March 2019 was an unusually sad month involving Cessna airplane crash fatalities, with four crashes resulting in nine deaths.
From NTSB reports …
March 1 – Cessna 172 – North Carolina (3 fatalities)
On March 1, 2019, at 1921 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182S, N26617, was destroyed when it collided with terrain after takeoff from Triangle North Executive Airport (LHZ), Louisburg, North Carolina. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the personal flight which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Preliminary information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a commercial vendor revealed that the pilot obtained a weather briefing and filed an IFR flight plan through commercial on-line sites and obtained his IFR clearance by telephone prior to departure. The clearance provided to the pilot instructed him to establish a heading of 180° and climb to 3,000 ft msl after takeoff from runway 23, which was at 367 ft elevation. Subsequently, a target identified as the accident airplane was first acquired at 19:20:03 over the runway at 425 ft msl at 91 knots groundspeed. The airplane maintained an approximate runway heading until 19:20:56, when at 1,225 ft and 99 knots, the airplane entered a right turn. At 19:21:03, the airplane reached the top of its climb in the turn at 1,300 ft and 100 knots groundspeed. From that point, the airplane entered a descending right turn and accelerated to 145 knots groundspeed before the target was lost at an altitude of 625 ft at 19:21:17.
Two airport employees who witnessed the takeoff had passed through the security gate onto the ramp in separate cars at 1912 to park one car in a hangar and depart the airport in the second car. While there, their attention was drawn to the sound of the airplane. The airplane’s engine was heard to “power up” which surprised the two, because they had not noticed the airplane taxi past them, or heard it perform an engine run-up. The airplane’s lights were not clearly visible, as they were obscured by fog and had a “halo” appearance. One witness described the weather conditions as “foggy in moderate rain,” the other said, “low clouds and a lot of rain. Made you wonder: who would want to fly in this?”
The airplane accelerated, and the sound of the engine was smooth and continuous throughout the takeoff roll and the takeoff. The airplane disappeared behind a hangar about the same time
it entered the clouds, approximately 200-300 ft above the runway. Several witnesses who lived near the airport provided written statements. They said they heard the airplane as it “just took off,” “low overhead” and that the engine accelerated like it “went in full throttle” when the sounds of impact were heard. One witness said the rainfall was so hard at the time of the accident that it disabled his satellite television signal.
In a telephone interview, one of the witnesses, a local fire chief, said he was outside his home near the accident site when his attention was drawn to the sound of the airplane, and he “was
surprised the airplane was taking off in this weather.” The engine sound was smooth and continuous, at high power, when the engine accelerated further, “…like [the airplane] was either trying to climb, or in a dive,” and then the sound of impact was heard.
March 9 – Cessna T337 – Texas (4 fatalities)
On March 9, 2019, about 1030 central standard time, a Cessna T337C airplane, N922EJ, was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain during a descent near Longview, Texas. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was sold to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operated on a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area about the time of the accident. The flight departed Lancaster Regional Airport (LNC), near Lancaster, Texas, about 0930, and was en route to the Lakefront Airport, near New Orleans, Louisiana.
The NTSB report indicates nothing unusual about the weather, the behavior of the pilot before takeoff, or the condition of the plane.
According to initial information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the 51-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane rating. The pilot’s last
aviation medical examination was dated August 8, 2018, when he applied for a FAA third-class medical certificate. The pilot reported on the application for that medical certificate that he had accumulated 1,200 hours of total flight time and 0 hours of flight time in the 6 months before the examination. The pilot’s logbook was found in the wreckage. The entry before the last entry
was dated May 7, 2005. The last entry was dated August 23, 2018 and using flight time carried forward on the last page, the pilot’s total logged flight time was 250.9 hours.
N922EJ was a 1968 model Cessna T337C, twin-engine, push-pull configuration, high-wing, all-metal, retractable tricycle landing gear airplane, with serial number 337-0944. According to type certificate data sheet specifications, the airplane was powered by two 210-horsepower Continental model TSIO-360 reciprocating engines which each respectively drove a controllable-pitch, full feathering, two blade propeller. The airplane had a total fuel capacity of 92.8 gallons (92 gallons usable) distributed between two wing fuel tanks.
According to the prior owner of the airplane, it recently underwent an annual inspection shortly after the sale. He sold the airplane “in the fall” and that was the last time he flew it. The prior owner, in part, reported, “The plane performed perfectly. Total airframe time was about 1800 hrs motors were both about 600 hrs. Excellent flying airplane. Good radios and everything worked properly the last time I flew it.”
March 14 – Cessna 172 – Texas (student fatality, CFI critical)
On March 14, 2019, about 1340 central daylight time (CDT), a Cessna 172 (Skyhawk) airplane, N8620B, impacted terrain at a road intersection while attempting to land at the Lakeway Airpark (3R9), Lakeway, Texas. The certificated flight instructor (CFI) sustained serious injuries and the student pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to a private individual and was operated by the CFI as part of the Lakeway Flying Club, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a visual flight rules instructional flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from 3R9 about 1325 CDT.
Law enforcement officers (LEO) from the Lakeway Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspectors (ASI) traveled to, secured, and documented the accident site shortly after the accident occurred. LEO and FAA ASI reported the purpose of the flight was for training with the student pilot by the CFI in the local area. While conducting operations in the traffic pattern utilizing runway 34, a witness who is also a CFI, observed the airplane abort two landings.
During the attempted third landing, the witness observed the airplane depart controlled flight for unknown reasons and impact terrain. The wreckage was located at a “T” intersection about 930 ft southwest of the threshold for runway 34, at an elevation of about 915 ft above mean sea level. No ground injuries from the accident sequence were sustained by any individuals in the area. No distress calls were heard by other pilots flying in the local area prior to the impact. Both occupants were extracted from the wreckage and were transported to medical facilities via helicopter air ambulance in a critical injury status. The student pilot succumbed to his injuries and was produced dead upon reaching the medical facility. At the time of writing of this preliminary report, the CFI is listed in a critical injury status.
March 17 – Cessna 421B – Ohio
On March 17, 2019, about 1745 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 421B airplane, N424TW impacted terrain near Plain City, Ohio. The commercial rated pilot, sole occupant, was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Classic Solutions, Inc. and operated by Phoenix Test Flight, LLC, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight.
The flight departed Dayton (KDAY), Dayton, Ohio about 1720, en route to (KDLZ) Delaware, Ohio. A preliminary review of radio communications revealed the pilot was in contact with air traffic
control and there was no record of a distress call. The pilot requested runway 28 RNAV approach at KDLZ. The pilot also reported that he was encountering icing. The controller cleared the flight to 2,500 ft. Shortly afterwards, the airplane made a left turn, and radar and radio communication were lost.
The airplane impacted a rural field about 8 miles southwest of the KDLZ airport. Ground impact scars and wreckage were consistent with a left-wing low impact. The wreckage path was orientated on about a 140-degree heading. From the initial impact point, the airplane crossed a two-lane road before impacting two wooden utility poles. The main part of the wreckage came to rest at the base of the second utility pole, about 395 ft from the initial impact point. The wreckage path was about 850 ft long with the wreckage highly fragmented along the wreckage path. There was not a post-crash fire.