Skip to comments.Jefferson County [MO] father, son killed in plane crash
Posted on 09/25/2018 2:00:54 AM PDT by iowamark
FESTUS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- An airline pilot and his son were killed Thursday night when their small plane crashed near the Festus Memorial Airport after a mechanical failure.
Police said Michael Metzger, 56, of Hillsboro, Missouri and his 20-year-old son Jacob, who lived in Iowa City, Iowa, were killed in the crash.
Festus Memorial Airport Vice President Mike Bippen told News 4 the pilot was very experienced. "With him being an American Airlines pilot, I mean he's probably got more hours than all of us put together," said Bippen.
According to the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department, the Metzger's were returning with a Cessna 150 they had purchased in New York which the son planned to use as he pursued a pilots license. At some point in the flight, the plane lost all electrical power.
"If he had lost his whole electrical system he wouldn't be able to see inside the cockpit at night. He wouldn't be able to see what his airspeed is, his elevation, you know the heading, said Bippen.
Like most small airports, Festus Memorial Airport isnt staffed 24-hours a day and the lights are turned off at night. Pilots can remotely turn them on by clicking the microphone of their radio six times. But the pilot of the Cessna couldnt do that because of the mechanical problems.
"He texted his fiancé to respond out here to assist in either getting the lights on for the runway or to use a flashlight to indicate the end of the runway, said Corporal John Kozel with the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department.
Kozel said the fiancé went to the airport but couldnt get the lights on, so she stood at the end of the runway with a flashlight. He said the plane attempted to land but was offline, then crashed as it tried to circle back around for a second attempt.
The plane went down around 10:30 p.m. in a heavily wooded area. During the night, a search was suspended because of the weather but the plane was discovered Friday morning around 7:40 a.m. by a helicopter from Mercy Hospital, which was aiding in the search. "It's just sad, tragic deal for a nice person and his son to pass this way," said Bippen.
Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration arrived Friday morning and an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive Friday night or Saturday morning.
I think it was the runway lights that were out.
I bet he had a bad case of get-there-itis.
Damn, night, single engine, new to them airplane, did they have a flashlight, a handheld radio charged up, things you wouldn’t fly at night without in that aircraft. was it really that important to fly back at night?
No one should want to second guess the reasons, but in light of what happened, and for those still around and flying use this flight as a lesson in flight planning related to your next night flight.
I believe the two pilots in question would say the same thing, learn from our experience. Way too many General Aviation accidents that could be avoided. These two or at least dad had a wealth of experience but somewhere in the planning stage all the bases were not covered.
I’ll accept the punishment if I have read too much into this one. God bless and comfort those left to mourn their passing.
Also bad luck had it that he lost all electrical on board the aircraft and couldn't read his flight intruments. Normally he could have keyed his mic six times to turn on the runway lights, but he only had a cell phone since the electrical was out.
He asked his girlfriend to hold a flashlight at the end of the runway. Maybe she should have used her car lights on the runway too, or parked the car at the end of the runway. Lots of woulda, coulda, should'ves here.
Maybe I am missing something but why would you drive to the dark airport, go in your glove compartment or trunk, retrieve a flashlight and go to the end of the runway turn on the flashlight and wave it back and forth? Do I have that correct?
Why not drive to the end of the runway and flip between the car high beam lights and standard beams? I must be missing something...
Prayers for the family...
Did this electrical problem come out of nowhere or did the seller know about it? Based on what I’ve seen of people selling used cars, I’d bet yes on the latter.
We were in a brand new Grumman right from the factory when they were making them in Ohio and the starting button stuck in. It killed our battery etc but we had landed when we discovered it. Gremlins show up when they want to.
Why not use the cell to call inflight emergency and head to a larger airport? He obviously knew enough about where he was to let someone radar guide him in.
Or just land it on that road that they say to look for if you have to make an emergency landing.
Don't most of the instruments require electricity to function?
Wow, I can only imagine the feelings of the fiancé, especially when the search had to be called off until morning...
One thing tho’ and I’ll admit to ignorance about this: Over the years I’ve had occasion to go by a small strip about 40 miles from us, at all hours, sometimes a couple times a year and sometimes several times a year. I can remember when it was only a small building and a grass strip mainly for the cropdusters. At any rate, I can remember marker lights at night @ the ends of the runway for, goodness, maybe 30 years - ever since they put in a concrete strip, and at least 15 years ago they put in lights along the length of the runway. Said lights have always been on, every time I go by in non-daylight hours, or in low-visibility weather.
My question is, is this having the runway lights off until a flight nears, to be turned on by radio signal from the plane, something relatively new, to save on electricity (and light bulbs?)
Secondarily, you’d think that in 2018 someone would have the foresight to have “backup” both in the plane and also on the ground — the latter being ability of the pilot to call or text 911 and have LEO briefly trained in the matter turn the dang lights on.
I first ran across in some 35 years ago at a small, rural airport. Key the marked frequency on the mic, and the lights came on to land. What the drug smuggler didn't know was that it also triggered a signal at the sheriff's office, and the drug plane was met by the cops.
One thing required for the night flight was a flashlight, hard to understand why an experienced pilot did not have one with him?
After getting my license 6 years ago have not made another night flight since.
A daytime electrical failure is not close to being as dangerous as a nighttime failure!
This is common for small airports. Pilot keys in airport frequency on radio, clicks mic to turn on lights. 3 clicks lights come on dim, 5 clicks medium, 7 clicks bright.
Nope....airspeed, altitude and trend, compass require no power....
Would his instrumentation even work? Did he lose all power? There’s an ambiguity in “If he lost all power...” Do we know? Did he tell the girlfriend? Even sophisticated fighter jets have a whiskey compass on board. Could the girlfriend have done anything with the car headlights. Apparently no other aircraft were around....with a radio that could turn on the lights.
25 miles to the nearest towered airport.
Cell phone could contact the tower.
15 minutes away in a Cessna 150.
Noted & thanks. I guess that little airport I go by may be an exception. Possibly it has something to do with the runway paralleling the well traveled state highway only a couple hundred yards away. Plus the lights make a great “billboard”, and this little airport HAS grown over the years (2 hangars maybe 100 ft. long, and 2 much smaller buildings, @ present.)
At any rate, it boggles my mind that some sort of backup system / procedure is not in place should the radio or power to it fail.
Gremlins for sure. In fact I think that very term is an aviation evolved term. I made the remark in consideration of the fact that every single person who sold me a used car, including dealers lied egregiously to my face. Every single one. It wouldn’t surprise me that some bastard would do it with a plane.
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