Tragically, This Is The Accident That Took The Life of Blue Origin Space Tourist Glenn de Vries

Location: Branchville, NJ Accident Number: ERA22FA058
Date & Time: November 11, 2021, 10:48 Local Registration: N90559
Aircraft: Cessna 172 Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Instructional

On November 11, 2021, about 1048 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172S, N90559, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Branchville, New Jersey. The flight instructor and a private pilot receiving instruction were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

Preliminary flight track data was obtained from OpsVue, a commercially available web-based product that geo-reference’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data sources. Review of the flight track data revealed the airplane departed from Essex County Airport (CDW), Caldwell, New Jersey about 1030 and flew predominately in a northwesterly direction as it climbed. The airplane reached an altitude of about 6,400 ft mean sea level, before entering a steep descending left turn that continued until the flight track data was lost.

The airplane came to rest oriented on a magnetic heading of 330° in a wooded area. All major components of the airplane were located at the accident site. The fuselage from the firewall to the empennage was crushed and impact damaged. The instrument panel and cockpit were destroyed by impact forces. Both wings remained partially attached to the fuselage, and the ailerons and flaps were impact damaged. Flight control cable continuity was observed from the primary flight control surfaces to the cockpit controls. The horizontal stabilizers and vertical stabilizer remained attached to the empennage but displayed damage consistent with impact.

The left and right elevators remained partially attached to their respective horizontal stabilizers and the rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer, all displayed impact damage. Initial examination of the engine did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft flange and displayed chordwise scoring and aft bending. Several trees and tree branches near the accident site exhibited fresh cuts consistent with propeller strikes.

The airplane was recovered and retained for further examination.