General Aviation Accident Bulletin, April 17, 2023

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

January 11, 2023, Dayton, Va.

Piper PA-32R-301 Saratoga SP

At about 1809 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain. The solo non-instrument-rated private pilot was fatally injured. Night instrument conditions prevailed at the accident site.

Earlier, the pilot flew the accident airplane from Alabama to Winchester, Virginia. A passenger was dropped off, the airplane was refueled and the pilot departed on the return flight at about 1739. At 1741, the pilot requested and received flight-following services from ATC and climbed to 6500 feet MSL. At about 1803, the pilot advised ATC he was going to descend to 5500 feet for a few minutes. The controller acknowledged the altitude change. No further radio transmissions were received from the airplane. At about 1810, the controller broadcast that radar contact was lost.

The accident site was located early the following morning at an approximate elevation of 4000 feet MSL. Examination revealed the propeller blades exhibited leading-edge damage and S-type bending consistent with high engine rpm. Weather recorded at 1755 about 13 miles southeast of the accident site at an elevation of 1165 feet included visibility of seven statute miles and a broken ceiling at 3800 feet. Sunset occurred at 1715; the end of civil twilight was at 1745.

January 11, 2023, Auburn, Neb.

Cessna 150H

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1924 Central time when it collided with terrain under unknown circumstances. The flight instructor and student pilot were fatally injured. Night visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane departed Lincoln, Nebraska, at about 1845, climbed to 3500 feet MSL and proceeded southeast. About six miles northwest of its presumed destination, the airplane began descending. The last ADS-B data point at 19:22:26 showed the airplane about 1.1 miles west of that airport at 105 knots groundspeed and about 1900 feet MSL/1000 feet AGL. The airplane impacted a farm field on a southeasterly heading about 1.2 miles south of the Runway 34 threshold at the destination, coming to rest upright. The initial impact point included depressions in the field of all three landing gear, with the nose landing gear axle and nose landing gear steering rods found nearby.

January 12, 2023, Dawsonville, GA

Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee 180

At about 2017 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it struck terrain after an apparent loss of control. The solo non-instrument-rated private pilot was fatally injured. Night instrument conditions prevailed.

According to FBO personnel at the departure airport, KCNI, the pilot arrived via rental car at about 1600 and requested that his airplane be fueled. The FBO was unable to fuel the airplane at that time due to heavy rain and lightning nearby, and discussed with the pilot his plan to take off in poor weather and at night. The pilot stated he had an international flight scheduled the next day, departing from Washington, D.C., and asked, “After the rain passes it should be fine, right?” After further discussion, the FBO staff booked a local hotel and provided the airport gate code in case the pilot wanted to access his airplane before the FBO opened the next morning.

The pilot returned to the airport later in the evening after the FBO had closed and fueled the airplane from the self-service pump. Preliminary ADS-B data show the airplane departed KCNI’s Runway 23 at 2005 that evening. The airplane flew various headings to the east-northeast and reached a peak altitude of about 7200 feet MSL. In the final two minutes of flight, the airplane began to descend, entering a series of tight turns before it entered a rapidly descending spiral. The airplane impacted wooded terrain at an elevation of 1250 feet MSL about 14 miles northeast of KCNI.

January 13, 2023, Wasilla, Alaska

Taylorcraft BL-65

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1545 Alaska time during a precautionary off-field landing. The solo pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After a heavy snowfall, the forward fuel tank cap was found dislodged, allowing snow to accumulate into the tank. During his preflight check, only a small amount of water was found in the forward fuel tank. After takeoff, the engine began to run rough, so he made a precautionary landing on a remote road and found additional water in the tank. The pilot’s mechanic then traveled to the airplane, drained fuel from the carburetor, and test-ran the engine. The pilot then took off from the road but the engine began to run rough again. The pilot again landed on the road but the right wing impacted a street sign and the airplane came to rest in a ditch.

This article originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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  1. All these VFR pilots crashing at night? In the early 70s, when I earned my PPL, I had 5 hours under the hood including unusual attitude recovery and practicing 180 degree turns and a practice GCA approach during a dual night X-country. Do they not do this stuff anymore?

  2. Yes, they do it. However, some people never learn. It’s not often that I do night VFR. But when I do, it’s just about 100% VFR. And usually local. The one time I wasn’t local, I was right next to a highway. Leading to my target destination airport.

  3. One of my workmates, a non-instrument rated pilot crashed at night on approach, taking his wife and best friend with him. It was totally avoidable. He was a relatively new PP and did not meet the minimums for flying at night. Attitude is actually what killed him.