2004, had lapsed at the time of
the crash. An identical lawsuit was filed by the Hitchens' estate
Harpsoe's widow, Donna, said to the Cincinnati Enquirer she
wasn't aware her late husband's medical certification expired
before he died, but she's sure the crash did not occur because of a
health reason. She said doctors will testify that he was healthy at
the time of the flight.
In both suits, the city of Cincinnati is listed as a defendant
under the claim that it shares responsibility because of a city
municipal code that states that tenant pilots of the airport must
have valid paperwork.
The claim of city responsibility further fuels an ongoing
controversy in the local media over the busy general aviation
airport. The Cincinnati Enquirer pointedly noted "there is no tower
at Blue Ash, no set schedule and no one checking licenses before
takeoffs and landings at the airport."
Such remarks potentially disturb the politically shaky ground on
which the airport currently sits. Owned and operated by the city of
Cincinnati but located in the city of Blue Ash, the airport has
been under threat of closure for years until recent intervention by
the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and local supporters. In
a deal struck this year, both cities promised to protect the
airport and the city of Cincinnati filed a "pre-application" for
nearly $9M in federal grant funds as the first step in that
Though Blue Ash Airport's future stability appears to be on the
horizon, resolution of the civil cases does not. Pretrial for the
case is set to begin in September 2009 in the Hamilton County
Common Pleas courtroom.