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.
January 12, 2021, Sparta, Mich.
Piper PA-32R-301 Saratoga SP
At about 1700 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with a snowbank short of the runway. The pilot and passenger were not injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.
The pilot reported striking a snow bank short of the runway following a GPS approach. The airframe had accumulated about ½ inch of ice during the descent to the airport. According to an FAA inspector, the airplane touched down about 18 feet short of the runway. The landing gear collapsed, and the airplane skidded down the runway before coming to rest near the 1000-foot touchdown markings, sustaining substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. There were no malfunctions associated with the airplane before the accident.
January 13, 2021, Columbia, S.C.
Beechcraft F33A Bonanza
The airplane was destroyed at about 1033 Eastern time during an attempted missed approach. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR clearance.
Preliminary FAA radar and ATC data indicate the pilot requested any PIREPs at about 1015, and ATC advised the pilot of his missed approach instructions at about 1030. At 1032, the pilot announced he was performing a missed approach and requested additional weather information. Shortly thereafter, radar contact was lost. The FAA’s radar data depict the accident airplane slightly right of the runway’s extended centerline before crossing it about 0.3 nm from the threshold. The airplane entered a climbing left turn, but then began to descend before radar contact was lost. Witnesses reported the engine sounded normal. The airplane came to rest in a residential backyard. A post-crash fire ensued. The 1053 recorded weather at the destination airport included visibility of ¼ mile in fog and a 200-foot ceiling.
January 13, 2021, Pell City, Ala.
At about 1319 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it was landed off-airport after reported engine failure. The solo pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
According to the pilot, he departed with 14 gallons of fuel in the wing tanks and 12 gallons in the center tank. After a 10-minute flight, he was on approach at about 1500 feet AGL when the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power. The pilot was unable to restart the engine and the airplane’s left wing struck trees and terrain during the forced landing. Examination revealed the airplane came to rest upright in a field with damage to the wings and fuselage. There was no odor of fuel and no evidence of fuel spillage at the scene. The center fuel tank was completely full, and the wing fuel tanks contained only trace amounts of fuel.
January 17, 2021, Richmond Hill, GA
Cessna 177RG Cardinal RG
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1220 Eastern time during an off-airport landing after engine failure. The solo commercial pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
While in cruise flight at 5500 feet MSL, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power. The pilot successfully restarted the engine and radioed “Mayday” to ATC but the engine again lost power. The pilot elected to perform a forced landing to a field, resulting in substantial damage.
January 19, 2021, Leesburg, VA
American Aviation AA-5 Traveler
At about 1055 Eastern time, the airplane sustained substantial damage when its left elevator partially separated in-flight. The flight instructor and student pilot were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
According to the flight instructor, while in smooth air below the airspeed indicator’s yellow arc and in a slight descent, he felt a large shock to the airplane, which began shaking and buffeting violently and loudly. The control yoke was also shaking violently, left and right, and fore and aft. The airplane was pitching up and down. He initially thought there was an engine-related issue, took control of the airplane, applied carburetor heat, reduced the throttle to idle and slowed to the airplane’s best glide speed, 80 mph. The flight instructor executed the engine failure checklist from memory, declared a Mayday to a nearby control tower and circled left, looking for a suitable emergency landing field. The flight instructor then realized engine power was available and was notified by a pilot flying off their right wing that their elevator was “flapping in the wind.”
He flew a straight-in approach and attempted to round out and land normally by reducing power and pulling on the control yoke. Instead, the nose pitched down very quickly, with the nose landing gear striking the runway and the airplane skidding on its nose and propeller. After coming to rest, the airplane was secured and both occupants egressed. Examination of the airplane revealed the left elevator was partially separated, with its outboard portion well below the horizontal stabilizer.