General Aviation Accident Bulletin

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents.


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 Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

May 14, 2020, Tucson, Ariz.

Cessna 172P Skyhawk

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0950 Mountain time during an off-airport landing following engine stoppage. The solo pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the aerial survey flight.

About three hours and 50 minutes into the flight, the engine began to sputter. The pilot verified the fuel selector was in the “both” position, checked the magnetos and pushed the mixture full forward. He pumped the throttle and was able to get a surge in engine power, but it could not be sustained. He initiated a forced landing to a road. However, the airplane encountered a downdraft and landed short of the road. Examination revealed the fuel selector was in the “both” position. The left fuel tank was empty and the right fuel tank contained “a large quantity of fuel.”

May 15, 2020, Colchester, Ill.

Cessna 172M Skyhawk

The solo private pilot reportedly used a wire to check the fuel tanks prior to takeoff. He was in a dark hangar and not wearing his glasses, but thought he had “an inch or so” of fuel in the tanks and departed. During the flight, the engine “sputtered” and lost power. The pilot turned toward the destination airport but lost airspeed, so he lowered the airplane’s nose and performed a forced landing, impacting trees. Examination revealed the fuel tanks were empty and there was no fuel odor at the scene. The pilot was seriously injured.

May 27, 2020, Cambridge, Ohio

Beech 35-A33 Debonair

At about 1458 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with trees during a forced landing. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route at 1452 and receiving VFR flight-following services from ATC, the pilot reported an unspecified issue and his intent to divert to a nearby airport. At 1454, the pilot declared an emergency due to an engine issue and reported an airport at his one o’clock position, but a minute later informed ATC he could not glide to the facility Shortly, he stated he was going to land in a field. Witnesses saw the airplane at low altitude with a rough-running engine. The airplane impacted trees a few feet above ground level in a level attitude. Examination revealed fuel streaking from the lower right side of the engine compartment but no evidence of an engine mechanical malfunction.

May 31, 2020, Carlinville, Ill.

Piper PA-28-235 Cherokee 235

The airplane was destroyed at 1546 Central time when it impacted terrain. The pilot and his three passengers were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane’s ADS-B data show it in cruise at 5500 feet MSL at 1543:19, when it entered a left turn, momentarily reversing course from northeast to the southwest. The left turn continued with a significantly decreased turn radius until the airplane was again on a northeasterly course. At about 1545:27, at 5600 feet, the airplane entered a right turn. Twelve seconds later, it began a right descending spiral until the final data point at 1546:05. The average calculated rate of descent from the apparent beginning of the spiral descent and the final data point was about 6900 fpm. The accident site was located about 0.15 miles north of the final data point.

All major airframe structures were located at the accident site. A video camera and an ADS-B In receiver were recovered and are pending review.

This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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