The Record, Thursday, Nov.
crash pilot likely stalled plane
NTSB report refers to steep,
By Shannon D. Harrington, Staff
A Virginia pilot who crashed his plane into a Hasbrouck Heights neighborhood last December
as he approached Teterboro Airport
apparently lost control of the
plane after a series of steep turns at reduced airspeed and low altitude.
Although a report released this
week by the National Transportation Safety Board does not specifically state a cause for
the Dec. 9 crash, the report makes numerous references to conditions that would indicate a
stalled aircraft, including low altitude and steep turns made by the pilot at low
Robert Grinch, a Ridgewood pilot
and flight instructor, said after reviewing the report that it appears the aircraft
stalled, meaning the wings could not produce enough lift to maintain level flight.
But "there is nothing [in
the report] to explain why a highly experienced pilot would get himself into this
predicament," he said.
The report, the most
comprehensive account of the accident to date, made no reference to mechanical failure or
The NTSB report estimates that
the pilot, Paul A. Pedersen Jr., has about 11,000 hours of flight time leading up to the
fatal crash, which claimed his life and the lives of three passengers a co-worker
at his aviation business and a young couple. All were from the Richmond VA, area. Three
people on the ground were injured in the aftermath of the crash.
Pedersen and his passengers were
flying in his 1980 Beech Baron shortly after sundown Dec. 9, approaching Teterboro from
Although Pedersens aviation
company told NTSB investigators that the pilot was familiar with Teterboro, some pilots
have speculated that he was disoriented or maybe tired.
Pedersen had made an earlier
flight that day, and the young couple were trying to make it to a party in New York.
The skies were very congested,
the report says.
About 5:11 p.m., Pedersen asked
the control tower for a visual approach instead of an instrument-aided approach.
The controller denied that
request, and about 5:22, the controller told Pedersen that he was seventh in a line of
planes waiting to land. Meanwhile, 20 planes on the ground were awaiting takeoff.
The controller then told Pedersen
to fly over the airport at 1,500 feet and make a left turn.
About four minutes later, the
controller asked Pedersen where he was headed.
"Im trying to do a 180
[degree turn] to follow that traffic on final," Pedersen said, according to the
The controller replied: "No
sir, I want you overhead and left of the field
.Youre turning right into
traffic at 1,000 feet thats proceeding up the northwest, sir."
The last reported radar position
of Pedersens plane, about 5:26, placed the plane at 500 feet, 1,000 feet below the
Three witnesses on the ground,
according to the report, saw the plane make a steep right turn, followed by a sharp left
turn, after which the plane dived straight down until they lost sight of it.
When another witness approached
the scene, the plane was fully engulfed in flames.
Pedersen had lost his license for
45 days after crashing another plane that ran out of fuel over Maryland. And two other
flying incidents were under investigation at the time of his death.
The NTSB investigator who wrote
the report, Robert Hancock, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. An NTSB spokesman
said that although no cause was determined in the most recent report, the facts will be
used to declare a cause in a future report.