- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2002

Funeral services were held Friday for an off-duty United Airlines pilot who died July 6 during the heroic emergency landing of a small aircraft that saved the life of his son and avoided heavily populated areas of Leesburg.
On the day that friends and family gathered to honor James Scambos, 44, at St. Theresa's Church in Ashburn, Va., a preliminary report was released by the National Transportation Safety Board that shed light on the last few minutes of the flight of Mr. Scambos and his son Paul, 22, who was on leave from the U.S. Air Force to celebrate his birthday.
According to the report which was based in part on an eyewitness account the two-seater single-engine plane they had rented lost power and stalled while he turned to make an emergency landing.
Mr. Scambos and his son took off about 9:30 a.m. from Leesburg Executive Airport in a rented Diamond DA 20-C1 aircraft, the airport manager said last week.
While the plane climbed to 3,000 feet, "the engine experienced a partial loss of power," the NTSB report states.
Bob Gretz, the New Jersey-based NTSB investigator who wrote the report, said autopsy results will also contribute to the increased understanding of the fatal crash.
He said investigators disassembled the aircraft's engine and a flaw test of the fuel system revealed no power loss.
The report contains information obtained from what is believed to be the final radio transmission made by Mr. Scambos shortly after 10 a.m., during which he relayed information about a power failure.
At that time, Mr. Scambos was flying about 700 feet above ground on his way back to the Leesburg airport.
"[The] pilot made a quick right turn and it was clear that he was planning to set up an emergency landing," said a pilot who was in the air at the time.
"During the turn back to the field his plane stalled from too little airspeed. He was in a left turn when he went down."
Mr. Scambos' landing was "miraculous," the airport director said last week, because it caused minimal property damage, no fire and no injury to anyone on the ground. The son's injuries included scrapes, bruises and damage to his right ankle.
Mr. Scambos avoided the populated residential section of Leesburg and aimed for the open area of Ida Lee Park. The plane crashed at 10:26 a.m. about 100 yards short of the park, in the driveway at 415 Tudor Court in the Exeter subdivision.
It was the wishes of the family that Mr. Scambos' remains be cremated.
Mr. Gretz said the final report's completion could take up to six months.


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