November 1, 2018, Willow, Alaska
Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser
At about 1700 Alaska time, the airplane sustained substantial damage during a forced landing. The solo commercial pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
Just after takeoff and during initial climb, all engine power ceased, accompanied by “three pops like a backfire,” according to the pilot. He switched fuel tanks and turned on carburetor heat, but the engine failed to respond. Faced with the decision to land in a river or trees, the pilot selected the trees. During the forced landing, the airplane sustained substantial damage to its wings and fuselage.
A friend of the pilot subsequently stated this was the first flight following engine maintenance to correct excessive magneto drops and a cold cylinder. The engine’s spark plugs had just been reinstalled following removal and cleaning.
November 8, 2018, Ontario, Calif.
Cessna 182P Skylane
The airplane lost engine power and landed on a freeway at 1553 Pacific time. The airline transport pilot, commercial pilot and passenger aboard were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the forward fuselage during the landing. Visual conditions prevailed.
After flying south through the Cajon Pass at 6500 feet msl, the airplane turned west and encountered what the commercial pilot presumed was leeside turbulence from the mountain range. She turned back south to find smoother air but the turbulence became more severe and the airplane began to descend rapidly. As the airline transport pilot struggled to change frequencies in the turbulence, the airplane descended to 2000 feet msl (about 500 feet agl). The commercial pilot applied full power but the engine did not respond. After the airline transport pilot enrichened the mixture and applied carburetor heat, the engine momentarily regained power. At about 2300 feet msl, the engine again lost power, and the ATP decided to land on the westbound lanes of a freeway. As he attempted to avoid a vehicle, the airplane landed hard.
November 9, 2018, Walton, N.Y.
At 1502 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Day instrument conditions prevailed.
While en route at 7000 feet msl, at about 1459, the pilot told ATC, “I need to get on the ground immediately.” Controllers advised the closest airport was due north from the airplane’s position. There were no further intelligible radio transmissions from the pilot. At 1500:21, the airplane descended to 6550 feet msl, slowed from 200 to 151 knots and began a turn to the northeast. At 1500:36, the airplane was flying northeast, had descended to 5100 feet and was at 196 knots groundspeed. The last radar data, at 1500:50, showed the airplane about 1.8 nm from the initial impact point with terrain at 7350 feet, heading 308 degrees and at 151 knots groundspeed.
A witness reported hearing engines revving up and down for about a minute. She then saw an airplane “overhead” and reported seeing a column of smoke trailing the airplane and observed a “red orange glow” originating from under the right wing. The airplane flew out of view; she then heard a loud explosion and subsequently observed a plume of smoke originate from where the airplane had just flown.
The airplane sustained extensive impact damage, and evidence of a post-impact fire was observed. Neither engine cowling displayed thermal damage or sooting. All six propeller blades displayed varying levels of leading-edge gouging, blade polishing and s-bending.
November 9, 2018, Guthrie Center, Iowa
Piper PA-28-236 Dakota
The airplane collided with terrain at about 1715 Central time. The private pilot, student pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed.
Around 1700, the Des Moines International Airport (DSM) departure controller observed a radar target squawking the 7700 transponder beacon code about 40 miles west of DSM. Controllers were able to establish contact with the student pilot who reported he was diverting to a nearby airport because the private pilot who was flying the airplane was having a “heart attack.” No other communication from the airplane was received directly by ATC, although pilots of two aircraft that had departed DSM advised ATC they were able to communicate with the pilot and reported he was now going to attempt a landing at a different airport. By 1730, the airplane had not landed at either airport.
The wreckage was located the following morning. Examination revealed a two-inch-long crack in the engine’s aft exhaust muffler. The inner surface of the muffler heat shroud was coated in sooty tan and grey deposits. Similar deposits were also present on the inner surface of the cabin heat hose that ducted air from the shroud to the cabin heat distributer box assembly. Toxicology testing revealed elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the blood of all occupants.
November 10, 2018, Wildwood, N.J.
Mooney M20C Mark 21/Ranger
At about 1530 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing immediately after takeoff. The private pilot was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
According to the pilot, the left fuel tank contained about 21 gallons of fuel, and the right fuel tank contained about three gallons. The fuel selector was positioned for the right tank and remained there for the startup, taxi, runup and takeoff. A video recorded by a witness revealed the airplane’s landing gear was fully retracted about seven seconds after liftoff. About eight seconds later, the engine began to sputter and then ceased operation. After another six seconds, with about 1700 feet of runway remaining, the airplane began a descending turn to the right and impacted a drainage ditch. Examination revealed there was no fuel in the right wing fuel tank. There was an undetermined quantity of fuel in the left wing fuel tank.
November 10, 2018, Ramona, Calif.
Van’s RV7A Experimental
The airplane was destroyed at about 0752 Pacific time during a forced landing following a loss of engine power during takeoff. The private pilot and pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
The airplane had recently been constructed and the accident flight was its first flight. Following an uneventful engine runup, the pilot applied full power to initiate a takeoff. As the airplane crossed the departure end of the runway at about 500 feet agl, the engine began to lose power. Despite the pilot’s attempts, he was unable to restore engine power and initiated a forced landing to an open dirt field. During the landing roll, the right main landing gear struck a rock and separated. The airplane came to rest upright; however, a post-impact fire ensued, which consumed the inboard sections of both wings and the fuselage.
November 11, 2018, Lake City, Fla.
Piper PA-28R-201 Arrow III/V
At about 1315 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during the initial climb after takeoff. The private pilot and two passengers were seriously injured; one passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
A witness observed the pilot perform a preflight engine runup and the takeoff. Wind conditions included a right quartering tailwind of about 8 to 10 mph. He thought the pilot “forced” the airplane off the ground and it immediately began “oscillations”; when the airplane appeared to be near stall speed, the nose lowered and would then raise again, which repeated until the airplane contacted tree tops. He further stated that each time the airplane oscillated, it resulted in a lower altitude.
November 12, 2018, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Aero Commander 690C
The airplane sustained substantial damage at about 1415 Eastern time when it collided with the Atlantic Ocean during an approach to land. The solo commercial pilot was seriously injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.
According to the pilot, he followed radar vectors to the final approach course and was inside the outer marker when he encountered heavy turbulence. He continued the approach and later described what he believed to be a microburst. The airplane began descending rapidly. The pilot added full power in an attempt to climb, but the airplane continued to descend until it collided with the water one mile from the approach end of Runway 36.
November 15, 2018, Redding, Calif.
Cessna 182K Skylane
At 1827 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.
Radar data depicted the accident airplane starting a gradual left turn just beyond the departure end of the departure runway. The airplane then began a right turn and a descent from about 500 feet agl about a half mile north of the departure airport. The last radar target was near the accident site at 100 feet agl.
A witness observed the airplane’s red and green wingtip lights but could not see the airplane due to very low visibility and the dark environment. Shortly, the witness observed the wingtip lights “flip over as the airplane was in a roll,” and the airplane started descending straight toward the ground. The witness further stated that the “sound drastically decreased as if the engine power decreased” right before the airplane impacted the ground. Examination revealed the airplane impacted terrain 0.75 miles north-east of the departure end of the runway and cartwheeled before coming to rest upright.
November 16, 2018, Franklin, N.C.
Cessna 162 Skycatcher
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1015 Eastern time during a forced landing to a field. The sport pilot received minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
Nearing his destination, the pilot reduced engine power and began a slow descent. About two minutes later, the engine lost all power without any roughness or sputtering. The pilot turned on the carburetor heat and set the mixture control to full rich but was unable to restart the engine. During a forced landing to a field, the right wing struck a fence and the airplane came to rest inverted.
Examination revealed adequate fuel was aboard. No preimpact mechanical malfunctions were identified with the airframe or engine. The engine started and ran normally. Recorded weather at the destination airport, at 1020, included temperature of five degrees C and a dewpoint of zero. An FAA carburetor icing chart for the given conditions revealed “Serious icing (cruise power).” The pilot added that he did not have a full understanding of the potentially subtle nature of carburetor ice.
November 17, 2018, Liberal, Kan.
Beech 95-B55 Baron
At about 1657 Central time, the airplane impacted power lines and terrain during a landing approach, sustaining substantial damage. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR clearance.
While en route, the pilot reported to ATC that the airplane picked up “too much ice” in a descent and would like to climb to 8000 feet msl. The pilot then reported moderate/severe icing and was unable to climb. The airplane was at 3500 feet msl. The pilot requested radar vectors to a nearby ILS approach but ATC stated the airplane was below the minimum IFR attitude and vectors were not available. Subsequently, the pilot reported in visual conditions and established on the localizer, which ATC confirmed. The controller then cancelled the flight’s IFR clearance, terminated radar service and asked the pilot to confirm the airport in sight. The pilot responded that he could not see out of the windshield and would have to get closer. There were no further recorded communications from the flight.
The airplane came to rest in a field about three miles south of the runway and about 325 feet north of unlighted/unmarked powerlines, the top wire of which had been separated. The airplane’s nose landing gear and one of the propellers displayed features consistent with a wire strike. The airplane’s windshield was covered in ice when the airplane was located by law enforcement at about 1920. On the day following the accident, about -inch of ice was present on the leading edges of the horizontal stabilizers. The airplane was not equipped with a wing anti-ice/de-ice system.
November 17, 2018, Gainesville, Ga.
Lancair Legacy RG Experimental
The airplane was substantially damaged when it struck trees and impacted terrain at about 1835 Eastern time. The private pilot was fatally injured; the pilot-rated passenger was seriously injured. Night visual conditions prevailed.
A witness in an airplane waiting to take off saw the accident airplane approach. He reported seeing the landing lights, which “became dim and they appeared to roll 180 degrees” before the accident. The pilot-rated passenger recalled that the pilot was flying the airplane on the approach when the airplane suddenly became inverted. He did not recall any further details.
Flight data recorded by the airplane’s instrumentation revealed that just after passing the final approach fix, the flaps were extended to about 17 degrees. About 2.6 nm from the runway at 2200 feet msl and an airspeed of 139 knots, the landing gear was lowered. About 1.6 miles from the runway, at 1900 feet and 129 knots, the autopilot was disengaged. About 15 seconds later, the flaps were extended to 40 degrees for about five seconds, and then were fully retracted. As the flaps retracted, vertical speed increased from about 600 fpm to about 1200 fpm, the pitch attitude began to slowly increase from about minus two degrees to plus two degrees and the airplane gradually descended below the glidepath. The last recorded data point showed the airplane about 0.3 mile from the runway, on the extended runway centerline at an altitude of 1323 feet msl and an airspeed of 110 knots with a descent rate of 1029 fpm.
November 17, 2018, Barnesville, Ga.
Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee 180
At about 1112 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged after a collision with trees and terrain. The flight instructor and student pilot had minor injuries, and two passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
Prevailing winds were out of the north at seven to eight knots and Runway 35 was used for the takeoff with the student at the controls. Acceleration seemed normal, considering the runway upslope and turf surface. The airspeed reached 65 knots and was increasing at the predesignated decision point, which was about 60 percent of the runway length. After takeoff, the airplane banked to the left unexpectedly. The stall warning light was not illuminated. The student called out the lack of responsiveness and the flight instructor took control. The pilots realized that the airplane would not clear trees at the departure end of the runway, so the flight instructor elected to land the airplane straight ahead and aim it between the trees. The airplane touched down about 200 feet from the trees and continued until it struck several small trees and one large one. The airplane came to a stop, the engine was secured, and the pilots and passengers egressed the airplane and were met by first responders.
Safety In Numbers
The NTSB recently updated its aviation accident statistics to include calendar year 2016 data. The chart at right presents personal flying accident rates in 2007-2016.
The new data show the recent downward trend in total and fatal accident rates is continuing, at least as of two years ago. Note that activity data for 2011 are unavailable and accident rates cannot be calculated for that year.