Yank's Air Museum Today

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Jul 28, 2003
Chino, California, U.S.A.
Extremely sad news.

Yank's Air Museum lost their head of aviation, Frank Wright, in their Lockheed 12A Electra Junior along with his favorite instructor pilot. Happened today about 12:45 pm, and looked like a departure type stall, according to two eyewitnesses I know. I was at the airport, but didn't directly witness the incident.

Looking at the wreckage, one propeller was virtually undamaged, indicating it was not likely making power when it hit. One witness said the flaps were full-down. This witness knows airplanes and engines, so I give some credence to his observation. Engine-out, low speed, and full flaps are not a good combination for an Electra Junior, or for any twin that is not a Cessna 337.

That's all I know at this time.

Frank was friend of mine, and was one of the all-round good guys. I'll certainly miss him. I wish his wife and family all the best.
Thanks, SparotRob.

Frank always was a great guy, a great mechanic, and good leader, and a pretty good pilot. I don't completely know what actually happened or who was flying for takeoff. For the rest, I'll wait to see what the NTSB says. I have heard from three eyewitnesses who are all airplane people, so I have an idea that may be close to reality, but that doesn't mean the NTSB won't find something else and come to a different opinion.

There were lots of people there, so maybe one or more videos will appear. It (they) wouldn't be good to watch, but it might answer some questions. If it (they) appear(s), I'll pass on watching it.

Suffice to say, blue skies, Frank Wight, manager, restorer, pilot, mechanic, and friend. You will be missed.
Very Sad Blancolirio on Youtube, who is familiar with that airplane, said there is a picture of the 12A with the gear up but the flaps down, an unacceptable situation. He related case where then flaps came down unevenly, but they managed to get the one that was down back up before they lost control.
Screenshot 2024-06-17 at 10-26-50 YouTube.png
The Lockheed 12a is an electric airplane. The only hydraulics are the brakes.

Not saying anything above, just FYI.

Since it is a friend, I may speculate alone about the cause, but not in here at this time. I cannot see a reason to have the flaps down and the gear up unless you are at altitude practicing something. It is almost certainly not a configuration you'd use for normal climbout. From what I understand, Vmc is about 95 indicated and you can likely lift off at 65 - 70 indicated, so the desire would be to accelerate from liftoff to at least Vmc as rapidly as possible ... or I'd assume that anyway.

I do not have a copy of the POH, but almost all piston twins need to get past Vmc before they are "safe" to fly straight ahead if an engine fails. I say almost all because there are a few Cessna 337s out there. Again, I did not witness this incident, so I don't know the applicability of any of the above to the actual incident.

So, I'll reserve judgement and wait for the investigation to uncover what actually happened.

I've seen that plane fly on at least 5 occasions and it was always majestic. Made you want to be in it flying along.
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We can now confirm the names of those involved in the crash of our Lockheed 12A Electra Junior: Yanks Chief Operating Officer Frank Wright, and Pilot-in-Command Michael "Mike" Gilles. Mike was from Aliso Viejo, CA, and had been the PIC of the Lockheed 12A for Yanks during the last several years. He held an Airline Transport Certificate, Multi-Engine Instructor Certificate, and a current and valid medical certificate. Mike flew as captain on the Lockheed 12 in the left seat on the day of the incident. The airplane was not required to have two rated pilots on board, but Frank assisted in flying procedures and operations from the right seat.
Yanks is still cooperating with authorities in their investigation of the incident. Several people close to Yanks have been invaluable in their assistance to the families during this tragedy, and we would like to thank them as well as everyone who has expressed their condolences and support over the last few days.
The museum remains closed as we navigate through this difficult time, but we will update you on the status of the museum over the coming days.
Looks like the YouTube person who posted a video saying Mike Gilles and Frank Wright weren't qualified to fly the Lockheed 12A last Saturday, Dan Gryder on YouTube, just ran another Lockheed 12A off a runway in Georgia and center-punched a tree. Luckily, no one was killed, but I believe all three are in the hospital. I hope they are all firmly in a recovery mode.

I wouldn't wish that on anyone, to be sure, but it does seem a bit ironic that the guy who questioned the deceased pilots' qualifications, before the NTSB even had a chance to say anything, winds up in an incident in the same type aircraft. Sometimes, life hits us with a twist.

Speedy recovery and let's have no more of any of this happen for a good, long while. :oops:

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