Charles O’Rourke

Suicide by airplane

I’ve long had a morbid curiosity about plane crashes and I love reading NTSB reports. Most small plane crashes are caused by your run-of-the-mill pilot error, but I get an especially creepy feeling reading about the pilots who have committed “suicide by airplane,” intentionally flying a perfectly good aircraft into the ground in order to kill themselves.

Here are the NTSB reports on “suicide by airplane” from the past twenty years that I’ve been able to find:

August 26, 2007 — Center Hill, Florida

Daren Ramphal, a 25-year-old commercial pilot, flew his employer’s Cessna P206 (N904DZ) into the ground at a high rate of speed. Immediately before the flight, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department had received a call from a person claiming that Ramphal had threatened suicide by crashing his airplane. Ramphal’s girlfriend told police that Ramphal was depressed over their break-up and that he had been drinking beer and taking medication. (Sources: NTSB, News4Jax)

March 5, 2007 — Bedford, Indiana

Eric Johnson, a 47-year-old student pilot, crashed a Cessna 150M (N66513) into the home of his mother-in-law, Vivian Pace. Also on board was his 8-year-old daughter, Emily Johnson. Pace was home but uninjured. Emily’s parents had divorced the previous November and a custody dispute was still ongoing. Emily spent the previous week with her father and was reported missing when he didn’t bring her to school on Monday. Johnson called his ex-wife, Beth, from the plane, called her a whore, and told her, “I’ve got her, and you’re not going to get her.” The aircraft was destroyed when it impacted the house, killing its two occupants. Police Sergeant Dave Bursten commented, “It is just gut-wrenching to think about what was happening for that child just prior to the crash.” Beth later unsuccessfully sued the airport, the aircraft’s owners, Eric’s flight instructor, and the county aviation board for damages. (Sources: NTSB, WTHR, MSNBC.com, Indiana Court of Appeals)

February 6, 2006 — Helena, Montana

Patrick Pfeifhofer, of Italy, intentionally crashed a Robinson R-44 helicopter (N7085U) into a Helena hayfield after getting into a fight with his girlfriend at a Super Bowl party on his 21st birthday. After leaving the party, he went to the Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Montana, where he worked as a flight instructor. He moved several newer helicopters out of the way so that he could take the oldest one and took off between 10:30 and 11:30 in the evening. During his flight, he told an air traffic controller that he “loved the United States of America” and that he “didn’t want to harm anyone.” He crashed the helicopter into a hayfield, destroying the helicopter (which was consumed in a post-crash fire) and causing himself fatal blunt-force injuries. Investigators later found a suicide note from the pilot. (Sources: NTSB, HelenaIR.com)

September 16, 2003 — Stone Mountain, Georgia

Philip D. Rogers, a 69-year-old accountant and commercial pilot, crashed his Beechcraft Bonanza (N1980K) into the south side of Stone Mountain. His secretary and others who saw him that day reported nothing unusual in his behavior, but a friend of the pilot’s reported that several years before he had threatened more than once to commit suicide by flying into Stone Mountain, and had once even taxied drunk to the end of the runway with the intention of flying into the mountain but chickened out before takeoff. The NTSB reported the plane as “substantially damaged” rather than “destroyed,” but that seems odd when compared to the description of the wreckage. The wreckage covered a horizontal distance of 980 feet, a vertical distance of 392 feet, the rudder was separated, the engine was separated, and impact forces and post-impact fire had damaged everything else. From what I can tell, the NTSB definition of “destroyed” is damage due to impact, fire, or in-flight failures to an extent not economically repairable. Considering how N1980K has been deregistered by the FAA, I assume that means that nobody found it economically repairable. (Source: NTSB)

July 21, 2003 — Jackson, Minnesota

Douglas Lee Scholl, a 45-year-old private pilot with a history of depression, attempted suicide with sleeping pills on July 18, 2003, and was admitted to a regional medical center. After cooperating with the treatment, he was released on July 20, and returned home. He left the house early in the morning on the 21st, went to Jackson Municipal Airport, and crashed his Piper Cherokee (N33774), which he co-owned with three other individuals, into the ground near the airport. Witnesses reported the plane flying normally and then all of the sudden turning “to the left and straight down to the ground.” Despite having psychiatric hospitalizations beginning in 1991 and being on Prozac since 1993, he reported on his various FAA medical certificate applications that he was not taking any medications and had never had any type of mental disorder. (Source: NTSB)

February 25, 2003 — Osteen, Florida

Ralph J. Soignet, Jr., a 27-year-old commercial helicopter pilot and private aircraft pilot, rented a Cessna 172P (N97890) from Avion Air Academy, at the Orlando-Sanford International Airport, and then apparently intentionally flew into trees and terrain near Osteen, Florida, on property owned by the Miami Corporation. The pilot didn’t exhibit any unusual behavior to the dispatcher at the flight school, and the NTSB report doesn’t provide any details as to why the probable cause is listed as suicide, other than to say that the manner of death was listed as “suicide” by the local Medical Examiner’s office. The pilot’s body tested negative for drugs and carbon monoxide after the crash. I searched the interwebs for any bit of information on why this was judged a suicide (I assume there must have been a note, or witness statements on the pilot’s state of mind, or something), but I wasn’t able to find anything. (Sources: NTSB, Daytona Beach News-Journal)

November 17, 2002 — Houston, Texas

This one is different from most of the suicide-by-airplane stories (in that the airplane survives), and has to be one of the all-time flight-instructor stories-from-hell. Russell Edward Filler, a private pilot and 47-year-old engineer for a NASA space station contractor, requested flight instruction to “see how his ears would feel at altitude” after having had an ear operation. He had the flight instructor, Benito Munoz, perform a 45-degree steep left turn at 9,000 feet. Filler then set the radio to 121.5 MHz (the emergency frequency), opened up his door and jumped out of the plane. The flight instructor landed safely back at David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport. Filler had left a suicide note in his car, and his friends and co-workers informed the NTSB that he had been receiving treatment for depression and had stated an intent to take his own life using an aircraft. He had become convinced that he was about to be laid off from his aerospace job, and three days before his suicide he had been contacted by federal investigators and told he was going to be arrested for theft of a NASA-owned laptop computer. His body was found two days later in a field in Waller County, northwest of Houston. (Sources: NTSB, New York Times, Houston Chronicle)

August 12, 2002 — Ithaca, Nebraska

Dennis Salisbury, a 43-year-old private pilot, arrived at Lincoln Municipal Airport early in the morning and rented a Cessna 152 (N49998). Instead of pre-flighting the aircraft, the pilot sat inside the aircraft for half an hour before taxiing to the runway. The pilot made contact with the airport tower and with Lincoln Departure, and after being told that radar service was terminated, made some maneuvering turns and then crashed into a corn field near Ithaca. Salisbury was scheduled to appear in court later in the week on the charge of first-degree sexual assault of an eleven-year-old girl. His ex-wives called him “a very bad man,” and speculated that he might kill himself rather than go to prison. (Sources: NTSB, Lincoln Journal Star)

June 6, 2002 — Briggsdale, Colorado

Russell Wright, a 46-year-old private pilot, insurance agent, and minister in Greeley, Colorado, departed the Greeley-Weld County Airport in his Beech M35 (N9775R) on the evening of June 6, and flew for about 25 minutes before crashing into flat, cactus-covered terrain. He had recently been arrested and indicted for felony theft, and had sent e-mails to members of his church congregation that day tendering his resignation as their minister and apologizing for the “shame and reproach” he had brought on the church. (Source: NTSB)

June 3-4, 2002 — Tampa-area, Florida

Michael Antinori, a 30-year-old private pilot, apparently made two attempts to kill himself with aircraft within 12 hours. On the evening of June 3rd, he flew his homebuilt Rotorway International Exec 162F helicopter (N268MA) into the roof of a house while under the influence of alcohol and prescription anti-depression drugs. None of the occupants of the house were injured. The helicopter was marked with the call sign “N69YY,” but a review of FAA records revealed that it was actually N268MA. The pilot had made a flight in the helicopter earlier that day, and his passenger had smelled vodka on the pilot’s breath. Six hours after being released from the hospital after the helicopter accident and having spent at least part of the night watching television, Antinori taxied his Cessna 172S (N942SP) to the runway at Vandenberg Airport and took off. He then spent the next hour violating Tampa’s Class B airspace and making various orbiting maneuvers. A police helicopter attempted to intercept Antinori, but he ignored the helicopter and continued his maneuvers. Witnesses then observed the aircraft in an 80-degree nose-down attitude before it collided with trees and impacted the ground, finally killing Antinori. The medical examiner listed the pilot’s cause of death as “blunt impact,” and the manner of death as “undetermined.” The NTSB found that the probable cause of the crash was “the suicidal act by the pilot,” with the pilot’s depression and use of alcohol and various medications listed as contributing factors. (Sources: NTSB report on helicopter crash, NTSB report on airplane crash, St. Petersburg Times)

January 5, 2002 — Boulder, Colorado

Charles Kenneth Richards, a 54-year-old commercial pilot from Lyons, Colorado, departed Vance Brand Airport in his Cessna 172K (N78035) at about 3:30 in the afternoon. He flew over his house (where his wife heard his airplane overhead), and continued to fly around for about half an hour. Then he began squawking 7700 (a transponder code indicating an onboard emergency), and several witnesses reported seeing the plane flying straight and level, very low, right into the side of Dakota Ridge. Anti-depression medication was found in his bloodstream during an autopsy, and his wife and his psychotherapist reported that he was being treated for severe depression. His aviation mechanic described the pilot as a “loner for the last 5 or 10 years.” (Sources: NTSB, Rocky Mountain News)

January 5, 2002 — Tampa, Florida

Charles John Bishop was a 15-year-old student pilot who had been taking flight lessons for two years but had not yet soloed. On the day of the crash, his flight instructor told him to pre-flight the Cessna 172R (N2371N) and that he’d meet him outside shortly. Instead, Bishop started up the plane, taxied to the active runway, and took off from the controlled field without ATC authorization. The air traffic controllers notified the Coast Guard. Meanwhile, Bishop flew to McDill Air Force Base and began buzzing the tower and hangars. He then headed to Tampa, and was intercepted by a Coast Guard helicopter en route. Bishop ignored their gestures to land and proceeded to crash into the side of the Bank of America building. He had a suicide note in his pocket expressing his support for Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. His mother later sued the makers of acne medication Accutane (the infamous teratogen), claiming it caused Bishop’s severe psychiatric break, but gave up the lawsuit in 2007 saying that she was physically and emotionally unable to pursue the claim. The story made national news, coming only four months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Sources: NTSB, ABC Money)

January 4, 2002 — Petaluma, California

Steven Greenberg, a 40-year-old landlord and apartment manager, was a student pilot preparing for his private pilot examination. After flying solo in a Piper Warrior on the afternoon of the crash, he went home and discovered that a search warrant had been executed on his home in connection with an accusation that he had been molesting an 8-year-old girl who lived in one of his apartment buildings. He went back to the flight school, stole a Cessna 152 (N24223) that he had never flown before, and without pre-flighting or run-up checks, took off on an unauthorized night solo flight. Very shortly after takeoff, he crashed into mountainous terrain near the Petaluma Municipal Airport. The abuse victim was later awarded $8.4 million from Greenberg’s estate. (Sources: NTSB, The Marin Lawyer, TotalInjury.com)

September 16, 2001 — Tucson, Arizona

James Kenneth Waddill, a 64-year-old retired diesel engine mechanic, crashed his Cessna 172L (N4312Q) into the garage of a residence in Tucson, destroying the garage and airplane in a post-impact fire. At the time, VFR flights were forbidden in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Tucson air traffic controllers detected the plane on radar, tried unsuccessfully to make radio contact, and an Air National Guard helicopter was scrambled to check on the plane. Waddill’s wife claimed that she and her husband didn’t watch much television and weren’t aware of the flight restrictions. She also said that the airplane had not been flown in five years, and that Waddill had never flown it. During the crash investigation, it was revealed that the pilot was having some personal problems and had threatened suicide in the past. The Pima County Sheriff’s department couldn’t conclude, however, that Waddill intended suicide, and listed the cause of death as accidental. (Sources: NTSB, Tucson Citizen)

August 25, 2001 — Amherst, New Hampshire

Louis W. Joy III, a 43-year-old business consultant and author of “Frontline Teamwork: One Company’s Story of Success,” crashed his company-owned aircraft, a Socata TB-20 (N470SP), into his family’s residence in Amherst about 15 minutes after takeoff from Boire Field in Nashua, New Hampshire. He had been served less than 12 hours earlier with a restraining order sought by his wife, accusing him of domestic violence. His wife and daughter weren’t home at the time, and the custom-built $750,000 house was completely destroyed in the ensuing post-crash fire. Neighbors who had lived near the Joys in their previous home in Delaware described him as “eccentric and a recluse” who had nailed all of the windows in his house shut. (Sources: NTSB, Washington Post)

December 14, 2000 — Sacramento, California

Elizabeth Mathild Otto, a 31-year-old purchasing agent for Hewlett-Packard, was a regular passenger on a corporate shuttle (N252SA) that Hewlett-Packard operated to transport its employees between its Silicon Valley headquarters and its Roseville, California campus. On this flight to San Jose, Otto opened an emergency exit door at 2,000 feet and jumped out, despite an attempt by another passenger to pull her back into the airplane. The co-pilot came back to close the door, but the other passengers didn’t let the pilots know that a passenger had left the airplane until they had landed at San Jose. Residents in a neighborhood south of Sacramento later discovered Otto’s body in a vegetable garden near an elementary school. Investigators found brochures on dealing with stress in Otto’s luggage, and she was scheduled to see a counselor later that week. (Sources: NTSB, CNN, Berkeley Daily Planet)

October 2, 2000 — Rapid City, South Dakota

Robert Thomsen, a 22-year-old flight instructor for the University of North Dakota, intentionally crashed a school-owned Piper Seminole (N294ND) into the runway at Rapid City Regional Airport after being charged the previous day with his second DUI offense. Probably correctly assuming that his aviation career was over, he took an airplane up, did several touch-and-go landings at Rapid City, then gave the tower controller a phone number, asked the controller to tell Thomsen’s family and friends that he loved them, suggested that it would be a good idea to scramble rescue and fire trucks, and then stalled the airplane and crashed on the runway. The NTSB report contains a full transcript of the spooky last conversation with the air traffic controller. (Sources: NTSB, Grand Folks Herald)

July 3, 2000 — Whittier, Alaska

Keith E. Kirsch, a 40-year-old private pilot, rented a Cessna 172S (N862SP) from Take Flight Alaska on the evening of July 3rd. He took off from Merrill Field Airport in Anchorage, and spent the next two hours buzzing boats before making a distress call and crashing into the ocean near Point Pigot. The Coast Guard recovered his floating body, and the aircraft was recovered five years later by a fishing vessel. Kirsch had multiple DUIs and had committed felony arson in 1990 when he firebombed a restaurant. At the time of the crash, he was a suspect in another arson, and a warrant was out for his arrest. A friend who drove him to the airport observed that Kirsch appeared to be on drugs, and his blood tested positive for alcohol and cocaine. (Sources: NTSB, Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Daily News)

March 16, 1999 — Prescott, Arizona

This isn’t a suicide by airplane, but it’s a suicide-related-to-airplane story and very sad. A 24-year-old flight instructor with aspirations of being an airline pilot made a hard landing at Ernest A. Love Field, in Prescott, Arizona, lost control of the Piper Seminole (N106BM) and ended up in a drainage ditch, substantially damaging the aircraft. Neither he nor his wife, a passenger, were injured. However, figuring that his dreams of being an airline pilot were also substantially damaged, he went home and committed suicide after leaving a note for the NTSB to assist them with their determination of probable cause: “NTSB, lack of crosswind correction, tailwind, hydroplaning, failure to timely go around.” (Source: NTSB)

October 11, 1998 — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Laurence Martin, a 41-year-old fifth-grade schoolteacher, rented a Cessna 172M (N172JF) at Wiley Post Airport on the morning of October 11th. He taxied towards the runway so quickly that the rental operator, worried that Martin could be drunk, called the tower to request that Martin return to the FBO. Martin had already taken off, however, and within ten minutes had crashed next to a church on MacArthur Boulevard. Inside the church was his girlfriend, Cindy Coursey, who according to the NTSB had rejected Martin’s proposal for marriage the night before the crash. (Coursey refused to be interviewed by the NTSB, reportedly because other pilots had told her that the agency “twists the truth.”) Martin’s autopsy revealed traces of Valium in his body. Martin was a former U.S. Army recruiter who had survived the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, leaving his right arm scarred. His testimony helped to convict Timothy McVeigh of the bombings. (Sources: NTSB, Topeka Capital-Journal, Daily Oklahoman)

September 6, 1998 — Daytona Beach, Florida

Michael Nawrocki, a 26-year-old Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University flight instructor, scaled a fence at Embry-Riddle and stole a Piper Seminole (N922ER). He took off, flew over the beach, and then requested an ILS approach back to the airport. He flew the approach at a higher-than-normal altitude, and when that was pointed out by the controller, Nawrocki radioed back, “this will be my final landing.” He then descended rapidly into the runway with his engines at full power. Earlier that evening, his friends had taken him home from a bar because he was drunk, and he had left a six-page suicide note in his room in which he wrote that he “was stupid and was tired of being sick and fat” and “I do not want to live.” His autopsy revealed alcohol in his bloodstream. (Sources: NTSB, Daytona Beach News-Journal)

November 24, 1997 — La Jolla, California

Howard Mitchell, a 67-year-old commercial pilot and retired naval aviator, took off from Montgomery Field in a Cessna 172N (N6463D) at around 1:30 p.m. on November 24. He circled Mount Soledad once, performed some aerobatic maneuvers, and then nosed over in a steep dive and crashed into the Pacific Ocean about one mile from the coastline. After the aircraft had already departed, the pilot’s girlfriend called the aircraft operator and expressed concern that the pilot may be suicidal. He was reportedly depressed about the recent death of his mother and his own deteriorating health, including coronary artery disease and a heart attack, which could cause him to lose his FAA medical certificate. Additionally, there was speculation that he may have killed himself so that a paralyzed friend could collect on a life insurance policy. Mitchell had taught his long-time friend, Tim Hall, how to hang glide, and felt responsible for the hang-gliding accident that cost Hall the use of his legs. However, the life insurance payout was denied because the policy contained a clause that nullified the policy if the decedent was piloting a plane at the time of death. (Source: NTSB, San Diego Union-Tribune)

May 2, 1997 — New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Lester Houston May, a 61-year-old retired professional airline pilot, flew his Bellanca 8KCAB (N5057F) from Spruce Creek Airport in Daytona Beach, Florida, southeast to New Smyrna Beach, where he crashed into an open field half an hour after takeoff. Witnesses saw the aircraft fly low over the trees, roll into an inverted orientation, and then descend vertically to the ground. On the day of the crash, the pilot had torn up IOU notes from employees who owed him money, and left a note to his son that said, “Thanks for the wonderful memories … I’ll wait for you on the other side. Dad.” The pilot’s son and daughter-in-law reportedly told employees not to talk to investigators about the crash. The medical examiner’s office listed the manner of death as suicide, but the NTSB reported the probable cause as “an in-flight loss of control for undetermined reasons.” (Source: NTSB)

December 29, 1995 — Pymatuning, Pennsylvania

In a bizarre set of tragedies, Daniel Patrick Rivers, a 38-year-old computer trouble-shooter and private pilot from Norton, Ohio, flew a Cessna 182E (N3290Y) into the frozen Shenango River Lake, plunging through the ice and killing himself. Rivers had climbed past 21,000 feet, and then reported to air traffic control that he was out of fuel. The controller tried directing Rivers to an airport 5 miles north of the aircraft’s position, but the pilot responded, “Yeah, I prefer water.” He continued to talk to the controller for another 20 minutes, saying things like “As you may have guessed, I have not had a good day” and “You don’t understand, I’m going swimming tonight.” The investigation revealed that Rivers was wanted for a hit-and-run car accident in which he ran over pedestrian Perry Lemley. The hit-and-run investigation, however, indicated that it wasn’t the car impact that killed Lemley; it was the fact that Rivers left him to suffocate in a snowbank on the side of the road. The Erie Times-News reported that Rivers was under the influence of alcohol when he made his fatal dive into the frozen lake. (Sources: NTSB, Erie Times-News, Dayton Daily News)

December 4, 1995 — Seville, Ohio

December 1995 apparently wasn’t a good month for pilots from Norton, Ohio. David L. Burley, a 32-year-old Norton man and private pilot, crashed a Cessna 150K (N5900G) into a field at noontime on December 4. He and his wife had been experiencing marital difficulties, and the police had arrived at Burley’s residence the evening before and taken his wife and son to her parents’ house. He called her on the morning of the crash, and said “Thanks for not letting me say goodbye to my son … You’ve destroyed everything I’ve ever worked for.” He then had the titles to his vehicles notarized and left them on a table for his wife. The pilot’s wife and sister reported that he had had an abusive childhood and had talked about suicide on many occasions. (Sources: NTSB, Akron Beacon Journal)

November 21, 1995 — Provo, Utah

Adam Oliphant, a 20-year-old private pilot from Orem, Utah, crashed a Cessna 152 (N6392Q) into the side of a mountain near Provo, Utah. Just before he rented the plane, he had been convicted of a third-degree felony for running a pyramid scheme. Witnesses observed that the aircraft made no attempt to evade the hills, and struck the mountain at full speed before exploding into flames. Before the verdict, the pilot had told people close to him that he felt he was going to incur prison time as a result of this being a second offense. (Sources: NTSB, Salt Lake Tribune)

December 3, 1994 — Miami, Florida

Christine Marie Pascale, a 26-year-old private pilot, hired another pilot to fly her over the Miami area for the purpose of taking aerial photographs. When the pilot, Hodelin F. Rene, had reached the area she had said she wanted to photograph, Pascale opened the door, made eye contact with the pilot, and jumped out of the Cessna 172D (N707PP). The subsequent investigation revealed that she had had her private pilot certificate revoked by the FAA in 1991 as a consequence of her lying about many disqualifying medical conditions. She spent the next several years loitering at airports and making a nuisance of herself. The week before her jump, she went flying with another pilot in Homestead, Florida, and attempted to jump from the plane. The pilot landed and called the police. On December 3rd, Pascale tried again and this time she succeeded. Her body was never located but she was presumed fatally injured. (Sources: NSTB, Miami Herald)

October 16, 1994 — Winfield, Illinois

Matthew B. Swanson, a 20-year-old private instrument-rated pilot and college student, spent the Friday before the accident buzzing college buildings at Illinois State University with friends. After police investigated the dangerous behavior and threatened to turn over the investigation to the FAA, Swanson crashed the Piper Warrior (N9089U) into a corn field. Before crashing, he told air traffic controllers that he was “going down,” and witnesses observed the plane pitching down at a 45-degree angle with the engines at high power. Before the final flight, he had been acting oddly, putting on dress clothes and his class ring, and cleaning out his wallet. He then shook each of his friends’ hands before leaving and told them to have a great weekend. The investigating sheriffs concluded that “this incident was not accidental but probably suicidal in nature.” (Sources: NTSB, The Pantagraph)

March 23, 1994 — Chesterfield, Missouri

Robert L. Schwartz, also known as Bob Richards, a private pilot and local television meteorologist, flew his Piper Cherokee (N3365R) into terrain shortly after takeoff from the Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, Missouri. He had been having a very public and embarrassing affair and break-up with a local woman, culminating in a restraining order against him. Before the crash, Schwartz had attempted suicide by sitting in his closed garage with the engine running, and went up in his aircraft looking for a hill to crash into, but changed his mind and landed. He told friends that he had left a suicide note for his wife during those two attempts, but he didn’t leave a note before his fatal crash. (Source: NTSB)

January 18, 1994 — Borrego Springs, California

Jesse Vincent Gutierrez, a 24-year-old Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot assigned to Miramar Naval Air Station, transmitted a distress call and then abandoned the Piper Cherokee (N56811) he was flying, which crashed unattended into a power transmission pole. He jumped without a parachute and landed about a mile away from the eventual crash site in an old vineyard, although his body wasn’t located until December 21st—eleven months later—and by then it had been ravaged by animals. His wife had told him that she was leaving him to “sort things out,” and he made several distraught telephone calls before his fatal flight threatening to commit suicide. (Sources: NTSB, San Diego Union-Tribune)

November 22, 1993 — Mountain Home, Idaho

Phillip G. Aslett, a 45-year-old private, instrument-rated pilot, crashed his Piper Malibu (N84PM) into terrain in the middle of the night during an uncontrolled descent. He spoke with air traffic controllers several times before impact. Aslett had been arrested three days before the flight and charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor. The married father of four was accused of sexually molesting a seventeen-year-old boy at least thirty times over the previous three to four years. He expressed distress to several friends on the day before the accident, threatening suicide and saying he didn’t want to go to jail. He said that his death “wouldn’t look like a suicide.” He spent the evening drinking beer and attempting to call his alleged victim. Finally, he flew out of Twin Falls Airport at about 10:30 p.m. and proceeded on his final flight. (Source: NTSB)

June 29, 1993 — Gambell, Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska

A female passenger on a Piper Chieftain operating as Bering Air Flight 4660 (N4112D) deplaned upon arrival at Gambell, and then intentionally thrust her buttocks into the arc of the moving propeller. The propeller struck the woman’s bottom and legs several times before sending her flying. As she received first aid, she exclaimed, “God told me to do this, I will not die!” She admitted during treatment that she had attempted suicide by walking into the propeller, and she tested negative for alcohol and drugs. The NTSB listed “the person’s psychological condition” as a factor in the accident. (Source: NTSB)