Analysis of a crash BAC 167 Kingston NY UPDATE 3/1/11

UPDATED  March 1, 2011

The article posted below was posted the day of the accident.    More information has been discovered:

According to an article in the local paper, the plane was seen to be rapidly rising, then taking a nose dive into the river.    This suggests the pilot attempted an emergency climb, but the aircraft reached its stall angle for that speed, and then dived.

The pilot was not attempting to land the plane at Kingston airport since that field is not long enough for a jet.   That means flaps and gear were not down, unless he had activated them much in advance of the approach to Columbia County airport, 20 miles away.     He was heading toward that field near Hudson, NY that easily accommodates small jets.

The newspaper article said that the pilot was a friend of the owner, who had trained with him to fly this particular plane, but did not have the extensive aerobatic experience of the owner.     A jet like this can be tricky to handle in icy conditions, and drops quickly during a stall.

Since he had made a pass over the field on his way north, he must have been at a relatively low altitude.    Generally if an aircraft stalls, a pilot can recover if he has sufficient altitude.  A plane like this might need 2,000 feet to recover from a severe stall.    Witnesses said the accident happened fast, suggesting the pilot was at a very low altitude


BAC 167 jet trainer, 2 person, side by side.   Stall speed full flaps 85 knots.

The Dragon, plane that crashed in Kingston, NY

Photos by Paul Smyres, copyright 2010    crash location was just left of far side of bridge.   airport runway ends at bridge.

Author:   Paul Smyres   Clear Sky Photos aerial photography NY, OH, CT, MA

Mr. Smyres is an aerial photographer and aviation student who lives in the area.  He was in Kingston on the day of, and time of, the crash, and was held up at the bridge where it happened, around 2  p.m.    Mr. Smyres is also an avid flight simulator, and has “flown” that very model aircraft to many airports around the sim “world”.    He has taken some flight lessons and done some jobs from Kingston airport, and his son his flight training there.   He has some great photos of the airport and bridge.

Flight Simulators – serious training tools.

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Here is his analysis of yesterday’s crash.

I crossed the Rhinebeck Bridge going west, only a half hour before the crash.  Kingston airport is located on the west bank of the Hudson River, just north of the bridge.    Single runway   15 / 33.    I checked the records, and the emperature that day at the time was around 21 degrees, with mostly cloudy skies, humidity 48 percent, with icing very likely, especially above the river.    Light wind, 6 to 8 from the Northwest… a critical fact.   The plane crashed near the east side of the river, directly in line with runway.

Approach to runway 15 ( to southeast ), Kingston, NY   Bridge in distance

Pattern takeoff goes across the bridge in toward 150 degrees, or the opposite direction to the NW, over low hills.  He must have swerved to avoid the bridge, or tried to put it down on the ice, which was thinning and not strong.

It was reported that the pilot had made a pass over the airfield.   He may have been coming in FROM the NW, with a tailwind, and then realized it would not be possible to land the small jet on the short runway, given the conditions.   A loud engine noise was heard, and very likely the pilot tried to do a “go-around”, pushing full throttle and pulling up to get out.   With icing, very likely the aircraft stalled, and most likely it was in full flap condition with gear down, adding to the drag.

Another possibility is that he had crossed the field first to circle around for a landing into the wind, on runway 33, and then stalled on final.

The pilot was not able to eject, even though it was a vintage military trainer jet.   I checked at the site of the owner of the jet, Dragon Aviation, in Maryland.   It said the ejection seats were “cold”, or inactive.    The plane was used frequently in aerial shows, aerobatics, simulated combat, etc. so the pilot was very experienced.    It is possible, but unknown, if the plane was equipped with de-icng system, or if it was on or not.

It is sad to think of the pilot’s family and loved ones.  He must have been a wonderful person who just loved to fly.

We are all waiting for the final FAA determination which will take some time.   It’s not common for ANY vintage fighter jet from the late 1960’s to be owned privately and flown regularly.     The BAC 167 is a fascinating, versatile aircraft with a good record.    They are likely fairly heavy, and jets stall quickly sometimes.   Speed is a jets friend, and slow flight, not so much.




About the Author

Professional aerial photographer, private pilot