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

December 6, 2020, South Boston, VA

ERCO 415-C Ercoupe

At about 1618 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during an emergency landing to a road following engine failure. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later reported the airplane had 25 gallons of fuel aboard at takeoff. The pilot had performed three takeoffs and landings, followed by sightseeing near his home when, about 45 minutes after the initial takeoff, the engine experienced a partial loss of power. The pilot applied carburetor heat and used the primer to inject fuel into the engine but it eventually lost all power. During the forced landing, the airplane struck a mailbox, substantially damaging the right wing.

December 8, 2020, Hitchcock, Texas

Van’s RV-6 Experimental

The airplane was destroyed at about 1540 Central time following a series of erratic low-level maneuvers. The pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Earlier, witnesses observed the pilot working on the airplane in front of his hangar. At about 1415, the airplane’s engine started and a witness observed the airplane begin a takeoff to the west from the ramp area, bouncing, pitching and yawing as it accelerated. Another pilot observed the airplane “shoot out” of the ramp area about 200 yards in front of him and become airborne as it entered the grass. He indicated the pilot appeared to be having trouble controlling the airplane.

Shortly before the accident, additional witnesses observed the airplane at low altitude above a residential area. They reported the engine sounded normal. A witness near the accident site reported hearing a loud noise as her house began to shake. She described the airplane as “out of control” as it went down, wobbling and moving unusually before it hit the ground. Engine noise was constant before the airplane impacted terrain.

December 12, 2020, Attalla, Ala.

Beech V35A Bonanza

At about 1249 Central time, the airplane was destroyed when it collided with terrain. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Nearby weather included marginal visual conditions; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan.

The airplane was in cruise flight at 9000 feet MSL at 1248:09, when it began a right descending turn and 32 seconds later was at about 7000 feet MSL. When ATC attempted to contact the pilot, most of his response was unintelligible. By 1248:47, the airplane had turned 360 degrees and was descending through 5500 feet as the turn tightened. There were no further communications from the pilot. The last ADS-B target at 1248:54 recorded the airplane over a wooded area at about 3600 feet MSL. The airplane impacted an open field about 1260 feet from the last ADS-B target. Both stabilizers and ruddervator trim tabs, and pieces of both ruddervators were found near the main wreckage; the tip of one ruddervator was not located.

December 12, 2020, Nashville, Tenn.

Piper PA-24-180 Comanche 180

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1250 Central time during an off-airport landing following engine failure. The solo commercial pilot incurred minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The pilot later reported that he departed with 54 gallons of fuel and switched tanks every 30 minutes. About seven nautical miles from the destination, he observed a “significant drop in manifold pressure and change in engine noise, best described as a steady roll-back.” The pilot pitched for best glide speed and began looking for an open area in which to land while attempting to restore power. The airplane touched down hard and skidded to a stop in the field.

A total of about eight gallons of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank; less than half a cup was drained from the right fuel tank; there was no evidence of fuel in the electric fuel pump nor was there leakage at the accident site. The pilot reported he had not activated carburetor heat in the 30 minutes before the engine failure and did not engage it afterward. The FAA Carburetor Icing Chart indicated the airplane was at risk of serious icing at glide power given the atmospheric conditions reported near the accident site.

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

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