October 2004 Accident Reports

These October 2004 Accident Reports are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, they are intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Beech H50.

Location: Hartwood, Va.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The airplane, which had been used by a skydiving operation until it experienced an engine failure, had been sitting on the ramp since 1999. The plane had been sold and was undergoing maintenance in preparation for a ferry flight to deliver it to the new owner.

A mechanic made repairs to the right engine, then asked the pilot, who had 5,905 hours, including 4,050 in multiengine airplanes, to conduct some engine run-ups as close to full power as possible. The mechanic added that he had not completed inspecting the airplane and felt it was not ready for flight. However, the pilot told someone who videotaped the testing that he planned to make a test flight that day. The pilot taxied to the runway and performed two engine run-ups. The mechanic thought that the pilot was going to perform another run-up when the airplane accelerated and lifted off the runway. According to the mechanic, it appeared that the pilot departed with 30° of flaps. The airplane began to climb, then rolled 90° to the left and descended. The airplane hit the ground in a nose down attitude and burst into flames. The airplane flight manual indicated the correct procedure for a short field takeoff is a flap setting of 20°.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight preparation, which resulted in an attempted takeoff with full flaps, and subsequent loss of control.

Aircraft: Cessna 150.

Location: Ashley, N.D.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot, who did not have an instrument rating, asked the lineman at the airport to fuel the aircraft in preparation for a night flight. The pilot then checked the weather, remarking that the ceilings were a bit low. The weather at the time of departure was marginal VFR and there was no moon. The pilot took off. A deputy came across the burning wreckage in a field a short time later.

Probable cause: The non-instrument-rated pilot’s continued flight into known adverse weather conditions and his not maintaining aircraft control during cruise flight.

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza.

Location: Chester, Ark.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Prior to the flight, the pilot, who had an estimated 2,363 hours but did not have an instrument rating, obtained a weather briefing. The weather at the departure airport consisted of a 2,000-foot ceiling and a visibility of six miles. Instrument meteorological conditions existed along the proposed route with ceilings ranging from 300 to 600 feet broken to overcast. The briefer stated that VFR flight was not recommended. Personnel at the departure airport stated that the pilot and passenger seemed tired and anxious to get home. The aircraft took off.

Radar data depicted the airplane traveling in a northwesterly direction, then, approximately four minutes prior to the accident, the airplane executed a series of 360° turns. A witness in the vicinity of the crash said it was foggy and visibility was approximately 200 feet at the time of the accident. The airplane hit a hillside in a nose-down attitude. The engine was embedded approximately three feet into the ground. Examination of the airplane revealed no anomalies with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal flight operations.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate planning and decision making, which resulted in VFR flight into IMC, and his failure to maintain terrain clearance. Contributing factors were the pilot’s failure to follow the briefing recommendation and the fog.

Aircraft: Stinson 108-2.

Location: Indian River, Mich.

Injuries: 1 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The airplane had just lifted off the runway and reached an altitude of 800 feet when the engine lost power. In order to avoid an urban area and interstate highway ahead, the pilot elected to make a 180° turn and return to the airport. He reported that after the turn the plane did not have sufficient altitude to glide to the runway. It landed on the airport property and came to rest inverted approximately 560 feet from the runway. A post-accident examination did not reveal any anomalies associated with a pre-impact failure.

Probable cause: Loss of engine power during initial climb after takeoff for undetermined reasons. A contributing factor was the unsuitable terrain for a forced landing and the airplane’s low altitude at the time engine power was lost.

Aircraft: Cessna T210H.

Location: Missoula, Mont.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who was on final approach for landing, activated the low auxiliary fuel pump, then placed the fuel selector to the fullest tank, then turned the pump off. He did not readjust the mixture, which is the recommended procedure outlined in the POH and on the before landing checklist. The aircraft was below the glide path so the pilot advanced the throttle for more power. The power did not increase and the pilot thought the engine had failed. He thought he was too close to the ground to attempt to restart the engine so he executed a forced landing. During the landing roll, the airplane bounced over a drainage ditch and struck a transmission pole with its left wing. The nose wheel landing gear and right main landing gear were torn off the aircraft.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to follow published procedures, resulting in an excessively rich fuel flow to the engine and the subsequent loss of engine power while on final approach.

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