Latitude Error in Track of Fatal Accident Flight


**On June 2, 2006 a Lancair 360 Legacy (Homebuilt, Kit, Registered as Experimental Type) N360WH departed from Greenwood Lake Airport in West Milford, New Jersey (4N1) enroute for Orange County Airport, Montgomery, New York, (KMGJ) on an IFR flight plan under IMC. The aircraft crashed, apparently while attempting to execute the ILS 3 approach at MGJ. Being a local MGJ pilot and regular user of FlightAware, I tracked the flight and learned a great deal about the possible cause, as the last altitude “hit” at 11 AM place the aircraft at only 1100 feet. The wreckage was found 4 miles south of the airport, at a point where, had the aircraft been on the ILS glideslope, it should have been at least 500 feet or more higher. Unfortunately the sole occupant pilot was killed.
The latitude given for the flight does not appear to correlate, at all, to reality. In fact, the last few latitude numbers, and perhaps all of those listed for the flight, place the route NORTH of the airport, whereas the flight originated to the South of the destination and, of course, the flight never made it as far north as the destination. The longitudes appear to be correct, as they place the final fix just about on the extended runway centerline for the runway of intended landing.
Can anyone explain why the latitude information appears to be so substantially in error, or am I simply mis-interpreting it? I assume this information, like the altitude read outs, come from FAA sources. **


Welcome to the forum redwing! 8)

The latitude/longgitude of MGJ is 41.51/-74.2647. The lat/long of the last position report is 41.47/-74.27. The lat of the arpt (41.51)subracted from the lat of the crash (41.47) should result in a negative number. We get a positive number so the crash occurred S of MGJ. (41.51 - 41.47 = .04) (41-30.6 - 41-28.2 = 2.4 nm S) <----That would be the last position south of the arpt. The lat seems to be correct unless you measured it on your sectional and found the distances to be incorrect. Good post!


KMGJ is not at 41.51 North Latitude. It is at 41.30.60 according to my reading of the NY Sectional AND the AOPA Airport Directory AND other sources I have checked.
Why do you think it is 21 minutes further to the North?
THAT is the source of my confusion.**


Please turn off the bold.

41.30.60 is an incorrect latitude. Minutes ande seconds of latitude and longitude are always less than 60 because there are 60 seconds in one minute and 60 minutes in one degree.

According to the FAA airport directory (, MGJ is located at 41 degrees 30 minutes 35.938 seconds latitude, which converts to 41 degrees 30.598967 seconds. 41 degrees, 30 minutes, 35.938 seconds, in decimal, is 41.51 degrees. So, CessnaCitationX didn’t move the airport 21 minutes north.


Sorry, but I must be dense, and so are two of my fellow KMGJ pilots.
If, as we seem to all agree, KMGJ is at 41.30 (forget the seconds) North, why does your print out of the radar hit locations show 41.57, which would appear to be 27 minutes further north.
Please explain that to a cartographically challenged aviator, whose GPS does most of the navigating.


41.57 is not 41 degrees, 57 minutes. It is a different way to print lat/long.
41.57 is kinda like 41 and a half (.57), which should be a little more than 30 minutes (half an hour). Re-read the above posts and it should make sence.


OK, NOW I understand.
Thanks for the explanation.
Two final questions;

  1. It that the format that ATC uses, if it uses any, to display Lat/Long; and,
  2. How can I forward this thread to the pilots who, like me, thought you were off by twenty clicks?


Quick fact for your second question, a click is not the same distance as a minute. One click is the same as 0.53 minutes.

  1. Pretty sure they use decimal format, I’m looking for the answer now.
  2. Copy this link into your preferred email program. Hit “send”. Anyone can view the flightaware forums, only registered users can post.


Well, 41.30 IS 41 and 30/100’s …it is decimal notation. It is not minutes and seconds. It should be written as 41:30:nn or 41-30-nn if you really mean degrees, minutes and seconds.

41.50 degrees is always 41 and a half degrees = 41-30-00 or 41:30:00

Lats/Lons written as degrees, minutes, seconds, should use any separator other than a period (unless you are specifying a decimal).

I’d be interested to know if those maps/charts really said 41.30, or was that just your format … I think I can guess :wink:

That should solve the confusion.



A click is also slang, especially in the military, for a kilometer.


I am sorry to say I knew the pilot involved in this event so I too was interested in better understanding what happened.

It was not until this rainy Saturday that I finally got to compare Google Earth, the ILS Approach plate, and the report from flightaware. I reached the same the same point of puzzlement and searched the forum for an answer regarding the lattitude and longitude readouts.

Much to my surprise, I found reference to the very accident I was investigating and appreciate your explanation. My only thought is that this confusion in expressing lattitude and longitude may be familiar to cartographers but is certainly foreign to the casual observer. Is there a way this could be explained (maybe it is and I didn’t see it) under the help or another feature of flight aware? Actually, there seems to be enough room to show it both ways on the tracking log.