NTSB: No Fuel Led To Tulsa's Mohawk Park Plane Crash

Wednesday, July 28th 2010, 10:41 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, OK -- According to a report from the National Transportation and Safety Board the plane that crashed on July 10th near Tulsa International Airport ran out of fuel while approaching the runway.

The crash killed all three people on board, 41-year-old Mats Malmberg, 51-year-old Chase Bales and 37-year-old Damian Riddoch.

Malmberg was the founder and president of U.S. Highland, a company that manufactures motocross motorcycles.  Bales was the chief operating officer, Riddoch was the company's chief financial officer. 

According to the report Bales was the pilot of the twin-engine, propeller-driven Cessna 421A that crashed.  The three men had flown to Pontiac, Michigan that day for a business meeting. 

In its preliminary report released Tuesday, the NTSB says there was a problem with the right main tank sump while the plane was being refueled for the three and a half hour flight back to Tulsa.

The NTSB report says "A line serviceman for the fixed base operator providing the fuel observed the pilot performing a preflight inspection prior to departing PTK. During the preflight he observed the right main tank sump become stuck open. He estimated five to six gallons of fuel was lost before the sump seal was regained."

The airplane had a usable fuel capacity of 196 gallons, according to the report, and had received 154 gallons before the problem with the tank sump occurred.  The serviceman told the NTSB that the fuel tanks were not topped off again after the problem was fixed.

The airplane then took off from Michigan on a flight back to Jones Riverside Airport in Tulsa.

At 9:47:53 p.m., Bales checked in with Tulsa Approach Control and was cleared direct to Jones Riverside.  But at 9:57:50 the pilot stated he wanted to land at TIA.  He was given clearance to land at 10:01:56.  At 10:04:23 Bales told controllers "Tulsa, we've exhausted our fuel."

The report says the airplane was observed descending into a forested area about 2,000 feet north of the Tulsa International Airport runway followed by a flash.

The NTSB says the pilot never informed either the approach or tower controllers he had a fuel problem at any time.

The NTSB's preliminary report contains no conclusions about what caused the crash.  The NTSB will next release a factual report on the crash, likely a few months from now, which will include the results of the inspection of the wreckage, as well as numerous other details.  Lastly, the NTSB will release a probable cause report, which could take a year or more to complete.

7/12/2010 Related story: Future Of Glenpool Business Unsure After Fatal Weekend Plane Crash