A twin-engine Cessna 411 crashed on Saturday in East Hampton, NY. The pilot, William Holdgate, 50, of Nantucket, MA, was killed in the accident.
The plane hit the ground in a spot that leads me to believe that he was preparing to turn from the downwind leg to the base leg of the traffic pattern for Runway 28 at East Hampton Airport (KHTO). There may have been an issue with an engine, but this would not be fatal in a twin engine plane. It seems far more likely that he stalled the wings (i.e., put the plane in an attitude where the wings were no longer creating lift) while making too steep a turn from downwind to base at a slow speed. We won't know for six months, but I suspect loss of control in low-level, slow maneuvering will be the cause. The press always focuses on engine failure, but that is not, generally, what causes fatal accidents.
KHTO is where I learned to fly and where I base my plane during the summer. Here she is on the ramp at East Hampton:
East Hampton Airport is a truly wonderful place to fly. The main runway is very long, but there is no control tower. All pilots talk on 122.7, the common traffic frequency. The terminal is small and friendly.
So, it pains me to think of that familiar view, turning base for Runway 28, suddenly rushing up at me with fatal fury.