Pilot error caused medical examiner’s plane crash
As St. Louis County medical examiner Dr. Donald Kundel’s airplane made its final approach into the Laramie, Wyo., airport in September 2013, an eyewitness reported “everything looked normal.”
But the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation revealed Tuesday that Kundel’s “decision to attempt to a landing with a gusting tailwind … resulted in his loss of airplane control during final approach.”
Kundel’s perilous final moments began with some “wing rock” less than 300 feet off the ground.
The Van’s RV-7A, classified as an experimental aircraft, saw its left wing dip, followed by its right wing dropping fast into a spin. Upon impact with the ground there was a fiery eruption. Kundel was alone in the aircraft.
The NTSB report indicated that an alternative intersecting runway “should have been the runway of choice given the prevailing wind” at the nontowered airport.
An examination of the airframe and engine “revealed no mechanical anomalies,” the report said.
Kundel, 79, had been completing a cross-country flight, on his way to meet his son for a celebratory hunting trip. Kundel had just been declared cancer-free after chemotherapy.
The NTSB report said “it was not clear why the pilot did not elect to use” the alternate runway, which would have resulted in “significantly less tailwind for the pilot to contend with.”
The wind was reported at 14 knots with gusts up to 24 knots, or about 28 mph.