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 13, 2020, Citra, Fla.
Aero Commander 100
At about 2015 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it crashed as the pilot attempted to land on an unlighted runway. The solo student pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
The airplane took off at 1930. About 15 minutes later the pilot called his sister, informed her that he had lost sight of the runway and the airplane was low on fuel, and asked her to take her car to the runway and light it up with the headlights. Additional neighbors arrived and attempted to light up the runway with their vehicles’ headlights, but the airplane appeared to fly toward the east, away from the runway. The sister lost contact with the pilot at about 2014 and attempted to call him back several times, but was unable.
The airplane was subsequently located about two miles southeast of the airport. It had impacted a swampy area in five feet of water with dense brush. It was inverted in a nose-down attitude and partially submerged.
October 18, 2020, Spearfish, S.D.
Cessna 182Q Skylane
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1200 Mountain time when it was hit by a snowplow. The commercial pilot and the passenger were uninjured. Visual conditions prevailed.
Before taxiing, the pilot observed a snowplow working on the runway, then turn off it. The pilot made a radio call on CTAF announcing that he was taxiing from the ramp to Runway 13 and then changed to the local departure control frequency. Approximately 200 feet from the end of the taxiway, near the threshold of Runway 13, the airplane was struck from behind by the snowplow.
The snowplow driver stated he always makes radio calls on CTAF when plowing on the runway and when exiting the runway. He does not make radio calls while on taxiways. He said it was difficult to see the airplane due to a lack of contrast with the surrounding snow-covered terrain.
October 21, 2020, Slidell, LA
Beechcraft V35A Bonanza
At 1431 Central time, the airplane was destroyed when it collided with terrain shortly after takeoff. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
When the pilot and his flight instructor (CFI) returned from conducting practice approaches, the CFI exited the airplane with the engine running and entered the airport terminal. He did not witness the pilot’s takeoff. Recorded ADS-B data show the airplane took off at 1315, spent an hour or so maneuvering to the north, then appeared to land at the departure airport at about 1421. At 1431:32, the airplane took off again. As it crossed the runway’s departure end, it turned left. The final ADS-B data point was recorded at 1431:47, at about 200 feel AGL.
At about 1800, a second pilot observed smoke and a fire in the woods northwest of the airport. First responders later reported the airplane was no longer on fire and was cool to the touch. The CFI stated the accident airplane was functioning normally but that its autopilot “would not track the course in NAV mode.” The CFI added that the accident pilot was relaxed and under no apparent stress.
October 25, 2020, Baxley, GA
American Aviation AA-5 Traveler
The airplane was substantially damaged at 1337 Eastern time during a forced landing following engine failure. The private pilot sustained minor injuries; the two passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
At 500 feet AGL in the initial climb, engine instruments “looked good,” according to the pilot. At 600 feet, he noticed a “significant loss of power.” He lowered the nose to gain speed but the airplane did not accelerate and began losing altitude. The airplane came to rest in a wooded area.
Examination of the fuel boost pump and the line to the engine-driven fuel pump revealed blue fuel with some sediment in both. Heavy soot was present on the exhaust riser adjacent to the carburetor heat muff. Removal of the heat muff revealed a 0.125-inch hole in the exhaust riser, with cracks emanating from each side. Soot was present in the carburetor heat system and in the carburetor throat and venturi. According to the airplane owner, the airplane had not been flown in the 10 years prior to his purchasing it about four months prior to the accident. The airplane had accrued about 200 hours since that purchase, with two 100-hour inspections having been performed.
October 26, 2020, Lubbock, Texas
Cessna 210 Centurion
At 1558 Central time, the airplane was destroyed while its pilot attempted to divert after encountering icing conditions. The solo instrument-rated private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight was operated on an IFR flight plan.
The first approach attempt failed, so ATC vectored the pilot to a different fix to fly the same procedure again. When queried by the controller, the pilot reported structural icing and said he was in “freezing rain.” After the airplane crossed the intermediate fix and turned inbound, its groundspeed gradually decreased from about 80 knots to about 50. After crossing the final approach fix, the airplane turned left and descended. The pilot reported experiencing an autopilot issue, and ATC provided new vectors. The airplane continued to descend then made a sharp left turn before the data ended. It came to rest about 200 yards from the final recorded ADS-B point. Despite a post-impact fire consuming major portions of the airplane, FAA inspectors found numerous chunks of ice in the wreckage near the wings, and pieces still attached to some of the airplane’s leading edge surfaces.