Witness Says Engine Apparently Failed In-Flight
It was about 9:15 Saturday morning when Ernie Brockman heard an
unusual sound in the sky outside his house. Brockelman tells the
Salina Journal he stepped out and saw a brightly-colored ultralight
buzz past at about 350 ft. AGL. Brockman says he watched for a
moment, then went back into his kitchen for another cup of
Suddenly, he says, the humming noise stopped. "I heard the
engine try to restart, but it didn't," Brockelman told the Journal.
"There was kind of a sputter, then a pow and a thud. You could tell
something hit something."
What Brockelman heard was the Mitchell T-10D Flying Wing trainer
(file photos) impacting the ground near a pond a few hundred yards
from his house, north of Salina (KS). Brockelman tells the Journal
he rushed outside again and saw a cloud of grey-white smoke, and
something moving on the other side of the pond. It was the
ultralight coming to rest.
thought I was in the middle of a bad dream," said Brockelman. "I
stood there and looked at it, thinking I was going to see a fire or
But there was no fire and, sadly, no one was moving. The two men
aboard the aircraft, Terrance F. Thornton, 64 of Culver (KS) and
Jerry A. Holsinger, 60, of Petersburg (VA) were pronounced dead at
Thornton was described as inseperable from the Mitchell Wing
T-10 manufacturer. In fact, all training tasks were handed
over to Thornton, who operated two of the T-10D trainers - the only
two be flying. He also ran a bed and breakfast in Culver, where his
guests were often his pupils.
Scene Of Impact
Brockelman says he called 911, then raced to the crash site.
The ultralight appeared to have nosed into the bank of a stock
pond. The wings seemed to have folded forward from the force of the
The aircraft was eventually hauled away on the back of a
tow-truck. "We've got the aircraft on hold," said Kansas Highway
Patrol Trooper Chris Farthing. He said state officials called the
FAA, "but they don't respond to ultralight accidents."
"It looks like the aircraft probably stalled and came down," the
trooper told the Journal. "It was moving forward, but it dropped
and landed on the front part of the aircraft."
Brockelman was still rattled hours after the accident. "You
don't see this kind of stuff every day," he said. "My feelings are
for them (the pilots) and their families."