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

November 6, 2020, Greenville, Mich.

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee 140

The airplane was substantially damaged at 2045 Eastern time during a night, off-airport emergency landing following engine failure. The commercial pilot and two passengers were uninjured.

On returning from a night cross-country flight, the pilot made a low (approximately 500- foot) pass over Runway 36 to check for deer before turning right to land on Runway 28. During the right turn, the engine lost power and subsequent engine restart attempts were unsuccessful. The pilot then performed a forced landing to a partially harvested corn field. During the landing, the airplane sustained substantial damage.

The pilot later stated he switched from the left fuel tank to the right one before entering the airport traffic pattern. Based on his fuel calculations, he said there should have been seven gallons of fuel remaining in each tank. Post-accident examination revealed about a pint of fuel in the left fuel tank and about 12 gallons in the right one.

November 7, 2020, Ardmore, Okla.

Ercoupe 415-C

At about 0805 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged when collided with terrain after the aileron controls reportedly jammed. The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries and the two passengers sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed for the sightseeing flight.

As the airplane flew over a neighborhood, the pilot executed a left bank. One passenger later reported the pilot stated, “this is bad,” and was unable to control the ailerons and return the airplane to level flight. The pilot attempted to move the control yoke multiple times, to no avail. The pilot then attempted to land in an open field but the airplane impacted a tree and came to rest inverted. The NTSB noted that the airplane manufacturer’s documentation states it seats two.

November 10, 2020, Grass Valley, Calif.

Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1540 Pacific time while maneuvering for an off-airport landing after a reported loss of engine power. The solo pilot was fatally injured.

While in cruise at 5500 feet AGL, the pilot reported a loss of engine power to ATC. At 1536:25, the pilot executed a 180-degree right turn to the north as the airplane began to descend. He made a 180-degree left turn about two minutes later, at 1539:22, when ADS-B data ceased, approximately 0.3 nm west of the accident site. A witness observed the airplane fly over him in a steep, controlled, left turn, and then roll level in a steady descent before it disappeared behind trees. The airplane came to rest inverted. Both propeller blades remained attached to the engine and were bent slightly aft but did not exhibit any nicks, gouges or chordwise striations.

November 11, 2020, Langley, Wash.

Cessna 177B Cardinal

At 1144 Pacific time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain after its pilot reported it was unable to hold altitude. The private pilot and flight instructor aboard were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route at 6500 feet msl, the airplane slowed and began to descend. The pilots reported to ATC they were declaring an emergency, stating the airplane was at full power, but “was in a slow descent and unable to hold altitude.” The airplane then turned toward a nearby airport in a descending “S” turn. The last radar data point was over the runway at about 300 feet. The airplane impacted the ground in a nose-low attitude about 153 feet west of the runway surface.

November 12, 2020, Rockwall, Texas

Cessna 182R Skylane

The airplane was substantially damaged during an attempted go-around at about 1306 Central time. The private pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan.

After its pilot cancelled IFR, the airplane’s ADS-B track depicted it joining the left downwind for Runway 35, which is designated right traffic. Surface winds were from 290 degrees at six knots. Other pilots in the traffic pattern were using Runway 17, and did not hear the accident airplane on the local CTAF. Video cameras recorded portions of the pilot’s landing attempt, which appeared to include a fast approach and touchdown.

As the airplane approached the runway’s departure end, smoke was seen from its main-wheel tires. It overran the runway, but became airborne and descended in a nose-high attitude toward lower terrain until it struck power lines about 440 feet beyond the runway’s departure end. The airplane then spiraled to the ground. A pilot with his window open while awaiting takeoff from Runway 17 reported hearing the accident airplane’s engine increase to full power.

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

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