NTSB Launches Investigation into Arizona Midair Collision

Two single-engine airplanes collided during an aerial demonstration over Falcon Field in Mesa on March 17.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating what led to a midair collision between two single-engine airplanes over Falcon Field (KFFZ) in Mesa, Arizona, on Friday, March 17. 

No one was killed in the accident involving a 1987 Yakovlev Yak-52 and a 1950 Ryan Navion. 

There was one person aboard the Navion and two onboard the Yak, according to the FAA.

What Happened?

Both the Yak-52 and Ryan Navion were participating in an aerial demonstration involving a four-ship formation at Falcon Field when the incident occurred around 12:45 p.m., the FAA said.

“It is our understanding that the two airplanes made contact while they were still in the air,” stated Marissa Ramirez-Ramos, the public information officer for Mesa Fire and Medical Department. Both airplanes declared an emergency. “The first airplane landed normally, the second airplane had trouble,” she said.

Video shown on a local television station shows the Navion on the runway and its fuselage severed about two-thirds of the way through from behind the cockpit. The Yak suffered wingtip and propeller damage. According to the local news report, the occupant of the Navion had slight injuries. The other two aircraft in the formation were reportedly Nanchang CJ-6s.

The Yak-52 (N2504U) is registered to TTD LLC out of Gilbert, Arizona. The Ryan Navion (N610) is registered to Richard Stich of Mesa.

About the Airport

Falcon Field traces its operation back to 1941 when it was built to train pilots for the military. At one point, the airport had a contingent of airmen from the British Royal Air Force. In 1948, the federal government deeded the airport to the City of Mesa, which still owns it today. The airport sits on 784 acres and has a part-time control tower.

Falcon Field is designated as a general aviation reliever airport for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (KPHX) and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (KIWA).

The airport has parallel runways: Runway 4R/22L measuring 5,100 feet by 100 feet and 4L/22R measuring 3,799 feet by 75 feet. According to Airnav.com, there are 638 aircraft based at the field, and it averages 860 operations per day.

The NTSB is expected to release a preliminary report on the accident within two weeks.


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