A 1979 Beech B-60 Duke aircraft, registration N880LY, crashed and burned while attempting to takeoff from Sedona Airport (SDX) in Arizona on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. local time, killing 53-year-old Patrick Ralph Porter of Albuquerque, N.M. and two others, reported on that date by the Aviation Safety Network, the Tucson Citizen, KTVK-TV, the Arizona Daily Sun, and multiple sources.
Porter was a former American distance runner who competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games in the 10,000 meter (10K) long distance races. He attended high school in Evergreen, Colo. His wife, Trish Porter, confirmed that he was piloting the plane when it crashed. Press reports have stated that the other two persons aboard the plane were children, but the names of these victims have not been released.
According to witnesses, the twin-engine aircraft experienced a loss of lift on takeoff and impacted terrain southwest of the departure end of runway 21. The plane overran the end of the runway, and crashed on a tree covered hillside, spewing flames. The fire consumed the aircraft and caused a smoldering blaze of the surrounding vegetation.
Sedona Airport is set on a mesa at an altitude of 4,830 feet. It is considered one of the most scenic airports in the country. It is also subject to wind gusts, making ground conditions unpredictable, and causing other fatal past accidents, as seen in the attached video clip which accompanies this report.
One pilot, Stephen Loftin explained the unique challenges of flying at that facility, saying, “You always have gusts here. Updrafts, downdrafts, it’s just a predicament, all pilots have that taking off and landing here.”
The airport has a single 5,129-foot asphalt paved runway that is set northeast by southwest, and a 50-foot concrete helipad. About 102 planes are based at the site, which has operations of some 50,000 flights a year. While the airport cannot accommodate commercial jets, it does attract many smaller business jets, private light airplanes, and helicopters.
The Beechcraft 60 Duke was introduced in July 1968, and 596 planes were built between that year and 1983. The aircraft has a nose-wheel, retractable landing gear, and a pressurized cabin. Two turbocharged piston engines also pressurize the cabin with bleed air.
The B-60 carries a pilot and up to 5 passengers at a maximum speed of 286 miles and hour, a cruising speed of 205 miles and hour, a stall speed of 84 miles an hour, a range of 1,413 miles, a service ceiling of 30,000 feet, and a rate of climb of 1,601 feet per minute.
Both the FAA and the NTSB are investigating this fatal aircraft accident.
We offer our condolences to the family and friends of those who perished in this tragic crash.
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