NTSB Preliminary Reports

Selected recent general aviation and air carrier accidents currently under investigation


The following briefs were selected from the 189 preliminary reports filed with the NTSB in May 1999. 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.”


May 1, New Milford, Conn.
Glaser-Dirks DG-400

At about 15:03 EDT, a Glaser-Dirks DG-400 broke up in flight and crashed. The pilot bailed out and received only minor injuries. The glider was self-launched from Mountain Meadow Airport in Burlington about 13:30. Flying straight and level at about 6,500 feet, the pilot heard a sharp bang that sounded like the glider had struck an object. The pilot turned the glider 360 degrees to look for any other traffic in the area. As the glider rolled out of the turn, another loud bang was heard and the gear warning alarm began to sound. The pilot looked out to the left and observed the left wing displaced 20 degrees up from its normal position. The glider began to descend and control inputs by the pilot were unresponsive. The glider accelerated and neared a vertical attitude, at which point the pilot donned a parachute and jumped out. The left wing and its control surfaces were not recovered.

May 1, Hilltown, Pa.
Cessna 305A and Grob G-103

At about 13:34 EDT, a Cessna 305A and a Burkhart Grob G-103 glider collided in mid-air near the Philadelphia Gliderport, killing the pilot in the Cessna as well as the instructor and student in the glider. The Cessna was in a climb towing a glider, while the Grob was maneuvering. The pilot who had towed the Grob aloft said they had taken off at 13:25 and the Grob released at 2,500 feet agl. He returned to the gliderport and landed without seeing the Cessna. The pilot of a single seat glider that was being towed aloft by the Cessna said that they were climbing through 1,000 feet when he spotted the Grob at his 11 oclock position, about 1,500 feet away, and about 100 feet above his position. The Grob was (coming toward us) in about a 15 degree right angle of bank turn. As we continued, it became apparent to me that the flight path of the Grob and our flight path (single seat glider and the tow plane) would cause a collision if no evasive action was taken, he said. About 1,200 feet AGL, I pulled the rope release and turned to the right in about a 45 degree angle of bank. After about a 60 degrees heading change, I leveled off and looked to my left in time to see the Grob and the Cessna approach and collide. I do not think that either aircraft was taking evasive action.

May 2, Bonner Springs, Kan.
Cessna 150L

At 15:55 CDT, a Cessna 150L struck a telephone pole while maneuvering at a low altitude. The pilot and a passenger were seriously injured. The flight had originated from the Kansas City Downtown Airport about 25 minutes earlier.

May 2, Westtown, N.Y.
Pitts S-1S

At about 17:40 EDT, a homebuilt Pitts S-1S crashed near Westtown, killing the pilot. A witness flying with the accident pilot in a separate airplane, said the accident pilot wanted to practice her sportsman aerobatics routine for an upcoming competition. The witness stayed about -mile to the east and watched the accident pilot practice. The accident pilot entered her aerobatics sequence approximately 3,500 feet msl, and completed several maneuvers before entering a spin to the left. After 1 turns the airplanes rotation started to slow, but then accelerated two turns later. About seven turns into the spin, the witness received a radio transmission from the accident pilot in which she said she could not get out of the spin. Approximately 50 feet before impact, the witness noticed that the descent rate and rate of rotation of the airplane had slowed and the nose started to come up. The pilot had been wearing a parachute but had not attempted to bail out.

May 3, Cedar City, Utah
Mooney M20E

At approximately 15:00 MDT, a Mooney M20E lost power and crashed while on approach to Cedar City Regional Airport. All three aboard were killed. The flight originated from Boulder, Colo., with a short stop in Nucla, Colo., and was in the air about five hours. The Salt Lake City ARTCC said the pilot reported that he was low on fuel as he approached his final destination of Cedar City. The pilot stated to the FSS facility at Cedar City that his engine had quit and he was circling to the ground. The crash site was five miles from the airport near the approach path to runway 20.

May 5, Lake Erie, Ohio
Piper PA-28-181 Warrior

At about 13:36 EDT, the pilot of a Piper Warrior ditched into Lake Erie at the end of a 3:51 cross-country flight. The pilot received minor injuries. The pilot had taken off from Green Bay, Wisc., where the engine starter had been repaired, to reposition the airplane to Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. The flight was uneventful until about 10 miles north of his destination, when he reported to the BKL air traffic control tower that the engine was cutting in and out. Two minutes later he declared an emergency, saying the engine had lost power. After ditching, the airplane remained afloat for several minutes and then sank. The pilot was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. The pilot reported that the fuel gauges showed 5 gallons on each side when the power loss occurred.

May 6, Detroit, Ore.
Cessna 150G

At approximately 19:14 PDT, a Cessna 150G crashed near the Detroit Lake reservoir, seriously injuring the pilot. The aircraft had departed VFR at 16:00 from Lebanon, Ore., and was destined for Estacada. The pilot was unable to land at Estacada due to high winds and subsequently attempted to return to Lebanon State. At about 18:30 he declared an emergency with the Seattle ARTCC, using another aircraft as a radio relay, and contacted the Seattle ARTCC directly about 30 minutes later. The non-instrument rated pilot said he had been flying in a snowstorm for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, did not know where he was, could not see anything on the ground, was low on fuel, and that he thought the aircraft may be iced up. Controllers were attempting to guide the pilot into Davis Airport in Gates at the time contact with the aircraft was lost. Searchers found the pilot and the wreckage at 12:30 the next day on a mountainside at about 3,500 feet. Investigators found no evidence that the pilot had received a preflight weather briefing.

May 7, San Diego, Calif.
Cessna T303 Crusader

At 23:30 PDT, a Cessna T303 ditched into San Diego Bay when it lost power in both engines during a missed approach to runway 27 at Lindbergh Field. Neither occupant was injured in the ditching. The airplane had departed from Houston, Texas, and was destined for San Diego. The owner, who was not PIC during the flight, said he and his companion planned to stop at Gila Bend, Ariz., for fuel but learned when they got there that fuel was unavailable. The other pilot landed at a nearby private airstrip and they arranged for someone to buy fuel at a third airport and transport it to the private airfield. They put in approximately 63 gallons of fuel and a sump check showed the fuel free of sediment or water. He said they limited their fuel purchase because the airstrip was less than 2,000 feet long and they wanted to be sure they could take off. En route to San Diego, they requested a clearance into Lindbergh when they discovered instrument conditions existed. He said that when they received their IFR clearance, they had 1:30 to 1:40 hours of fuel left. They flew the localizer runway 27 approach first but broke out above the runway and were unable to make a landing. They were instructed to fly the missed approach. During the missed, the engines quit. The PIC was hospitalized two days later and died shortly thereafter. The medical examiner said he died of coronary disease and that there was no trauma whatsoever from the accident.

May 8, Jamaica, N.Y.
Saab 340B

At about 07:03 EDT, an American Eagle Saab 340B was damaged during a runway overrun at John F. Kennedy International Airport. One passenger sustained a minor injury but 29 other occupants were uninjured. The pilots flew an ILS approach to runway 4R and touched down approximately 7,000 feet down the 8,400-foot-long runway. The airplane traveled off the end of the runway, over a speed bump and onto the Engineered Materials Arresting System. The airplane traveled approximately 214 feet across the 600 foot long EMAS, and the landing gear sank approximately 30 inches into the material. The incident was the first known operational use of the EMAS.

May 8, Claremore, Okla.
Grumman American AA-5B Tiger

At 08:30 CDT, a Grumman American AA-5B lost its propeller assembly while in cruise flight near Claremore. The pilot was not injured in the subsequent forced landing. The pilot said he was in level cruise flight at 2,500 feet when he noticed a vibration in the aircraft. The vibration became more violent and the propeller flew off. The pilot elected to land at the Claremore Municipal Airport. The pilot said that the airplane started to porpoise during the approach, so he elected to touch down in the grass section between runway 34 and the taxiway to absorb some of the landing energy. The nose landing gear collapsed during the roll. The propeller assembly (propeller with approximately 5 inches of one blade tip missing, spacer, and forward bulkhead assembly) was located three miles west of the airport. The blade tip was found in the engine cowling. The propeller flange was found intact with the engine crankshaft.

May 9, Celina, Ohio
Cessna 205

At 18:00 EDT, a Cessna 205 hauling a group of skydivers crashed shortly after takeoff from the Lakefield Airport. The pilot and five parachutists died. Several witnesses described smooth engine noise, brief sputtering and then a total loss of engine power. When the engine quit one skydiver jumped out, but the altitude was insufficient to open the parachute. The airplane then entered a spiraling descent and two more jumpers exited the airplane. The pilot had been hired the day of the accident. Investigators determined the aircraft was loaded with 30 gallons of fuel and then flew three lifts of jumpers to approximately 10,000 feet, with each flight taking about 30 minutes. The accident occurred during the fourth lift. There was no odor of fuel at the crash scene. Approximately 1.5 gallons of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank, which had several holes in it from the crash. The right wing was intact and contained eight ounces of fuel.

May 9, Pillipsburg, Ohio
Beech A35 Bonanza

At about 13:45 EDT, a Beech A35 Bonanza made a forced landing short of Phillipsburg Airport. The pilot was uninjured and the passenger received minor injuries. The engine failed about five miles from the indended destination. The fuel selector was on the right tank, which was empty. The left tank was full.

May 11, Miami, Fla.
Airbus 300-600

At 14:45 EDT, an American Airlines A300 landed successfully after the flightcrew experienced multiple rudder deflections that caused the airplane to yaw excessively from side to side while on final approach to runway 9R. There were no reported injuries. During the initial approach to runway 9R, as the crew configured the airplane for landing with flaps 40 degrees and the landing gear down, the airplane began to yaw left and right. The flightcrew said the rudder pedals did not move, but the yaw was enough that the captain abandoned the approach. During the go around the yaw deviations increased and became extreme. Initial examination of the flight data recorded shows that that rudder deviated continuously but not rhythmically between 5 and 11 degrees each side of center during both approaches.

May 13, Greeley, Colo.
Cessna 172Q and Cessna T210N

At approximately 09:05 MDT, a Cessna 172Q and a Cessna T210N collided while on approach four miles west of the Greeley-Weld County Airport. Each plane contained a rated pilot receiving flight instruction. None of the four pilots were injured and both airplanes landed safely at Greeley. VMC prevailed and both airplanes were on IFR flight plans. The instructor in the 172 requested radar vectors for an ILS approach to runway 9 and canceled his IFR flight plan after turning onto the final approach. During that time he said he heard the controller clear the 210 for a VOR-A approach. The 172 instructor changed to the Unicom frequency and reported he was on a four-mile final to runway 9. Shortly afterward, the pilot of the 210 announced that he was on a four-mile final to runway 9. The 210 struck the 172 from behind and below.

May 15, Dillingham, Ak.
Piper PA-20 Pacer

At 17:54 Alaska daylight time, a Piper Pacer ran off the edge of runway 19 at the Dillingham airport. The two occupants were not injured. The pilot said that during his initial taxi, the airplane did not steer correctly, but he could not determine the reason and decided to return to parking. During the return taxi on runway 19, the pilot was unable to control the turn. After the accident, the pilot discovered that the external rudder gust lock was still installed.

May 16, Omak, Wash.
Cessna 172M

At about 11:32 PDT, a Cessna 172M crashed into a hangar at Omak Airport. The pilot said the engine would not turn over so he elected to hand-prop the aircraft. Once the engine started, the aircraft jumped the chocks and traveled 100 feet across the tarmac and struck a hangar.

May 19, Tucumcari, N.M.
Piper PA-23-250 Apache

At approximately 17:25 MDT, the pilot and passenger in a Piper Apache were killed when it crashed about one mile northeast of the Tucumcari Municipal Airport. The airplane departed Dallas, Texas, approximately 13:30 CDT, and was en route to Albuquerque. It landed for fuel at Tucumcari and was serviced with 54 gallons of fuel, then departed. At 17:17, the pilot advised Albuquerque Center that the left engine was smoking badly and that he was feathering the propeller. At 17:21, he advised he was returning to Tucumcari. The airport manager and the weather observer saw the airplane fly over runway 21 with the landing gear retracted. They radioed the pilot that his landing gear was still retracted, and the pilot replied that he would make a go around. The airplane was seen in a steep left bank before descending to the ground.

May 20, Tamarac, Fla.
Classic Aircraft S-51D

At about 14:04 EDT, a Classic Aircraft S-51D experimental airplane registered to the company crashed near Tamarac, killing the pilot. The flight had departed the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport at 13:49 as part of the 40-hour test period required for certification. The pilot was about five miles west of the airport when he radioed the control tower that he was having a problem raising the landing gear and he wanted to return to the airport. At 14:04, he radioed that he had lost the engine. Radar and radio contact was lost shortly thereafter. A witness in the area said he heard the engine losing power and sputtering and saw the aircraft make a controlled descent to the ground. After impact the cockpit area was engulfed in flames.

May 20, Enterprise, Ala.
Rutan Vari-Eze

At 20:30 CDT, a Rutan Vari-Eze crashed shortly after takeoff from the Enterprise Airport. The pilot said he had forgotten to remove the fuel vent cover during his preflight inspection. Shortly after takeoff the engine lost power.

May 22, Pence Springs, W.V.
Acro Sport II

At about 20:15 EDT, a homebuilt Acro Sport II crashed near Pence Springs, W.V. The student pilot operating the airplane was seriously injured and his son, a passenger, was killed. A witness at the Hinton-Alderson Airport said the pilot made one takeoff and one landing before taxiing back to pickup his 15-year-old son. Witnesses who where fishing along the Greenbrier River reported that the airplane approached the accident site from the northeast and started to execute a loop. Halfway through the loop the airplane entered a spin, which continued until the airplane struck the ground.

May 23, Waldron, Ark.
Beech C18S Twin Beech

At approximately 19:15 CDT, a Beech C18S twin crashed following an engine tearaway in cruise flight near Waldron. The pilot was killed. The airplane departed Beaumont, Texas, about 17:00 with a destination of Springdale, Ark. The pilot told controllers at 9:12 that he had lost an engine. At this time, the airplane was on a northerly heading at an altitude of 5,500 feet approximately 1 nautical mile north of the Waldron Municipal Airport and the pilot elected to turn back to Waldron. A witness reported that he observed the airplane emit short trail of white smoke from #2 [right] engine, two seconds later, saw flash under right engine nacelle. The airplane yawed to steep [right] bank with increased power on left engine. The witness retrieved his 20-power binoculars from his car and observed [right] engine dangling from mount as [aircraft] completed 180 degree turn toward south. The accident site was located approximately one mile east of the threshold of runway 27. The wreckage was consumed by a post-crash fire. The right engine was found 217 feet from the initial impact and showed no fire damage. One blade was missing a 22-inch section, which was not found at the accident site. Additionally, the right engine cowling was not found at the accident site.

May 28, Cherry Valley, Ark.
Air Tractor AT-502

At 12:50 CDT, an Air Tractor AT-502 ag plane was damaged following a loss of control on takeoff. The pilot was not injured. The pilot said he attempted to take off from a private dirt airstrip which is also used as an access road. The pilot said the hopper was filled with a load of rice seed to be dispersed on a nearby field. The pilot said that he had begun his takeoff roll and had lifted the tail wheel when he observed a white pickup entering the airstrip/road to observe his flight. The driver of the pickup truck, the farmer whose fields were being seeded, had observed previous takeoffs. On this flight, however, a heavy load required a longer ground roll. As the airplane closed to within a few feet of the pickup truck, the pilot attempted to break ground prematurely to clear the truck, and the airplane stalled.

May 28, McAlester, Okla.
Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche

At 16:30 CDT, a Piper Twin Comanche lost power and was damaged in a forced landing near McAlester. The two occupants were not injured. The pilot stated that shortly after takeoff, climbing through 300 feet agl, the left engine quit. He attempted to restart the engine, then elected to feather the prop. At that point, the right engine started to sputter. The pilot said the right engine never completely failed but he was unable to maintain altitude and decided to land the airplane in a field approximately two miles south of the airport. The pilot reported that he had refueled the airplane with 90 gallons of fuel prior to his departure but did not sump the fuel tanks.

May 29, Mesquite, Texas
Mooney M20B and Cessna 172P

At 12:03 CDT, a Mooney M20B and a Cessna 172P collided while on final approach to runway 17 at the Mesquite Metro Airport. The two occupants of the Mooney were killed; the pilot in the Cessna sustained minor injuries, while his flight instructor escaped without injuries. The flight instructor in the Cessna 172 said they were on their third practice ILS approach to runway 17 when the accident occurred. He said he made a radio call on Unicom when the Cessna was over the outer marker inbound. The instructor further stated that that point he heard the Mooney pilot announcing that he was entering the traffic pattern on a left downwind. The flight instructor stated that he was unable to make visual contact with the Mooney. The flight instructor last announced his position on the Unicom when the airplane was 1.5 miles out on final approach for runway 17. Another pilot in the traffic pattern acknowledge that both other pilots in the pattern were announcing their position and intentions on the Unicom.

May 29, Hillsborough, N.J.
Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee

At about 15:45 EDT, the pilot and a passenger in a Piper Cherokee died when it crashed after takeoff from the Central Jersey Regional Airport. A witness said he was at the FBO at about 15:10 when the pilot requested maintenance support over the radio. He went to assist and the pilot told him the starter would not engage. After assessing the situation, the witness realized that the pilot did not know how to operate the starter. After he explained the procedure, the starter engaged. The witness briefed his next student and soon the witness and his student taxied to the run-up area behind the accident airplane. After becoming airborne, the accident airplane assumed a 10 to 15 degree climb attitude, and turned 20 degrees to the left for noise abatement. After completing the turn and reaching approximately 200 feet, the airplane stalled. The pilots logbook showed a total of 116.9 hours of flight experience, and no entry for the accident airplane make and model. However, flight school records showed the pilot flew with a flight instructor on April 2 and was signed off in a Piper PA-28-180.

May 30, Ocean City, Md.
Nanchang CJ-6

At about 12:50 EDT, the propeller of a Nanchang CJ-6 struck the pilot/owner after the engine started while he was rotating the propeller by hand. The pilot was preparing the engine for start. The pilot reported that the radial engine on his airplane was susceptible to hydraulic lock if not started within 40 minutes from shutdown. The propeller needed to be pulled through in order to start. After shutting off all the valves and switches, the pilot went to rotate the propeller. He stated that the propeller had not even rotated 90 degrees when the engine fired and started. The pilot said he forgot to turn off the magneto switch.

May 30, Mesa, Ariz.
Cessna 172P and Super Dimona sailplane

At 08:54 MST, a Cessna 172P collided with a HOAC 36R Super Dimona while both aircraft were on landing approach at Falcon Field. Both pilots were able to land their aircraft. The pilot of the sailplane reported that they had just departed on runway 4R and intended to remain in the pattern to practice touch-and-go landings. He said the tower told him to expect to follow a Cessna taking off on runway 4L and to continue upwind and the tower would call his crosswind leg. He recalled seeing another Cessna which entered downwind from the 45 and recalled following that aircraft but doesnt recall ever seeing a Cessna departing off 4L or the tower directing his attention to that aircraft after takeoff. The pilot of the Cessna reported that he and his student had completed three touch-and-goes in left traffic to runway 4L and were on downwind for the fourth touch-and-go at the time of the collision. He recalled asking his student if he had his traffic in sight and the student identified traffic well in front of them. About that time he heard a motorglider call the tower on downwind. There were at least four aircraft in the airport traffic pattern.


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