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 and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s web site at Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

August 1, 2017, Phoenix, Ariz.

Grumman AA-1B Trainer

At about 1300 Mountain time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. Both the flight instructor and student pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to witnesses, after the airplane lifted off and was in its initial climb to the west, the wings started to rock back and forth. The airplane began to descend, struck the airport’s western perimeter fence and collided with terrain before coming to rest on a road bordering the airport.

August 3, 2017, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Beech D17S Staggerwing

The airplane was ground-looped during landing at about 1130 Mountain time. The pilot and passenger were not injured, but the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later stated that wind for the landing was a right quartering tailwind at 10 to 13 mph. He made a normal landing with a lot of left rudder application to keep the airplane straight. After touchdown, with the tailwheel on the runway, the airplane drifted to the right. The pilot applied left brake to correct, but the right landing gear collapsed and the airplane continued to the right edge of the runway where it came to rest upright. The pilot stated, “It got away from me, I guess.”

August 3, 2017, Immokalee, Fla.

Pipistrel Virus SW Motorglider

At about 1100 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during a go-around at a private grass airstrip. The private pilot sustained minor injuries; the passenger was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot was attempting to land on a 1200-foot-long strip with 50-foot-tall trees on both ends. After touching down on the first third of the runway, he realized he was not going to stop in time. Instead, he disengaged the air brakes, aborted the landing and attempted to go around. During initial climb, at about 30 feet agl, “the left wing quickly dropped,” before the glider descended and its left wing impacted the ground. The motorglider cartwheeled into the trees about 75 feet left of the runway center and 1000 feet beyond the approach end of the runway. According to the NTSB, the pilot was issued his private pilot glider rating on March 27, 2017, and reported a total time of 33 hours.

August 3, 2017, Rio Linda, Calif.

Lancair IV-TP Experimental

The airplane impacted a residential area at 1503 Pacific time, following loss of engine power while on approach. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured; the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual conditions prevailed.

Data obtained from a Garmin portable GPS show a normal flight until 1459:28. With the airplane at about 6800 feet msl, it began a gradual descent at about 215-200 knots. At 1502:02, the airplane turned onto final approach. The last six hits of the flight track occurred over 35 seconds from 1502:06 to 1502:41. During that time, the airplane’s speed dropped from 130 knots to 91 knots as it descended to about 510 feet. The last data point recorded placed the airplane approximately 790 feet north-northeast of the accident site at 155 feet msl. Numerous witnesses observed the airplane flying toward the airport at a low altitude. The airplane then suddenly made a sharp turn to the right and disappeared into the trees.

August 4, 2017, Athol, Idaho

Rans S9 Chaos Experimental LSA

At about 0900 Pacific time, the airplane was substantially damaged in a hard landing during an aborted takeoff. The solo commercial pilot, who also was the builder and owner, received serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot’s son, this was the kitbuilt airplane’s maiden flight. After conducting an uneventful “high-speed taxi test,” the pilot taxied back and initiated a takeoff. About two seconds after liftoff, the airplane pitched up to a “fairly nose-high attitude” of about 15 to 20 degrees. When the airplane was at about 150 feet agl, a ground crew member observed it to be descending rapidly. The airplane landed hard, collapsed the main landing gear, and came to rest upright near the right edge of the turf runway. There was no fuel leakage or fire. The pilot sustained head injuries despite his shoulder harness.

August 5, 2017, Marion, Ohio

Grob G102 Club Astir IIIB Glider

The glider collided with a tree and terrain at about 1413 Eastern time after releasing from the tow airplane. The pilot received serious injuries and the glider was substantially damaged. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness reported the glider’s left and right-wing spoilers were visible from the ground, and that they were not locked down into the stowed position. He stated that the glider and tow airplane, a Cessna 150, were unable to climb normally with the spoilers extended. The pilot released from the tow airplane at around 150 to 200 feet agl, and tried to make a 180-degree turn back to the runway with the spoilers still extended. The glider’s wing clipped a tree and it crashed in a field.

August 5, 2017, Pittstown, N.J.

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee 140

At about 2242 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a collision with trees and terrain while on approach to land. The student pilot and one passenger were seriously injured; the other passenger received minor injuries. Night visual conditions prevailed.

According to a passenger and the student pilot’s flight instructor, the student pilot had planned to ferry his airplane the following week with his flight instructor to have avionics installed. However, during a family picnic the day of the accident, the student pilot decided to ferry the airplane with the passengers that night, instead of the following week with his instructor. Another family member drove to the destination airport to provide ground transportation. The passenger stated the airplane was in a circling descent near the destination when the student pilot noted red obstruction lights related to utility wires and indicated that something was not correct. The airplane then collided with trees and impacted the ground. The three occupants were able to egress before a postcrash fire consumed a portion of the cockpit.

August 5, 2017, Pocatello, Idaho

Lockheed P2V-5F Neptune

The airplane was substantially damaged shortly after takeoff. The airline transport pilot, commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated under contract to the U.S. Forest Service to provide aerial application services (e.g., firefighting). Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot-in-command (PIC), he observed an uncommanded aft movement of the control yoke with a simultaneous increase in the airplane’s pitch attitude during initial climb. Despite multiple attempts to regain control, the airplane continued to maintain a nose-up attitude. Five degrees of flaps were deployed, which reduced the elevator backpressure. The PIC subsequently jettisoned the load of fire retardant over vacant land and the flight declared an emergency with ATC.

The PIC had previously demonstrated approaches to land without making any adjustments to power or pitch, so he configured the airplane for an approach without trim or elevator control. They flew a wide traffic pattern and made small adjustments to compensate for altitude. During the final approach leg, the PIC used a combination of wing flaps and engine power for pitch adjustments, and the crew coordinated application of elevator and turns to make their pitch-down adjustments. A landing was accomplished without further damage. Investigation revealed a bolt in the airplane’s pitch-control system had backed out. It had not been safety-wired.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue ofAviation Safetymagazine.

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