General Aviation Accident Bulletin

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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 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.

June 1, 2017, Bowling Green, Ohio

Varga 2150A Kachina

The airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain at 1159 Eastern time. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed. The pilot had recently purchased the airplane and was relocating it to a private airstrip near his home.

Witness observations were consistent with the airplane flying at low altitude and maneuvering erratically before it impacted. Each witness reported the engine was running prior to impact. The accident location was about six miles from the destination airport, and evidence indicates the airplane impacted terrain with its left wing low and a nose-low pitch attitude greater than 70 degrees. All airplane and engine components were accounted for at the accident location. Fuel was present at the fuel selector valve and inside the remnants of the engine-driven fuel pump. The flap selector was found at the second notch position and the flaps were found in an extended position.

June 1, 2017, Fulton, N.Y.

Lancair IV-P Experimental

At 1830 Eastern time, the airplane was force-landed to an airport after losing engine power. The pilot and flight instructor were not injured; the airplane sustained minor damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The purpose of the flight was to calibrate an angle of attack indicator, which required a series of zero G maneuvers. During the first maneuver, the flight instructor and pilot noticed the engine overspeed, as well as a noticeable “bang.” Following the total loss of power, a forced landing was performed without further incident. Examination revealed two fractured connecting rods.

June 1, 2017, Ventura, Calif.

Cessna Model 180

The airplane experienced an in-flight break up and was destroyed when it impacted terrain at about 1157 Pacific time. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The debris path was about 1˝ miles long and included all major components of the airplane except its right elevator. One witness heard a noise, looked up and observed the airplane spinning toward the ground. The engine and both wings had separated from the airplane; the tail section remained attached to the fuselage.

June 2, 2017, Blaine, Minn.

Cessna Model 210F Centurion

At about 1911 Central time, the airplane sustained substantial damage during landing. The solo pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane’s landing gear did not fully retract after takeoff. The pilot circled for an hour while performing emergency landing gear extension procedures without success. He returned to the departure airport and circled for another hour. Tower controllers confirmed the main landing gear were partially retracted and the nose wheel was extended. As the airplane settled onto the runway, the main landing gear retracted into the landing gear bay. The airplane veered off the runway and the right horizontal stabilizer was substantially damaged as the airplane skidded to a stop.

June 2, 2017, Banning, Calif.

Cessna Model 150M

The airplane collided with trees and the ground at about 1130 Pacific time, shortly after taking off after a touch-and-go landing. The flight instructor was fatally injured; the student pilot sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and fuselage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The student reported the touch-and-go landing on Runway 26 was hard and the wind was gusting. After takeoff, the airplane drifted right of the runway centerline and the flight instructor took control. A witness observed the airplane at about 100 feet agl. It began to descend and lose altitude. Shortly thereafter, the wings wobbled and the airplane impacted trees and terrain. Observed weather at the facility included easterly winds at 17 knots, gusting to 23.

June 3, 2017, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec

At about 1418 Atlantic time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted ocean water and a reef, then caught fire, shortly after takeoff. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries; two passengers were seriously injured. One passenger was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan had been filed for the FAR Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight. Shortly after takeoff from Runway 8, the pilot reported an engine failure and was unable to maintain altitude. Avoiding a populated beach, he ditched in shallow water. Portions of the airplane were recovered, including both engines.

The right engine’s two propeller blades appeared undamaged and were not in a feathered position. One blade from the left engine’s propeller appeared undamaged. The other blade was bent aft, but neither blade was in a feathered position. The airplane’s master switch was off and the left and right fuel pump switches were on. The left engine’s magneto switches were on and the right magneto switches were off. The left engine’s fuel selector was positioned to the left inboard main fuel tank. The right engine fuel selector was positioned to the right outboard main fuel tank.

June 3, 2017, Garfield, Wash.

Sonex Experimental

The airplane sustained substantial damage at about 1130 Pacific time during a forced landing. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed. While in cruise flight at 4000 feet msl, the pilot noticed a vibration followed by a loud bang. Shortly thereafter, the propeller separated from the airplane. The pilot subsequently performed a forced landing to a paved road. During the landing roll, the airplane impacted a power pole guy wire, and its left wing sustained substantial damage. Examination revealed the propeller assembly and forward section of the crankshaft separated near the forward crankshaft bearing.

June 4, 2017, Moorpark, Calif.

Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee 180

At about 1545 Pacific time, the airplane collided with the ground. The commercial pilot and his 15-year-old son passenger were fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot’s daughter was on her horse in an outdoor arena when the airplane approached from the northwest and flew over the arena in a southeast direction. The airplane then began a 180-degree left turn, tracking back past the arena and to the northwest. The pilot’s daughter exclaimed that she could see her brother in the front left seat as the airplane passed by.

As the airplane overflew a house on top of an adjacent hill, it began to turn left until it was now lined up on the original inbound track. Witnesses heard the engine sound increase as the airplane flew directly toward the arena, but now at a much lower altitude. The airplane continued to descend with the engine operating, and flew about 100 feet directly overhead, startling the horses.

Prior to reaching power lines just east of the arena, the airplane began a steep right turn; witnesses could see its complete wing profile. The turn progressed, with the nose pointing up, and then dropping back down, as the airplane passed out of view behind trees. Witnesses then heard two loud thuds. Evidence indicates the airplane’s right wingtip sustained damage consistent with power line contact.

June 8, 2017, Harrisonville, Mo.

Piper PA-28-235 Cherokee 235

The airplane struck a person while taxiing at about 0800 Central time. The pilot was not injured; the pilot-rated pedestrian was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed. As the pilot taxied to a parking spot after landing, the airplane’s wingtip struck a pilot-rated pedestrian who was filming the operation.

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Aviation Safety magazine. 

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