A Tragedy For All Of Us

Jul
20

By now you have heard that an hour or two after last month’s chapter meeting, during our Open House event, two Chapter 40 members were lost in the crash of a Lancair just outside of the Newhall Pass. Ron Weiss and his old friend Tony Crippen were flying Ron’s new Lancair 360 on the way back from the Agua Dulce area, when the aircraft apparently lost power and crashed. Both of our dear friends were killed in- stantly.

This tragedy is a loss for all of us, and a loss on many different levels. Tony and Ron were good souls and good friends, aviation enthusiasts to the core. They represented a newer generation of EAA sup- porters, pilots and airplane builders. The future of EAA would have been in good hands with men like these. Tony had started a new career path as an aircraft mechanic, training in the A&P program at Van Nuys air- port. He was looking for a Kitfox or similar STOL kit project to buy.

Ron was an avid pilot of anything and everything that flew, from R/C models to a beautiful Bonanza he had just purchased in November. Ron was a unique combination of “the coolest guy in the room”, a dyed-in-the-wool airplane builder, a talented singer and songwriter, stylist to the stars, and a loyal genuine

friend to all he knew. Both will be missed, and Chapter 40 wishes to offer our condolences to Tiffany, Becky, and their families.

There has been a lot of specula- tion, conflicting witness testimony, and even some rampant “airport rumors” about this crash. All of us, including the author, were stunned by this tragedy and desperately grasped at straws to figure out what happened… and all of us at one time or another got wrapped up in the rumor mill. There is still more that is not known than what is known.

Tony Crippen

What is known and/or widely accepted at this point is that several witnesses reported the aircraft lost power, but the reasons not known at this stage. For reasons also not yet known, the aircraft departed con- trolled flight. The flight path and impact was far more vertical than horizontal. There was no post-crash fire but there was some amount of fuel on board. The exact amount is not known.

NTSB, FAA, engine manufacturer rep and a highly qualified airframe expert examined the wreckage of the aircraft Monday August 10. The aircraft was equipped with a computerized EFIS / MFD instrumenta- tion system that records several channels of flight data. The investigators are very optimistic that this data can be extracted by the NTSB lab to re-create a model of the flight. It is hoped that this model will be de- tailed enough to determine the causes of the crash.

Those of us in aviation have a moral obligation to distill something useful out of losses like this, but we have an equal obligation not to gossip or speculate wildly without hard facts in hand. Please honor the memory of Ron and Tony, and prevent any more needless harm to their families by keeping rumors and wild guesses under control.

Something good can come out of this tragedy… the Weiss family has taken the extraordinary step of establishing a foundation in Ron’s memory. This foundation has been established to make a significant dif- ference in aviation’s future, by making more pilots and making better pilots. Please visit www.ronweissfoundation.org to learn more, and please make a generous donation to support the Founda- tion’s goals and mission.


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