Loss of control in traffic pattern proves fatal

Aircraft: Piper Comanche. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Camas, Wash. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot’s most recent third-class medical certificate was issued July 28, 2010. At the time, he reported a total flight time of 4,000 hours.

A pilot-rated witness reported watching the Comanche join what appeared to be the left downwind leg of the pattern at an altitude of 2,000 feet AGL. The plane banked left and continued in a descending left turn until it crashed in up-sloping terrain about a mile northeast of the airport.

The wreckage and impact signatures were consistent with a loss of control followed by a steep-angle descent before hitting terrain.

The post-accident examination of the engine and airframe revealed no pre-accident mechanical malfunctions or failures.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane while maneuvering in the traffic pattern.

NTSB Identification: WPR11FA367

This August 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. says

    A 4000-hour pilot who couldn’t recover from a stall at 2000 feet? For that matter, a 4000-hour pilot who couldn’t recognize an incipient stall? It’s possible, but not likely. Unless this pilot simply panicked and froze, it seems more likely that a medical condition was responsible for this accident.

  2. Vaughn S. Price says

    How can you be out of control in a shallow bank descending turn? obviously no one was flying the airplane, dead or alive. I lost a piper Pa-11 when a commercial student with a new class 2 medical had a heart attack on climb out at about 200 feet.

  3. Mooney 9242V says

    Reading the NTSB report provides zero evidence of a medical condition causing this accident. The apparent cause of the accident is pilot related; loss of control. What could have prevented this accident, we can speculate? I suggest that several hours of dual instruction in actual flying may have helped. The lack of medical certification does not appear to be a contributing factor; the lack of piloting attention may well be the root cause. We need an incentive to promote piloting skills and that is the tradeoff of a non-value added medical cerificate for a couple of hours of dual instruction on how to fly the airplane. The system promulgated by the FAA promotes a minority of people to ignore regulations, an event that can aggrevated by non-sense regulations that promote no value (safety). We need the FAA to do the right thing here, get rid of medical self-certification, other than self-certification for the use of the private pilot’s license.

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