AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause on the NTSB’s website at www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.
November 22, 2019, Tyler, Texas
The airplane sustained substantial damage at about 1338 Central time when it impacted terrain following deployment of its Cirrus Aircraft Parachute System (CAPS). The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries and the passenger was uninjured. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan.
According to the pilot, about two minutes after leveling at 3000 feet MSL, the engine began vibrating, Soon, engine instrumentation showed a failing cylinder. He reported the engine problem to ATC and initiated diverting to a nearby airport. The airplane proved unable to maintain altitude and began descending. Soon, the pilot declared an emergency with ATC and advised them he would deploy the CAPS at 1000 feet MSL, but deployment was delayed until the airplane was between 550 feet and 650 feet MSL. The passenger’s inertial reel seat belt held the passenger in place during the impact, but the pilot’s did not and his head impacted the instrument panel, causing him to lose consciousness.
After touching down under canopy and soon after the passenger extricated the pilot, wind carried the parachute and airplane another ½ mile across a field and into a stand of trees. Initial examination of the airframe revealed oil coating the bottom of the fuselage. The air conditioning drive belt for the air conditioning system was missing and could not be located within the debris field. An oil line adjacent to the belt was found damaged with its insulation cut.
November 25, 2019, Blythe, Calif.
Beech V35 Bonanza
At about 1739 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed on impacting terrain. The solo private pilot sustained fatal injuries. Night visual conditions prevailed.
While en route, the pilot diverted from his planned destination due to weather. Shortly, radio contact was lost and an FAA alert notice was issued. The wreckage was located later that night by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office about ¾ of a mile south of Interstate 10, and was observed scattered across the terrain and partially burned. All major components were located at the scene.
November 29, 2019, Cooper Landing, Alaska
Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain
The airplane was destroyed at about 1911 Alaska time when it collided with mountainous terrain and caught fire. The airline transport pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic aboard were fatally injured. Dark night visual conditions existed at the departure and destination airports for the FAR Part 135 VFR air ambulance flight.
Although two other operators declined the aeromedical mission, the accident aircraft’s operator accepted it. Radar and ADS-B data show the airplane proceeding toward its destination at 3000 feet MSL, then descending to 2200 feet in a racetrack pattern before entering a valley. The last data point, at 1911:14, showed the airplane at 2100 feet MSL and tracking 127 degrees at 122 knots groundspeed. A witness saw the airplane turn in a circle as it descended and entered the valley. He observed the wings rocking back and forth and while he was looking elsewhere, he heard an explosion and then observed a large fire on the mountainside. Another witness reported seeing the airplane flying low and exploding when it impacted the mountain.
November 30, 2019, Chamberlain, S.D.
At 1233 Central time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. The pilot and eight passengers were fatally injured; three passengers were seriously injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight departed with an IFR clearance.
The airplane arrived at the airport the day before the accident and was parked outside. Freezing rain and snow were observed in the area that afternoon and overnight. The next morning, the pilot and a passenger worked to remove snow and ice from the airplane for approximately three hours before the remaining passengers arrived.
When the flight did not contact ATC by its clearance void time, Minneapolis ARTCC verified the airplane had departed before issuing an alert notice. The wreckage was located at about 1357, approximately ¾ mile west of the airport in a dormant corn field. The debris path was approximately 85 feet long and oriented on a 179-degree heading.
Preliminary data recovered from the airplane’s avionics recorded it taking off from Runway 31 and immediately rolling about 10 degrees left at liftoff. Roll oscillations continued as the airplane climbed. Airspeed varied between 89 and 97 knots during initial climb, then decayed to approximately 80 knots as altitude peaked at 460 feet AGL and roll angle reached 64 degrees left bank. The airplane then entered a descent that continued until impact. The stall warning and stick shaker became active approximately one second after liftoff. The stick pusher became active about 15 seconds after liftoff. All three continued intermittently for the duration of the flight. The data ended about 1233:00. The 1235 automated observation at the departure airport included an overcast at 500 feet AGL and ½-mile visibility in moderate snow. Winds were from 020 degrees at six knots.
November 30, 2019, Wrightsville, GA
Yakovlev Yak 52
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1000 Eastern time in an off-airport landing after experiencing a loss of engine power. The flight instructor and private pilot sustained minor injuries. Day visual conditions prevailed.
While cruising at 3500 feet MSL, the engine suddenly began vibrating heavily, then quit altogether about five seconds later, stopping the propeller. While on final approach to a farm field at about 500 feet AGL, the flight instructor extended the landing gear, increasing the descent rate. He later reported the airplane was “out of airspeed” in the flare. Shortly after the nose wheel touched down, the airplane nosed over and skidded to a stop inverted. Examination revealed the engine had seized and would not rotate. Oil was observed on the airplane’s belly, near the exhaust pipe. No odor of fuel was present at the accident site, and no breach of the fuel tanks was observed.