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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.

September 12, 2021, Rhine, GA

Champion 8KCAB Xtreme Decathlon

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0930 Eastern time when it collided with trees. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness and friend of the pilot reported the pilot “buzzed” him and flew around for a second pass. During the second pass, the pilot descended the airplane below the tree line and started an aileron roll; however, about halfway through the roll the pilot stopped the maneuver, and the airplane flew straight into the trees at full engine power. Flight control continuity was observed from the flight control surfaces to the flight controls within the cockpit. Initial examination of the engine did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

September 14, 2021, New Smyrna, Fla.

Zenith 750 Cruzer Experimental

At about 1200 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when its pilot lost control while landing with a control system malfunction. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot, he purchased the airplane on the day of the accident, intending to fly it to Tennessee. Shortly after departing, he “heard a very loud boom” and the airplane “jolted nose down and to the left.” The controls were locked, and the pilot could not move the control column. The pilot applied force to the controls and they subsequently moved and felt freed from binding. Two attempts to land back at the departure airport resulted in go-arounds as the controls locked and were freed multiple times. On the third landing attempt, when the airplane was about 10 feet above the runway, the controls locked again. The airplane pitched nose down and to the left, and the left wing contacted the ground, followed by the nose landing gear, which collapsed. The airplane then departed the left side of the runway, struck an embankment and came to rest inverted in a pond.

September 14, 2021, Charleston, S.C.

Hawker Beechcraft 400A BeechJet

The jet was substantially damaged at about 1230 Eastern time when an engine cowling departed the aircraft. The two pilots were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The flight crew reported performing a standard preflight inspection of the airplane, which had just been released from scheduled maintenance. The only discrepancy noted was a loose bolt on the nose cone, which was tightened by a mechanic prior to departure.

The subsequent flight was uneventful until the airplane was about 15 minutes from its destination. While descending through about FL210, the crew heard and felt a loud bang, shudder and yaw. There were no anomalies noted on any flight or engine instruments. The airplane landed without incident. During the post-flight inspection, the left engine cowling was missing. The fuselage and horizontal stabilator sustained substantial damage.

September 18, 2021, Wadsworth, Ohio

RANS S-20 Experimental LSA

At about 1845 Eastern time, the airplane, N6915G, when it apparently entered the vortices produced by a nearby helicopter. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

An airport surveillance video camera captured the accident sequence. A Sikorsky S-76 helicopter and the accident airplane were both using Runway 2. Shortly after the helicopter passed the airplane, the airplane taxied onto the runway and started its takeoff roll. Moments later, just after the airplane became airborne, the airplane rolled inverted and impacted the runway. A post-crash fire engulfed the airplane.

September 28, 2021, Hiles, Wis.

Rockwell Commander 690B

The airplane was destroyed at about 0900 Central time, when it impacted terrain. The pilot and both passengers sustained fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed for the aerial imagery survey flight.

Preliminary ADS-B data revealed the airplane departed Rhinelander, Wis, at about 0850. By 0858, the airplane began to level off at about 15,600 feet MSL with a maximum groundspeed of 209 knots. Between 0858 and 0900, the airplane continued in level flight; however, its groundspeed decreased to about 93 knots. A witness, located about a mile from the accident site, reported hearing a “loud, strange sounding airplane.” He looked up and noticed an airplane “nose down at high rate of speed spinning about its longitudinal axis at about 30 to 60 rpm.” The witness lost sight of the airplane behind some trees and then heard an impact.

This article originally appeared in the December 2021 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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