Rockwell Commander Plane Crash in New Haven, Connecticut
On August 9, 2013, a Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B, FAA Registration No. N13622, crashed into two homes in New Haven, Connecticut, tragically killing two sisters: Sade Brantley, age 13, and 1-year-old Madisyn Mitchell. The sisters lived in one of the houses hit by the plane.
killed in the crash was the pilot, 54-year-old former Microsoft executive Bill
Henningsgaard, and his 17-year-old son, Maxwell.
The flight departed from Teterboro Airport (KTEB) and was scheduled to land at nearby Tweed-New Haven Airport (KHVN) in Connecticut. The weather at Tweed around the time of the crash was light rain and low cloud ceilings variable from 600 to 1100 feet.
Upon arriving in the vicinity of the Tweed airport, the aircraft was cleared by air traffic control to execute a “circle-to-land” approach. That meant the pilot would fly from south of the airport towards the north on instruments, and once below the clouds near the airport, he would visually circle the plane around to land from the north of the airport towards the south on the southerly pointed runway. This can be a very challenging approach which requires the pilot to keep sight of the airfield, stay clear of low clouds, configure the plane for landing, and maintain a safe airspeed so the plane does not stall and fall to the ground. Because of the challenges in safely performing a “circle-to-land” approach, even commercial airlines sometimes prohibit their crews from performing “circle-to-land” approaches.
Bill Henningsgaard and his son were traveling the east coast to visit colleges, and Connecticut was part of the itinerary. The plane was registered to Ellumax Leasing LLC in Medina, Washington.
The crash on Friday is the second in which pilot Henningsgaard had been involved in recent years. In April 2009, Henningsgaard plane crashed into the ocean off the coast of Washington shortly after takeoff.
The NTSB has initiated an investigation and will examine the aircraft’s flight path, aircraft structure, flight controls and the engine, as well as review any recent maintenance that may have been performed. Kreindler & Kreindler LLP has successfully prosecuted claims on behalf of victim’s families in accidents involving older aircrafts like the Rockwell Turbo Commander 690B.
Photo Credit: Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B plane, Pete Webber