National board wraps up inquiry into Aspen man’s plane crash
July 17, 2009
ASPEN – The midair plane collision that killed Aspen native Bryan Sax occurred because of the “failure of both pilots to see and avoid the other aircraft,” the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released this week.
Sax, 37, was piloting a twin-engine Piper PA-44 on Dec. 6 when it collided with a single-engine Cessna 172 over the Florida Everglades.
The two planes, each of which were carrying a student and flight instructor, collided 2,000 feet above the ground, about 18 miles west of the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, the NTSB said. The weather at the time was clear skies with visibility of 10 miles.
A popular local figure, Sax was a national ski racing champion, a coach, a bartender at Jimmy’s American Restaurant and bar in Aspen, and co-owner of Say’s Cafe in Basalt and Boulder with his wife. The cafe remains open. He also was the father of three.
At the time of the accident Sax was flying under the supervision of 21-year-old Andrew Rossignol, a flight instructor out of the Airline Transport Pilot flight school in Florida. Sax was in training to earn his multi-engine instructor certificate. Sax, who held a certified flight instructor certificate and last reported that he had accumulated 1,156 total flight hours, owned and operated a flight school at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.
On board the Cessna were flight instructor Stuart Brown, 25, and a private pilot, Edson Jefferson, 30.
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Both aircraft were on instruction flights in a concentrated flight training area over the Everglades, the NTSB said. The last reported communication from the Cessna pilot was that it was at 2,000 feet. There were no reports of radio transmissions from the Piper that Sax was piloting, the NTSB said.
Radar information indicated that the Cessna was on a course of 160 degrees and traveling at 99 miles per hour, while the Piper was on a 210-degree course and flying at approximately 145 mph when the two collided.
Neither aircraft showed signs of malfunction, the NTSB said.