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

September 7, 2020, Canyon Lake, Texas

Beechcraft G35 Bonanza

At about 1247 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing after engine failure. The pilot and one passenger were seriously injured. A second passenger received minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route, the engine lost all power a few minutes after the pilot switched the fuel selector to the left main fuel tank. The pilot attempted a forced landing to a clear area but struck trees on the edge of the clearing and the airplane impacted the ground. The airplane incurred substantial damage to its fuselage and both wings.

September 8, 2020, McMinnville, Tenn.

Piper PA-28-181 Archer II/III

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1130 Central time after its engine failed. The pilot and both passengers were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Review of security video at the departure airport revealed the airplane landed on Runway 23 at about 1123. It then taxied back and took off at about 1128, disappearing from the camera’s view during initial climb about a minute later. A witness heard an airplane engine go silent, then heard the sound of an impact about 30 seconds later. The airplane came to rest upright in a field about 1000 feet northwest of the departure runway. Examination revealed all major components of the airplane were accounted for and remained intact. Fuel remained in both wing fuel tanks. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces and the flaps were retracted. The engine’s No. 4 cylinder head was fractured circumferentially, exposing the top of the piston. The cylinder head was displaced horizontally from the crankcase such that the push-rods and pushrod tubes remained captured in the cylinder head, but were dislodged from the crankcase.

September 9, 2020, Weston, Fla.

Mooney M20R Ovation

At 0935 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when its engine failed and its pilot landed on an Interstate highway. The pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot, about 20 minutes into the flight, at 3500 feet MSL, he “heard a loud pop and the prop sputtered and the engine started losing power.” Oil pressure decreased from 58-60 psi to 0 psi. About 30 seconds later, part of the engine came through the top of the engine cowling, and the engine and propeller stopped completely. The pilot performed a successful forced landing to the right shoulder of the highway and came to a stop. As the pilot and passenger prepared to disembark, a truck struck the airplane’s left wing from behind, and the airplane spun 180 degrees.

Examination revealed the airplane sustained substantial damage to its left wing and both elevators. A hole was in the top left side of the engine cowling and in the engine case near the base of the No. 6 cylinder. Metal debris, including a damaged connecting rod, its separated cap, a piston wristpin, a valve lifter and crankcase fragments, were found in the engine’s oil pan. The engine had accrued a total of 1166 hours since it was installed when the airplane was manufactured in 2006.

September 11, 2020, Jackson, Tenn.

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0252 Central time when it collided with terrain after apparently suffering fuel exhaustion. The pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Surveillance video revealed the accident airplane arrived at an airport in Dickson, Tennessee, at about 2041 the previous day and taxied to the fuel farm. After realizing the fuel pump was locked, the pilot taxied to the parking area. The airplane was next observed around 0200 the following morning taxiing back to the fuel farm. The pilot did not exit the airplane before it departed the airport at about 0206.

At about 0248, the pilot told ATC he was experiencing a fuel issue and requested a deviation to an airport near Jackson, Tennessee. The controller provided a heading and asked the pilot to report the airport in sight. No further communications were received from the pilot. The airplane was located later that morning about 1.5 miles west of the divert airport in a wooded area. Examination revealed all major components were present. There was no odor of fuel at the accident site. No fuel was found in the intact left-wing fuel tank. The right wing sustained substantial damage and its fuel tank was breached. The fuel inlet line attached to the manifold valve was removed and was absent of fuel. A trace amount of fuel was found in the engine driven fuel pump inlet line.

September 11, 2020, Van Nuys, Calif.

North American Navion B

At 1500 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed when it crashed into a parking lot shortly after takeoff. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Witnesses reported the airplane departed to the south at a lower-than-normal altitude, and start-ed a right turn much earlier than most airplanes. As it turned, they heard a “pop” and the airplane made a “hard right” turn. The airplane then descended nose-down with the wings at a slight angle and went out of sight as it impacted a parking lot about ½ mile from the runway surface. A post-crash fire ensued.

September 11, 2020, Melbourne, Fla.

Van’s RV-6A Experimental

The airplane was substantially damaged at 0915 Eastern time during an attempted dead-stick landing to beach. The pilot and passenger received minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed. After some pattern work, the pi-lot flew east to an offshore practice area to continue flight maneuvers. “Suddenly,” the engine started running “very rough,” and the pilot enrichened the mixture. Shortly after, the engine shuddered and came to a “hard stop.” The pilot made a forced landing on a beach and the airplane came to rest inverted, damaging the vertical stabilizer.

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

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