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 Duke's Airplane Crash of '89
Author: John 
Date:   2005-07-01 11:15:19

Cunningham is about as forthcoming today with information regarding his current troubles and investigations, as he was after his small airplane crash in 1989.

Although little known, this ace aviator ground looped and crashed a light, tail dragging airplane while trying to avoid an alleged "small animal" on the runway in Redding, CA.

Later, in response to an official, FAA letter requesting details of his accident, the Duke instead sent the FAA an autographed, 8x10 glossy picture of him and Tom Cruise!

Angered by that non-response, the FAA phoned Cunningham directly for the information. However, rather than talk about the details of his accident, the Duke-stir tried to impress the investigator with ramblings about, "Do you know who I am?" and how the "Top Gun" movie was about him, and that soon he would be a U.S. congressman.

Unfortunately, the alleged varmint that caused the Duke to crash his plane could not be reached for comment, so the investigation had to rely solely upon Duke's word.

Here are the links to the National Transportation Safety Board Brief and Report of Cunningham's accident:

http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=LAX89DVG05&rpt=fi
http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=LAX89DVG05&rpt=fa

 Re: Duke's Airplane Crash of '89
Author: Dan Anderson 
Date:   2005-07-01 21:47:11

Thanks!

Here's the information from the PDF files in text format, for easier viewing:

——————————————————————————————-
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594
Brief of Accident
Adopted 07/22/1992

LAX89DVG05 File No. 2283
04/08/1989 Aircraft Reg No. N611AA Time (Local): 08:28 PDT

Make/Model: MORSE / F85P-1
Engine Make/Model: AUTO AVIATION / F85-266
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Number of Engines: 1
Operating Certificate(s): None
Type of Flight Operation: Personal
Reg. Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation

Fatal Serious Minor/None
Crew: 0 Fatal, 0 Serious, 1 Minor/None
Pass: 0 Fatal, 0 Serious, 0 Minor/None
——————————————————————————————-
Last Depart. Point: Same as Accident/Incident Location
Destination: Local Flight
Airport Proximity: On Airport
Airport Name: REDDING MUNI
Runway Identification: 16
Runway Length/Width (Ft): 7003 / 150
Runway Surface: Asphalt
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Condition of Light: Day
Weather Info Src: Weather Observation Facility
Basic Weather: Visual Conditions
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 60.00 SM
Wind Dir/Speed: 310 / 012 Kts
Temperature (C): 23
Precip/Obscuration: None / None
——————————————————————————————-
Pilot-in-Command Age: 48
Certificate(s)/Rating(s)
Commercial; Military; Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land;
Instrument Ratings: Airplane
Flight Time (Hours)
Total All Aircraft: 6500
Last 90 Days: 42
Total Make/Model: UnK/Nr
Total Instrument Time: Unk/Nr
——————————————————————————————-
THE PILOT INTENTIONALLY SWERVED HIS AIRCRAFT AND LOST DIRECTIONAL CONTROL
DURING THE TAKEOFF GROUND ROLL TO AVOID A SMALL ANIMAL ON THE
RUNWAY. THE AIRCRAFT SUBSEQUENTLY GROUND LOOPED AND WAS SUBSTANTIALLY DAMAGED.
THERE WAS NO REPORTED MECHANICAL MALFUNCTIONS PRIOR TO THE ACCIDENT.
——————————————————————————————-

Occurrence #1: ABRUPT MANEUVER
Phase of Operation: TAKEOFF - ROLL/RUN
Findings
1. (C) OBJECT - ANIMAL(S)
2. (F) GROUND LOOP/SWERVE - INTENTIONAL - PILOT IN COMMAND
—————
Occurrence #2: LOSS OF CONTROL - ON GROUND/WATER
Phase of Operation: TAKEOFF - ROLL/RUN
Findings
3. (F) DIRECTIONAL CONTROL - NOT MAINTAINED - PILOT IN COMMAND

Findings Legend: (C) = Cause, (F) = Factor

——————————————————————————————-
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of
this accident as follows.
AN ANIMAL ON THE RUNWAY.
FACTORS WERE:
THE PILOT'S INTENTIONAL GROUND LOOP AND THE RESULTANT LOSS OF CONTROL.

——————————————————————————————-
http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=LAX89DVG05&rpt=fi

——————————————————————————————-
——————————————————————————————-


National Transportation Safety Board
FACTUAL REPORT AVIATION
NTSB ID: LAX89DVG05
Occurrence Date: 04/08/1989
Occurrence Type: Accident
Aircraft Information Summary: N611AA
Most Critical Injury: None
Investigated By: FAA
——————————————————————————————-
Location/Time
Nearest City/Place: REDDING
State: CA Zip Code 96001 Local Time 0828 Time Zone PDT
Airport Proximity: On Airport
Distance From Landing Facility: 0 Direction From Airport: 0
——————————————————————————————-
Sightseeing Flight: No Air Medical Transport Flight: No
Narrative

——————————————————————————————-
Landing Facility/Approach Information
Airport Name REDDING MUNI Airport ID: RDD Airport Elevation: 502 Ft MSL
Runway Used 16 Runway Length 7003 Runway Width 150
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Runway Surface Conditon: Dry
Type Instrument Approach: NONE
VFR Approach/Landing: None
——————————————————————————————-
Aircraft Information
Aircraft Manufacturer: MORSE Model/Series F85P-1 Serial Number 85001
Airworthiness Certificate(s): Experimental (Special)
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tailwheel
Homebuilt Aircraft? Yes Number of Seats: 2
Certified Max Gross Wt. 2000 LBS Number of Engines: 1
Engine Type: Reciprocating Engine Manufacturer: AUTO AVIATION
Model/Series: F85-266 Rated Power: 212 HP
- Aircraft Inspection Information
Type of Last Inspection: Annual Date of Last Inspection 06/1988
Time Since Last Inspection: 50 Hours Airframe Total Time 400 Hours
- Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) Information
ELT Installed? Yes ELT Operated? No ELT Aided in Locating Accident Site? No
——————————————————————————————-
Owner/Operator Information
Registered Aircraft Owner GEORGE MORSE
Street Address 3641 SOQUEL DR. City SOQUEL Sate CA Zip Code 95073
Operator of Aircraft Same as Reg'd Aircraft Owner
Street Address Same as Reg'd Aircraft Owner
- Type of U.S. Certificate(s) Held: None
Regulation Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation
Type of Flight Operation Conducted: Personal
——————————————————————————————-
First Pilot Information
Name: On File City: On File State: On File Date of Birth: On File Age: 48
Seat Occupied: Rear Principal Profession: Business
Certificate Number: On File
Certificate(s): Commercial; Military
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Instructor Rating(s): None
Type Rating/Endorsement for Accidnet/Incident Aircraft? No
Medical Cert.: Class 2
Medical Cert. Status: Valid Medical—w/ waivers/lim.
Date of Last Medical Exam: 01/1989
- Flight Time Matrix
Total Time:
6500 All A/C, 2000 Airplane Single Engine, 1000 Airplane Mult-Engine
Pilot In Command (PIC):
6200 All A/C, 1700 Airplane Single Engine, 950 Airplane Multi-Engine
Instructor
Last 90 Days: 42 All A/C, 36 Airplane Single Engine, 6 Airplane Mult-Engine
Last 30 Days: 22 All A/C, 22 Airplane Single Engine
Last 24 Hours: 4 All A/C, 4 Airplane Single Engine
Seatbelt Used? Yet, Shoulder Harness Used? Yes, Toxicology Performed? No
——————————————————————————————-
Flight Plan/Itinerary
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Same as Accident/Incident Location
Airport Identifier: RDD Departure Time 0828 Time Zone PDT
Destination: Local Flight
Type of Clearance: None
Type of Airspace: Class D
——————————————————————————————-
Weather Information
Source of Briefing: No record of briefing
WOF ID RDD Observation Time 0825 Time Zone PDT WOF Elevation 502 Ft. MSL
WOF Distance From Accident Site 0 NM
Direction From Accident Site 260 Deg. Mag.
Sky/Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 0 Ft. AGL Conditon of Light: Day
Lowest Ceiling: None 0 Ft. AGL Visibility 60 SM Altimeter 30.00 "Hg
Temperature: 23C Dewpoint: 7C Wind Direction: 310 Density Altitude: 500 Ft.
Wind Speed: 12 Gusts: Weather Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Visibility (RVR): 0 Ft. Visibility (RVV) 0 SM
Intensity of Precipitation: Unknown
Restrictions to Visibility: None
Type of Precipitation: None
——————————————————————————————-
Accident Information
Aircraft Damage: Substantial Aircraft Fire: None Aircraft Explosion: None
Classification: U.S. Registered/U.S. Soil
- Injury Summary matrix
First Pilot: None 1 TOTAL 1
- TOTAL ABOARD- None 1 TOTAL 1
- GRAND TOTAL- None 1 TOTAL 1
——————————————————————————————-
Administrative Information
Investigator-In-Charge (IIC):
JOHN L. HANCOCK
Additional Persons Participating in This Accident/Incident Investigation:
DIXIE NORTON
——————————————————————————————-
http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=LAX89DVG05&rpt=fa

 Re: Duke's Airplane Crash of '89
Author: Phil Karn 
Date:   2005-07-01 23:22:50

Nothing in these reports gives Duke's name (although the age matches, and the pilot history seems right), nor is there any narrative about Duke's conversation with the investigator. Where did you get this information, and where can I verify it? It sure sounds in character, but I still want confirmation.

 Re: Duke's Airplane Crash of '89
Author: John 
Date:   2005-07-02 10:07:33

Phil,

Names and other personal data in these reports are, "on file". However, I would think a name confirmation should be available with just a specific personal request to the NTSB and/or the FAA. If not, there's always the Freedom of Information Act request.

At the time of the investigation, I was meeting with the investigator concerning a separate matter. During the course of our conversations, the investigator learned that I knew Cunningham from the Navy. Given his difficulty in attaining information and Cunningham's very odd responses to the investigation, he shared with me his frustration and questioned me at length as to what I knew about Cunningham.

There is a little more to this story that I did not post, because it is speculation on my part. But what I did post, I know to be factual.

 Re: Duke's Airplane Crash of '89
Author: Phil Karn 
Date:   2005-07-02 14:32:52

Thank you. Based on that report I can't really hold Cunningham responsible for the accident itself. I don't know enough about piloting to know if his decision to swerve his plane to avoid the animal on the runway was justified, i.e., if it avoided an even worse accident, and the FAA report doesn't seem to comment on that. And it seems like anyone who flies that much is bound to have an accident eventually. So I'm inclined to cut him some slack on that.

But your report of Cunningham's behavior toward the FAA investigator is simply shocking. If true, it reveals much about the man's character, and makes me wonder how he could possibly have lasted in Congress so long. Anyone with such extraordinary hubris and arrogance should have tripped over himself long ago, unless of course he's fairly representative of Congress as a whole...

 Re: Duke's Airplane Crash of '89
Author: Paul 
Date:   2005-07-02 16:11:12

Hi John -

Ah, the Duke. We knew an"interesting" guy at Miramar didn't we? Appripriate callsign "Showtime."

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