Board Reveals What It Has Learned So Far
The NTSB Monday released its narrative on the ultralight crash
that killed Wal-Mart heir John Walton, as the manufacturer of the
CGS Hawk Arrow said the aircraft wasn't properly configured for
As ANN reported last month,
Walton's aircraft went down shortly after take-off from the airport
in Jackson Hole, WY, June 27th. Walton was
pronounced dead at the scene.
The 58-year old Walton was mourned among groups as disparate as
the Special Operations Association, the Wal-Mart board of
directors, a number of educational charities and the loosely
organized, but tight-knit, community of experimental aviators.
The complete text of the NTSB report follows:
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 27, 2005 in Jackson, WY
Aircraft: CGS Aviation Hawk Arrow, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
On June 27, 2005, approximately 1225 mountain daylight time, an
unregistered CGS Aviation Hawk Two Place Arrow experimental
homebuilt airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain following
a descent during the base leg of the visual approach to runway 19
at Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), Jackson, Wyoming. The commercial
rated pilot, who was the sole occupant and owner of the airplane,
sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions
prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the Title 14 Code of
Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local flight
departed JAC at 1218.
Several witnesses reported that the airplane departed runway 19,
and immediately climbed to approximately 500 feet above ground
level (agl), while maintaining runway heading. The airplane then
turned left onto the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern and
maintained a slight climb. Two witnesses, who were traveling
southbound in motor vehicles on Highway 89 (parallel to JAC runway
01/19), reported that they observed the airplane on the left
downwind leg at an altitude of 700 - 900 feet agl.
One witness, who was also in a vehicle, observed the airplane
turn left (west) onto the base leg for runway 19. Shortly after the
turn, the airplane began descending in a nose-low attitude. The
airplane's airspeed and nose-down attitude gradually increased
during the descent. The airplane then impacted terrain, bounced,
nosed over, and came to rest inverted.
According to the FAA, the pilot was in communication with
the JAC air traffic control tower during the accident flight. The
pilot did not report any problems. Recorded weather at JAC just
prior to the accident indicated the wind from 180 degrees at 4
knots, clear skies, and a temperature of 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
The airplane impacted sage brush-covered flat terrain
approximately 575 feet west of Highway 89, and 3/4-mile north of
the approach end of runway 19. The airplane wreckage was
transported to a vacant hangar at JAC for further examination by
the NTSB. The airplane was equipped with a Hirth 3701 engine rated
at 100 horsepower. Initial examination of the wreckage did not
reveal any obvious indications of pre-impact mechanical
malfunctions with the airframe, engine, or systems. There was no
evidence of fire, explosion, or in-flight structural failure.
Control cable continuity for all flight controls was established. A
global positioning system (GPS) receiver was found in the wreckage;
it has been sent to the Safety Board's recorder laboratory in
Washington DC for possible non-volatile memory extraction of flight
path, altitude, and ground speed data.
The report tells its own story and we will not speculate on what
that story is, here and now; experienced pilots will draw their own
conclusions, and more evidence will be forthcoming before the
investigation concludes. Several parties are assisting the NTSB in
the investigation including the FAA and the manufacturer of
Walton's experimental kitplane.
The manufacturer has said publicly that Walton's plane was built
for bush flying with tundra tires, a float kit (the airplane was on
wheeled gear at the time of the accident), and a more powerful
engine than generally fitted to (or needed by) the Hawk series.
Walton constructed the plane himself with the assistance of a
dealer (no one who dealt with him at
the manufacturers' had any idea he was wealthy or famous;
he told them he was a corporate pilot, and he certainly seemed to
act the part). The airplane was not a legal ultralight by any
stretch, and the manufacturer and dealer expected Walton to
register it. None of these matters appears to be any factor in the
The aircraft had experienced a hard landing, producing damage,
and the manufacturer furnished new parts for a repair at that
time. This also does not appear to have been a factor.
An autopsy of Walton has been conducted, but the Board's
investigators do not have the findings yet.