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 12, 2020, Billings, Mon.

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche

At about 1143 Mountain time, the airplane was destroyed when it landed short after a reported double engine failure. The solo airline transport pilot was seriously injured; visual conditions prevailed.

When the pilot contacted ATC for a landing clearance, he mentioned one engine was “out” but did not share details or declare an emergency. On short final, the pilot told ATC he lost the second engine. The airplane landed short of the runway against a cliffside.


September 13, 2020, Groton, S.D.

American Champion 8KCAB Decathlon

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1100 Central time when its pilot apparently attempted an aerobatic maneuver shortly after liftoff. The commercial pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to a witness, the airplane remained in ground effect after liftoff and then the nose pitched up to an estimated 45-degree angle. The airplane rolled right to inverted and exited the roll maneuver in a nose-low attitude prior to impact with the ground. One witness estimated the roll was initiated at between 75 and 100 feet AGL. Two witnesses reported that the maneuver appeared intentional due to the rapid roll rate.


September 13, 2020, Steinhatchee, Fla.

Van’s RV-9 Experimental

At about 1215 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted the Gulf of Mexico for unknown reasons. The pilot and a pilot-rated passenger are presumed to be fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed.

While en route on an IFR flight plan, the pilot requested to divert to a nearby airport due to weather and was cleared for an approach. About 25 miles west-northwest of the divert airport, the airplane turned left into an area of precipitation. Radar and radio contact were lost. A search was initiated and the airplane was found in shallow water, about one mile offshore and about 22 miles from the divert airport. At this writing, the airplane’s occupants have not been located.


September 19, 2020, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1159 Eastern time during a forced landing. The pilot and the seven passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the FAR Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight.

The left engine stopped producing power about 10-15 miles offshore over the Atlantic Ocean. The pilot’s remedial actions restored power, but both engines quit while the airplane was on left base for the runway. The pilot said he was “too low and too slow” to get lined up to land on the runway and made a forced landing on the grass between it and a taxiway, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage.


September 19, 2020, Stockton, Calif.

North American B-25N Mitchell

At about 1925 Pacific time, the warbird was substantially damaged during an off-field landing after both engines began intermittently losing and regaining power. One pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries, and one pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

While the airplane was en route, the left engine’s fuel pressure fluctuated and the engine briefly lost power before regaining it. The pilot turned on the cross-feed fuel valve and, a short time later, about five miles from their intended destination, fuel pressure fluctuations were observed in both engines, which began intermittently losing and regaining power.

The pilot turned away from a populated area and initiated an off-airport landing. During the landing roll, he observed a ditch and was able to get the airplane airborne briefly to avoid it, how-ever, he was not able to avoid a second large ditch. The airplane struck the second ditch, again be-came airborne and impacted the ground in a nose-low attitude.

When the airplane came to rest, all three landing gear had collapsed, and both the left and right engines were separated from their respective attach points. The fuselage sustained substantial damage.


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

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