NTSB Preliminary Reports

Selected recent general aviation and airline accidents


The following briefs were selected from the 147 preliminary reports filed with the NTSB in March 2003. Statements in quotes were taken directly from the NTSB documents. The information is subject to change as the investigations are completed. Click here to view “Accident Totals, March.”


March 01, Mount Airy, N.C.
Beech Bonanza

At 1930 eastern time, a Beech A36 hit terrain shortly after takeoff in instrument conditions from Mount Airy/Surry County Airport. The pilot and four passengers were killed. The wreckage was found after a nearby resident reported hearing what sounded like an airplane crash. The wreckage was found in a ravine 1.85 miles south of the airport. The airplane was found in a near-vertical attitude, with the engine and propeller embedded eight feet into the ground.

March 01, Leesburg, Va.
Socata TBM-700

At about 1445 eastern time, a Socata TBM-700 struck trees during an instrument approach to Leesburg Executive Airport. The pilot and two other occupants were killed. The pilot was cleared for the LOC Rwy 17 approach and instructed to maintain 3,000 feet until established. The decision height for the approach is 400 feet. Radar data showed the airplane bracket the localizer course, making five or six turns across the approach course. Data showed the airplane was still at 700 feet about two miles from the airport when it turned toward the east. Groundspeed had slowed to about 70 knots. A pilot-rated witness said it appeared the airplane was on the backside of the power curve when the pilot tried to make a missed approach and the airplane stalled while turning left.

March 02, Destin, Fla.
Mooney M20M

At about 1100 central time, a Mooney M20M suffered an in-flight fire shortly after takeoff from the Destin-Ft Walton Beach Airport. The pilot was able to return for landing but suffered serious burn injuries. The pilot said he departed from runway 32 and was climbing through about 2,500 to 2,800 feet when the cockpit was enveloped in thick black smoke and flames appeared underneath the instrument panel behind the rudder pedals on both sides of the cockpit. He turned off the master switch and initiated a descending left turn with the intention of ditching the airplane. He reduced the mixture control and opened the cabin entry door in anticipation of ditching but he was able to see outside and elected to return to the airport for landing. Post-accident investigation revealed the nut holding the clamp used to secure the turbocharger exhaust pipe was missing, allowing the turbocharger to spew hot gas into the engine compartment.

March 02, Monterey, Mass.
Piper Cherokee Six

At about 1854 eastern time, a Piper PA-32-300 crashed into terrain during cruise flight in Monterey. The pilot and three passengers were killed and three other passengers suffered serious injuries. The flight was bound IFR for Keene, N.H., when the pilot stated he did not like the weather near his destination. He canceled his IFR flight plan and requested VFR advisories to Westfield. About 10 minutes later, the airplanes radar track turned about 90 degrees to the left, apparently toward Great Barrington Airport. The airplane struck trees and terrain on the south-southeast side of Mt. Wilcox, approximately 7.5 miles east-northeast of GBR, at about 1,900 feet msl.

March 03, Cedar Key, Fla.
Piper Arrow

At about 1930 eastern time, a Piper PA-28R-201T was lost from radar and radio contact and crashed in the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key. The two occupants were presumed killed. The pilot was receiving VFR flight following at 12,500 feet from Key West to Tallahassee when The controller advised the pilot of weather located at his 10 oclock position and 40 miles. At 1856, the pilot advised the controller that he was trying to maintain VFR. The controller asked the pilot if he was IFR rated; the pilot said he was not. The pilot left the frequency to contact Flight Watch, then returned. Shortly after that, the controller advised the pilot of heavy weather ahead 2.5 miles at his 12 oclock position, and approximately 1 minute later, the pilot requested assistance from the controller. The controller provided a suggested heading of 120 degrees, instead of the 005 degrees the pilot had been flying. The airplane was observed on radar in a left descending turn; radar contact was lost with the airplane at approximately 1930. The airplane was located in about 12 feet of water.

March 05, Sparta, Ill.
Beech Bonanza

At 2240 central time, a Beech A36 crashed while on approach to Sparta Community Airport. The pilot and passenger were killed. The airplane was flying from Duluth, Minn., to Cape Girardeau Regional Airport when the pilot reported he had encountered icing conditions. He requested to divert to Sparta Community Airport. The airplane crashed approximately four miles south of SAR. Weather at SAR at the time included a ceiling of 500 feet and visibility of 1.5 miles, with temperature and dewpoint within one degree.

March 05, Rexburg, Idaho
Piper Seneca

At approximately 1640 mountain time, a Piper PA-34-220T crashed during a visual approach to Madison County Airport. The pilot and his three passengers were killed. Witnesses said the airplane entered a left downwind for runway 17 but extended the downwind until it was three to four miles from the runway. It then flew base and final at a very low altitude. Witnesses said it was more than a mile from the runway at an altitude of 200 feet agl when , it suddenly rolled steeply to the right and made a descending turn into the terrain.

March 07, Milledgeville, Ga.
Beech Bonanza

At 2252 eastern time, a Beech A36 collided with trees 2,350 feet from the approach end of runway 10 at the Baldwin County Airport. The pilot was fatally killed. At 2159 the pilot was cleared for the GPS 10 approach and was instructed to maintain 2,400 feet until established. At 2212:13, the pilot reported a missed approach and requested a second try. At 2236:29, the pilot reported a second missed approach and requested a third try. At 2249:07 radar contact was lost. A review of radar data showed that on the first approach, radar contact was lost 4.06 miles from the airport at 1,700 feet. On the second approach radar contact was lost 5.06 miles from the airport at 1,400 feet. On the third approach, radar contact was lost 6.6 miles from the airport at 1,200 feet.

March 07, Eloy, Ariz.
Stinson 108-1

At about 0710 mountain time, a Stinson 108-1 lost engine power and nosed over in a field near Eloy during the ensuing forced landing. The pilot suffered only minor injuries. The pilot told investigators she was flying at 4,500 feet when she heard a bang, followed by a total loss of power. The engine was examined and the number 3 and 4 cylinders were badly damaged. The number 4 cylinder exhaust valve had fractured at the stem and was missing.

March 10, Linden, N.J.
Cessna 172

At 1317 eastern time, a Cessna 172P was damaged when it struck a snow bank during landing at the Linden Airport. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The pilot said there was a strong crosswind and he was too far to the left during his first attempt to land on runway 27, a 4,137-foot-long, 100-foot-wide runway. During the second attempt, one main wheel touched down on the runway, followed by the other. After touchdown, the pilot encountered a strong gust of wind that pushed the airplane off the left side of the runway. Winds reported at nearby Newark International Airport were from 320 degrees at 17 knots, gusting to 22.

March 10, Anza, Calif.
Beech 18

At 1606 Pacific time, a Beech 3NM crashed while on approach to Lake Riverside Airport. The pilot and two passengers were killed. A witness said the airplane flew parallel to the right side of runway 29, then turned crosswind at the end of the runway and the landing gear came down. The airplane flew downwind and turned base. As it started the turn to final, the airplane appeared to be past the extended centerline of the runway. The witness said the airplane abruptly increased the left turn so that the bank angle approached 90 degrees and the nose moved quickly to a nearly vertical position. The airplane maintained this attitude until it collided with the ground.

March 12, England, Ark.
Cessna 177

At 1600 central time, a Cessna 177A lost engine power due to fuel exhaustion and was damaged during the ensuing forced landing. The student pilot/owner was not injured. The pilot said he was departed Hope, Ark., for Sherrill, Ark., with each tank three-quarters full. He was unable to find the airstrip and circled the airfield for an hour looking for it. He ran low on fuel, so he landed in a field, obtained five gallons of gas and directions to the airport, and took off again. He was again unable to find the airstrip and the airplane ran out of fuel.

March 13, Delta, Colo.
Piper Arrow

At approximately 1225 mountain time, a Piper PA-28R-200 on a post-maintenance test flight lost engine power and crash-landed in irregular terrain. The pilot and his passenger were not injured. The pilot said the airplanes engine had just been overhauled and this was the airplanes first flight since its installation. During the flight the engine quit.

March 14, Richmond, Va.
Cessna 172

At 2345 eastern time, the passenger in a Cessna 172K deplaned and was killed by the rotating propeller. The pilot was not injured. The flight was preparing to depart from Richmond International Airport for Laurel, Del. The pilot had started the engine in preparation for the flight when he realized he had forgotten to remove the wheel chocks from the left main landing gear. With the engine still running, the pilot asked the passenger to exit the airplane, walk behind it and remove the chocks. The passenger agreed, exited the airplane on the right side, and shut the door. The next thing the pilot saw was the passengers arms up in the air. The pilot said the passenger may have tripped over the wing strut and fallen backwards into the moving propeller.

March 14, Old Fort, N.C.
Cessna 177

At about 1250 eastern time, a Cessna 177 struck rising terrain near Old Fort during a flight from Asheville, N.C., to Salisbury, N.C. The pilot and two passengers were killed. The pilot told Asheville controllers he intended to fly east at 4,500 feet but the controller informed the pilot of an overcast layer at 2,500 feet. The pilot acknowledged and stated he may need to deviate off course to avoid low clouds in the mountains. When the controller terminated radar service about eight minutes after takeoff, the pilot stated he was following Interstate 40 through the mountains. An air search party located the wreckage the next morning at the 2,900-foot level of Kitsuma Peak in the Pisgah National Forest, 18 miles east of Asheville Regional Airport.

March 20, Mankato, Minn.
Aero Commander 500

At 0440 central time, an Aero Commander 500-B lost power in both engines and was damaged during a forced landing to a dirt road about four miles south of the Mankato Regional Airport. The pilot was not injured. The pilot had notified air traffic control that he was low on fuel. He then attempted an instrument approach to Albert Lee but was not successful. The pilot was given vectors and a clearance for the approach to Mankato, but ran out of fuel during the approach.

March 21, Monroe, Ga.
Cessna 172

At 1048 eastern time, a Cessna 172S lost its right wing while maneuvering in the vicinity of Monroe. The flight instructor and student pilot were killed. The flight had originated from Dekalb-Peachtree Airport 15 minutes earlier. A witness said she saw the airplane at about 1,500 feet in straight and level flight but was traveling very fast. She observed the nose pitch to 45 degrees nose-low and the airspeed increase more. The airplane was observed to start a spin to the right and turned about 180-degrees when a wing separated from the airplane followed by other pieces of the airplane. Another witness said she thought the pilot was performing a stunt maneuver until pieces of the airplane started falling to the ground.

March 23, Houston, Texas
Cessna 150 Aerobat

At approximately 0945 central time, a Cessna FA150K aerobatic airplane sustained structural damage during recovery from an acrobatic maneuver near Houston. The pilot was not injured. The pilot said he completed a wingover and felt flutter in the elevator, then the elevator jammed. The pilot managed to land without further incident. Examination of the airplane revealed that the trim tab had separated from the right elevator, the right stabilizer was bent upward, the trim tab actuator was found loose in the mount and the rivet holes where the trim tab attached to the elevator were deformed. Black electrical tape was found under the clamp for the trim tab actuator.

March 27, Jay, Fla.
Maule M-5

At about 1300 central time, a Maule M-5-235C nosed over while landing at a private airstrip near Jay. The pilot was not injured. The pilot said he performed two touch-and-go landings without incident, then remained in the pattern for another touch-and-go landing. He said he touched down with 20 degrees of flaps extended within the first third of the 2,000-foot long runway, the airplane bounced but he did not go around because of powerlines that were located at the end of the runway. The airplane touched down again in a tail-low attitude with about 1,000 feet of runway remaining, and the pilot applied the brakes to stop. The airplane nosed over, coming to rest near the departure end.

March 30, Tavernier, Fla.
Beech Bonanza

At about 0615 eastern time, a Beech A36 crashed during takeoff at Tavernaero Park. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger/owner received minor injuries and two other passengers received no injuries. The pilot said he was operating the flight controls during the takeoff roll when suddenly a dog appeared in front of the airplane. The next thing he remembered was that the airplane banked left and collided with trees lining the left side of the runway. The passenger/owner said he tried to rotate the airplane when the animal appeared, but the airplane veered left. He tried to straighten the airplane and keep it in ground effect so it continued flying, but the airplane struck trees that lined the left side of the runway.

March 30, Reidsville, N.C.
Cessna 310

At 1700 eastern time, a Cessna 310F landed with the nose gear partially extended at Rockingham County/Shiloh Airport. The pilot and passenger reported minor injuries. The pilot said it was the airplanes first flight since its annual inspection. When the pilot tried to raise the gear, he heard a pop. When he arrived at the destination airport the gear would not extend. The pilot opted to land in the wet grass. The airplane touched down on the main landing gear, ballooned back into the air and collided with the grass in a nose down attitude.

March 30, Coalinga, Calif.
Beech 19A

At about 1816 Pacific time, a Beech 19A struck terrain at the departure end of runway 14 at Harris Ranch Airport. The pilot and the passenger/owner were not injured. The pilot set 10 degrees of flaps for takeoff from the 2,820-foot runway. The aircraft was slow to climb and once the airplane was airborne, he raised the flaps. The airplane settled and collided with the ground. Additionally, the pilot said that the stall horn was operating throughout the flight.

March 31, Bradford, Pa.
Beech B60

At 1253 eastern time, a Beech B60 crashed during a forced landing at Bradford Regional Airport. The pilot received serious injuries. The pilot said he departed Islip, N.Y., with full fuel and had planned a fuel stop at Gary, Ind. When cruising at 16,000 feet, the airplane was passing in and out of cloud tops. The pilot observed a drop in the engine oil temperature and the left engine also started to vibrate. He tried to feather the left engine, but it would not. The pilot then heard a pop from the right engine and he decided to land at Bradford. The pilot said the airplane was midfield and low when he descended out of the clouds. He passed over the departure end of the runway and initiated a right turn of 180 degrees. During the turn, the airplane continued to descend and settled into an area of small trees.


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