General Aviation Accident Bulletin

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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.


September 1, 2020, Walker, Minn.

Piper PA-28-235 Cherokee 235

At about 2007 Central time, the airplane was destroyed when it collided with terrain while maneuvering near adverse weather. The solo pilot was fatally injured; flight conditions were unknown. The airplane departed Kirksville, Missouri, at about 1303 after adding 76.1 gallons of fuel, with an intended destination of Bemidji, Minnesota.

While en route and receiving ATC services, controllers became concerned about the pilot possibly suffering from hypoxia. Controllers directed the flight to divert to St. Cloud, Minnesota, and subsequently declared an emergency for the pilot. Upon landing at St. Cloud, the pilot was met by emergency medical services but refused treatment before departing.

Radar data indicate the airplane then took off and flew northeast, climbed to about 4000 feet MSL and approached a line of adverse weather. The airplane made several course deviations, including two 360-degree turns, before turning southeast, away from the intended destination. It then turned northwest, back toward Bemidji, with altitude varying between about 2000 feet and 4000 feet before entering a climb to about 7000 feet MSL. It then descended toward the ground; the last radar target was observed at 2007:39.


September 1, 2020, Midland, Mich.

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche 250

The airplane was destroyed at 1245 Eastern time, during an off-airport forced landing following a reported engine failure. The pilot was seriously injured and the pilot-rated passenger was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane arrived at the local airport at 1205 and performed two touch-and-go landings before making a full-stop landing and taxiing to the self-serve fuel pump. Records show 18 gallons of fuel were added before it took off at 1237 and climbing to 2550 feet MSL. It then began a right turn back toward the departure airport, with a pilot reporting an engine failure. Shortly thereafter, the flight reported it was making a forced landing in a field. During the forced landing, the airplane struck a large grass-covered mound of dirt before coming to rest.


September 3, 2020, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Cessna 340A

At about 0715 Central time, the airplane’s right windscreen blew out at FL180. The solo pilot was not injured. Flight conditions were not reported. The pilot returned to his departure airport and landed uneventfully. The windshield is considered part of the structure of a pressurized aircraft, resulting in substantial damage.


September 4, 2020, Three Rivers, Calif.

Beechcraft V35B Bonanza

The airplane was destroyed at about 1148 Pacific time when it apparently was involved in a controlled-flight-into terrain accident. The pilot and the passenger sustained fatal injuries.

After the pilot’s family members became concerned when he did not arrive at his intended destination, the FAA issued an alert notice and a search for the airplane was begun. The wreckage was discovered in mountainous terrain in Sequoia National Park early the next day. According to first responders, a post-crash fire ensued following impact. Preliminary radar data depict the airplane flying toward rising terrain, with its last radar target being recorded at about 1148. The airplane was in an area of reduced visibility due to smoke from nearby wildfires.


September 5, 2020, Newnan, GA.

American Aviation AA-1 Yankee Clipper

At about 1850 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during an off-field forced landing following an engine failure. The flight instructor and pilot receiving instruction were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While practicing a simulated engine failure in the airport traffic pattern, the pilot applied full power to go around at about 300 feet AGL. The engine did not respond, however, and remained at a low power setting. The flight instructor took control of the airplane, but he was not able to increase engine power and the airplane continued to descend. The airplane touched down on the right side of Runway 32, impacted a lighted taxiway sign box, veered sharply to the left and subsequently impacted the trees bordering the west side of the airport property.


September 7, 2020, Bonham, Texas

Piper PA-32R-301T Turbo Saratoga SP

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0810 Central time during a post-maintenance test flight. The pilot and passenger were not injured. Flight conditions were not reported.

According to the pilot, the airplane was on its first flight after maintenance work was completed, including replacement of the exhaust system. Shortly after departure, the pilot noted high turbine inlet and cylinder head temperatures, and elected to return to the airport. About two miles short of the airport, the engine experienced a total loss of power. During the subsequent forced landing, the landing gear collapsed in soft terrain.


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

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