FAA Begins Investigation

Into Buhl Plane Crash

May 24, 2012 2:15 am • By Alison Gene Smith alismith@magicvalley.com

BUHL • The investigation into the plane crash that injured one man at the Buhl Municipal Airport Tuesday could take from two days to two weeks to complete, depending on the Federal Aviation Administration workload, said Mike Fergus, the FAA’s regional spokesman.

“We’ve got sketchy information. It’s preliminary and is subject to change,” he said.

Dispatchers got the call about the crash at about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday. First responders arrived to find the plane upside down in a field near the landing strip at the Buhl airport with the pilot slumping out of the door.

The aircraft is an experimental or kit airplane called an Excalibur, Fergus said.

“I think it’s a bit of a misnomer,” Fergus said of the experimental plane category. “Experimentals are usually kit airplanes that are put together by the owner. Except for a lack of a better category they put in experimental.”

With a kit plane, the builder must complete 51 percent of the work and an airframe and propulsion FAA certified mechanic completes the rest, along with inspecting the plane and overseeing the work. Last, it must undergo a test for airworthiness by an FAA flight certifier.

The plane that crashed in Buhl is a 2010 model and was certified for airworthiness in that year, Fergus said. The type of kit the plane was built from was certified in 2008 by the FAA.

Fergus said the plane had a completed inspection, but he didn’t know if the plane was intended for flight.

Preliminary reports from the FAA said the plane crashed after taxiing, but multiple witnesses reported seeing the plane tilt back and forth in the air before crashing.

“Our investigators will interview witnesses to determine what happened,” Fergus said.

Fergus described the pilot’s injuries as “serious” but said the FAA does not release crash victim’s names.

Fergus said the plane’s tail number has been used multiple times in the past. The FAA’s website had not been updated with the latest owner information.

Michelle Jones, a nurse who responded to the crash, said the man had a head wound among other injuries. The man was taken to a Boise hospital by Air St. Luke’s. Fergus did not know what hospital.

The Buhl Fire Department, Buhl Police Department, Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office, Air St. Luke’s and local paramedics all responded to the crash; dispatchers received the call at about 4:20 p.m.

Buhl Police Chief Eric Foster was not available for comment Tuesday.

© Copyright 2012, Magicvalley.com

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