General Aviation Accident Bulletin

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents.

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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.


October 1, 2020, Burlington, Wash.

Zenith CH601 Experimental

At about 1500 Pacific time, the airplane sustained substantial damage when it crashed short of the runway. The solo private pilot was not injured; visual conditions prevailed.

After taking off on the first flight of the day, the pilot remained in the traffic pattern. During the turn from base to final and at about 300 feet AGL, the engine lost all power. The pilot immediately retracted the flaps, used CTAF to alert other pilots and attempted an engine restart. The restart attempt was unsuccessful, and the pilot initiated a forced landing, coming to rest about 1500 feet short of the runway.


October 1, 2020, Green Sea, S.C.

Beechcraft M35 Bonanza

The airplane was substantially damaged at 2004 Eastern time during a forced landing. The private pilot and the passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

While in cruise at 5500 feet MSL and nearing the intended destination, the pilot switched fuel tanks and began a descent. When he disconnected the autopilot to initiate the descent, the engine “went back to idle, like someone had pulled the throttle back.” He said he moved the power control levers full forward, checked switch positions and tried all positions on the fuel selector, but power was not restored. The pilot informed ATC of the power loss and was advised of the closest airport. The airplane collided with trees and terrain about one mile west of the divert airport.


October 1, 2020, Wake, VA

Fokker DR1 Replica Experimental

At 1125 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it struck a wire while its pilot maneuvered for an engine-out landing. The pilot was not injured; Visual conditions prevailed.

About 25 minutes after takeoff, while in cruise flight at about 1500 feet MSL, the engine suddenly lost all power. Attempts to restart the engine were unsuccessful. As the airplane descended for a forced landing to a field, it struck a wire and slowed “substantially.” It then impacted the edge of a bean field and nosed over into an adjacent grass field. After coming to rest, the pilot noticed fuel leaking from the fuel tank filler neck.

Examination revealed fuel in the tank was blue and absent of contaminants. The fuel inlet line was disconnected from the carburetor, and no fuel ran out from the line. First responders reported that “several gallons” of fuel had leaked from the fuel filler neck onto the ground.


October 2, 2020, Corfu, N.Y.

Socata TBM 700

At about 1145 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain after an uncontrolled descent. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The airplane departed Manchester, N.H., at 1019 and climbed to cruise at FL280 until about 1142. The pilot did not check in with the Boston ARTCC during a routine handoff but subsequently re-established communication with ATC about 15 miles east of Buffalo, N.Y., while still at FL280, and requested the ILS Runway 23 approach. The controller instructed the pilot to descend to 8000 feet and expect the ILS Runway 23 approach, then asked if everything was okay. The pilot responded, “Yes sir, everything’s fine.”

The controller observed the airplane descending rapidly on radar and instructed the pilot to stop the descent at 10,000 feet, but there was no response. Over the final three minutes of the flight, the airplane accelerated from its cruise groundspeed of 250 knots to more than 340 knots as it passed through 15,200 feet MSL. Its estimated descent rate was 13,800 fpm. The airplane made one right 360-degree turn before radar contact was lost. Several witnesses reported the engine sounded very loud before they heard the impact. The smell of Jet A aviation fuel was noted at the accident site by first responders.


October 2, 2020, Lake Elmo, Minn.

Piper PA-46-500TP Malibu Meridian

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1512 Central time when its turbine engine failed shortly after takeoff. The solo airline transport pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that, shortly after takeoff and following landing gear retraction, he noticed a “hiccup” in the engine’s power and immediately started a turn back toward the airport. During the turn, all engine power was lost and the pilot executed a forced landing into a field of standing corn.

The airplane impacted the terrain, bounced and came to rest upright in the corn about ½ mile off the departure end of the takeoff runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to its right wing as a result of the impact and post-crash fire.


This article originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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