Civil Air Patrol Cadet Passes in Fiery Plane Crash

Elizabeth Lake Little
Civil Air Patrol Cadet MSgt Elizabeth "Lake" Little

By AuxBeacon News Contributors

[Editor’s Note: We received word of this tragic story from several of our readers during our unfortunate down time. We thank all of you for your continued contributions in addressing the national problem that is Civil Air Patrol.]

A federal investigative agency has released a preliminary report on the July 6th plane crash [N994CP] that killed an 18-year-old student pilot in Oxford, Mississippi.

The organization that was training the pilot, the Civil Air Patrol, said it’s too early to speculate on the cause of the crash.

The NTSB report quotes witnesses who said the pilot sounded “panicked” in communications with the control tower and that the plane made an aborted landing attempt, then rose sharply, turned and crashed onto a golf course.

The report cites a witness who said the pilot had attempted to land with a tailwind — that is, with the wind behind the airplane.

If the witness account is accurate, that’s a serious error because pilots are supposed to fly into the wind while landing to help slow down the airplane, according to Robert Katz, a Dallas flight instructor who frequently reads crash reports and discusses them with news media.

He said the report leads him to believe that the pilot had trouble finding the runway and approached from the wrong direction. He says that and other indicators in the recently released National Transportation Safety Board preliminary crash report suggest the student pilot’s crash, which occurred at the end of a solo flight that took off near Columbus, Mississippi and traveled to Oxford, could have been avoided.

Citing the preliminary nature of the crash report, J.F. Joseph, with Joseph Aviation Consulting, declined to offer a conclusion, though, he did say aviation investigators are likely to learn a great deal when inspecting the downed plane’s systems.

Eighteen-year-old Lake Little of Starkville, Mississippi, had recently graduated from high school and was planning to attend the University of Southern Mississippi. She dreamed of flying for FedEx — the company later sent commemorative wings to her family.

According to the NTSB report, Little had first received a student pilot certificate in August 2017, then received a third-class medical certificate in October 2018. That type of certificate is required for solo flights. At the time of the crash, she had logged 69.4 hours of flight time.

The preliminary investigation found the plane’s flaps appeared to have been retracted. Pilots deploy flaps when approaching a runway, because the flaps help provide more lift at slower speeds, Katz said. If the pilot retracted the flaps after the landing attempt, it would cause the plane to sink suddenly, he said. He believes that’s what happened in this case.

A witness at the golf course described seeing the airplane appearing to be “struggling” to maintain airspeed, with its nose up, and appearing to be very close to stalling, the NTSB report says.

The witness then saw the plane make a left turn and lose altitude. It struck the ground and slid up to nearby trees.

The pilot suffered serious burns in the crash, Ole Miss spokesman Rod Guajardo said in a statement earlier this month.

According to the NTSB report, bystanders and first responders tried to help the young pilot out of the cockpit, but her seatbelt and shoulder harness kept her inside. Then a fire started. Firefighters put it out and rescuers eventually extracted the pilot.

She was airlifted to a Memphis hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Read More

NTSB Aviation Accident Preliminary Report

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12 Comments on "Civil Air Patrol Cadet Passes in Fiery Plane Crash"

  1. Civil Air Patrol incompetence killed this girl. Not just my opinion, see here

    [link redacted]

  2. From Kathryns Report

    Anonymous said…
    My concern is using a cap plane and instructor to obtain a ppl. I know I will hear backlash about this. However, we taxpayers are responsible for this activity. Most of us do not have access to such a program. The costs are born by us. Over the last few years, cap has had way too many accidents with injuries and fatalities. Most are not professional but part time pilots, and they make amateur mistakes. We have observed this many times at our airport. Very sad for the student pilot who had a goal and was working to obtain it. At some point, Congress needs to take hard look at this $600 million program and its mission.
    Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 8:37:00 PM EDT

  3. I knew Lake personally. She was a very good pilot who took her time in the air and behind the controls very seriously. I am devastated by this accident and the loss of such a good friend. All I ask is that respect is shown to her and her family.

    • “She was a very good pilot who took her time in the air and behind the controls very seriously.”

      If that was true, she would still be alive. Less than a 100 hours of flight time does not equate to a “very good” pilot. Those who take flying “seriously”, don’t have panic attacks on a simple landing. She wasn’t ready and I blame the CAP flight instructor. The CAP has no business in teaching our youth to fly when safety is not a top priority.

  4. Newest Target | September 3, 2019 at 11:48 | Reply

    This comment was originally submitted to us on August 9th.

    While your AuxBeacon site was offline, Jonathan Holder unloaded another round of vile spew and veiled threats. With you off his scope, he turned to target a respected flight instructor in Dallas, Texas. That the complicit Maj Gen Mark Smith would make toolish use of one of Civil Air Patrol’s former commanders in this way tells us much about CAP’s present death spiral.

    Here’s what Holder fired-off through his self-appointed social media watch group on July 20th:

    “Expert? My ass! Robert Katz is to aviation what Auxbeacon is to CAP – an attention whoring piece of muckraking trash. The NTSB barely has the ink dry on their preliminary report and this assclown is already making second guesses and laying blame without any direct knowledge of the incident at all.”

    Holder is not a pilot and not aware of our ability to look directly at her radar recorded flight track and see that she did not fly a proper cross-country course to her destination. Holder continues:

    “An online search of his name tells us all we need to know about him. Robert Katz claims to be a commercial pilot, flight instructor and self professed ‘aviation accident expert’. What he really does is trolls (sic) Kathryn’s report and the NTSB database for recent fatal plane wrecks, contacts the local news outlets in the area and pontificates his opinion to clueless journalists who take him at face value to be a subject matter expert.”

    Demonstrating the reason he needs each of his firearms, Holder outdoes his earlier “swing from a tree” rhetoric against Stephanie Clayton.

    “In this case, this scumbag [Robert Katz] is using the death of this young lady [Lake Little] to get another 15 minutes of fame he doesn’t deserve. We hope our friends in TXWG take notice of this POS [Piece of Shit] next time they see him at their FBO. Off CAP duty, of course…”

    This behavior is unbecoming for a Civil Air Patrol officer of Lieutenant Colonel grade.

  5. This comment was originally submitted on August 8th 2019.

    We are told that cadet CMSgt Lake Little, a soloed student pilot, was completing a solo cross country flight from Golden Triangle (GTR) to Oxford (UOX) as a requirement toward earning her private pilot’s license.

    Your readers can follow her route and performance using Flight Aware:

    That presentation of her 68 minute flight shows a meandering path that would not be aligned with a flight instructor who was properly preparing a student for her practical test with an FAA examiner in which she would be required to keep track of her time to pre-planned visual checkpoints along a straight line course. Instead we see multiple course and elevation changes as if the airplane and weather were in command of her or she was taking tourist photographs along the way.

    The data provided by this Flight Aware record would indicate that she was NOT AT ALL prepared to make this solo cross-country flight because she didn’t understand how she would be required to perform on her check ride. How could that be?

    Many of us who have never been CAP members have noted that Civil Air Patrol flight instructors are oblivious to just how much corrective assistance they provide to their students. In a safe environment and at a safe altitude, instructors should remain watchful but silent. They should allow the pilot candidate to perform as if they were solo to uncover just how their errors will accumulate to bring them far off course, far off altitude and far-out-of-control.

    Civil Air Patrol parents can also be a very serious problem. They often bring inappropriate interference pressure on both the student and the instructor pilot. They are spending someone’s money, after all. That money can run out before the student is ready for their check ride. This solo cross-country flight took place on the 6th, with her check ride scheduled for the 9th.

    In that last observation you may have a hint to the rationale behind certain ridiculous comments from leadership genetically-linked to the deceased student pilot. In the end, those comments will not matter. The responsibility squarely rests with the Civil Air Patrol flight instructor and the flight track shows this very clearly.

    Neither NTSB inspectors nor FAA certificated Flight Instructors should ever be turned to become mere pawns of the parents, cadets or commanders of Civil Air Patrol.

    [Admin: Thank you for this, we apologize for the delay.]

  6. In an online message posted shortly after the crash, the group’s National Commander and CEO, Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, called for increased attention to safety.

  7. This comment was submitted on August 10th 2019.

    Civil Air Patrol cadets, student pilots, their parents and many commanders do not respond well to being told “no” by those who operate outside of the CAP command accident chain. Look at the number of hours flown and the length of time between milestones in this student pilot’s career.

  8. AuxBeacon received many angry comments directed at Civil Air Patrol in the second week of August regarding c/CMSgt Lake Little’s unfortunate accident. We held them back. We are now releasing just those comments that were professionally critical of Civil Air Patrol’s operation and provided evidence to justify that criticism.

    Also, if you are angry over Fraud, Waste and Abuse in Civil Air Patrol we encourage you not to take it out in your writing. Rather, use your local library to find newspaper reports of abuses that have been concealed over the past 5 decades and send that information to us.

  9. Accident Chain | August 7, 2019 at 18:19 | Reply

    This is Civil Air Patrol combining incompetent flight instructors with social media poster children to the continued demise of all three. I am sending you links and statements from Smith and other CAP cult members smiling at her funeral. If you publish this I will work on assembling commentary from other sources into a story for you.

    Lake’s parents [redacted] should be aware of lawsuits that have transpired in the past.

    Civil Air Patrol always wants the details of the accident and probable cause to come out later in a quiet NTSB report, rather than at the time of death, because the organization takes less of a PR hit with that delayed outing.

  10. This is just like how our idiot senile members (how old was her instructor?) pushed Matthew Shope too far too fast and dressed him up for show. You did a story on his demise, I just want to be sure you connect the two to the idiots running our program.

  11. Are you allowing comments? I don’t want to write up something and find out later that comments won’t be published.

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