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.
December 29, 2019, College Park, MD
Grumman American AA-5A Cheetah
At 1448 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain and houses shortly after takeoff. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.
Radar data depict the airplane departing Runway 15 and climbing as it tracked slightly right of the extended runway centerline. Climbing through about 1200 feet MSL, the pilot established communication ATC and was instructed to climb to 5000 feet and turn to 310 degrees when climbing out of 1700 feet. The airplane turned right and climbed to about 1900 feet before entering a spiraling descent. The controller issued a low-altitude alert as the airplane descended through 700 feet—at 1447, the final radar target was near the accident site at an altitude of 525 feet and 153 knots groundspeed.
Multiple witnesses reported hearing the airplane’s engine noise before it impacted in a residential area. All major components were accounted for at the scene, which included a wreckage path about 170 feet long, oriented on about a 250-degree heading. Debris was spread between two houses, across a street, and into the driveway and carport of a third house. All three houses were damaged. Rotational scoring was present on the heading indicator’s gyro and housing. The vacuum pump’s rotor displayed several fractures consistent with impact damage and its vanes were undamaged. Automated weather included calm winds, visibility of two statute miles, with an overcast ceiling at 500 feet.
December 29, 2019, Robstown, Texas
Cessna 182F Skylane
The pilot refueled both wing tanks before pushing the airplane back from the self-serve pump for his night flight back home. However, the propeller turned slowly and the engine did not start, so he elected to hand prop the airplane. He set the throttle, mixture and parking brake, and after several attempts the engine started, appearing to be at idle. Shortly, engine power increased and the
airplane began to roll forward. Before he could get into the cockpit to stop the plane, it impacted the fuel station’s credit card machine.
Examination revealed substantial damage to the airframe belly and lower firewall, plus the cowling and propeller (and to the credit card machine). The throttle’s friction lock was working; however, the airplane’s parking brake did not function as intended.
December 21, 2019, Olathe, Kan.
Mooney M20S Eagle/Eagle 2
At about 1606 Central time, the airplane impacted terrain during takeoff from Runway 18. A post-impact ground fire occurred. The private pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed.
A witness reported the airplane rotated at a much slower speed than would be expected and immediately started to climb at a very sharp departure angle. As it gained altitude, airspeed bled off to the point that the left wing stalled, causing the plane to nose over in that direction and continue its trajectory straight into the ground just east of the runway.
December 31, 2019, Elk, Calif.
Cessna 175 Skylark
After completing an aerial observation flight, the pilot simulated an engine-out approach to an open field. At about 40 feet AGL, the pilot applied full engine power and raised the nose. The airplane seemed to accelerate, but the descent was not immediately arrested. The airplane continued to descend, and its left main landing gear struck a bush. Subsequently, the wing struck terrain and the airplane cartwheeled before coming to rest upright. The pilot was not injured.