NTSB Preliminary Reports

Selected recent general aviation and airline accidents


The following briefs were selected from the preliminary reports filed with the NTSB in May 2003. Statements in quotes were taken directly from the NTSB documents. Click here to view “Accident Totals, May.”


May 03, Roanoke, Texas
Piper Super Cub

At 1500 central time, a Piper PA-18A-150 lost engine power during initial climb from Northwest Regional Airport and was damaged in the forced landing. The flight instructor and pilot receiving instruction suffered minor injuries. The pilot was receiving a flight checkout for his tail wheel endorsement and had been doing touch and goes. The pilot said that, when the flight departed a half hour earlier, the left fuel tank indicated approximately 3/4 full of fuel, and the right tank indicated approximately 1/2 full of fuel. During the initial takeoff climb of the 3rd or 4th touch and go, the engine lost power. The instructor switched tanks but the engine did not respond. The FAA inspector said the left tank was empty and the right main fuel tank contained plenty of fuel.

May 03, Skwentna, Alaska
Piper Super Cub

At about 1200 Alaska time, a Piper PA-18-160 struck a frozen river while maneuvering at low altitude about 80 miles northwest of Skwentna. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The pilot said he had been flying about 100 feet above the ground at a reduced power setting. He said he had initiated a 90 degree downwind turn, and hit a sinker, which pushed the airplane toward the ground. He immediately applied full power, but the engine did not respond with maximum power. The pilot said it is possible the engine had accumulated carburetor ice.

May 04, Montgomery, N.Y.
Piper Archer

At about 2300 eastern time, a Piper PA-28-180 lost power shortly after departing from Orange Country Airport and was damaged when it hit a drainage ditch on landing. The flight instructor and student pilot were not injured. The instructor said they had completed a 1-hour cross-country flight and were planning to practice takeoffs and landings. During the departure, the airplane climbed to 300 feet agl and lost power. Inspection revealed the fuel line between the fuel pump and the carburetor was loose at the connection point on the carburetor. Blue stains were observed on the outer skin of the airplane, from the firewall area aft about 4 feet aft. The airplane had accumulated about 20 hours of operation since a 100-hour inspection was performed on April 25.

May 05, Lantana, Fla.
Brantly B-2B

About 1630 eastern time, a Brantly B-2B crashed shortly after takeoff. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger received minor injuries. The pilot/owner said he had flown his helicopter to Lantana to sell it, with the passenger on board to learn the helicopter so he could give flight instruction to the prospective buyer. When the flight instructor arrived, the pilot said he noted that the passenger was heavier that the 150 pounds he had previously been told and the helicopter would be slightly overweight. He told the passenger that all they could do were some hovering maneuvers until they burned off enough fuel to get the weight down. He also stated he demonstrated some maneuvers and then turned the controls over to the passenger, who allowed the rotor rpm to decay, leading to the crash. The instructor said the owner invited him to go for a ride and that the pilot/owner was flying the helicopter at the time of the accident.

May 05, Farmingdale, N.J.
Beech Bonanza

At about 1515 eastern time, a Beech A36 crashed while on approach to Monmouth Executive Airport, killing the pilot and leaving the pilot-rated passenger with serious injuries. The turboprop Bonanza had departed Sarasota, Fla., at about 1015. The airplane was on an IFR flight plan for Bridgeport, Conn., when the pilot told the controller he wanted to deviate to Farmingdale for fuel. The propeller was found feathered and only traces of fuel were found at the crash site. The pilot reported 21,600 hours of flight experience, which included 75 hours during the previous 6 months.

May 08, Anacortes, Wash.
Beech Bonanza

At approximately 1330 Pacific time, a Beechcraft F-35 ditched in the water near Anacortes after experiencing a complete loss of engine power about 10 minutes after takeoff from Skagit Regional Airport. The pilot said he planned to fly around the local area for about 45 minutes. But while moving the fuel tank selector lever, he inadvertently turned the fuel selector to the OFF position. The engine quit and the pilot moved the selector back to the left main tank, but the engine did not restart because the pilot had forgotten to activate the fuel wobble-pump.

May 09, Suffolk, Va.
Cessna 140

At about 1430 eastern time, a Cessna 140 was damaged during a go-around from a simulated forced landing in Suffolk. The pilot was not injured. The pilot said he departed his home base in Franklin and flew to Norfolk for maintenance. After the maintenance was completed, he flew to Suffolk, where he performed three touch and go landings, after which he planned to return to Franklin. En route to Franklin he elected to perform a simulated forced landing to a wheat field. The pilot said he brought the airplane down to just above the top of the wheat field and then added power, but the wheels made contact with the top of the wheat and crashed.

May 12, Pan Tak, Ariz.
Hughes OH 6A

At about 1206 mountain time, a Hughes OH 6A collided with terrain near Pan Tak after becoming uncontrollable in flight. The pilot suffered minor injuries and a second crew member was seriously injured. The U.S. Border Patrol helicopter was flying at about 300 feet agl when the pilot heard a bang and the aircraft became uncontrollable. Inspection of the wreckage found the tail rotor gearbox and tail rotor blade assembly were missing from the tail boom. During the search for the components, a U.S. Border Patrol flight jacket was found about 0.7 miles from the accident site. It was shredded and had paint transfers that matched the tail rotor blades.

May 12, Beaufort, N.C.
American General Tiger

At 1100 eastern time, an American General AG5B struck a parked Beechcraft A90 King Air after the pilot hand-propped the engine at Michael J. Smith Field. The pilot and passenger received no injuries. The pilot said attempts to start the airplane were unsuccessful due to a low battery. He primed the engine and opened the throttle approximately a quarter inch and instructed his passenger to hold the brakes while he spun the prop. After the engine started, the airplane began to move and the pilot attempted to board the airplane but failed.

May 15, Salem, Ore.
Cessna 182

At approximately 1600 Pacific time, a Cessna 182J was damaged in a forced landing after losing engine power about four miles east of Salem. The pilot was not injured. The pilot said he was cruising at 11,500 feet when the engine slowly started losing power. Eventually the engine lost enough power that the pilot was unable to hold altitude and he found it necessary to attempt a forced landing in an open field. The touchdown was uneventful but the aircraft encountered rough terrain during the landing roll. Initial inspection revealed there were holes in the crankcase and most of the oil had escaped.

May 16, Aniak, Alaska
Piper Super Cub

At about 0900 Alaska time, a Piper PA-18-150 was damaged during initial climb from an unimproved landing strip about 50 miles south of Aniak. The pilot was not injured. The pilot said he was on initial climb when he diverted his attention to adjust his seatback cushion, and the airplane collided with the terrain.

May 16, Allendale, S.C.
Lancair IV

At 1758 eastern time, an amateur-built Lancair IV broke up in-flight in the vicinity of Allendale, killing all four occupants. Air traffic control data showed the flight was cruising at 17,000 feet when the pilot asked to deviate for weather. The controller offered the pilot a choice of deviating left or right, and provided headings. The pilot opted to go to the right. About 10 minutes later the flight was cleared to descend to 13,000 feet, then 11,000 feet in preparation for a landing in Buford. A witness sitting in his yard said it was thundering but had not started to rain. He heard an airplane approaching his location but could not see it due to the cloud cover. The engine sounded like it was at full power and then decreased to idle power. He then heard a sound described as an explosion. He looked in the direction of the sound and observed the cabin area come out of the clouds with the wings falling to the ground behind the airplane.

May 19, Midland, Va.
Virginia Aviation Wright Model B

At about 2020 eastern time, an experimental Wright Model B struck trees while maneuvering at Horse Feathers Airport. The pilot suffered serious injuries. The airplane was an exact replica of the original Wright Model B, produced by the Wright Brothers. The airplane was undergoing a series of high speed taxi tests and was experiencing serious directional stability problems. While taxiing, the airplane suddenly became airborne and the pilot was not sure if he could land the airplane in the space remaining. However, he elected to maneuver for a landing attempt, but was unable to effectively control the airplane.

May 19, Jean, Nev.
Sabre Trike 330

At about 1750 Pacific time, the unlicensed pilot of an unregistered Sabre Trike 330 lost control during an unintentional takeoff near Jean. The pilot was killed. The owner of the aircraft said the pilot was going to taxi the aircraft, but inadvertently became airborne. The owner said, after a series of up and down movements, the aircraft stalled, turned, and went straight in. The owner was not aware that the aircraft did not comply with the requirements of FAR 103, which specifies the requirements an aircraft must meet in order to operate as an ultralight vehicle.

May 21, Bruceton Mills, W.Va.
Piper Cherokee 180

At about 1113 eastern time, a Piper PA-28-180 struck a guy wire on a communications antenna near Bruceton MiIls. The Canadian pilot was killed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the site but the pilot was not instrument rated. A VFR flight plan had been filed from Clarksburg, W.Va., to Ontario, Canada, but had not been opened. The owner of the airplane said the pilot departed Pompano Beach, Fla., May 20, arriving in Clarksburg later in the day. He departed the next day at 1044 but did not contact Flight Service to open the flight plan, nor did he ask the Clarksburg Tower to open the flight plan. In addition, the transponder apparently was not turned on. The airplane struck a guy wire to a 518-foot tower located on a mountain peak 32 nm from the departure airport. A power outage was recorded at 1113 when the airplane apparently fell onto a 12,000-volt power line that ran nearby. The tower was located directly between Clarksburg and the first waypoint listed on the pilots unopened flight plan.

May 22, Miami, Fla.
Cessna 402

At about 1128 eastern time, a Cessna 402C on a post-maintenance test flight experienced a separation of the upper and lower link assemblies of the left main landing gear while landing at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. The airplane was landing after a five-minute flight when it veered to the left and came to rest at the edge of the runway. The left main landing gear wheel assembly had rotated 15-20 degrees to the left from the normally installed position. The upper and lower link assemblies were not connected to each other. The airplane was towed to the ramp where the landing gear was repaired before NTSB or FAA inspection.

May 23, Colorado Sprngs, Colo.
Mooney M20K

At 2153 mountain time, a Mooney M20K struck the ground while landing at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport. The pilot and two passengers sustained minor injuries. The pilot attempted to land on runway 35R with a 90-degree, 15-knot crosswind from the right but the airplane drifted to the left and he was worried about striking the wing on the runway. He added full power to go around, but the engine hesitated abnormally and the airplane continued to descend. He then raised the landing gear and the flaps and shut off the fuel flow. The aircraft came to rest a third of a mile northwest of the runway.

May 24, Amarillo, Texas
Boeing 737

At approximately 2136 central time, a Boeing 737-300 struck runway lights during a loss of control on landing on runway 04 at the Amarillo International Airport. The five crewmembers and 63 passengers were not injured. During the instrument approach into the field, the crew reported being on the edge of a thunderstorm and said visibility was starting to deteriorate. Just before landing, the controller reported the wind from 220 at 9 knots. The airplane touched down with no perceptible drift, but then veered to the left side of the runway. The airplanes nose gear collapsed aft into the forward navigation/electronics bay, damaging the fuselage and the pressure bulkhead.

May 25, Los Lunas, N.M.
Ercoupe 415D

At approximately 1530 mountain time, an Engineering and Research Corporation 415D struck power lines and crashed a half mile west of Mid-Valley Airpark. The pilot and passenger were killed. Witnesses said the airplane entered a left traffic pattern for runway 36, but strong easterly crosswinds had the airplanes wings wobbling. One witness called the pilot on the radio and suggested he land on a closed runway that is normally used as a taxiway. The pilot acknowledged and made a tight turn toward the downwind leg, striking power lines with the left wing.

May 26, Port Jefferson, N.Y.
Cessna 414

At 1428 eastern time, a Cessna 414 ditched into Long Island Sound about six miles north of Port Jefferson. The pilot was not injured. The flight had departed Orlando, Fla., about four hours earlier with an estimated 5.5 hours of fuel on board. As the pilot neared his destination of Westchester County Airport, he encountered air traffic control delays. He became concerned about his fuel status and informed the controller that he had minimum fuel. He was vectored to Bridgeport, Conn., but during the descent the engines stopped. The pilot informed the controller he was going to ditch and made a soft water landing. After exiting the airplane, the pilot said he got hit in the face with a wave that contained the smell and taste of gasoline. The airplane had recently been painted, during which time the tip tanks had been resealed. The airplane came to rest in 80 feet of water.

May 30, Tracy, Calif.
Aero Vodochody L-39

At 1914 Pacific time, an Aero Vodochody L-39 crashed while performing team aerobatic maneuvers in the vicinity of Tracy. The pilot was killed. A flight of three Aero Vodochody L-39s were practicing low-level team aerobatics in a designated aerobatic box area. Witnesses said the airplane had completed a series of aileron rolls at an altitude of approximately 1,300 to 1,700 feet agl when the accident airplane appeared to level off, then start to descend and wander to the left, eventually crashing at approximately a 60-degree nose down angle.

May 30, Livermore, Calif.
Piper Seminole

At 1105 Pacific time, a Piper PA-44-180 struck the ground during an instrument departure from Livermore Municipal Airport. The flight instructor and instrument-rated student were not injured. The flight departed on a standard instrument departure and were cleared to 4,000 feet. The instructor said they then responded to a call to maintain 2,000 feet, and continued with the SID. While intersecting the OAK 060 radial, the instructor saw terrain through the clouds and took evasive action. They struck something, but the airplane was still controllable so they proceeded to their destination of Sacramento Executive Airport. A review of the tapes of radio calls found that the pilots apparently thought the 2,000-foot clearance was meant for them, but it was directed at another aircraft in another sector being worked by the same controller.

May 30, Forest, Miss.
Beech Baron

At about 1545 central time, a Beech 95-B55 landed gear-up at G.V. Montgomery Airport and slid about 1,000 feet to a stop. The airplane was substantially damaged, but the two occupants were not injured. The pilot said he simply forgot to lower the landing gear.

May 30, Houston, Texas
North American T-28A

At 1415 central time, a North American T-28A was damaged while landing at West Houston Airport. The pilot was not injured. The flight had left Tulsa, Okla., about two hours earlier. At Tulsa the aircrafts nose gear shimmy damper was serviced prior to departure. Upon landing, the shimmy was so bad that, even at 20 knots, the airplane was vibrating so badly the pilot said he couldnt see. Examination of the airplane revealed damage to the nose gear box, lower engine cowlings and nose gear doors. In addition, the forward firewall was bent.

May 31, Riverside, Calif.
Glasair SH-2

At about 1012 Pacific time, a Glasair SH-2 crashed following a loss of control just after takeoff from Riverside Airport. The pilot was killed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and a special visual flight rules flight plan was filed. Witnesses said the airplane took off from runway 9, made a sharp left banking turn going almost inverted, then nose-dived into the ground. Witnesses also said that the engine appeared to be sputtering.

May 31, South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Cessna 182

At 0617 Pacific time, a Cessna 182Q suffered an in-flight loss of control shortly after takeoff from runway 36 at Lake Tahoe Airport. The flight instructor received minor injuries. The pilot and one passenger were not injured. The Civil Air Patrol pilot told investigators they were activated for a mission to search for a missing aircraft. They were repositioning to WMC, where the search was being coordinated. Shortly after takeoff, the nose pitched up despite the pilots attempts to flatten the aircrafts attitude. The CFI took control, but the pitch controls appeared to be jammed. The rear seat passenger moved forward to see if weight distribution would help. The pilot and instructor were both applying forward pressure on the yoke. They retarded the throttle, and the airplane descended into bushes and nosed over. Inspection of the wreckage showed the elevator down cable turnbuckle safety wire was cut, and the cable was out of the turnbuckle and lying on floor of the empennage. The elevator up cable turnbuckle safety wire was also cut; however, it was still attached to the turnbuckle.

May 31, Canby, Ore.
Beech Baron

At about 1530 Pacific time, a twin engine Beech C55 lost power in both engines shortly after takeoff from Dietz Airpark and was damaged in the forced landing that followed. The pilot was not injured. The pilot reported the airplane experienced a dual engine failure shortly after takeoff from the 2,800-foot turf runway. Following the engine failure, the pilot attempted to land on the remaining runway, however, the airplane touched down in tall grass adjacent to the runway and slid to a stop. The pilot stated he positioned the fuel selectors to the auxiliary fuel tanks during the engine run up prior to takeoff, but did not reposition them back to the main tanks before departing.

May 31, Grand Prairie, Texas
Pitts S-2A

At approximately 1030 central time, an Aerotek Pitts S-2A was damaged when it lost part of a wing while maneuvering near Grand Prairie Municipal Airport. The pilot and his passenger were not injured. The pilot said he was performing a power-off stall and the airplane entered a spin. As he recovered from the spin, a four-foot section of the bottom left wing separated. The pilot was able to fly the airplane back to GPM.


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