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 2, 2021, Cleveland, Texas

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza

At about 1415 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged during an emergency landing to a highway after powerplant failure. There were no injuries. Visual conditions prevailed under an overcast.

While en route at 6000 feet MSL on an IFR flight plan, the engine suddenly lost power. The pilot later reported he was not changing or manipulating anything at the time of the power loss. The pilot turned toward a nearby airport and attempted to restart the engine several times, but he could not restore fuel flow. After breaking out of the overcast at about 3000 feet MSL, the pilot realized that he would not reach the divert airport and elected to land on a nearby highway. During the landing, the right wingtip struck a road sign. The airplane left the highway and came to rest nose down in a ditch.

December 3, 2021, Bonnerdale, Ark.

Cessna 182L Skylane

The airplane was destroyed at about 1823 Central time when it apparently flew into terrain under control. The non-instrument-rated private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed at the accident site.

The accident airplane was leader in a flight of two that departed Mendin, Louisiana, at about 1738, destined for Clarksville, Arkansas, a distance of 169 NM. The non-instrument-rated pilot of the second airplane later stated the pair launched into scattered clouds at 1500 feet AGL and an overcast ceiling at 2000 feet. They decided to cruise at 1500 feet MSL and agreed on a divert airport. The second pilot stated the weather shortly after takeoff was “already sketchy”; he was able to see the ground, but there was no forward visibility.

As the two airplanes neared Hot Springs, Arkansas, they “were in full IMC” and flying at 1600 feet MSL, 140 knots and on a 351-degree heading. The second pilot’s traffic display informed him the accident airplane had turned to a southeast heading. About 30 seconds later, he received a 500-foot altitude warning from his EFB app and initiated an immediate full-power climb. He continued the flight at 3500 feet MSL and did not exit IMC until reaching the Danville, Arkansas, area.

The accident airplane’s ADS-B data show it beginning a gradual descent about 1.5 NM south of a 1095-foot-high mountain, followed by a shallow right turn. The accident airplane impacted the north side of the mountain and came to rest at an elevation of 1071 feet MSL.

December 4, 2021, Visalia, Calif.

Beechcraft V35 Bonanza

At about 1840 Pacific time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. The instrument-rated private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed.

A witness reported that, while in her residence, she heard an airplane flying very low, followed by the sound of it impacting terrain, and notified first responders. The accident site was one mile southwest of the departure end of Runway 30. The airplane’s ADS-B data show it departed Runway 30, elevation 294 feet MSL, at 0237:01 and climbed to 400 feet MSL before a left turn was initiated. The airplane reached 525 feet MSL before a descent began. The airplane descended in a left turn until the last data point, at 0237:37, at an altitude of 300 feet MSL, about 660 feet northwest of the accident site. Reported weather at 1847 Pacific time included wind from 300 degrees at six knots, visibility of 1¼ statute miles and an overcast at 300 feet AGL, with both temperature and dewpoint of nine degrees C.

December 5, 2021, Medford, Ore.

Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain

The airplane was substantially damaged at 1652 Pacific time when its pilot apparently lost control in instrument conditions shortly after takeoff. The instrument-rated pilot and passenger were fatally injured.

After arriving at the airport on November 24, the airplane was leaking fuel from the right wing root. The pilot arranged to make the necessary repairs and drove a rental car back home to Nevada. Earlier on the day of the accident, the pilot and passenger arrived to fly the repaired airplane.

According to ATC data, the airplane departed about 1649. After crossing over the south end of the runway, it climbed to about 1550 feet MSL (200 feet AGL). It then began a gradual climbing right turn to 1950 feet MSL at between 120-130 knots. As the turn continued, the airplane momentarily descended to 1650 feet MSL (about 350 feet AGL with airspeed increasing to 160 knots. The turn rate increased, resulting in a 360-degree turn, accompanied by a climb to 2050 feet MSL. The airplane descended below the cloud layer, and then climbed back into it. The next-to-last data point showed 2250 feet MSL (900 feet AGL) with the derived airspeed below 15 knots.

Security-video footage showed the airplane descending below the cloud layer and then climbing back into it. About 16 seconds later, the airplane is seen descending in a near-vertical attitude.

December 7, 2021, Tallahassee, Fla.

Beechcraft S35 Bonanza

At about 0757 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged in an off-airport landing following powerplant failure. The solo instrument-rated pilot received minor injuries. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan was in effect.

While in cruise at 6000 feet MSL, the pilot reported smelling burning oil and requested the nearest airport “that was not covered in fog.” Then he watched as the oil pressure dropped to zero and declared an emergency. The controller turned the flight toward Tallahassee, Florida, and descended it to 3000 feet for the ILS Runway 27 approach. The engine soon quit and the airplane descended through the fog. The pilot stated, “I saw trees and didn’t believe I would make it over them, so I pointed the airplane between two large trees and pulled the nose up.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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  1. “they ‘were in full IMC’ and flying at 1600 feet MSL, 140 knots and on a 351-degree heading. … He continued the flight at 3500 feet MSL and did not exit IMC until reaching the Danville, Arkansas, area.”

    Wow. Just wow.

    I have little sympathy for pilots who kill themselves when pushing into IMC when not rated.

    But I have a lot of sympathy for innocents on the ground, or innocent passengers who are killed by someone else’s recklessness.

    I wonder how often this happens nowadays with GPS EFB’s and GPS A/P’s giving VFR only pilots a false sense of confidence? I recently saw a twin take off from KPAN into LIFR. I could tell by ear that he did not follow the published Instrument Departure, and I could hear the props overspeeding for a while as he turned downwind toward Phoenix. I fully expected to see him spinning out of the clouds into the ground.

    Another unfortunate aspect to doing this is that we, who are flying by the Rules, don’t expect uncontrolled aircraft to be flying in our protected airspace. The entire IFR system is built on trust that everyone is playing by the Rules.