NTSB Preliminary Reports

Selected recent general aviation and airline accidents


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September 1, 2004, Willits, Calif.
Cessna 172S

The airplane was destroyed and the Private pilot received minor injuries after descending into trees about 1/8th mile west of the Willits Municipal Airport. Visual conditions prevailed for the dark, nighttime flight that originated in Watsonville, Calif., about 90 minutes earlier. The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions during the flight; the airplanes landing light was functional, although he did not use it. According to the pilot, he was attempting to locate his home base airport. Upon arriving in the vicinity of the airport, he keyed the airplanes radio transmitter to activate the airports runway lights. The pilot reported that he made two such attempts and both were unsuccessful. Then, he maneuvered toward what he believed was the airport to make a low pass over Runway 16/34. The pilot intended to level out about 500 feet above the traffic pattern altitude but the airplane continued descending until it collided with trees and terrain west of the runway. According to the FAAs Automated Flight Service Station in Oakland, Calif., a NOTAM was in effect for the airport stating Runway 16/34 runway lights out of service.

September 9, 2004, Rachel, Texas
Piper PA-32R-300

At approximately 0614 Central time, the airplane was destroyed after impacting terrain following loss of control while maneuvering near Rachel, Texas. The pilot, sole occupant of the airplane was fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed for the Part 135 cargo flight, which originated in San Antonio, Texas, and was destined for McAllen, Texas. Preliminary radar data show the airplane cruising at 9000 feet MSL at 0537 when the pilot requested to descend to 7000 feet. Almost 20 minutes later, the pilot reported losing his vacuum system and then requested a descent to 5000 feet. Radar data depicted the airplane passing through 6600 feet at 0606. At 0613, the pilot requested to divert to Brooks County Airport (BKS), near Falfurrias, Texas. Just prior to the request, radar depicted the airplane in a right turn from a heading of 180 degrees toward 130 degrees. At 0613:59, radar depicted the airplane passing through 4600 feet. The next 12-second radar sweep depicted the airplane passing through 4100 feet. The next radar sweep depicted the airplane passing through 300 feet. At 0625, the automated weather observing system at BKS reported wind from 330 degrees at 4 knots, visibility of 10 statute miles, sky condition overcast at 4200 feet AGL, temperature 72 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 64 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.95 inches of Mercury.

September 10, 2004, Cleveland, Ga.
Christian Eagle II

The airplane collided with the ground while performing a series of aerobatic maneuvers. The Airline Transport pilot and his passenger received fatal injuries; the airplane was substantially damaged. According to a witness, the airplane made four passes near his location. On each pass the witness saw the airplane do a slow roll or a loop, and on two passes the airplane did both a roll and a loop. On the last pass, the airplane did a slow aileron roll, flew a short distance and did an inside loop. As the airplane came out of the loop, it never returned to horizontal flight but flew out of the bottom of the loop in a shallow dive at an angle of about 15 degrees.

September 11, 2004, Lake Wales, Fla.
Piper PA-23-250

At 0528 Eastern time, the Commercial pilot and observer were fatally injured when the airplane collided with a 520-foot television tower. The aerial application flight originated from the Lake Wales Municipal Airport at 0500. According to the operator, the airplane was spraying for mosquitos under contract with the state of Florida. Witnesses in the area stated that they heard the airplane and could see its marker lights. However, at the time of the accident no one recalled seeing any lights on the television tower. They did recall hearing the generator, which normally powered the television tower when power in the local area was out. Examination of the accident site disclosed that the top 20 feet of the television tower had fallen over. The airplane rested near the base of the tower with the left wing separated from the airframe.

September 12, 2004, Chesterfield, Mo.
Cessna 182T

The airplane was destroyed and all four aboard were fatally injured on impacting trees and terrain on Howell Island, near Chesterfield, Mo., during a go-around from Runway 26R at the Spirit of St Louis Airport (SUS) at about 2116 Central time. Night visual conditions prevailed. The flight originated from Sikeston Memorial Municipal Airport, near Sikeston, Mo., and was in the pattern at SUS performing a go-around maneuver at the time of the accident. After a first landing attempt, the flight was cleared to make right traffic for Runway 26R and the pilot confirmed the clearance for right traffic. That was the last transmission received.

September 13, 2004, Stanley, Idaho
Cessna U206F

At about 1945 Mountain time, the airplane collided with mountainous terrain while maneuvering about 17 nautical miles northwest of Stanley, Idaho. Instrument conditions prevailed at the accident site; no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the Commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The flight departed from Pistol Creek, a private mountain airstrip about 1925. This was a flight of two aircraft that were returning to Stanley after dropping off freight at Pistol Creek. The pilot of the other aircraft reported that the flight encountered fog and clouds while en route and had to circle. Both pilots were in radio contact while circling. The pilot of the second aircraft reported that the accident pilot radioed that he was At the river, starting up Marsh Creek reporting that the clouds were pretty low in here. The second pilot asked the accident pilot if he could turn around. The accident pilot stated, Im too low followed by fog clear to ground. Shortly thereafter, communications with the accident aircraft were lost.

September 15, 2004, Magee, Mississippi
Cessna 336

The Student pilot and three non-rated passengers were killed when the twin-engine airplane crashed in night visual conditions at about 0250 Central time. The flight originated in Atmore, Ala., earlier the same morning; a search for the airplane and its occupants was not initiated until September 25, 2004, when a family member contacted local law enforcement. The accident airplane was discovered on October 4 , 2004, by the Mississippi Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. The Student pilot had accumulated a total of 96.5 flight hours, of which about 43.3 flight hours were in the same make and model airplane as the accident airplane. In addition, records showed that the pilot had a total of 3.4 hours of night flight experience, all in the accident airplane, and he had no current endorsements, or flight experience for the previous 90 days. The Student pilot/owner reportedly was attempting to avoid Hurricane Ivan, since the airplane was not insured.

September 19, 2004, Peters, Calif.
Cirrus SR-22

At 1550 Pacific time, the airplane contacted trees in a walnut orchard during an emergency descent following an encounter with weather and a loss of control at about 16,000 feet MSL. The pilot deployed the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) and the airplane made a parachute landing into the walnut orchard. Neither the Instrument-rated Commercial pilot nor the single passenger aboard were injured; the airplane was substantially damaged. Instrument conditions prevailed; an instrument flight plan had been filed but not activated. The pilot subsequently reported that he was passing through 14,000 feet MSL with the autopilot set at 100 feet per minute (fpm) rate of climb while using supplemental oxygen. He heard a whirring sound and the nose pitched up. He disconnected the autopilot; the left wing dropped, and the airplane appeared to enter a spin. The pilot determined that the airplane would be in the overcast cloud layer before he could recover and decided to activate the CAPS. The CAPS deployment was successful; the airplane broke out of the clouds about 2500 feet AGL, and landed in a walnut grove. A convective SIGMET for intense thunderstorms was active in the vicinity where the airplane landed.


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