This August 2009 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.
Aircraft: Beech 18. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Eden Prairie, Minn. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot purchased the airplane approximately one year prior to the accident with the intention of restoring it for flight. The pilot, who held commercial, multi-engine and instrument ratings, reportedly did not have any Beech 18 flight experience. Prior to the accident, the plane had not been flown for approximately five years and had been used for spare parts.
On the day of the accident the pilot, accompanied by a student pilot, intended to fly the airplane to another airport to pick up passengers, then return to the departure airport. A Special Flight Permit had been obtained, but had not been signed by the mechanic. The mechanic stated that he did not know that the pilot was going to fly the airplane on the day of the accident. The Special Flight Permit stated “Occupants shall be limited to essential crew necessary to operate the aircraft and its’ equipment.” The permit also stated that the “Landing Gear to Remain Down.” The expiration date of the permit was Aug. 15, 2009.
The airplane was last fueled a month before the accident with 120 gallons of fuel. About 20 engine test runs, in addition to high-speed taxi tests, had been conducted since then. On the day of the accident, the pilot told friends he planned to circle the airplane a few times to make sure the airplane “wanted to fly” before departing the area.
Witnesses reported that, after taking off, the airplane seemed to “wobble” at a slow airspeed in a nose-high attitude and that it never got higher than 500 feet AGL. Some witnesses reported the engines were sputtering, while another stated that the airplane was loud and “didn’t sound good.” One witness reported seeing white smoke coming from the left engine and hearing the engine “popping” as the airplane took off. The airplane made three left turns and it appeared as if the pilot was attempting to return to land. Witnesses described the left wing rising prior to the airplane banking hard to the left and the nose dropping straight down. The airplane crashed just northeast of the airport and burst into flames.
The right side of the elevator/tail-cone structure exhibited black rub marks and scrapes. Grass and nesting material was found inside the left wing. The left fuel valve was found in the OFF position and the right fuel valve was positioned to the rear auxiliary tank. Neither the fuel cross-feed valve nor the fuel boost pump switch was located. The left engine sustained substantial fire and impact damage. The right engine sustained heavy impact damage.
Probable cause: The pilot’s lack of experience flying the make and model of airplane, which led to a loss of control while maneuvering to return to the airport. Contributing to the accident was a partial loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.
For more information: NTSB.gov NTSB Identification: CEN09FA518