Report Issued on Fatal Plane Incident After Takeoff From Swanzey

March 27, 2023

Mar. 24—The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report Friday saying two jet pilots were trying to diagnose computer warnings shortly after takeoff from Dillant-Hopkins Airport when their plane jerked violently and a passenger was fatally injured.

The jet, a Bombardier Challenger 300, was on a flight from the airport in North Swanzey to Leesburg, Va., the afternoon of March 3 when the incident occurred.

It was diverted to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., and Dana Hyde, 55, of Cabin John, Md., was taken to a Hartford hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Hyde was a prominent attorney and a former Obama administration official.

According to the NTSB report:

Pilots aborted their first takeoff attempt after noticing an abnormal speed reading. They pulled the plane onto a taxiway. One of the pilots then inspected the aircraft and uncovered a pitot tube that had mistakenly been left covered. This device is essential to accurately measuring airspeed and other critical flight performance indicators.

Before taking off again, the crew noted a computer advisory message about an issue regarding the airplane's rudder, but because it was only an advisory message, they opted to continue.

Upon reaching 6,000 feet, a series of caution and warning messages illuminated, indicating problems with the autopilot and elevator trim systems that control the aircraft's nose-up and nose-down positions. The Flight Aware tracker indicates the plane reached that altitude about 3 minutes after leaving Dillant-Hopkins.

While following a checklist to address one of the problems, they turned off the stabilizer trim switch at which time the jet pitched up violently. The stabilizer is a control surface at the tail of an airplane that controls the aircraft's climbs, descents, and helps maintain level flight.

Information from the airplane's flight data recorder indicated the force exerted on the airplane and its occupants during the violent pitch-up was more than 4Gs, or four times the normal force of gravity.

The pilot in charge flew the plane manually for the rest of the flight, according to the report.

There was no information in the report on whether the passengers were wearing seatbelts.

Former N.H. Sen. Bob Giuda of Warren, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot who retired from being an international airline pilot and flight safety investigator for a major U.S. airline, reviewed the NTSB report at The Sentinel's request.

Based on his review of the report, he said it appears the crew was fairly inexperienced with this type of aircraft and may not have had a thorough understanding of its systems.

According to the report, the pilot in charge had accumulated 5,061 total flight hours, but only 88 hours in this make and model of airplane. The second in command had 8,025 hours, 78 hours in this type of plane.

Giuda said the report raises concerns that the initial pre-flight check of the airplane was inadequate, as the first takeoff attempt was aborted, and upon exterior inspection, the crew found one of the pitot tubes covered.

Pre-flight inspection of this important device is standard and part of initial pilot training, Giuda said.

The aircraft is managed, and the flight crew is employed by, Executive Flight Services. The company did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday.

Shortly after the accident, the NTSB tweeted that a "turbulence event" resulted in the fatal injuries aboard the jet. It subsequently put out an update saying "investigators are now looking at a reported trim issue that occurred prior to the inflight upset."

Trim refers to in-flight adjustments pilots make to assure stable and level flight. Turbulence is unstable air that can buffet an airplane and injure passengers if they are not securely belted in.

The preliminary report says the pilots did not notice turbulence before, after or during the incident when the plane's nose pitched up.

Last June, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a directive for the Bombardier Challenger 300 twin-engine jet requiring expanded pre-flight safety checks involving the airplane's trim system.

The NTSB will eventually put out a final report identifying the likely cause or causes of the incident.

The airplane is owned by Conexon LLC of Kansas City, Mo., a company that brings high-speed Internet to rural communities.

The Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works on international problems, employed Dana Hyde, the woman killed in the incident, as a part-time consultant and in that role she served as co-chair of the Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy from 2020-21.

Conexon confirmed Hyde was the wife of a company partner, Jonathan Chambers, who was also on the plane with their son and that neither was hurt. The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Hyde died from blunt-force injuries.

She served from 2014 to 2017 as chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corp., a U.S. foreign assistance agency formed by Congress. She was also a former associate director at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, a senior policy adviser to the deputy U.S. Secretary of State and a counsel on the 9/11 Commission.

According to The Washington Post, Chambers wrote to colleagues at Conexon that the family was returning home from visiting schools in New England.

On their way home, Chambers said, "the plane suddenly convulsed in a manner that violently threw the three of us. My wife was badly injured." An ambulance had been waiting, but her injuries were too severe, he said, according to The Post. She died that night.

Chambers is a former Republican staff director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where his work included a focus on telecommunications, The Post reported. He and Hyde have two sons.

Rick Green can be reached at or 603-355-8567


(c)2023 The Keene Sentinel (Keene, N.H.)

Visit The Keene Sentinel (Keene, N.H.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.