August 2005 Accident Reports

These August 2005 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 Bonanza.

Location: Denali Park, Alaska.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The accident pilot was a private pilot participating in a group air tour of Alaska. Participants supplied their own aircraft, but a tour company organized the trip. On his trip questionnaire, the pilot did not provide the date of his last flight review. He told tour organizers he had 6,600 hours. The leader, who was an experienced commercial pilot with significant experience flying in Alaska’s mountains, briefed members of the group on the suggested route and altitudes through mountainous terrain. An FAA inspector also made a presentation to the group on some of the hazards associated with flying in the mountains. On the day of the accident the group departed in small groups at close intervals. The plan was to a rendezvous at another airport. The accident pilot and two other pilots elected to fly a course parallel to the one suggested, up a different canyon. The intent was to join the suggested route later in the flight. A pilot flying above and behind the accident airplane noted that there was steeply rising terrain at the end on the canyon, and he started his climb before the accident pilot to clear a saddle between two peaks. He stated that the accident pilot, who was flying 700-1,000 feet below him, started his climb too late, and collided with a rock face, about 300 feet below the top of the saddle at an altitude of 5,000 feet MSL. The aircraft burst into flames.

Inspection of the airplane disclosed signatures on the propeller and associated components consistent with a high power setting at impact. There were no distress calls from the pilot prior to impact. Other pilots flying in the vicinity noted that the wind was either calm or light, with no associated turbulence, with ample clearance between the ridges and the higher cloud layers. The group leader told the NTSB investigator that he had been concerned about the accident pilot because he perceived him as reluctant to follow directions. He said that the pilot flew low and close to terrain, and often made abrupt pull-ups and steep turns.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain altitude and clearance from mountainous terrain while climbing, and his improper in-flight decision electing to fly at a low altitude toward rising terrain.

Aircraft: RV-8.

Location: Stephenville, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: A 500-hour pilot had just departed the airfield and was in cruise flight on a cross-country flight when he experienced a loss of fuel pressure and loss of engine power. He turned on the electrically driven fuel pump and switched fuel tanks several times in an effort to restore power, but was unsuccessful. During the forced landing to a field, the airplane hit trees.

Examination of the airplane’s fuel system failed to identify any anomalies. There was ample fuel on board. The reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.

Probable cause: The loss of fuel pressure and subsequent loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.

Aircraft: American Champion Citabria.

Location: Watertown, Wis.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was receiving instruction from a CFI. It was the pilot’s first flight in a tailwheel-equipped airplane. The instructor, who had 20 hours in a tailwheel-equipped aircraft, was attempting to talk the student through the landing. After touchdown the airplane veered to the left. The student used right rudder in an attempt to realign the aircraft with the runway centerline. The flight instructor reported that after touchdown, she began to bring the control stick aft but the pilot pushed the control stick forward. This elevated the tailwheel off the runway. The airplane turned sideways. The instructor brought the stick back again and tried to correct the aircraft’s alignment with rudder but her inputs were blocked. She told the investigators that she thought the pilot had frozen on the controls. The flight instructor stated that the only thing she could do was “slam on the brakes” in an attempt to stop the airplane before it entered a ditch alongside the runway. The brakes were not effective and the airplane slid into the ditch where it nosed over.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during landing rollout.

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza.

Location: Holland, Mich.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was flying three passengers as part of a Young Eagles event. The pilot reported that the back seat passengers were teasing the front seat passenger during the landing. The pilot said the teasing was distracting and when the aircraft was on short final the pilot realized that the landing gear had not been extended. He initiated a go-around, banking the airplane to the left. The left wing hit the ground and the aircraft spun off the runway.

Probable cause: The failure of the pilot to extend the landing gear prior to landing.

Aircraft: Beech Debonair.

Location: Shelter Cove, Calif.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land. He told investigators that he felt he was too high and fast on the approach so he elected to go around. He increased engine power and pitched up. The airplane stalled. There was not sufficient altitude to recover and the plane hit the ground. The pilot, who reported that no mechanical malfunctions were experienced during the flight, told investigators the accident resulted from his error.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed during an attempted go around, which resulted in a stall/mush and collision with the ground.

Aircraft: Beech Musketeer.

Location: Lumberton, N.C.

Injuries: 3 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The flight departed Rock Hill Airport in South Carolina on a cross-country flight to Myrtle Beach, S.C., by way of Lumberton, N.C. Approaching Lumberton Airport, the pilot saw thunderstorms in the distance to the east and southeast of the airport. Instead of continuing the flight to Myrtle Beach, the pilot chose to land at Lumberton, refuel the airplane, and to return to Rock Hill Airport. During the takeoff from Lumberton, the pilot reported encountering a downdraft about 50 feet above the ground. The airplane lacked sufficient power to escape the downdraft and it collided with the ground to the right of the runway.

The post-accident examination of the airplane did not disclose a mechanical malfunction or component failure. Emergency crews responding to the accident scene reported strong wind gusts ranging from 30 to 40 miles per hour in the area due to the thunderstorm activity.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper and inadequate evaluation of the weather, resulting in flight into a thunderstorm.

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