NTSB Blames Pilot For Chandler Park Crash That Killed Him, His Family And Friend

Tuesday, June 28th 2011, 11:50 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, Oklahoma -- The National Transportation Safety Board blames the Tulsa pilot for a crash that killed him, his family and a family friend.

The crash happened on September 5, 2009 in Chandler Park.  The crash killed the pilot, Dr. Stephen Lester, 48; his wife Dana, 48; daughters Laura, 16; and Christina, 13; and Dr. Ken Veteto.

In its final report on the crash, the NTSB finds the probable cause of the accident as follows:

"The non-instrument-rated pilot's decision to attempt flight in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in spatial disorientation and an in-flight collision with a radio tower guy wire."

Read the NTSB's Probable Cause report.

The family and friend took off from Jones Riverside Airport in a single-engine Piper Cherokee to fly to Dallas for an OU football game.

6/22/2011:  Related Story:  NTSB: Weather Played Role In Plane Crash That Killed Tulsa Family And Friend

According to federal investigators, there was heavy mist in the area that morning, which forced the pilot to delay his departure.

NTSB investigators say when the pilot obtained a weather briefing early that morning, he was advised that a visual flight rules (VFR) flight was not recommended. 

According to investigators, approximately 4 hours later the pilot radioed ground control to get permission to taxi to the runway and to get a VFR clearance.  The controller informed the pilot that the airport was in instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions. The pilot then requested and received an IFR clearance, even though he was not rated to fly using only instruments.

Investigators say radar data for the plane indicate that he likely had spatial disorientation because of the low visibility, meaning he literally didn't know which was up.