AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause on the NTSB’s website at www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.
November 15, 2021, Rockport, Texas
Beech A36TC Turbocharged Bonanza
At about 0745 Central time, the airplane sustained substantial damage when it was ditched following apparent fuel exhaustion. The solo pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
According to the pilot, the airplane held 70 total gallons of fuel before takeoff: 20 gallons in each wing tip tank, and 15 gallons in each main tank. The cross-country flight was estimated to require 45 minutes. Shortly after departure, the pilot switched the fuel selector from a main tank to the left tip tank. About 20 minutes into the flight, the pilot noticed fuel being “sucked out of both the left and right main [tank] gas caps.” At that time, the pilot was about halfway to the destination, and he decided to continue.
About 30 miles from landing, the pilot switched to the left main fuel tank. At 1200 feet AGL and about four miles from the runway, the engine “sputtered a couple of times and quit completely.” The pilot switched to the right main fuel tank, which indicated half-full, and attempted an engine restart. The restart was unsuccessful, and the pilot switched back to the left main fuel tank, which also indicated half-full. Realizing the airplane was not going to make it to the runway, the pilot ditched it into Copano Bay, 1.5 miles short of the destination airport.
November 15, 2021, Abilene, Texas
Beech 23 Musketeer
The airplane was substantially damaged when it was landed in trees following apparent fuel exhaustion. The flight instructor received serious injuries and the student pilot received minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
On the morning of the accident, the flight instructor added 4.19 gallons of fuel to the right fuel tank for a total of 30 gallons in it and 15 to 17 gallons in the left tank. The first instructional flight lasted 1.1 hours, during which the airplane’s fuel burn was estimated to be eight gph. About an hour into the second instructional flight of the day, during takeoff after a touch-and-go landing and at about 500 feet AGL, the engine lost power. Unable to restore power, the instructor and student made an emergency landing to an area of trees.
Examination revealed the fuel tanks were breached and there was no sign or smell of residual fuel at the accident site. The fuel line from the fuel pump to the carburetor was void of fuel. The carburetor bowl was intact, but its position in the wreckage precluded its examination at the accident site.
November 15, 2021, Boyne City, Mich.
Beech E-90 King Air
At about 1245 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain short of the runway on an instrument approach. The airline transport pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan was in effect.
Once established on the final approach course, the airplane’s groundspeed gradually slowed from 129 to 88 knots over a period of one minute. Its last recorded location showed the airplane was 3.3 NM east of the Runway 27 threshold, at about 1500 feet MSL (800 feet AGL), and slightly left of the approach course. The airplane impacted terrain about 600 feet west of the last recorded location. Broken tree limbs indicated a descent angle of about 70 degrees.
Two witnesses heard the airplane fly overhead, followed by a loud thud. The witnesses observed very heavy sleet with low visibility conditions around the time of the accident. An AIRMET for icing was valid for the accident location.
November 24, 2021, Grove City, Penn.
Cessna T210R Turbocharged Centurion
The airplane was destroyed, and the pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured, at 1746 Eastern time after the flight reported a loss of engine power. Visual conditions prevailed.
About two hours into a flight from White Plains, N.Y., to Akron, Ohio, the owner/pilot diverted to a Pennsylvania airport after reporting an “oil pressure issue.” Witnesses at the divert airport reported the pilot requested six quarts of oil and stated he thought the oil dipstick had not been properly secured. A witness further stated the airplane was “covered in oil,” which was present on the empennage, lower fuselage and engine cowl. The pilot and passenger cleaned the airplane with rags, serviced the engine with new oil and elected to resume their flight.
During the subsequent engine startup, one of the witnesses, who was also a helicopter mechanic, heard the airplane engine making “abnormal cracking and popping” noises. The pilot then taxied to the end of the runway and departed without performing an engine runup.
About 15 minutes after takeoff, the pilot reported to ATC that the airplane was experiencing a loss of engine power. After ATC pointed out a nearby airport, communication and radar contact were lost. The airplane impacted trees and steep terrain about 1.5 miles from the approach end of the divert airport’s runway.
The engine showed evidence of heat and impact damage “but was relatively intact.” The #5 spark plug had a damaged electrode and was covered with oil. The #3 and #2 spark plugs were covered with oil. Two holes were observed in the top of the engine crankcase. One was forward of the #5 cylinder and about two inches in diameter. The second hole was located adjacent to the #4 cylinder and was about three inches in diameter. The #4 cylinder’s connecting rod was separated from the crankshaft. The #5 piston was fragmented. The two through-bolts connecting cylinders #4 and #5 were missing nuts on the right side of the engine. The two through-bolts that connected cylinders #2 and #3 were missing nuts on the left side of the engine. The two through-bolt nuts on the aft side of the #1 cylinder displayed a 0.0625-inch gap.