After auction, Bristol Common pilot's possessions net less than $60,000 before taxes, fees

Staff writer

Less than $60,000, before taxes and fees, would have gotten an ambitious bidder everything the Bristol Commons helicopter pilot owned in three hangars at the Stafford Regional Airport.

Seven months after a helicopter crash in Williamsburg killed two people, including pilot Henry Schwarz, Schwarz’s possessions at the airport have been sold off for about $57,150.60, according to the auctioneer’s website.

The online auction opened on Jan. 18, according to Stafford Regional Airport Manager Ed Wallis.

Schwarz, 85, died July 8 after the helicopter he piloted crashed into a 10-unit residential complex at Bristol Commons in Williamsburg. A 91-year-old resident of the complex died as a result.

Months later, a letter from the helicopter’s insurer to homeowners at the complex denied coverage for the crash and said Schwarz had been flying illegally, specifically, that he did not have a medical certificate that cleared him to fly.

“Based on our investigation … that insurance coverage … including all claims for injuries damages, and losses related thereto that are or may be asserted by your client and/or by any third parties, is hereby denied,” stated the letter obtained by The Virginia Gazette.

Schwarz’s caretaker said he had health problems, including Parkinson’s disease, and the FAA revoked his medical certificate in 2017 — more than a year before the crash.

There have been no updates from the National Transportation Safety Board since a preliminary report on the crash was issued July 20.

Since his death, his estate has had to be inventoried. In October, workers at Schwarz’s home in Fairfax County had already begun that work.

Schwarz’s hangars at the Stafford airport also were inventoried and prepared for auction, Wallis said.

In January, Wallis said he thought the opening bids for an unfinished Seawind Turboprop 300 Seaplane were low at $2,600.

“It’s kinda crazy,” Wallis said at the time. “I have a feeling the plane will go for more money. I’ve never done one of these before.”

The plane sold for more than 10 times that amount of money at $38,800, according to the auction. Surcharges were levied against every sale of 20.3 percent for auction fees and sales taxes. A similar plane, fully-assembled, costs about $350,000 on aviator marketplace Trade-A-Plane.

Everything in the hangars, from a mermaid bowsprit and aviator-themed teddy bear to the plane, was sold as-is at noon Feb. 8, according to the online auction website. There were 307 lots sold in the auction — a slight increase from the original 299 posted on the website.

The highest priced items sold in the auction after the plane: a golf cart and a cargo trailer, according to the auction’s website.

The average winning bid was about $186.

Bidders were able to inspect the items on Feb. 7, according to the auction website.

The hangars will be emptied of the lots of auctioned goods on from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to the auction website.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette