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General News    H3'ed 1/29/10

"Pilot errors and weather conditions" killed Mike Connell, says NTSB

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Message Mark Crispin Miller
This is hardly a surprise, considering the source.
Note the passing reference, in the piece below, to the questions raised about the crash by "left-leaning bloggers and Web sites." From that aside you'd never know that those who've raised such questions now include Connell's widow, Heather, as well as cyber-expert Stephen Spoonamore--neither of whom "leans left" at all: on the contrary.
Those interested in more detail should go grab the latest Maxim (February), which includes Simon Worrall's excellent article on Connell's death.

Errors, weather cited as factors in Dec. 2008 fatal plane crash

By Edd Pritchard staff writer

Federal investigators have determined that pilot errors and weather conditions played a role in the December 2008 crash that killed a Summit County businessman.
Michael L. Connell, 45, of Bath Township, likely was disoriented as the Piper Saratoga he piloted approached Akron-Canton Airport in poor weather about 6 p.m. Dec. 19, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded. Connell died when his plane crashed near a vacant house in Lake Township.

Connell was chief executive officer of New Media Communications, a company that created Web sites for several organizations, including George W. Bush's presidential campaigns. Because of Connell's ties, left-leaning bloggers and Web sites began speculating after the crash.


The NTSB said Thursday the airplane crashed because of Connell's "inappropriate control inputs as a result of spatial disorientation, which led to an aerodynamic stall and loss of control."

The day of the crash, Connell left College Park, Md., at about 3:30 p.m., which had him approaching Akron-Canton at dusk in poor weather. The combination increased the risk of spatial disorientation, which is a situation where pilots can't determine their position and altitude relative to the ground.

Contributing to the crash was Connell's decision to fly into known icing conditions, and ice accumulation that reduced the airplane's aerodynamic performance. Connell also failed to initially intercept and establish the airplane on the proper approach course, the NTSB determined.


Connell flew to Maryland on Dec. 18 for meetings in the Washington, D.C., area. According to published reports, he was returning to attend his company's Christmas party.

Before leaving, Connell checked weather conditions with the Raleigh Automated Flight Service Station, according to NTSB reports. He spent 20 minutes getting weather and icing information. Connell was told to expect precipitation and that freezing conditions were possible.

Connell contacted Akron-Canton's tower at 5:36 p.m. A few minutes later, the tower issued approach instructions, and Connell asked if other pilots had reported icing conditions. Connell was told there had been no reports.

At 5:51 p.m., Connell was cleared to land, but was told he was off-course. An air traffic controller told Connell two more times that he was off-course, and asked if he wanted to try a new approach. Connell said he would correct his approach, then asked to "do a 360 and re-establish ourselves." The controller denied the request and told Connell to climb and maintain an altitude of 3,000 feet.

Connell responded that he was "due north and climbing." The controller restated the order to climb, then asked if Connell heard the order. Connell declared an emergency, then radio contact ended.


Investigators ruled Connell's statement he was "due north and climbing" was a sign of spatial disorientation. The airplane actually was in a steep turn and went into a "spiral-like dive" as Connell declared an emergency, according to the NTSB report.

Because of his Republican Party ties and work with Bush's campaigns in 2000 and 2004, Connell's death spurred speculation. A story about the crash is featured in the February edition of Maxim magazine.


Speculation focuses on the 2004 election when Bush won because of a 118,000-vote victory in Ohio. Bloggers have speculated the vote count was manipulated by computer programs Connell's company designed. Connell gave a deposition in November 2008 for a lawsuit filed over the election.

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Mark Crispin Miller Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Mark's new book, Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, a collection 14 essays on Bush/Cheney's election fraud since (and including) 2000, is just out, from Ig Publishing. He is also the author of Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform, which is now out in paperback (more...)
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