Mastery Flight Training, Inc. 

Beech Weekly Accident Update archives


July 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



7/2/2008 Report


CORRECTION from a July 2007 report


7/18/2007 1907Z (1407 local):  A Be35 landed gear up at Salina, Kansas.  Two aboard were not hurt; damage is “minor”.  Weather was 5500 scattered, visibility 10 miles with surface winds from 140 degrees at 12 gusting to 17 knots.  N5168C (D-2468) is a 1950 B35 registered since 2002 to an individual in Garner, Iowa.


(“Gear up landing”—another correlation between strong or gusty surface winds and gear-up landings).


The owner of D-2468 called with this correction: Elements of the N-number were transposed in the 7/18/2007 report.  The aircraft involved was N5168C (D-2453), also a B35.  The mishap airplane was at the time registered since 2005 to a co-ownership in Minneapolis, Kansas.  The airplane was subsequently de-registered in September 2007, likely as a result of being "totaled" when damage from the gear up landing exceeded the value (or the insured value) of the Bonanza.  Please note the corrected mishap airplane serial number.





6/8 0000Z (1800 local 6/7/2008):  The pilot of a Be24 “aborted takeoff.”  In the process the Sierra “blew a tire” and its “propeller struck a runway light,” at Block Island, Rhode Island.  The solo pilot was not hurt; damage is “unknown” and weather conditions “not reported”.  N2074P (MC-608) is a 1978 C24R recently (February 2008) registered to an individual in Morristown, New Jersey.


(“Blown tire/loss of directional control during aborted takeoff”; “Recent registration”—There is no indication why the pilot of this airplane aborted the takeoff from this 2500-foot airstrip.  Weather conditions have not been reported but generally temperatures have been very warm in the late afternoons, possibly contributing to whatever resulted in the abort.  For more about takeoff planning and aborted takeoffs see my 2003 series of articles, parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.)   


6/26 2300Z (1700 local):  Taking off from Ryegate, Montana, a Be36 “ran off the runway and struck several trees.”  Three aboard the Bonanza avoided injury despite “substantial” aircraft damage.  Weather conditions were “not reported”.  N824C (E-3338) is a 2000 A36 registered since January 2007 to an individual in Bozeman, Montana.


(“Impact with obstacles on takeoff”; “Substantial damage”—Ryegate is a 3400-ft turf strip at an elevation of 3689 MSL, with obstacles off both runways.  The temperature was not reported, but assuming standard atmospheric pressure and typically dry Montana summertime air, the density altitude with temperature variations would have been approximately:



Density Altitude

70F (21C)

5317 ft

80F (27C)

5931 ft

90F (32C)

6532 ft

100F (38C)

7120 ft


Assuming zero wind and taking off at 100 pounds below maximum takeoff weight [probably generous knowing how some people pack light airplanes for what was likely a camping trip], estimated distance to take off over a 50-foot obstacle would have been:



50-ft Obstacle


50-ft Obstacle




0 flap


App flap


(0 flap)


(App flap)


70F (21C)

3300 ft

3795 ft

2900 ft

3335 ft

80F (27C)

3400 ft

3910 ft

3400 ft

3910 ft

90F (32C)

3700 ft

4255 ft

3800 ft

4370 ft

100F (38C)

3900 ft

4485 ft

4000 ft

4600 ft


Remember the runway is 3400 foot long, turf, with obstacles on either end.


Beech does not provide adjustment figures for departing on other than paved, level surfaces.  Cessna’s manuals do call for a 15% increase in takeoff distances for taking off from grass; estimates above are based on Cessna’s adjustment figure.  See that there is no clear-cut answer whether to use flaps or not for takeoff.  Conditions have an effect on flaps’ usefulness.  There may be a point of diminishing returns [especially at high weights and at hot temperatures] when flaps provide no improvement, and perhaps even degrade obstacle-clearance distances.


These figures assume that the airplane was flown using maximum performance obstacle-clearing technique for the IO-550 A36, including:

·         Power: Takeoff [full] power set before brake release

·         Flaps: Up

·         Cowl flaps: Open

·         Landing gear: Retract after positive climb established

·         Runway: paved, level, dry surface

·         Liftoff and 50-ft airspeeds: As tabulated


Note: Original versions of the A36 Pilot’s Operating Handbook for A36 serial numbers E-1946, E-2104, E-2111 thru E-2629 & E-3631 thru E-3635 calls for mixture to be FULL RICH for takeoff, both in the Associated Conditions of the Takeoff Performance charts and in the Takeoff check in the Normal Procedures section.  A 2002 POH revision amends this to Mixture: AS REQUIRED BY FIELD ELEVATION for those airplanes not equipped with the A36’s original altitude-compensating [“auto-lean”] fuel pump.  This illustrates the critical need to keep your aircraft documents current with all revisions, and to read and understand any changes as they are posted.


I have no reason to believe the accident airplane did not have the correct updates posted.  And presumably the Montana-based pilot of the accident airplane was familiar with and practiced high density-altitude takeoff techniques.  For more read my article “Hot and High How-To” in the current [July 2008] issue of Aviation Safety.)


6/27 0435Z (2135 local 6/26/2008):  “On landing,” a Be33 “spun off the side of the runway” and “sustained substantial damage,” at Groveland, California.  The two aboard report no injury and weather conditions were not reported.  N331HP (CE-1334) is a 1989 F33A registered since 1999 to a Groveland-based corporation.


(“Loss of directional control on landing”; “Substantial damage”—wind conditions are notoriously challenging at airports near rising terrain in summertime.  If unfamiliar with the airport, call ahead for locals’ knowledge of wind patterns and times of day or identified conditions when it’s wise to avoid attempting takeoff or landing.)


6/27 2300Z (1500 local):  A Be36 landed gear up at Roche Harbor, Washington.  The two aboard were not hurt.  Damage was “minor” and weather “not reported”.  N3692Q (EA-125) is a 1980 A36TC very recently (May 2008) registered to a corporation in Astoria, Oregon.


(“Gear up landing”—The FAA preliminary report, of course, does not include information about the pilot’s experience in type, or in retractable gear airplanes.  We know [from 10 years of the Weekly Accident Update] that gear up landings can [and do] happen to pilots of all experience levels.  It’s sad, however, if a new owner’s checkout was insufficient to instill solid habits for extending landing gear and verifying its position, and the ownership experience is truncated by a Landing Gear-Related Mishap so soon after the joy of acquiring what for many is their “dream airplane”.)


6/28 2020Z (1520 local):  “On landing,” a Be58’s “nose gear collapsed” at Fort Worth, Texas.  Two aircraft occupants were unhurt and damage is “minor”.  Weather was “clear and 10” with a 15-knot surface wind.  N48TS (TJ-387) is a 1982 58P registered since 2005 to an individual in Weatherford, Texas.


(“Gear collapse on landing”)


6/29 1320Z (0820 local):  A Be55 crashed “shortly after departure” from Jasper, Alabama, killing all four aboard.  Aircraft damage is currently classified as “unknown” and weather was “not reported”.  N727BC (TC-2446) is/was a 1982 B55 registered since 1996 to a corporation in Jasper.


(“Stall/spin on takeoff” [from witness reports]; “Fatal”—a local television news video shows a witness who described what he alternatively called a “spiral” and a “spin”, with “no forward motion…just straight down” into trees near the airport boundary.  The witness makes hand motions that indeed appear to describe an aerodynamic spin.


6/29 1915Z (1415 local):  A Be23 “landed short of the runway” at Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  Two aboard the Musketeer have “serious” injuries from the impact that caused “substantial” aircraft damage.  Weather was 3100 broken, 3800 overcast, visibility 10 miles, with a surface wind from 330° at 10 gusting to 18 knots.  N701DW (M-977) is a 1966 A23A registered since 1998 to a partnership based in Sheboygan.


(“Engine failure on approach/landing” [on the basis of the pilot’s statement]; “Serious injuries”; “Substantial damage”; “Wind”—a local newspaper account relates the pilot “was trying to land at Sheboygan County Memorial Airport on Sunday afternoon when the engine died. [The airplane] crash-landed in a field about 300 feet short of the runway.  The impact sent [the pilot]'s head through the plane's windshield. His passenger…broke his foot and wrist.  [The pilot] was listed in good condition at a hospital Monday, while [the passenger] was in satisfactory condition.


This is another reminder that shoulder harnesses are some of your best protection against severe injury.  Even reasonably benign impact forces have permanently altered people’s lives, or even caused death, for want of a shoulder restraint.  Strongly consider the addition of shoulder harnesses if your airplane does not already have them.  Insurance underwriters reading this report: investigate incentives for your insureds to install shoulder harnesses in their airplanes for their own protection, and yours.  Consider working with FAA and vendors to obtain approvals for shoulder harness installations where none current exist.  Everyone: if shoulder harnesses are installed, use them, and insist others in your airplane use them as well—it’s the law [FARs], and it makes sense. 


There’s no word on what caused the engine to quit, but any fairly heavily wing-loaded airplane [like the Aero Club-series Beechcraft] will sink very steeply without power, one reason we all learn to make standard traffic patterns close in to the runway as part of our aviation indoctrination.  Engine failures in flight of any sort are reasonably rare when you figure the number of totally safe hours flown every day.  But it’s not uncommon when an engine failure turns into a hard landing just short of the runway when one does quit.  Ask the pilot who successfully glided to a runway when his/her engine died in the landing circuit and you’ll likely find


[1] he/she was flying a pattern much closer to the runway than is now common in light airplanes, and


[2] he/she routinely pulls the throttle to idle and practices a gliding approach to landing, to be ready for the rare time the engine does quit in the pattern. 


Include this exercise in your next flight instruction or Flight Review, and make it a part of your regular flying…just in case.)


6/30 2330Z (1930 local):  Landing at Skyhaven Airport, Rochester, New Hampshire, a Be95 “slid off the end of the runway and struck a taxiway light.”  Two aboard the Travel Air were unhurt and damage is “unknown”.  Weather: “clear and 10” with calm winds.  Temperature was 24°C.  N2715Y (TD-62) is a 1958 Model 95 registered since 1994 to an individual in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.


(“Landed long”—Airspeed complacency on final approach, leading to touching down “long,” is the most common cause of runway overruns.  This complacency is in my experience is common among pilots of “heavy” singles and light twins.   Rochester Skyhaven has a 4000-foot runway with a 0.5% slope with Runway 15 being “uphill,” runway 33 “downhill.”  AOPA’s guide states there are “trees on each end” of the runway.  In calm winds it should not have been difficult at all to land a light twin uphill on this runway, and a downhill landing, though not advised, should have been “doable” as well.  In either direction [and for that matter, on any runway] establishing the proper airspeed on short final while maintaining glidepath to land in the touchdown zone is vital to landing safely.  Practice airspeed and glidepath control on every flight so it becomes natural for you, even if fatigued; be ready to apply power and go around if your airspeed and glidepath are not taking you to the touchdown zone at a speed appropriate for the flare, or if at any time you overshoot your intended landing zone.)  




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


**6/8 A36 engine failure near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  “About 40 minutes into the flight [the pilot] heard a loud noise, followed by a rapid deceleration of the engine, and then a “distinct bang." He was unable to maintain altitude and subsequently executed a forced landing about 2 miles north of Grand Rapids/Itasca County Airport (GPZ), Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Oil spray from the engine obstructed the windshield. The airplane impacted trees and a utility pole during the emergency landing, which separated the left tip tank and aileron from the airframe.  A post accident inspection revealed that the propeller assembly had separated from the engine propeller flange. The propeller flange appeared intact. The propeller assembly was not recovered.”  Change “Engine failure in flight” to “Propeller separation in flight.” 


Mechanics tell me there is a high correlation between propeller strikes and sudden propeller stoppages and subsequent catastrophic failures of engine crankshafts and the propeller itself.  Although there is no record that this particular airplane had suffered a prop struck or stoppage before the prop failed, and we have no data on the time in service or time since overhaul for this propeller, this incident serves as a reminder of why good operating practice is to insist on a engine tear-down inspection following any sudden propeller stoppage, any propeller strike while the prop is rotating [not just when under full power, but also including while the engine is being turned with the starter], and [using one engine manufacturer’s criteria] any propeller damage that requires the prop be removed from the airplane for repairs.**


**6/24 A36 engine failure on takeoff at Olathe, KS.** 



7/17/2008 Report




A reader reports:

7/11 0000Z (1900 local 7/10/2008): A Be35 “was forced to make an off-airport landing on the interstate [highway] due to fuel exhaustion, near Ft. Worth, Texas.  The extent of injuries or damage, if any, is not known.  Weather conditions were not reported.  N5319E (D-5878) is a 1959 K35 registered since 1998 to an individual in Dallas, Texas.


(“Fuel exhaustion”— Running out of “gas” is one of the most avoidable accident causes.  It’s also something of an “unforgivable sin” among some insurance underwriters—when I sold aircraft insurance in the 1990s we were required to ask applicants if they had had any aircraft accidents, incidents or insurance claims in the last five years, or any fuel starvation or exhaustion events, ever.   Some underwriters would not offer to cover a pilot who had ever had a fuel-related mishap.


You have several means to determine fuel load before takeoff.  Fuel gauges may not be precise, and you may not be able to see partial fuel loads through the fuel filler caps.  But you do have aircraft fuel records and, if you’re smart, you’ll make time to personally observe aircraft fueling.  Not only will this help you avoid a misfueling event, it’s also the only definitive way to know how much fuel was actually put in the tanks, unless you ordered all tanks topped off. 


One reader, for instance, ordered what he considered to be a reliable FBO to load 30 gallons of fuel in each wing of his Baron before he returned to the airport.  This partial fuel load, if added, would still have left the tank levels low enough they could not be seen through the fuel filler ports, given the Baron’s long fuel bladders and the dihedral of its wing.  The pilot dutifully added 60 gallons to his fuel totalizer on startup, only to have both engines quit in cruise flight some distance short of his destination.  Luckily he was past the highest mountains along his route and over an airport when fuel ran out.  After gliding to a landing on the airport, he noted the Fuel Remaining on his totalizer was exactly 60 gallons—the fuel he had ordered added by the FBO and that he’d input into the totalizer, but which was not put in his tanks before takeoff.


For a few years I flew a pair of multiengine airplanes that were also flown by a company vice president.  We both flew a lot and sometimes he took one airplane or the other, so it was hard to know much in advance which of the two I’d be flying.  Our work often had us landing late in the evening so we’d defer fueling until the next flight.  We tracked fuel on board seven ways:


1.       Visual inspection of the fuel tanks through fuel filler ports.

2.       “Sight gauges”, or mechanical fuel indicators mounted on top of the wings.

3.       Cockpit fuel gauges.

4.       A fuel totalizer showing fuel remaining on board.

5.       A written record in each airplane of the airplane Hobbs time when fuel was added, and the amount of fuel pumped in.  With the current Hobbs time we could estimate how much fuel had been burned, and therefore about how much was still on board.

6.       Checking fuel vents and overflow ports, and the floor of the hangar or ramp under the airplane, for signs of fuel leaks that would reduce fuel load unexpectedly.

7.       Fuel receipts…although these are the least reliable indicators of the lot.


If I arrived for a flight and found the airplane was not “topped off,” I checked each of these sources.  If I could not positively determine the amount of fuel on board by multiple means, or if any two were different enough that it didn’t make sense, I topped the tanks before departure regardless of the length of the planned flight.  If weight and balance was an issue I’d add enough fuel to make the trip regardless of what was already in the tanks (most of our flights were only about an hour), or until I had some visual confirmation that I had a safe fuel level with reserves (written fuel log plus added fuel, for instance, or until I had a positive indication on the sight gauges) while remaining within weight and balance limits.


You might not have to share your airplane, and you might not have as many different means of checking the fuel level, but use what you do have and develop a plan to ensure you’ll always depart with the amount of fuel you think you have on board.


Once airborne:

·         Check actual fuel burn against anticipated, both in terms of gallons per hour flow and fuel remaining at destination, accounting for actual ground speed. 

·         Glance out at the fuel caps or fuel vents occasionally if they’re visible from the cockpit, and the wing or structure behind caps and ports to discover if fuel is siphoning overboard in the slipstream. 

·         Follow precise mixture leaning procedures to get the best fuel flow for your mission, whether it be a fast trip, an endurance run or some compromise between the two. 

·         Compare fuel gauges and totalizers to your calculations and a clock in a regular fuel crosscheck. 

·         Recompute reserves often enough you can easily land early if needed. 

·         Use an alarm to remind you when to switch fuel tanks, if needed. 

·         Reduce power and cruise slower, for longer endurance, if needed. 

·         Don’t “hope” the ground speed will improve, or think you’ll “make it up in the descent.”  It’s truly amazing how often fuel exhaustion events end up within a mile or two of the intended destination.

·         Make the decision early to land for fuel if you cannot determine the amount of fuel remaining, or if your computed reserve at destination slips below your minimums.  “I might have made it nonstop” is a much more desirable post-flight reflection than “I almost made it.”


For more on specific scenarios that have led to Beech fuel starvation and exhaustion accidents see this report.)





6/1 (time note reported):  Three aboard were unhurt when a Be18 “ground looped” while landing in a crosswind, at Guyon, Kansas.  According to the NTSB, “the private pilot used differential power to help land his twin engine, tail wheel-equipped airplane on a paved runway with a left crosswind. During the landing roll out, when the tail wheel touched down on the ground, the airplane turned into the wind and departed the runway to the left. It crossed over a ditch and struck a metal fence. The airplane sustained structural damage to the left engine mount. The left wing tip, left landing gear drag link, right vertical stabilizer and the rudder were also damaged. The pilot stated that the accident could have been prevented if he had kept the tail in the air longer with more differential power carried into the landing roll out. He reported the wind was from 100 degrees at 15 knots.”  N241X (BA455) is a 1959 E-18S registered since 2006 to an individual in Edmond, Oklahoma).


(“Loss of directional control on landing”; “Substantial damage”—from this description damage probably meets the definition of “substantial”).


7/1 2245Z (1745 local):  During a “training” flight, a Be36 “force landed on a highway” 14 miles from Pontiac, Illinois.  Student and instructor report no injury; damage is “unknown” while weather was “VFR”.  N6051M (E-1492) is a 1979 A36 owned since 1997 by a East Moline, Illinois corporation.


(“Forced landing/unknown”; “Dual instruction”—a local source says the airplane was undamaged other that a wing hit a sign post; the airplane was towed to an airport).


7/2 2130Z (1630 local):  A Be36 landed gear up at Bay City, Texas.  Two aboard for the “pleasure” flight weren’t hurt; damage is “unknown,” and weather was “clear and 10” with an eight-knot wind.  N82BF (E-1937) is a 1981 A36 registered since 2006 to an individual in Austin, Texas.


(“Gear up landing”)


7/2 2342Z (1842 local):  “On landing,” a Be35’s “gear collapsed” and the Bonanza “slid off the runway,” at Denton, Texas.  Two aboard weren’t injured.  Damage is “unknown” and weather “VFR”.  N42AB (D-7935) is a 1965 S35 registered since 2005 to a Dallas, Texas-based co-ownership.


(“Gear collapse—pilot activation of gear on ground” [on the basis of a local witness’ report]; “Substantial damage” [from the same report].--we’ve discussed many times the wisdom of avoiding aircraft reconfiguration [flap retraction] until the airplane has come to a stop at the end of the landing roll, and the pilot has time to positively identify the flap, not the gear, handle is in hand before moving a switch.  Further, landing gear squat switches will probably not protect you from an inadvertent gear retraction “on the roll”.)


 7/6 1900Z (1400 local):  A Be23 “went off [the] runway” while landing at Schaumburg, Illinois.  Four aboard avoided injury despite “substantial” aircraft damage.  Weather conditions were not reported.  N6715X (M-2260) is a 1979 C23 registered since 1998 to a training corporation in Wheeling, Illinois.


(“Loss of directional control on landing”; “Substantial damage)


7/8 0130Z (1830 local 7/7/2008):  A Be35’s engine failed and the pilot executed a forced landing in a field, five miles from South Bend, Washington.  The pilot and two passengers were not hurt.  Damage is “minor”.  Weather: “clear and 10” with a 10-knot surface wind.  N4581D (D-4762) is a1956 G35 registered since 1992 to a corporation in Astoria, Oregon.


(“Engine failure in flight”—Are you ready for an off-airport landing?  There’s a good description of off-airport landing site selection and glide planning on the website of Recreational Aviation Australia, Inc.  Go to forced landing procedures and scroll down to Section 3.3.  Land under control, with the wings level and at the lowest safe airspeed to minimize your chances of serious injury.  Tighten up your seat belts and shoulder harnesses [you have invested in shoulder harnesses, haven’t you?], and fly the airplane all the way to a stop.)


7/8 1906Z (1506 local):  A Be35 landed short of the runway at Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The solo pilot was not injured despite “substantial” aircraft damage.  Weather for the arrival was 4800 scattered, 6000 scattered, visibility 10 miles with a seven-knot wind.  Temperature was 30°C and dew point was 21°C.  N9438Q (D-9320) is a 1972 V35B registered since 1998 to an individual in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.


(“Landed short”; “Substantial damage”— there is a correlation between wide temperature/dew point spreads and low-altitude turbulence or wind shear, which may have played a part in this mishap.  Take a look at FAA Advisory Circular 00-54, the Pilot Windshear Guide.   I found you have to save the PDF to your desktop and then open it; it would not open for me directly by clicking on the icon.  Don’t let the 1988 publication date or the IBM Selectric type style fool you -- there’s a lot of great information in AC 00-54, including wind shear avoidance, recognition, and recovery techniques.)


7/8 2320Z (1620 local):  “On landing rollout,” a Be17’s “nose struck the ground” and the Staggerwing “flipped over”, at Hubbard, Oregon.  Two aboard the “training” flight were not injured despite “substantial” damage.  Weather conditions were “not reported”.  N233EB (s/n 233) is a 1938 E17B registered since 2005 to a Brightwood, Oregon-based corporation.


(“Nosed over on landing”; “Substantial damage”; “Dual instruction”)


7/11 0043Z (1843 local 7/10/2008):  On landing rollout a Be33’s nose gear collapsed, at Camarillo, California.  Three aboard the Bonanza were not hurt and aircraft damage is “minor”.  Weather was “clear and 10” with an eight-knot wind.  N8074M (CE-1684) is a 1992 F33A registered since 2001 to a co-ownership in Westlake Village, California.


(“Gear collapse on landing”)




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


**6/1 E18S loss of directional control on landing at Guyon, KS, cited above.**


**6/15 S35 stall while attempting a dead-stick landing at Creola, AL. Change “Engine failure in flight” to “Fuel exhaustion”.  From the report:


The pilot…stated he departed on an instrument flight rules flight in visual flight conditions, from Texas to Alabama, without filling the fuel tanks. He climbed to his cruising altitude, and flew on the right main fuel tank until the fuel was exhausted. He switched the fuel selector to the left main fuel tank and requested a lower altitude from air traffic control (ATC). During the approved descent the engine quit. He turned on the boost pump and the engine continued to windmill. The pilot stated he did not engage the starter because he expected the engine to start. He switched the fuel selector back to the right main fuel tank, then left main fuel tank, and back to the right main fuel tank. The engine did not start and the left main fuel tank gauge indicated low. He checked the global position system for the nearest airport, cancelled his instrument flight plan with the air traffic controller, and continued direct to the airport, entering a left downwind while descending. The engine attempted to start and stopped. The pilot turned base, and lowered the landing gear very close to the ground after clearing trees. The left wing stalled, the left wing tip and nose of the airplane collided with the ground, and the airplane came to a complete stop upright. The pilot further stated, "As far as I can tell, I landed with out fuel."


The main reason most airplanes require selection of individual fuel tanks, as opposed to a much simpler ON/OFF selection for fuel, is to provide a measure of redundancy.  If for any reason you are unable to get fuel from one tank, you have the option of switching to another tank to restore power.  This only works, of course, if there’s fuel available in this “emergency” tank. 


It’s become common again in recent years to talk about deliberately running fuel tanks dry in flight in order to eke maximum range out of the aircraft.  Proponents of this view uniformly state they do so with confidence, reportedly able to predict within minutes (even seconds) the point when the selected tank runs completely dry. 


I agree that it’s a good exercise to determine the precise fuel capacity of each tank so you don’t inadvertently attempt to fly beyond the true range of the aircraft.  This exercise, however, falls in the category of test flying, in my opinion, and should be approached with that mindset.  On the test flight to make this determination,

  • Conduct this test in good, visual weather with light winds to reduce the risk should the engine quit and not restart on another fuel tank.

  • Make the test flight when approaching emptying a tank entirely within gliding distance of an airport with no significant obstacles and a long runway.

For a while I was employed to conduct production test flying of modified aircraft engines in single-engine airplanes, and stayed within gliding distance of the airport during initial test flights (with plenty of fuel).  I suggest any test that will result in a deliberate engine stoppage, no matter how brief, be done with the same precaution.  Note the number of cases in this report when a pilot ran a fuel tank dry, deliberately or not, and was unable to restart the engine after selecting another tank.


Once you have flown a tank completely from full to empty and know the approximate time it takes in cruise to completely exhaust it, repeat the exercise several times at various power settings you’re likely to use.  Then add at least 10 minutes to the result(s) and use this as a “minimum fuel” level for that tank.  If you have only two fuel tanks to choose from, make this a 30-minute cushion.  Remember, the fuel remaining in this tank is your emergency cushion if you have a venting problem, an unusually high fuel burn, a fuel line obstruction, or any other interruption of fuel on the other tank.  Deliberately running a tank dry as a standard operating procedure sets you up for a fuel starvation or exhaustion event.  If you need additional range that you cannot get without running a tank dry all the way to engine stoppage, then fly at a lower power setting, change your mixture leaning technique, install additional fuel tanks if approved, change to a different airplane with longer range, or resign yourself to the fact that you have to make fuel stops to avoid this sort of finality. **


**6/29 quadruple fatality B55 crash on takeoff from Jasper, AL.  Witness reports seem to agree the pilot pitched up sharply, and the Baron entered what appears to have been a tail-low spin into the ground.  Fuel appears to have been present in all tanks, but impact damage made determining the position of fuel selector valves impossible to determine.  Both engines have been retained for further examination, but witness statements about perceived engine “revving” may have been the result of the airplane’s spin as heard from a point on the ground. 


Although weather observations show the field was VFR, a CFII practicing instrument approaches there at the time reported a ceiling of 700 overcast with cloud tops at 4000 feet.  The accident pilot did not hold an instrument rating, did not have a current Flight Review, and had logged very minimal flight time in the months prior to the fatal takeoff.


Beechcraft has published Safety Communiqué 147, warning of the hazards of spins in Model 55 Barons.  More recently, Safety Communiqué 192 addresses the same issue in Model 58 Barons.     These are also available through a link on the Tools for Flying Safely page of the Mastery Flight Training website.  The conclusion of both Communiqués is that “it is possible for multiengine airplanes to enter a spin from which the airplane will not recover” (SC 147) and “it is well known that it is possible for multi-engine airplanes to enter a spin from which the airplane will not recover” (SC192).  A key point is that “any time asymmetric power is allowed to continue through spin entry and into a develop spin, a dangerous and possibly unrecoverable spin could be encountered.”  Engine failure or no, multiengine or single, it’s vital to maintain a pitch attitude and angle of attack that avoids a stall on departure.** 


7/24/2008 Report




4/20 1730Z (1330 local):  A Be35 experienced severe tail vibration in cruise while on an VFR flight from Paris, Tennessee to Melbourne, Florida.  Visual conditions prevailed.  The Bonanza “was substantially damaged following un-commanded pitch and roll oscillations” but the pilot and passenger were not injured.  The pilot successfully landed at New Smyrna Beach, Florida.


“The pilot described an uneventful flight from departure to the point in the flight where he requested his arrival descent from air traffic control. According to the pilot, the airplane was level at 9,000 feet; about 125 knots indicated airspeed, and the global position system indicator showing 147 knots true airspeed. Prior to initiating the descent, the pilot ‘heard and felt 5-6 sharp vibrations with about a 2-3 hertz frequency. The aircraft pitched up and down violently a few degrees and rolled a few degrees to the left.’ The pilot-rated passenger reported hearing ‘popping and tearing’ from the area of the baggage door.

“The pilot disengaged the autopilot, slowed the airplane, and the vibrations stopped. He then performed a slow descent and completed a safe landing at Melbourne Regional Airport. After landing, the pilot noted that the g meter had recorded loads of +3.9 g's to -1 g. Typical loads recorded during moderate turbulence encounters with the airplane were ‘+0.5 g's to +2.0 g's.’

“Examination of the airplane, a monoplane with a ‘V’ tail, by representatives of Hawker-Beechcraft revealed rear fuselage skin and stringer buckling between flight station 233 and flight station 256 bulkheads. There was downward bending of the rear fuselage with diagonal buckling of the skin on each side, and tearing of the skin on the bottom.

“The twin elevators were found properly attached, and properly balanced. Control rigging could not be confirmed due to aircraft damage, but the cables were found ‘taught’ using hand force. The propeller and the engine's dynamic shock mounts were in ‘good’ condition. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector supervised the examination, and concurred with the manufacturer's field notes.” 


The ATP/CFI pilot reported over 8000 flying hours with 120 hours in the G35.  “The airplane…had accrued 4,964 total aircraft hours. The most recent annual inspection was completed on May 4, 2007, at 4,937 total aircraft hours…. A weather study was requested from a National Transportation Safety Board Senior Meteorologist.”  N4606D (D-4771) is a 1956 G35 registered since 1983 to a corporation in Indian Harbor, Florida.


(“In-flight tail vibration/flutter”; “Substantial damage”—Any unusual vibration or “popping”/tearing noise should be met with a smooth but prompt reduction in power and airspeed, and landing at the very earliest opportunity even if the unusual indication goes away. 


Was this clear air turbulence?  Wake turbulence from a heavier airplane?  Autopilot or trim malfunction?  Previously undetected corrosion or damage?  Severe engine or propeller vibration [which has contributed to similar incidents in the past]?  An airspeed excursion not noted in the report?  Incorrectly balanced controls, with an improperly performed check during the investigation?  Unrepaired and/or undetected damage from a previous G-load excursion?  Any of these [and perhaps other scenarios] are likely being investigated.)


7/16 2320Z (1920 local):  While taxiing, a Be33 struck a vehicle and a hangar at Naples, Florida.  The solo pilot wasn’t hurt and damage is “minor”.  Weather conditions were “not reported”.  N80VR (CE-1780) is a 1994 F33A registered since 2004 to a Naples, Florida corporation.


(“Taxied into obstruction”)


7/16 2350Z (1950 local):  The pilot of a Be36 reported engine failure in cruise flight, and landed in a field four miles from Honesdale, Pennsylvania.  The lone pilot avoided injury and put the Bonanza down with no damage.  Weather was “clear” with 10-mile visibility.  N396PM is shown on the FAA website to be reserved by in individual in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but not yet assigned to a particular aircraft.


(“Engine failure in flight”—and apparently an excellent job of getting the airplane down on the part of the pilot.  The registration anomaly suggests the airplane may be of recent registration.)


7/17 1421Z (0921 local):  A Be65’s gear collapsed on landing at Midland, Texas.  The solo pilot reports no injury; damage is “unknown”.  Weather: 10,000 broken, visibility 10 miles, with an 11-knot wind.  N6AQ (LD-214) is a 1964 65-A80 registered since 1986 to an individual in Midland.


(“Gear collapse on landing”)


7/17 1954Z (1454 local):  Three aboard a Be36 died when on attempted takeoff from Vandenberg Airport, Tampa, Florida, the airplane crashed for “unknown” reasons.  The Bonanza knocked over a glideslope tower on the airport grounds before impacting and bursting into flame that “destroyed” the aircraft.  Weather was 2700 broken, 3300 broken, 4600 broken, with visibility four miles and calm surface winds.  N36CL (E-1980) was a 1981 A36 registered since 1991 to an individual in Sun City Center, Florida.


(“Takeoff/unknown”; “Fatal”; “Aircraft destroyed”—local television quotes an NTSB investigator as saying the Bonanza veered left on takeoff and its propeller hit a glideslope tower on the airport grounds.  An NTSB investigator “said the plane was at about 45 feet in the air when something went wrong. Witness[es] observed [the] aircraft as it rotated [became airborne] and then struck [the] localizer antenna and…came crashing to the ground bursting in[to] flames,"  according to the online news report.


Photos show the tower fell over [they are designed to be frangible, or break away easily on impact to reduce forces if hit by an airplane], but investigators don’t know if the impact precipitated the crash or if it occurred after control was lost or the airplane was going down for some other reason.   Local sources discount reports that thunderstorms that had passed through the area prior to the crash were still close enough to affect the flight.  NTSB has been quoted as agreeing that weather was not a factor.


This flight was being conducted to transport a medical patient under the auspices of a well-known charitable flight organization.  Although this was probably not a factor in this mishap, it’s a reminder that a pilot may be conducting a “medical” flight, or a Civil Air Patrol, Coast Guard Auxiliary, or similar flight, but he/she should remember that volunteering for such service does not make him/her an “aeromedical” or “military” pilot, nor does it add an increased urgency to the flight operation.  Bluntly, pilots are accepted for such duty primarily on the basis of their ability to afford to donate the service, not because they have additional skills over other pilots, and participating in these flights does by itself not make for a better or more capable pilot.  There should be no assumption of higher risk just because the flight is being conducted with a stable, ambulatory patient or done in conjunction with a paramilitary flying organization.)


7/19 1100Z (0600 local):  On rollout the landing gear of a Be33 collapsed, at Corinth, Mississippi.  Two aboard the “training” flight weren’t hurt despite “substantial” aircraft damage.  Weather was clear, visibility seven with a six-knot wind.  N1592W (CE-383) is a 1972 F33A registered since 1983 to a co-ownership in Bolivar, Tennessee.


(“Gear collapse on landing”; “Substantial damage”; “Dual instruction”)


7/21 1230Z (0730 local):  A Be35 landed gear up at Cleburne, Texas.  The solo pilot wasn’t hurt and damage is “minor”.  Weather was “clear and 10” with a five-knot wind.  N5577D (D-5129) is a 1957 H35 registered since 1997 to an individual in Granbury, Texas.


(“Gear up landing”-- see the new product announcement in the Those Who Won’t section of the Mastery Flight Training home page.)   




UPDATES FROM NTSB: Incidents previously appearing in the Weekly Accident Update:


**4/20 G35 inflight vibration event over Florida, cited above.** 


**7/8 V35B that landed short of the runway at Lancaster, PA.  “The pilot stated that approximately three miles from the airport the airplane's approach was above the glide path shown by the four light precision approach path indicator system, located on the left side of the runway. He adjusted the power in order to descend the airplane onto the projected glide path. As he started to descend below the glide path he applied engine power and the engine did not respond. He made a forced landing in a field which resulted in substantial damage to the airplane…. The FAA inspector noted the throttle and mixture position in the cockpit were in the full forward position and verified control continuity to the engine. The fuel selector valve was found in the left main fuel tank detent, and the fuel boost pump was in the on position. All fuel selector detent positions were verified operational and firm in all detents. Approximately 15 gallons of fuel was drained from each wing of the airplane, and fuel was located in the fuel injection servo….The spark plugs were removed and were noted as "clean and not worn out" and the magneto coupling was intact. Compression was verified on all cylinders…. The propeller was intact and exhibited slight curling on the tips.   The…remanufactured engine was last inspected on November 21, 2007 with a total time of 692 hours.” 


Reported surface air temperature at the time of the crash was 30°C (86°F).   A full rich mixture might provide an excessively rich mixture if throttle was reduced to idle, such as to recapture a glidepath.  This is even more likely given the common technique of “cranking up” calibrated fuel pressures to get better cooling at climb power.  Additionally, the auxiliary fuel (“boost”) pump in the ON position would enrichen the fuel mixture even more.  Of course the mixture may have been advanced to full and the auxiliary pump turned ON as part of the pilot’s response to sinking below glidepath prior to impact.


In hot conditions in normally aspirated airplanes it may be wise to set the mixture a little short of full rich for descent and landing…not so lean that the engine will not support nearly full power if you advance throttle for glidepath control, an intermediate level-off, a go-around or a missed approach, but not so rich that the engine floods if you need to close the throttle to manage your descent.  If you do need to go to full throttle for any reason be ready to quickly advance the mixture control as needed to support power.  We’ve seen a number of Beech accidents in recent years when the pilot let the mixture get too rich or too lean when manipulating throttle close to the ground.  I like Advanced Pilot Seminars’ advice to “park the engine” well on the rich side of peak EGT in high-workload situations like approach and landing.**


**6/26 A36 runway overrun on takeoff at Ryegate, Montana.  Change “Weather not reported” to “VMC”.  Density altitude was commented upon in detail when this item first appeared in the Weekly Accident Update; see the archives for July 2008 to read that commentary.**




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


Total reported:  125 reports 


Operation in VMC: 80 reports   (64%)  

Operation in IMC:    4 reports   (3%)  

Weather “unknown” or “not reported”:  41 reports

Operation at night:  11 reports  (9%) 

Surface wind > 15 knots:  13 reports  (10%)           


Fatal accidents: 14 reports   (11%)  

“Serious” injury accidents (not involving fatalities): 4 reports  (3%) 


“Substantial” damage: 44 reports   (35%)  

Aircraft “destroyed”:   13 reports   (10%)   


Recent registration (within previous 12 months):  23 reports   (18%)   


(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:


Be35 Bonanza  26 reports  

Be36 Bonanza  20 reports  

Be33 Debonair/Bonanza  16 reports  

Be58 Baron  14 reports   

Be76 Duchess  10 reports  

Be23 Musketeer/Sundowner 8 reports 

Be55 Baron  8 reports  

Be24 Sierra   5 reports 

Be95 Travel Air   4 reports  

Be18 Twin Beech  3 reports

Be65 Queen Air  3 reports 

Be50 Twin Bonanza  2 reports 

Be77 Skipper  2 reports  

Be17 Staggerwing  1 report

Be19 Sport  1 report

Be45 (T-34) Mentor  1 report   

Be60 Duke  1 report 





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


LANDING GEAR-RELATED MISHAPS (55 reports; 44% of the total) 


Gear up landing

21 reports (Be18; two Be24s; five Be33s; six Be35s; three Be36s; Be50; Be58; two Be76s)


Gear collapse (landing)

16 reports (two Be33s; two Be35s; Be36; Be50; Be55; three Be58s; Be60; two Be65s; Be76; two Be95s)


Gear up landing—known mechanical system failure

4 reports (Be33; Be35; Be45; Be76)


Gear collapse—pilot activation of gear on ground

5 reports (Be33; two Be35s; Be55; Be58)


Failure of nose gear to extend due to mechanical failure

2 reports (Be65, Be76)


Gear collapse (takeoff)

2 reports (Be18; Be58)


Gear collapse during taxi

2 reports (Be58; Be76)


Gear collapse on landing—known mechanical system failure

1 report (Be55)


Gear collapse on landing: electrical failure/incomplete manual extension

1 report (Be45)


Gear collapse on landing—known incomplete electrical extension

1 report (Be58)


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



IMPACT ON LANDING  (22 reports; 18% of the total) 


Loss of directional control on landing

7 reports (Be18; Be19; two Be23s; Be33; Be36; Be77)


Hard landing

3 reports (two Be23s; Be35)


Loss of control on landing—strong, gusty winds

3 reports (two Be23s; Be58)


Landed long

2 reports (Be33; Be95)


Wing strike on landing

1 report (Be58)


Hard landing—strong, gusty wind

1 report (Be36)


Impact with animal while landing

1 report (Be76)


Impact with obstacle on landing

1 report (Be35)


Loss of control--attempted go-around in strong/gusty winds

1 report (Be55)


Landed short

1 report (Be35)


Nosed over on landing

1 report (Be17)



ENGINE FAILURE   (21 reports; 17% of the total) 


Engine failure in flight

9 reports (four Be35s; five Be36s)


Engine failure on takeoff

5 reports (Be33; Be36; Be55; Be77)


Engine failure on approach/landing

2 reports (Be23; Be35)


Fuel exhaustion

2 reports (both Be35s)


Partial power loss: fuel line leak

1 report (Be36)


Propeller overspeed

1 report (Be36)


Engine failure—fuel system malfunction

1 report (Be36)


Piston/cylinder failure in flight

1 report (Be35)


Propeller separation in flight

1 report (Be55)


...for more on fuel management-related mishaps see  



MISCELLANEOUS CAUSES  (7 reports; 6% of the total) 


Taxied into obstruction

3 reports (Be33; Be76; Be95)


Pilot incapacitation—heart attack

1 report (Be58)


Bird strike on landing

1 report (Be33)


Gear door damage—ice accumulation

1 report (Be33)


Wing explosion—suspected fuel leak ignited by arcing electrical wiring

1 report (Be58)



CAUSE UNKNOWN  (7 reports; 6% of the total)  



2 reports (Be33; Be36)



2 reports (Be24; Be35)



2 reports (Be35; Be36)


Forced landing/Unknown

1 report (Be36)



IMPACT WITH OBJECT DURING TAKEOFF   (5 reports; 4% of the total) 


Impact with object/animal during takeoff

2 reports (Be36; Be58)


Loss of directional control during takeoff

1 report (Be76)


Collision with landing aircraft

1 report (Be36)


Blown tire/loss of directional control during aborted takeoff

1 report (Be24)



LOSS OF CONTROL IN FLIGHT   (4 reports; 3% of the total) 


Loss of control—single engine visual approach

3 reports (Be55; Be58)


Loss of control—airframe ice; in-flight break-up

1 report (Be35)



STALL/SPIN   (3 reports; 3% of the total)


Stall--attempted go-around in strong/gusty winds

1 report (Be23)


Stall/Spin during turn in visual traffic pattern in strong/gusty winds

1 report (Be35)


Stall/Spin on takeoff

1 report (Be55)





In-flight break-up—probable pilot incapacitation

1 report (Be35)


In-flight tail vibration/flutter

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!



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