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.
August 7, 2021, Victoria, Minn.
Mooney M20M TLS/Bravo
At about 1740 Central time, the airplane was destroyed when it apparently broke up in-flight while maneuvering for an ILS approach. The private pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. Instrument conditions prevailed.
After being cleared for the approach and while about 9.5 miles from the runway threshold on final approach, the airplane tracked left of the ILS course and descended below 2700 feet MSL before transitioning to a right turn and descending below 2500 feet MSL. A low-altitude alert was triggered, which the pilot acknowledged. The airplane subsequently made an abrupt left turn and entered a rapid descent, during which radar contact and communications were lost.
Several witnesses heard loud popping noises and observed the airplane in a rapid descent with both wings “folded up.” Security video near the accident site revealed the airplane was upright at ground impact, with both wings deflected up toward a vertical position. Examination of the wreckage revealed both had separated from the fuselage, with both wings’ main and rear spars fractured outboard of their respective main landing gear. The left horizontal stabilizer and left elevator were found about 720 and 800 feet southwest of the accident site, respectively.
August 9, 2021, Hiddenite, N.C.
Diamond DA42 Twin Star
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1335 Eastern time when its crew reportedly experienced a jammed pitch control. The flight instructor (CFI) and a private pilot were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
After completing several maneuvers and simulating emergency procedures, the two initiated a simulated left engine fire and emergency descent. The left engine was shut down, with its throttle, propeller and mixture controls fully closed. During the descent, the attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) failed and the CFI directed the private pilot to recover “gradually and easily” at 3500 feet msl and maintain 90 knots as the AHRS displayed a message that it was aligning/calibrating.
The CFI had noticed the airspeed had increased through 100 knots and altitude had decreased to about 3000 feet when the private pilot stated, “I can’t pitch up.” About this time, the right engine—the only one operating—began to sputter. The CFI took control, moved the mixture, propeller and throttle controls for both engines fully forward, and ensured the landing gear and flaps were up. However, he also was unable to increase the pitch and stop the descent, later reporting “it felt as if we were unable to fully pull the control stick back, as if it were restricted preventing full movement.” Both engines regained power, but he felt they “were not producing normal operation power.” After selecting a landing area, the CFI kept his hands on the control stick as the private pilot lowered the landing gear and added full flaps for landing. Subsequently, the airplane touched down nose-low in a soybean field, impacted a ditch and skidded to a stop.
Initial examination established flight control continuity. The manual elevator trim wheel indicated a slight nose-down setting. The autopilot circuit breaker was found pulled and collared. Both wing tanks contained fuel and no oil spray was observed on the engine cowling or fuselage.
August 9, 2021, Ocklawaha, Fla.
Pitts Model 12 Experimental
At about 1335 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it reportedly struck the surface of a lake. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
A witness’s video showed the airplane in an inverted flat spin, followed by a nose-down spin to water contact. The pilot and passenger were wearing parachutes. The pilot was observed exiting the airplane at a low altitude but the video did not capture the parachute deploying before water contact. Examination established flight control continuity from the cockpit to the rudder and elevator. The throttle control was full forward and the propeller control was mid-range. The propeller remained attached to the engine, but all three propeller blades were separated at the hub.