Pilot knowingly flies malfunctioning airplane

Aircraft: Cessna T210. Injuries: 4 Fatal. Location: Armonk, N.Y. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Witnesses observed the 4,150-hour pilot doing multiple engine run-ups both on the parking ramp and at the end of the runway prior to departure. They reported that the engine initially idled rough. Shortly after takeoff from runway 34, the pilot informed the air traffic controller that he needed to return to the airport and requested runway 16.

He declared an emergency but did not state the nature of the emergency. The airplane crashed one mile from the approach end of runway 16 and caught fire. The wreckage path through trees indicated that the airplane came down on a shallow glide angle with the landing gear and flaps retracted.

A disassembly and examination of the engine revealed that the No. 2 cylinder piston head exhibited severe thermal deterioration consistent with a pre-ignition or detonation event. The electrodes of the No. 2 cylinder spark plugs were fully imbedded with aluminum and appeared incapable of producing a spark. The other five cylinders appeared to be functional and were undamaged. The left magneto was set to 30° before top dead center (BTDC). The manufacturer’s specification was 22° BTDC. The right magneto was broken at its mount and its timing could not be verified.

Examination of the engine maintenance records revealed that the magnetos were last retimed during an annual inspection about 27 months before the accident. The airplane was flown infrequently since the engine was installed in 2007.

The airport was equipped with noise abatement monitoring microphones that captured the airplane on the outbound and inbound legs of the accident. Although the engine appeared to be running just prior to impact, the engine sound pressure recorded on the outbound leg was significantly greater than on the inbound leg, suggesting that the pilot was approaching the airport at a reduced power setting. Investigators determined it is likely that additional power was available had the throttle been advanced.

Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to depart on the flight with a suspected mechanical deficiency and his subsequent decision to fly the final approach at a reduced power setting. Contributing to the accident was the improper timing of the magnetos that resulted in a severe detonation event.

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA349

This June 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.



  1. Rich says


    FYI, the tower at Oshkosh IS manned all year round.

    And the EAA DOES hold these kinds of events all over the country all year round.

    I can’t believe you would demonstrate your lack of knowledge by making such an uninformed statement.

    And if you didn’t know that… it should be safe to assume that you didn’t know that many years ago the aviation community was duped into accepting the creation of the Aviation Trust Fund which was created and funded by new taxes on aviation fuel.
    The fund was created and sold to the public to provide funding for airport construction.
    And we stupid pilots bought into it.
    Since them the FAA has robbed from it most recently to pay controllers rather than furlough them during this stupid sequestration.
    Now after robbing those funds and diverting them from construction projects which lasts decades, they stole the money and diverted to salaries which are gone in a week.

    I hope this will clear up some misunderstandings you may have.

    General aviation never went to the government and said “Please regulate us and license us and our mechanics and create an air traffic control system funded by the taxpayers”

    The government just told us one day they were gonna do it and created the Civil Aviation Authority later to be called the FAA.
    Like the rest of America, we get this junk crammed down our throats.


  2. kyle says

    just because EAA decides to hold an event, why should the FAA be held responsible for taking care of said event even though they did in the past. what happens if there were 20 such EAA Airventure events around the nation? EAA can go and hold this event at a currently towered airport and voila, problem solved.

    • Joseph N Greulich says

      The last time I was at Oshkosh they had just built a new tower on the field, they also have some very nice class rooms , a dining hall, a tram system, a field on site for lite planes, and they have small fly-ins around the USA. This a huge fly-in , educational event , then think about what impact these aircraft would have at any other location ! Moving the established location would diminish its overall quality !

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