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.
March 5, 2020, Albemarle, N.C.
Piper PA-23-250 Aztec
At about 1422 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged shortly after takeoff. The flight instructor and pilot receiving instruction were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
The pilot in the left seat was also a flight instructor and new to the type; he was obtaining training to instruct in the airplane. The accident flight was the airplane’s first after an annual inspection. During initial climb, at about 200 feet AGL, both pilots noticed decreasing airspeed. The left-seater stated the engines were losing power. After ensuring all engine controls were full forward, the electric fuel pumps were switched on and the nose lowered to maintain airspeed, even though the airplane was too fast to land on the remaining runway. The engines never recovered full power, but the airplane managed to clear trees at the end of the runway before a hard landing in a muddy field.
March 6, 2020, Boynton Beach, Fla.
American Aviation AA-1 Yankee
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1316 Eastern time when it struck a tree then terrain shortly after takeoff. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
The airplane took off at about 1256, and first appeared on ATC radar at 1313:52, about 1.43 nm southeast of the airport at 1350 feet MSL. After reaching 1700 feet MSL and maneuvering, the airplane began descending until the radar track was lost at 1315:41, at 550 feet MSL, with a groundspeed of about 43 knots. A witness observed the airplane’s wings appeared to “waggle” up and down, and the airplane appeared to go inverted, followed by its nose pointing at the ground and a corkscrewing descent until it disappeared behind a tree line.
Examination revealed both left and right wing-mounted fuel tanks were ruptured. There was no evidence of residual fuel inside either tank, and there was no odor of fuel and no observed fuel blight. Disassembly of the fuel selector valve revealed it also did not contain fuel, nor did the engine-driven fuel pump. The carburetor float bowl contained a trace amount “(about 2 drops)” of fuel. One propeller blade was bent back about 20 degrees; the other blade was relatively straight. Neither blade displayed leading edge gouging, chordwise scratching or S-bending indicative of being under power.
The accident airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed on January 6, 2016. The airplane’s registration had expired on September 30, 2019, and the airplane was deregistered on January 6, 2020.
March 7, 2020, McIntyre, GA
Mooney M20C Ranger
At about 1015 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing following loss of power. when it was involved in an accident near McIntyre, Georgia. The solo pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
During cruise flight, about five minutes after switching from the right to the left fuel tank, the engine lost all power. An attempt to restart the engine was unsuccessful. He performed a forced landing into a field. After touchdown, the right wing collided with a fence post and the airplane came to a stop.
March 8, 2020, Destin, Fla.
Beech V35 Bonanza
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1000 Central time when it experienced a power loss shortly before landing at its destination. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
Prior to takeoff for the three-hour flight, the airplane’s fuel tanks were filled, providing about 4.5 hours of flight time. The pilot reported using a timer to switch fuel tanks every 30 minutes and, with a fuel burn of about 16 gallons per hour, he expected the airplane to contain over 20 gallons of fuel on arrival. While on a 1.5-mile final, the engine lost all power. “There was no sputtering and coughing,” but the propeller continued to “windmill,” the pilot later stated. Remedial actions were unsuccessful. The airplane descended and impacted trees adjacent to a residence about 2000 feet from the runway.
Examination revealed the left wing was severely deformed, resulting in a ruptured fuel tank. Also, there was leading edge damage to the right wing. The homeowner reported a strong odor of fuel immediately after the accident. According to the pilot, this was the second time in the previous 12 months that the engine unexpectedly “quit” on final approach.