Santa Paula Times

Pilot reported engine failure initial conclusion of fatal crash investigators

June 08, 2016
Santa Paula News

A preliminary report released Friday noted that a pilot reported that the engine to his small aircraft had quit and two witnesses on the ground saw the plane and heard sputtering before it crashed into a Santa Paula area orchard May 28, killing two people.

The preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board noted “An ear witness to the accident reported that after the airplane took off,“ from Santa Paula Airport, “the pilot radioed him that his engine had quit. There were no further communications between the pilot and the ear witness.”

“Two ground witnesses reported observing the airplane flying overhead, and heard the engine sputtering,” and they told NTSB investigators, “The airplane was descending, and dropped out of their view as it passed behind a hill. The airplane came back into view in a steep left turn, which both witnesses estimated to be at least 45 degrees. The airplane struck power lines, and then impacted the ground.”

Then noted the report, “Both witnesses reported hearing an explosion, and then seeing fire erupt from the accident site.”

The single-engine VariEze aircraft crashed near the 1600 block of Aliso Canyon Road north of Foothill Road about 3:15 p.m., some 15 minutes after it the NTSB report noted a witness said it took off from Santa Paula Airport. 

Pilot Edgar Friederichs, 61, of Castaic, and passenger Matthew Boutell, 21, of Thousand Oaks, were killed in the crash.

Friederichs, a well-known Santa Paula Airport pilot with a professional background in aviation, reportedly had offered the airplane loving Boutell a ride in the VariEze, a home-built airplane.

The airplane, according to the NTSB report, was destroyed in the post-crash fire.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident site and “Examination of the wreckage site revealed that the airplane had struck power lines about 162 feet from the final resting point of the airplane.”

A more comprehensive investigation into the crash also is being conducted which is expected to take about 12 months to complete.