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

April 1, 2021, Augusta, Kan.

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee 140

At about 1630 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing following an engine power loss. The two pilots aboard were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot-in-command reported that he was performing a practice VOR/DME-A instrument approach with a safety pilot. Shortly after the airplane passed the final approach fix inbound, the engine lost power. The pilot’s efforts to restore engine power were not successful. The pilot-in-command executed a forced landing to a field. The airplane’s right wing struck a fence post during the landing, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage and right wing.

April 3, 2021, Pearland, Texas

Beech B35 Bonanza

The airplane was substantially damaged in an off-airport landing at about 0735 Central time, when its engine lost power shortly after takeoff. The pilot and three passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot purchased the airplane in October 2020; it had undergone “extensive maintenance” to troubleshoot excessive engine rpm but flew uneventfully the day before. Before the accident flight, the pilot performed a thorough runup with no anomalies noted, and then added full power and began a takeoff from the turf runway. Engine instruments indicated full power was being produced but the airplane did not accelerate as fast as normal. At 75 KIAS, the pilot lifted off but noted rpm was about 2300 and decreasing. Unable to abort the takeoff on the remaining runway, he flew in ground effect until accelerating to about 85 KIAS, when he pitched the nose up to climb. Engine rpm continued to decrease, however, to about 1900. The pilot flew under powerlines at the end of the runway and initiated a precautionary landing to a field. During the descent, the airplane’s right wing impacted a tree about 15 feet above the ground; the airplane landed on its belly and slid to a stop.

April 3, 2021, College Park, MD

Mooney M20C

At about 1248 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when its engine lost power during a takeoff attempt. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot and co-owner previously had found water in the fuel tanks, which necessitated replacing the fuel cap O-rings and installing covers. When he arrived at the airport for his flight, the covers were not on the wings. During his preflight inspection, he found a piece of orange paint in the sample of fuel taken from the right fuel tank and, “a bunch of water” in the left fuel tank. He sumped the left tank until the sample was clear with no water. He did not drain the selector valve sump as part of his inspection and placed the fuel selector to the left tank where it remained.

Experiencing a high fuel pressure reading, he turned off the fuel pump before initiating the takeoff. After lifting off at 83 mph and while still over the runway, the engine began to “cough/sputter” and contacted the ground, coming to rest upright near the departure end of the runway. Examination revealed water in the flexible fuel hose from the firewall to the engine-driven fuel pump. About five ounces of liquid were drained from the carburetor bowl; it was about equal parts water and fuel.

April 5, 2021, Springfield, Tenn.

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec

The airplane was destroyed at about 0950 Central time when it collided with terrain shortly after takeoff. The flight instructor and the commercial-rated student pilot were seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Witnesses heard at least one engine making “continuous sputtering/backfiring” sounds and stated that the airplane “didn’t climb much above 100 [feet] AGL” while on runway heading. The landing gear remained extended until the departure end of the runway. Shortly thereafter, it entered a shallow left turn until disappearing behind a tree line.

A preliminary review of ADS-B and radar data depicts the airplane achieving a groundspeed of 86 knots at about midfield, but slowing and never flying faster than an 80-knot groundspeed in a shallow climb for about a mile. At about 200 feet AGL, the airplane entered a descending, decelerating left turn, which tightened until reaching the accident site at about ground level and 59 knots groundspeed.

The left engine’s propeller blades appeared undamaged and approximately in a feathered position. The right engine’s propeller blades displayed twisting, bending, leading edge gouging, chordwise scratching and tip curling.

April 6, 2021, Arcadia, Fla.

Beech A36 Bonanza

At about 1110 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged in an off-airport landing following engine failure. The pilot was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After takeoff and at about 800 feet MSL, the pilot reduced engine rpm to 2300. Minutes later, he noticed engine rpm had risen to 2500 and the oil pressure gauge read zero. The pilot turned back to the airport but the engine “locked and the propeller stopped turning.” The airplane was at about 1700 feet MSL and the pilot subsequently performed a forced landing to a field. The airplane’s right wing and cowling were substantially damaged.

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

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