The pilot reported that, during cruise flight, the air traffic controller instructed him to descend from 9,000 to 4,000 feet. While performing the descent checklist, he switched fuel tanks on the Bonanza A36, and the engine subsequently lost power.
He further reported that he was certain that the engine restarted and that the event put him “behind the airplane in performing…cockpit duties.”
The next thing the pilot remembered was the controller informing him that he was flying in circles and losing altitude. The pilot thought the airplane was in a spin and tried to regain control.
After the airplane broke out of the clouds into poor visibility and snow, he chose to land in a cornfield near Parker City, Indiana. During the landing, the airplane hit trees and terrain, resulting in serious injury to the pilot.
A witness reported observing the airplane at a low altitude traveling at a high rate of speed, then it pitched up to almost vertical flight, descended, and impacted terrain.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s loss of airplane control while troubleshooting an engine issue in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in impact with trees and terrain.
NTSB Identification: CEN15LA098
This January 2015 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.