A/C down at KVDF (Vandenberg - Tampa)


Well-Known Member
Yikes! VDF is where I earned my PPL and where I took a lot of my students to do touch and goes.



Well sized member
Seems it was an Angel Flight mission. Sad.

TAMPA -- Two men and one woman died in a fiery airplane crash at Vandenberg Airport this afternoon, six minutes after asking for clearance to take off, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office reports. Authorities did not immediately identify the victims, but deputies visited the Sun City Center home of the single-engine aircraft's owner, Harlan E. Northcott.
Glenn Northcott, his son, said the elder Northcott was the pilot onboard the plane today. Harlan Northcott, who had cancer, was taking another cancer patient to Stuart, on Florida's east coast.
"All I can say at this point is he was doing what he liked to be doing and he was helping people," said Glenn Northcott, a pilot for Continental Airlines who flew into Tampa with his children today to spend time with his father.
Instead, he stepped out of cab onto front entrance of the airport and broke down crying.
Bill Shivers, Tampa Bay wing leader for the Tampa Bay Area Angel Flight program, confirmed that Harlan Northcott was on a program mission. He didn't know any more details. Angel Flight is a program where pilots donate their time, planes and fuel to carry ambulatory patients to specialized treatment. Usually, the patients travel alone, Shivers said. Angel Flight also does some humanitarian missions, he added, flying people without the financial means to non-medical emergencies.
"The mission of Angel Flight is to fly financially distressed medical patients who don't have the money to fly to specialized treatment," Shivers said.
Hillsborough Fire Rescue Capt. Bruce Delk said emergency personnel were called at 3:27 p.m. and told that a plane had gone down and caught fire upon takeoff. The first rescue personnel on the scene found the craft about 100 feet off the runway, burning, with one person visible inside.
The airport is on a triangular parcel bordered by Interstate 75, Interstate 4 and U.S. 301. Traffic slowed along southbound I-75 as motorists saw the blaze.
Mary Keen, 44, lives across the Tampa Bypass Canal, her house facing the airport. She said she heard an explosion in the middle of a fierce storm. "It sounded like it happened right behind our house," she said. "It went, bam. It gives me cold chills because it scared me so bad I screamed."
Light to moderate rain was falling at the airport about the time of the crash, said Mike Cantin, National Weather Service meteorologist. While there was several instances of lightning occurring at about 3 p.m. near the airport, Cantin said, there appeared to be no cloud to ground lightning at the time of the crash. Winds were between calm and 7 mph just before the crash and just after it, Cantin said.
Delk said 24 personnel and nine units responded, spraying the burning plane with a special dry foam to bring the blaze under control and then blanketing the fire with foam.
When the fire was out, rescue personnel found three people in the plane, all dead. Delk said it appeared that the front of the fusenlage of the single-engine plane caught fire first. A wing, broken off from the plane, landed 25-feet away, Delk said. A propeller landed about 50 feet away.
He was unable to say whether the severe weather in the area at the time was a factor.
The plane was headed to Witham Field in Stuart, Fla., Federal Aviation Authority spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
The weather will be considered in the investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, Delk said. Runway 5-23 at Vandenberg, one of the airport's two runways, remains closed while the investigation and recovery continues, said Brenda Geoghagan, spokeswoman of the Tampa International Airport, which also operates Vandenberg.
Family at Harlan "Lanny" Northcott's home declined to comment. He served as a president and chief executive officer of an oil and gas company in the mid-1980s, according to the Oil & Gas Journal. Neighbors said Northcott was known for throwing old-fashioned, wholesome parties in his retirement community, especially around the Super Bowl.
Mary Lou Nason grieved his loss, saying Northcott helped her out after her husband died in April, taking her grandchildren to visit some manatees.
"He was the nicest man," she said. "He's a wonderful person and a tremendous loss."