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 website at Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

January 17, 2018, Reno, Nev.

Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six

At about 1520 Pacific time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground during a forced landing shortly after takeoff. The private pilot and flight instructor were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After a normal preflight inspection and run-up, the pilot leaned the fuel/air mixture to about 50 degrees F rich of peak EGT to accommodate a departure from a high field elevation. The takeoff and initial climb were normal; however, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power at an altitude of approximately 300 feet agl. The pilot started a turn to the right but quickly determined the airplane would not be able to land on the remaining runway. The airplane’s stall warning horn annunciated during the descent, and the pilot responded by decreasing the airplane’s pitch attitude. During touchdown, the airplane impacted gravel, slid and came to rest between two taxiways.

January 19, 2018, Houston, Texas

Swearingen SA227-TT Merlin IIIC

The airplane was in cruise flight at about 1600 Central time and maneuvering around thunderstorm activity when it experienced an electrical malfunction. The crew executed a forced landing. The two pilots and two passengers were not injured, but the airplane sustained substantial damage to both engines during landing. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

While maneuvering around thunderstorm activity, the airplane lost electrical power. The pilots attempted to troubleshoot the problem but could not regain electrical power. The pilots declared an emergency and diverted. The pilots manually extended the landing gear but could not verify down and locked conditions. During the forced landing, the nose landing gear was retracted, and the airplane skidded on the forward fuselage after touchdown. Due to the nose gear being retracted during landing, both propeller assemblies and engines sustained substantial damage.

January 21, 2018, Martinsburg, W.V.

Cessna 172RG Cutlass RG

At 1804 Eastern time, the airplane sustained substantial damage while landing. The flight instructor and the private pilot were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The flight instructor stated they had completed about six short- and soft-field takeoffs and landings without incident. On the seventh landing, after the private pilot extended the landing gear, the gear down-and-locked light did not illuminate. A visual check revealed that the nose gear was extended, but the main gear was trailing and not fully extended. They used the emergency gear handle to try and pump the main gear down, but there was no pressure in the system. The flight instructor then landed the airplane with the nose wheel still extended and was able to keep the airplane straight for about 600 feet. However, its left wing dropped, resulting in substantial damage to the wing and elevator. After exiting the airplane, hydraulic fluid was observed pooling under the airplane and along the side of the empennage.

January 22, 2018, Bonita Springs, Fla.

Van’s Aircraft RV-12 Experimental

The airplane was destroyed at about 1214 Eastern time when it collided with terrain. The solo sport pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot was receiving flight-following services from ATC. While on a southeasterly heading at 2500 feet msl, the pilot was advised of traffic in his vicinity. The pilot acknowledged. Shortly afterward, he stated, “Mayday, mayday.” No additional calls were received from the pilot, and radar and radio contact were lost. The airplane crashed in a forested area about 18 nm from its departure airport. The wreckage path was about 750 long. All components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site, and flight control continuity was confirmed.

January 23, 2018, Sauk Centre, Minn.

Whitman Tailwind Experimental

At about 1530 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged after impacting terrain. The solo pilot sustained fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

After the airplane was declared overdue, it was located at about 0820 on January 24, 2018. Examination revealed the airplane impacted the ground in an approximately 45-degree nose-down attitude; the cockpit and front cabin were mostly destroyed by impact forces. One propeller blade was visible and was relatively undamaged. The second propeller blade was found shattered underneath the engine. The right elevator was found disconnected to the elevator control system and moved freely. The left elevator was locked in the full-down position and was not able to be moved. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit to all control surfaces, except the connection to the right elevator control horn. The control horn was found fractured adjacent to a weld joint. The right elevator also showed damage at the upper and lower hinge points.

January 25, 2018, Marathon, Fla.

Piper PA-32R-300 Lance

The airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and a post-crash fire at about 1425 Eastern time when it collided with terrain following a loss of directional control during takeoff. The private pilot and three passengers sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

Airport surveillance video revealed the airplane rolled about 800 feet before the nose wheel lifted from Runway 07. At liftoff, the nose pitched up steeply and the airplane rolled left and entered trees. Several seconds later, a fireball appeared above the trees about the point where the airplane entered them. The pilot subsequently reported the airplane “was performing well and didn’t have any issues.” He said the airplane reached approximately 60 KIAS on the takeoff roll when the nose wheel lifted from the runway and the airplane began an immediate left turn. He attempted to arrest the turn with rudder and aileron, but the turn continued until the airplane entered the trees. Observed weather included winds from 050 degrees at 18 knots.

January 26, 2018, Longmont, Colo.

Beech A36/Robinson R44

At about 1140 Mountain time, a Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter and a Beech A36 airplane collided while on approach. The pilot in the helicopter sustained minor injuries; the pilot of the airplane was not injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged; the airplane also sustained damage. Visual conditions prevailed. According to preliminary information, the aircraft collided near the approach end of the airport’s active runway.

January 27, 2018, Williamsport, Ind.

Cessna 172F Skyhawk

The airplane collided with trees and terrain at 0121 Eastern time while maneuvering. The commercial pilot was fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions existed.

The pilot was receiving flight following services from ATC. Radar data indicates the airplane took off and flew northwest, climbing to around 4500 feet msl. It continued northwest, then turned to a west-southwesterly heading. It remained on that heading until it began a slow descent. Soon, it made a slight turn to the left, then back to the right, then back to the left again until track data was lost at about 0121. The last recorded altitude was 1475 feet msl. The airplane’s average groundspeed was about 60-65 knots during the first half of the flight. It then dropped to 40-50 knots throughout the remainder of the flight.

January 29, 2018, Concord, Calif.

Cessna 152

At about 0945 Pacific time, the airplane impacted terrain. The solo airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed. The flight originated about 0937.

All major components were contained within the main wreckage; The debris trail was about 200 feet long, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The 0953 recorded weather observation about five miles west of the accident site showed calm winds, visibility of five miles in mist, clear skies, temperature of 11 degrees C and a dew point of nine degrees C.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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