Sunday, June 3, 2012

Loss of a Friend and Member of the Prowler Family

It is with great sadness that I must report the loss of our friend and member of the Prowler Family, Chuck Westcott.  On June 1st, 2012, shortly after 11am, Chuck took off from the KSNS airport on a test flight after performing work on his airplane.  Very shortly after rotation the airplane experience some kind of power loss (apparent engine problem) and crashed with a terrible post impact fire.

I and all of the Prowler builders and owners are deeply saddened by this horrible accident.

I will never forget the last phone call that I got from Chuck several months ago.  It was very shortly after he had completed phase 2 and gotten his final Experimental Certificate for the airplane.  He was like a kid with a new toy!  He told me of how he was having a blast finally flying his plane instead of working on it all the time.  He was thoroughly happy and I can still remember the elation in his voice!  That is how I will remember Chuck.

Here is the best photo that I have to post in memory of Chuck and his airplane.  It was taken on my one and only visit to meet him and see his Prowler.  It was an awesome visit:

On behalf of all the Prowler builders and owners, I want to express my deepest sympathy to Chuck's wife Nancy and all of his family and friends.

Godspeed my friend, we will all miss you.


I found out earlier this week from one of Chuck's very close friends (and indirectly from Chuck's wife Nancy) that the autopsy confirmed that Chuck suffered a fatal heart attack during the take-off on Jun 1st.  According to Chuck's friend Peter: "He was probably gone before the impact."

As I said in a recent email to Peter and Nancy, this is important for 3 reasons:
1.  Chuck passed away while having a blast flying his Prowler, something he really enjoyed.
2.  This should vindicate Chuck's piloting skills and "pilot error" should not be found to be a contributing cause to this accident.
3.  Pending the results of the final NTSB accident report, it doesn't appear that the accident was caused by the airplane itself (airframe or engine).

It is still a shame to loose Chuck in such a catastrophic way, but this new information from the autopsy adds a lot more color to the circumstances surrounding the accident.  I will update if and when more information is available.