Mastery Flight Training, Inc. 

Beech Weekly Accident Update archives


January 2008 Reports


Official information from FAA and NTSB sources (unless otherwise noted).  Editorial comments (contained in parentheses), year-to-date summary and closing comments are those of the author.  All information is preliminary and subject to change.  Comments on preliminary topics are meant solely to enhance flying safety.  Please use these reports to help you more accurately evaluate the potential risks when you make your own decisions about how and when to fly.  Please accept my sincere personal condolences if anyone you know was in a mishap. I welcome your comments, suggestions and criticisms.  Fly safe, and have fun!


©2008 Mastery Flight Training, Inc.  All Rights Reserved


1/9/2008 Report




1/1 1520Z (1020 local):  The nose gear of a Be95 collapsed on landing at Norwood, Massachusetts.  The solo pilot reports no injury; aircraft damage is “unknown” and weather conditions were “not reported.”  N146RA (TD-294) is a 1959 Travel Air registered since 2002 to an individual in Squantum, Massachusetts.


(“Gear collapse on landing”)


1/2 1745Z (1245 local):  A Be36’s nose gear collapsed on landing at Brunswick, Georgia.  The pilot and two passengers were unhurt; aircraft damage is “unknown” and weather conditions were “not reported.”  N724BB (E-3151) is a 1998 A36 registered since 1998 to a Georgetown, Delaware corporation.


(“Gear collapse on landing”)


1/3 0045Z (1845 local 1/2/2008):  On “its departure roll” a Be76 “slid off the runway into a snowbank,” at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The solo pilot reports no injury; aircraft damage is “minor” and weather conditions were “clear and 10” with a 10-knot wind.  N6697D (ME-264) is a 1979 Duchess registered since 2000 to a Milwaukee-based corporation.


(“Loss of directional control on takeoff”; “Night”)


1/4 0010Z (1810 local 1/3/2008):  A Be35’s “engine failed” and the Bonanza “landed short” of the runway, at Ennis, Texas.  The airplane’s nose gear collapsed during the off-airport landing.  The pilot, alone in the airplane, has “minor” injuries.  The airplane has “minor” damage; weather was “clear and 10” with a six-know surface wind.  N814R (D-5946) is a 1959 K35 registered since 2005 to an individual in Ennis.


(“Engine failure in flight”; “Night”)


1/5 1902Z (1302 local):  After “report[ing] a nose gear problem,” the pilot of a Be55 landed at Harlington, Texas, and the Baron’s nose gear collapsed on rollout.  The solo pilot was not hurt; damage to the airplane is “minor”.  Weather was VMC.  N1246Z (TC-75) is a 1961 95-55 recently (July 2007) registered to an individual in Los Fresnos, Texas.


(“Gear collapse on landing—known mechanical system failure”; “Recent registration”—this report is common of events where a nose gear pushrod or rod end failed, stopping the gear in mid-transit or leaving it with insufficient integrity to withstand landing forces.  It’s unknown at this writing how much time was on the parts in question, if in fact they are what failed, but system experts recommend removing pushrods, if of the hollow type, for inspection of the inside of the rods for corrosion at 1000 hours in service, proactive replacement of hollow pushrods [notable by riveted rod end connections, as opposed to machined] with the later, solid type, and preemptive replacement of rod ends at 2000 hours in service.)


1/7 0017Z (1917 local 1/6/2008):  A Be65 landed “nose gear up” at Miami, Florida.  Two aboard the Queen Air were not hurt; aircraft damage is “minor”.  Weather: “clear and 10” with a 10-knot wind.  N6802Q (LD-29) is a 1962 65-80 registered since 1999 to a Miami-based corporation.


(“Failure of nose gear to extend due to mechanical failure”; “Night”—The Queen Air’s landing gear system is different than that of smaller piston Beechcraft, in common with Twin Beech and early King Air electromechanical systems with more involved failure modes.  An electric motor drives a gear box that in turn drives main gear actuators through worm gears.  The nose gear is driven from the gearbox by a bicycle chain and a dedicated nose gear actuator.  The bicycle chain in service is actually quite trouble-free, according to a reader with significant years of experience flying and maintaining Queen Airs, Twin Beeches and early King Airs.  More commonly if there’s trouble, the reader says, it comes from dirt or paint getting into the nose gear actuator and inhibiting movement.  It might be that enhanced system cleaning, inspection and maintenance may have affected the outcome of this flight.)


1/7 0254Z (2054 local 1/6/2008):  A Be58 landed gear up during a night arrival at Fort Worth, Texas.  The pilot and three passengers escaped injury; damage was “minor” and weather for the night landing was “clear and 10” with an eight-knot surface wind.  N21YM (TH-2005) is a 2006 58 Baron registered since new to a Wilmington, Delaware corporation.


(“Gear up landing”; “Night”)


1/8 2235Z (1735 local):  A Be76 landed with its nose gear retracted, at Hilton Head, South Carolina.  The solo pilot reports no injury; damage is “unknown” and weather conditions were “not reported”.  N682RL (ME-419) is a 1981 Duchess registered since 2005 to a corporation in Port Orange, Florida.


(“Failure of nose gear to extend due to mechanical failure”)



NTSB PRELIMINARY or FACTUAL REPORTS:  All previously reported in the Weekly Accident Update, and subject to change per NTSB findings.


 ** 12/20/07 triple-fatality V35B loss of control during approach at Springfield, IL.  The pilot, who began the trip VFR but obtained an IFR clearance when he found it was needed for the approach, reported an undisclosed “problem” before radio and radar contact was lost.  “Aircraft radar track data showed the airplane passing through the localizer centerline then make a rapid right turn back toward the centerline. During the right turn the airplane's altitude descended down to 1,300 feet, immediately followed by a rapid climb to 2,700 feet. The airplane impacted terrain about 3.0 nm outside the locator outer marker…on the localizer centerline.”**



1/17/2008 Report




1/11 1700Z (1100 local):  A Be33 landed gear up at Sikeston, Missouri.  Two aboard the Debonair were unhurt; damage is “minor”.  Weather: clear skies with winds at eight knots. N976T (CD-178) is a 1960 Model 35-33 recently registered to an individual in Cordova, Tennessee.


(“Gear up landing”; “Recent registration”)


1/13 2025Z (1225 local):  “On landing,” a Be77 “went off the runway into a drainage ditch,” at Half Moon Bay, California.  The solo pilot was not hurt, and airplane damage is “minor”.  Weather conditions were “not reported”.  N6019U (WA-8) is a 1979 Skipper recently (June 2007) registered to an individual in Boulder creek, California.


(“Loss of directional control on landing”; “Recent registration”)


1/14 1855Z (1055 local):  A Be33 landed gear up at Carlsbad, California.  Two aboard avoided injury. Damage is “minor”.  Weather: sky clear, visibility 20 miles, with surface winds at six knots.  N939L (CD-74) is a 1960 35-33 registered since 1979 to a co-ownership in Carlsbad.


(“Gear up landing”)



NTSB PRELIMINARY or FACTUAL REPORTS:  All previously reported in the Weekly Accident Update, and subject to change per NTSB findings.


 **12/9/07 fatal H35 controlled flight into terrain during a night, instrument approach at Warrenton, Virginia.  The aircraft, cleared to fly the RNAV/GPS approach, was observed on radar to steadily continue descent until impacting obstacles.  Damage to trees indicates the descent was gradual, not as would be expected in a spiral or spin.  Initial contact with a tree was approximately 80 feet AGL.  Lowest MDA for the approach is 454 feet AGL.   


The pilot had been handed off by controllers to the advisory frequency and instructed to report canceling his IFR clearance; the pilot responded “affirmative” but did not explicitly cancel IFR.  The NTSB preliminary report appears to indicate the pilot was flying the GPS approach using a [not certified for IFR] hand-held GPS, which may or may not have been a contributing factor.  More likely, the pilot had at least some nighttime ground contact in the reported 400-foot overcast/2 mile visibility weather [reported 12 miles away], but descended too rapidly and could not see unlighted trees before impact, almost 300 feet below MDA.  Throttle and mixture control positions suggest the pilot may have been initiating a climb at the moment of impact.  The engine appeared to be working properly and fuel was apparently present.  The approach calls for a 3.05 degree descent from the FAF to the runway, with no explicit visual descent point (VDP).  Reference final approach glide path angles published on most instrument approach charts, and compare them to the “normal” 3-degree ILS glidepath to determine your expected rate of descent.  Carefully set your altimeter just before flying an instrument approach, and brief the minimum altitude for the approach including any adjustments for using remote altimeter settings.  Apply power before reaching MDA to avoid flying below the lowest safe altitude while in the process of turning descent into a missed-approach climb.  There’s no reason a “take a look” approach should be unsafe if weather is near minimums, but such an approach requires great attention to altitude and navigation, with missing the approach being the expected outcome unless conditions are just right.  Unfortunately a Sunday evening, night approach after a direct flight from two states away might entice a pilot into “landing expectation.”  Beware the hazards of schedule and mission-orientation (“get-there-itis”) when launching on a trip into challenging conditions.**



1/24/2008 Report




A reader, pilot of the airplane, called to relate this experience:


1/22 (time not reported):  When at about 1000 feet AGL making a visual landing at Tucumcari, New Mexico, the pilot of a B36TC extended the landing gear.  Coincident to gear extension the engine began to “cough” significantly. The pilot first moved the mixture control to FULL RICH, but that made no change, so he leaned the mixture slightly with no improvement either.  He switched fuel tanks but that made no difference.  Realizing glide performance is improved with a reduced propeller speed but not yet completed with all troubleshooting efforts, the pilot reduced rpm by a couple hundred while he turned the auxiliary fuel pump on LOW.  Engine power smoothed out somewhat, although the pilot noted a strong fuel odor in the cabin.  Once he was certain he had enough altitude and power to make the runway the pilot extended the landing gear and landed normally.  Turning onto a taxiway he turned the auxiliary fuel pump OFF and the engine quit.  On inspection the pilot and his father, who was a passenger on this leg of their trip, found that a nut had backed off of the fuel line on the left side of the engine compartment, ahead of the pilot’s seat.  Enough fuel leaked through the loosened fitting that engine power suffered; turning the auxiliary fuel pump on LOW forced a little more fuel through the line to the engine but did not resolved the underlying problem.  The fuel smell the pilot noted was the result of fuel under pressure (increased slightly by running the pump on LOW) forcing its way through the leak.  Obviously the resulting fuel spray was not combustible with the amount of air flow at that point in the engine compartment in flight because the sprayed fuel did not ignite. 


The pilot reported the airplane had only six hours since its annual inspection.  In the B36TC’s crowded engine compartment, often hoses and components must be removed in order to replace the oil filter and to perform other inspection and servicing tasks.  The loose nut is customarily dabbed with silicon and marked with a line so any movement of the nut can be detected during preflight (although this is not a Federal requirement).  This and other nuts were not marked in the subject airplane.  The pilot will be sending a picture of the specific fitting in question for inclusion in a future Weekly Accident Update.  He suggests pilots take a very close look at the airplane and engine when accepting it after inspection, maintenance or repair.  Mechanics are subject to the same sorts of human factors issues as are pilots; ultimately it’s the pilot’s responsibility to determine airworthiness, not to mention he/she and his/her passengers are the ones who depend on the airplane’s airworthiness for their safety.


(“Power loss in flight: fuel line leak”—good job keeping calm and getting the airplane on the ground safely.  Thanks, reader, for your report).





1/16 0022Z (1922 local):  Departing Cleveland, Ohio’s Burke Lakefront Airport, a Be58 “crashed into Lake Erie under unknown circumstances.”  The solo pilot died; the Baron was submerged and “destroyed”. Weather for the night takeoff was 25,000 broken, visibility 10 miles with a six-knot surface wind.  N3217L (TH-1927) was a 1999 Baron 58 registered since 2004 to a Niagara Falls, NY-based corporation.


(“Pilot incapacitation—heart attack” [more in a moment]; “Fatal”; “Aircraft destroyed”; “Night”—a witness from the port [airport] authority was quoted by local media as saying “the plane crashed immediately after takeoff as it was banking to the north.”  That would have taken the Baron out over the dark, featureless lake, suggesting spatial disorientation as one of many possible causes.  A local reader who knew the pilot says a coroner’s report states the 68-year-old professional pilot “had a massive heart attack and was dead before he hit the water.”)


1/18 2159Z (1359 local):  A Be35 broken apart in mid-air and crashed near Selma, California, killing the solo pilot.  The Bonanza was “destroyed”.  Weather at the time was “VFR”.  N4662M (D-10125) was a 1978 V35B registered since new to the late pilot, a resident of Sanger, California.


(“In-flight breakup”; “Fatal”; “Aircraft destroyed”—this is a particularly troubling case not only because of the human tragedy, but also because it is atypical of the Bonanza’s in-flight break-up record.  Whereas virtually all in-flight breakups [in any make/model of aircraft] result from thunderstorm penetrations, attempted visual flight in instrument conditions, or other identifiable “I wouldn’t do that” scenarios, this tragedy happened in clear skies and calm winds. 


News reports quote witnesses as saying they heard an “explosion” and looked up to see the Bonanza’s fuselage falling, with the wings completely separated and falling separately.  The local newspaper account says the pilot had reported an unspecified problem to air traffic control and was attempting to return for a landing when the break-up occurred.  The preliminary reports indicate the Bonanza was as high as 7000 feet before breaking up, making incapacitation of the 79-year old pilot, a spiral dive and exceeding aircraft design limits one possible instigator of the break-up.


Cases of single-ship in-flight breakup apparently are quite loud from the ground, often reported by witnesses as an "explosion."  Pictures of the fuselage on the ground after impact show no sign of fire or patterns of bending that would indicate an explosion took place.  The forward fuselage, including the forward carry-thru, pilot’s seats [and pilot] and engine also separated in flight and landed some distance away from the rest of the fuselage.  Both stabilators and ruddervators appear to have cleanly separated from the tail.


The mishap airplane was involved in a runway overrun in May 2006 [reported in the Weekly Accident Update but not NTSB-reportable], but it’s not known whether that has any bearing on the recent event.            


The V-tail’s reported in-flight breakup rate, compared to straight-tail Bonanzas appears to be statistically valid based on studies done that led to the V-tail recertification years ago [which the basic design passed].  Straight-tail airplanes tend to hit the ground intact when put in the same flight conditions—but the result is the same.  And not all V-tails that enter conditions associated with structural failure break up before impact. 


Most in-flight failures result from VFR into IMC, thunderstorm penetration, ice accumulation or attempted aerobatics.  As we've seen in some well-publicized warbird in-flight breakups in the last few years, the initial stress that results in failure may occur well before the actual in-flight break-up, so any of the above could still have been a factor in this case.  The usual chain of events in an in-flight tail separation: the tail fails, the aircraft pitches down abruptly, and the wings fail in a downward direction [relative to the airframe] as a result of the negative g-load.  The forward fuselage separating near the forward carry-thru spar has happened before in this sort of event.


Go here for more discussion and the Bonanza/Debonair in-flight break-up record.  As always, I'm looking at this as an academic exercise in hopes we learn something positive as a result.  Never forget somebody died in this event, and the effect it'll have on those who survive him.  Obviously at this point we know very little about what happened in this specific case.)  



NTSB PRELIMINARY or FACTUAL REPORTS:  All previously reported in the Weekly Accident Update, and subject to change per NTSB findings.


** 1/16 fatal Baron 58 crash into Lake Erie, cited above.**




1/31/2008 Report




 1/27 0106Z (1706 local 1/26/2008):  A Be33’s landing gear collapsed on arrival at Sacramento, California.  The solo pilot was not hurt and damage is “minor”.  Weather conditions were not reported.  N9111Q (CE-330) is a 1970 F33A registered since 2006 to a co-ownership in Brentwood, California.


(“Gear collapse on landing”)


1/28 1612Z (1012 local):  On landing at Sugar Grove, Illinois, a Be50’s “gear retracted.”  The solo pilot reports no injury despite “substantial” aircraft damage.  Weather was “VFR”.  N234H (CH-133) is a 1954 C50 registered since 1990 to an individual in Aurora, Illinois.


(“Gear collapse on landing”—at least that’s my interpretation of the wording of this report, as opposed to a gear-up landing)



NTSB PRELIMINARY or FACTUAL REPORTS:  All previously reported in the Weekly Accident Update, and subject to change per NTSB findings.


**12/13 airframe ice-induced E55 impact short of the runway at Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  With known inoperative equipment the pilot flew into known conditions in an uncertified corner of the envelope:  “During the instrument flight rules flight, the pilot maintained visual contact with the ground, and reported the presence of light freezing drizzle and rain. The airplane's deicing equipment cleared the airframe of ice; however, the view through the windscreen became obscured, as the anti-ice plate on the windscreen had previously been removed for replacement, and a new unit had not yet been installed. The pilot utilized the autopilot to fly a coupled instrument landing system approach, and decoupled the autopilot about 300 feet above the ground. Using the side windows and the radar altimeter, the pilot estimated that the airplane had enough altitude to reach the runway, but due to the up-sloping terrain prior to the runway threshold, the airplane was actually lower than the pilot thought. The airplane subsequently contacted terrain about 150 feet short of the runway threshold. As the airplane came to a stop the nose landing gear collapsed, and the right main landing gear separated, damaging the wing spar. The weather reported at the destination airport, about 10 minutes before the accident, included freezing rain and a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius.” 


Practice scanning to maintain glideslope even after “going visual” on the approach to stay in protected airspace and avoid unseen obstacles.  Sometimes the shortest flights have the highest workload—there’s no real cruise phase that gives you time to take a breath and prepare for the approach.  Although it’s easy to treat a “short hop” cavalierly, it’s the 10- to 20-minute flight that will require the greatest amount of advance planning on the ground, and necessitate arranging the cockpit and pre-setting for the upcoming approach even before you take off.  Even assuming this E55 was certified for flight in “known ice”, such certification requires all ice-protection components be operational (and of course, installed) and in use in icing conditions.  In most cases “known ice” certification specifically excludes freezing rain and freezing drizzle from the operational approval.  


A November 2007 FAA Fact Sheet titled Safer Flight in Icing Conditions  reviews recent changes in certification standards for ice-protected airplanes, proposed rulemaking for improved ice detection, and new recommendations for use of pneumatic deice boots.  Although the Fact Sheet is addressed primary to manufacturers and operators of transport-category airplanes, the fact that such emphasis is being placed on these larger, more ice-capable aircraft strongly suggests that ice prediction, detection and protection equipment and procedures are even more lacking in general aviation.  Notably, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on November 8th renewed its call for enhanced ice prediction, detection and airworthiness standards as part of its 10 Most Wanted list of aviation safety recommendations to the FAA.



** 1/18 in-flight structural failure of a V35B near Fresno, California.  The report states “a witnesses [sic] reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge that he heard a loud screaming noise overhead. When he looked up he observed an airplane traveling south to north, suddenly ‘disintegrate,’ and described the wings and fuselage floating to the ground….  FAA air traffic controllers reported that the pilot requested a frequency change while climbing [this may have instigated the original news reports that the pilot had radioed his intention to return to the airport with unspecified problems; the pilot may have made such a report on UNICOM after leaving ATC frequency], and when the airplane was around 7,000 feet they lost radar contact. No other radio communications with the pilot were reported.”   That preliminary reports indicate the Bonanza was as high as 7000 feet before breaking up makes me more confident in repeating what I wrote in the January 24th Weekly Accident Update, that making incapacitation of the 79-year old pilot, a spiral dive and exceeding aircraft design limits one possible instigator of the break-up.  Informed sources in the local area tell me the investigation is turning toward pilot-induced issues and away from airframe concerns; hopefully we’ll have more definitive information in subsequent NTSB reports.**




SUMMARY: Reported Hawker Beechcraft piston mishaps, year-to-date 2008:


Total reported:  16 reports 


Operation in VMC: 11 reports  

Operation in IMC:   0  reports  

Weather “unknown” or “not reported”:  5 reports

Operation at night:  5 reports         


Fatal accidents: 2 reports  

“Serious” injury accidents (not involving fatalities): 0 reports 


“Substantial” damage: 1 report  

Aircraft “destroyed”:   2 reports   


Recent registration (within previous 12 months):  3 reports  


(Note: FAA preliminary reports no longer identify the purpose of the flight involved in mishap.  Consequently the number and percentage of Beech mishaps that occur during dual instruction will become less and less accurate over time.  Since the late 1990s the percentage of Beech mishaps that take place during dual flight instruction has remained very consistently about 10%). 



By Aircraft Type:


Be33 Debonair/Bonanza  3 reports 

Be35 Bonanza  2 reports  

Be36 Bonanza  2 reports   

Be58 Baron  2 reports

Be76 Duchess  2 reports  

Be50 Twin Bonanza  1 report 

Be55 Baron  1 report

Be65 Queen Air  1 report 

Be77 Skipper  1 report  

Be95 Travel Air   1 report    





PRELIMINARY DETERMINATION OF CAUSE (all subject to update per NTSB findings):




Gear collapse (landing)

4 reports (Be33; Be36; Be50; Be95)


Gear up landing

3 reports (two Be33s, Be58)


Failure of nose gear to extend due to mechanical failure

2 reports (Be65, Be76)


Gear collapse on landing—known mechanical system failure

1 report (Be55)


...for more on Landing Gear-Related Mishaps see these data and this commentary. 



ENGINE FAILURE   (2 reports) 


Engine failure in flight

1 report (Be35)


Partial power loss: fuel line leak

1 report (Be36)



IMPACT ON LANDING  (1 report) 


Loss of directional control on landing

1 report (Be77)





Pilot incapacitation—heart attack

1 report (Be58)





Loss of directional control during takeoff

1 report (Be76)





In-flight break-up

1 report (Be35)




Recognize an N-number?  Want to check on friends or family that may have been involved in a cited mishap?  Click here to find the registered owner.   


Please accept my sincere personal condolences if you or anyone you know was involved in a mishap.  I welcome your comments, suggestions and criticisms.  Fly safe, and have fun!




Thomas P. Turner, Master CFI

Mastery Flight Training, Inc.

There's much more aviation safety information at





Return to  archives page.