NTSB Preliminary Reports

Selected recent general aviation and airline accidents


The following briefs were selected from the preliminary reports filed with the NTSB in December 2003. Statements in quotes were taken directly from the NTSB documents.


December 02, Birmingham, Ala.
Cessna 182

At 1950 central time, a Cessna 182K struck wires and crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Birmingham International Airport following a loss of engine power. The pilot and two passengers received minor injuries. The pilot said he was arriving on an IFR flight plan when the engine lost power on approach. The airplane collided with a power line as the pilot maneuvered for the emergency landing. Examination found the throttle cable separated from the throttle linkage.

December 04, Harrison, Ark.
Beech Bonanza

At approximately 1006 central time, a Beech S35 was destroyed when it crashed while on final approach to runway 36 at Boone County Airport. The pilot and passenger were killed. An IFR flight plan was filed for the approximately 45-minute flight from Little Rock to Harrison. At 0956, the flight was cleared for the ILS Runway 36 approach. The pilots last communication with the controller reported that he was on a quarter-mile final for runway 36. The pilot also reported on the Unicom frequency, saying that his approach was high and he was going to maneuver to a downwind for runway 36. Several witnesses observed the airplane flying south at a low altitude. One witness said the airplane just missed the roof of a commercial building and a stand of trees approximately 50 feet tall. The airplanes downwind-to-base turn was described as a real sharp or hard left turn. The FBO employee monitoring the Unicom frequency observed the airplane on its approach and stated that it overshot the runway then turned steeply from base to final. Other witnesses described a steep turn with the nose pitching up and a twisting or pivoting motion, after which the airplane nosed straight down to the ground.

December 04, Rosamond, Calif.
Wing Derringer

At 0854 Pacific time, a Wing Aircraft D-1 crashed in the desert about 11 nm from Rosamond. The ATP certificated instructor and student pilot were killed. The student was enrolled in a preparatory course at a civilian test pilot school prior to beginning an 11-month-long test pilot program. The accident flight was part of the courses multiengine aircraft familiarization training and, according to the lesson plan and flight card, was to include stalls and Vmc maneuvers. Investigators used airport surveillance radar from the High Desert Tracon at Edwards AFB to identify the flight track of the accident airplane. The airplanes track indicated maneuvers between 6,000 and 5,200 feet msl over 2,600 foot msl terrain. After descending and regaining altitude twice, the track indicated a third left-turning, descending maneuver. The last radar returns indicated a descent of over 1,500 feet in 15 seconds with a ground speed of about 60 kts. The aircrafts position over the ground remained relatively constant during this descent. The airplane was found upright near a shallow crater with ground scar extending only a few yards from the wreckage. The landing gear and flaps were extended. The fuselage and cockpit structure were partially collapsed in a downward direction.

December 06, Reading, Pa.
Socata TBM 700

At 0439 eastern time, a Socata TBM 700 crashed after failing to climb while departing Reading Regional Airport. The pilot was not injured. The pilot came on duty at 0400 and moved the plane out of its hangar. He observed snow blowing off the top of the wing. Electing not to apply de-icing fluid, he taxied to runway 13 and made an intersection takeoff. The pilot said he wanted to minimize his ground time exposure due to the moderate snow fall. The pilot rotated at 85 knots. He felt the aircraft shaking about three or four seconds after takeoff, which he attributed to an engine vibration. He realized the airplane was not climbing and pulled back on the control yoke. The stall horn sounded and the aircraft struck the ground, coming to rest in a field. When the airplane was examined 45 minutes after the accident, the company director of operations observed areas of rough granular ice on the tops of the wings that corresponded to the shape of the fuel tank in each wing. No ice was observed outboard of the fuel tanks or on the top of the horizontal stabilizer.

December 07, Chino Hills, Calif.
Piper Arrow

At about 1708 Pacific time, a Piper PA-28R-200 collided with hilly terrain about six miles southwest of Chino while en route from Long Beach to Corona, Calif. The pilot and passenger were killed. Instrument conditions prevailed in the area. The airplane departed Long Beach in VFR conditions with a 1,300-foot overcast. At 1653 the pilot requested a transition through the Fullerton airspace, which was VFR with a 1,700-foot overcast.. At 1700, the pilot requested a frequency change from the Fullerton frequency. The last recorded radar contact was 1707. The Long Beach and Corona airports are separated by a range of low hills, which rise to 1,781 feet msl. The accident site was located at an elevation of about 1,400 feet msl.

December 08, Placerville, Calif.
3I Sky Arrow 650

At about 0630 Pacific time, an Iniziative Industriali Sky Arrow 650 TC crashed on takeoff from the Placerville Airport. The pilot was killed. An arriving aircraft spotted the airplane wreckage off a steep slope on the southern side of runway 23 at about 1100. Rescue crews found the airplane 100 yards down the slope where it had collided with a large oak tree. The flight control surfaces were in working order and there was fuel in the tanks. According to the Airport Operations Officer, the accident pilot usually left Placerville early on Monday mornings for the San Francisco Bay area. Local pilots said that there was heavy frost and light ice on other planes at the airport during the early morning hours.

December 09, Livingston, Texas
Piper Cherokee 140

At 1756 central time, a Piper PA-28-140 was destroyed following a loss of control during a dark night approach to the Livingston Municipal Airport in high winds. The pilot was killed and the student pilot-rated passenger was seriously injured. Witnesses reported that the airplane was flying at a low altitude before colliding with a tree and power lines. The airplane came to rest approximately 2,600 feet southeast of the approach end to runway 30. At 1750, a wind monitor located about one mile from the accident site registered 42 mph northerly winds with maximum wind speed of 52 mph. According to local law enforcement officials, the 70-hour private pilot was seated in the right seat, and the 25-hour student pilot-rated passenger was seated in the left seat.

December 09, E. Stroudsburg, Pa.
Beech Baron

At about 1245 eastern time, a Beech BE-55 was substantially damaged in a hard landing at Stroudsburg-Pocono Airport. The pilot was not injured. According to the pilot, the airplane ballooned during the landing flare. The pilot applied a nose down correction and subsequently landed hard on the nose landing gear, which collapsed. When asked what could have been done to prevent the accident, the pilot stated that he should have performed a go-around.

December 11, Buffalo, N.Y.
Piper Aztec

At 2115 eastern time, a Piper PA-23-250 was substantially damaged by fire at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The pilot was not injured. The Part 135 cargo flight had originated at Morristown, N.J., and was taxiing to the ramp at Buffalo after landing when the pilot noticed a burning smell in the cockpit, and then an orange glow at his feet. An FAA inspector found that the fire had burned a hole through the fuselage skin near the Janitrol heater. The entire area forward of the Janitrol heater, including the instrument panel, was consumed by fire. The pilot stated that his normal procedure for using the Janitrol heater was to turn it off at the same time he extended the landing gear while on approach, and that he had followed this procedure on this flight.

December 11, Greeneville, Tenn.
Cessna 414

At 1050 eastern time, a Cessna 414 was destroyed after the pilot declared an engine ice emergency during a circling approach to runway 23 at Greeneville-Greene County Municipal Airport. The pilot was a recent FAA Southern Region CFI of the Year. Three passengers were also killed, and a pilot-rated passenger was seriously injured. During radio communications with Tri Cities approach, the pilot reported that he had the AWOS report from Greeneville and the approach controller advised the pilot to expect some light icing from about 6,000 feet all the way down. The pilot was vectored to and cleared for the Localizer Rwy 5 approach.The pilot subsequently reported on the CTAF that he was planning to circle to land on runway 23. After the airplane passed the airport on downwind, two witnesses heard a garbled transmission on the Unicom frequency. The pilot stated, Emergency, engine, ice. The witnesses went outside and observed smoke north northeast of the airport. An off-airport witness saw the airplane flying northbound in straight and level flight between 200-250 feet agl when it made a sharp left turn, collided with trees and crashed.

December 13, Laconia, N.H.
Beech Bonanza

At about 1515 eastern time, a Beech 35 was damaged while landing at the Laconia Municipal Airport. The pilot was not injured. The pilot reported the right brake was not functioning as the airplane touched down on runway 26, a 5,286-foot long asphalt runway. The pilot attempted to move his leg over to the right seat rudder pedals in an effort to use the brakes on that side. During the process, he inadvertently pushed the throttle to the full forward position with his knee. The airplane then departed the left side of the runway, proceeded over a grass area, over an embankment, and came to rest in a swamp.

December 15, Mena, Ark.
Beech Bonanza

At approximately 1234 central time, a Beech H35 was destroyed when it crashed on a visual approach to the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport. The pilot was killed. The pilot had received a weather briefing for the 129 nautical mile cross-country flight. He did not file a flight plan but was reported to have received VFR radar advisories from Memphis Center during cruise flight. After radar services were terminated, Memphis Center continued to monitor the flight on radar until radar contact was lost 11 nautical miles northeast of the Mena Airport. No distress calls were received from the pilot. The pilots wife reported the airplane as overdue.The wreckage was located the following morning approximately 540 feet below the crest of Black Mountain. Investigators said the damage was consistent with controlled flight, with wings level and gear and flaps in the retracted position.

December 18, Thonotosassa, Fla.
Cessna Stationair

At about 1645 eastern time, a Cessna U206G on floats crashed while attempting to land on Lake Thonotosassa. The pilot and passenger were killed. The flight originated at Vandenberg Airport, Tampa, Fla., about 10 minutes prior to the accident. A witness who had seen the accident airplane over the lake many times before noticed that this time the landing gear was down. He said that when the airplane made contact with the water, it immediately nose-dived and flipped straight over. The airplane then sank inverted to the level of the pontoons, with the landing gear remaining extended above the pontoons.

December 20, Angwin, Calif.
Beech Baron

At 1550 Pacific time, a Beech B55 was damaged during a precautionary landing in an open field near Angwin after multiple weather-related diversions. The pilot and one passenger were not injured. The cross-country flight originated in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., about three hours earlier with a destination of Placerville, Calif. A preflight weather briefing had indicated clear weather along the route, but the weather started to deteriorate about 50 miles outside of Placerville. The pilot contacted the airport Unicom and was advised that the airport was zero, zero. He decided to divert to Sacramento, where he received a Special VFR clearance. Sacramento weather included overcast ceilings between 600 and 700 feet and two to three miles visibility with mist. Uncomfortable with the approach, the pilot abandoned his landing attempt. He considered landing at Oakland, but in the face of low fuel and heavy rain he elected to attempt a precautionary landing in the Angwin area, about 50 miles northwest of Oakland. The airplane encountered soft dirt and the landing gear sheared.

December 24, Avalon, Calif.
Piper Seneca

At about 1020 Pacific time, a Piper PA-34-200T collided with mountainous terrain while flying the missed approach portion of the VOR/DME approach to Catalina Airport. The flight instructor, the commercial-rated student, and three passengers were killed. The flight was cleared for the VOR/NDB-B approach to Catalina Airport and contacted Unicom for the current weather, which included a 100-foot overcast ceiling and 1.25 miles visibility. The approach path for the VOR/NDB-B approach is on a heading of 172 degrees with an MDA of 2,100 feet msl. The missed approach procedure calls for a straight ahead climb to 3,200 feet msl toward the Santa Catalina VOR followed by a hold. The VOR is on top of Mount Orizaba at an altitude of 2,090 feet msl. Radar data from the Los Angeles ARTCC showed the accident airplane was established on the approach and leveled off at the MDA. After passing the missed approach point, the aircraft continued on a heading of 172 degrees and at an altitude of 2,100 feet msl until it crashed on the mountain side 870 feet northeast of the VOR and about 15 feet below the mountain ridgeline.

December 25, Elk City, Idaho
Cessna 172

At about 1825 Pacific time, a Cessna 172M sustained substantial damage after colliding with forested terrain near the Elk City Airfield in dark night conditions. The pilot, a recently certificated private pilot, and one passenger received serious injuries. According to the Elk City Airport manager, the airplane made several low passes over the snow-covered runway. After the last pass, the aircraft made a steep climbing turn to the left and crashed into a wooded area. The Elk City Airport is located in mountainous terrain approximately 53 miles southeast of the pilots intended destination. The single turf/gravel runway is not maintained in winter, according to the A/FD. The airport is not equipped with a rotating beacon or runway lighting.

December 26, Vacaville, Calif.
Cessna 172

At about 0900 Pacific time, the pilot of a Cessna 172L was fatally wounded by a propeller strike while hand propping his airplane at the Nut Tree Airport. Family members found the pilot seated in the passenger seat of his vehicle the next day. He was initially hospitalized with serious head injuries and died a week after the accident. The airplane was found tied down, and the left main wheel was chocked. The left door was open and the magneto switch was in the Both position. The pilots right shoe was on the right side of the airplane, forward of the propeller. A trail of blood led from the front of the airplane to the passenger side of the pilots vehicle.

December 27, King, N.C.
Cirrus SR22

At 1542 eastern time, a Cirrus SR22 was substantially damaged after colliding with wires and the ground during a simulated forced landing. The private pilot and one passenger received minor injuries. One other passenger received serious injuries. A passenger told local law enforcement that the pilot was demonstrating what pilots look for in an emergency landing situation. The pilot established a final approach to a large field, but when he attempted to climb out from the approach, the airplane collided with a utility wire and subsequently the ground.

December 28, Peoria, Ariz.
Piper Cub and Schleicher

At about 1312 mountain time, a Piper J3C-65 airplane and a Schleicher ASK-21 aerobatic glider collided in flight and were destroyed about one-half mile north of the Pleasant Valley Airport, Peoria, Ariz. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger in the Piper and the pilot and passenger in the glider were killed. According to witnesses familiar with operations at the airport, the Piper departed runway 05L and made a climbing left turn to a left downwind at pattern altitude of about 600 feet agl. The Schleicher glider was performing aerobatic maneuvers in a predetermined aerobatic box north of the airport. The glider was performing a loop between 800 and 600 feet agl when the Piper flew into its path. The left wing of the oncoming Piper struck the tail of the Schleicher glider between the empennage and the main fuselage, severing the empennage of the glider. A large portion of the left outboard wing of the Piper separated during the collision. Both aircraft entered uncontrolled descents and crashed in the desert north of the airport.

December 30, Greenacres City, Fla.
Cessna 441

At about 1115 eastern time, a Cessna 441 was destroyed by impact with a lake in a residential area in Greenacres City. The pilot was killed. The pilot contacted Palm Beach International Airport to request a practice ILS approach. The pilot was instructed by the controller to proceed northwest and maintain 2,500 feet. When the airplane was five miles southwest of the airport, ATC instructed the pilot to turn southbound due to inbound traffic from the west. During the final two minutes of the flight, radar coverage was intermittent. The airplane changed heading and lost altitude with each radar return. In the last 15 seconds of the flight the airplanes vertical descent speed approached 6,000 fpm. Several witnesses saw the airplane circle twice with the engines revving, while getting lower and lower until it hit the water.


Also With This Article
“December Accident Totals”


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