Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary WPR21FA298

Banning, CA, USA

Aircraft #1




The commercial pilot and passenger completed several takeoffs and landings in the airport traffic pattern. They then departed to another airport, where they completed two takeoffs and landings. Shortly after turning onto the downwind leg of the traffic pattern before the third landing, at an altitude about 300 ft above ground level, the airplane entered a steep turn to the left and descended nose- and left-wing-low to ground contact. A postaccident fire ensued that thermally damaged the fuselage and wings. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. The mother of the passenger reported that her son and the pilot were good friends. Her son had just purchased the airplane and was excited to learn how to fly. Review of flight track information indicated that the airplane’s altitude on the downwind leg of the traffic patterns throughout the flight was generally around 400 to 500 ft above ground level, and the airplane’s lateral distances from the runway during each pattern varied. Whether the pilot or passenger was controlling the airplane at the time of the accident could not be determined. Given the lack of mechanical anomalies, witness statements, and the orientation of the wreckage, the circumstances of the accident are consistent with an exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack while maneuvering at low altitude in the airport traffic pattern, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall, loss of control, and impact with terrain.

Factual Information

HISTORY OF FLIGHT On July 30, 2021, about 0930, a Cessna 150 airplane, N8520G, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Banning, California. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) recorded the airplane while it was in the traffic pattern at REI. The first recorded point was captured at 0821:54. The airplane made five right traffic patterns with varying distances from the runway on all legs. The altitude on the downwind leg varied from 1,900 ft mean sea level (msl) to 2,100 ft msl. The elevation of REI was 1,574 ft msl. The airplane’s ground speed was not recorded. At 0845:27, the airplane departed the airport to the south and for the next 25 minutes, performed flight maneuvers that included multiple left and right 90°, 180°, 360°, and 720° turns. During the maneuvers, the altitude varied from 2,400 ft msl to 3,400 ft msl. The airplane then proceeded to BNG, where it landed on runway 8 at 0921:08. The airplane completed two left traffic patterns; both at 2,600 ft msl. Each of the legs of the traffic pattern varied in distance from the runway. On the third traffic pattern, the airplane departed the runway, turned downwind at 1630:04, and climbed to an altitude of 2,500 ft msl. The last data point, taken at 1630:39, captured the airplane about 2,200 ft msl and about 130 ft northwest of the initial impact point. Figure 1 is a depiction of the entire flight track. Figure 1. Image of accident flight track. The white arrows point in the direction of travel. A witness, who was conducting skydiving operations near Banning Municipal Airport (BNG), Banning, California, reported that he communicated with the accident pilot about staying in the traffic pattern to avoid the skydivers. The witness stated that the accident airplane was conducting touch-and-go takeoffs and landings and had completed about three touch-and-goes. Multiple witnesses located near the airport reported that they saw the airplane at low altitude and in a turn; however, none of the witness saw the airplane impact terrain. One witness saw the airplane make a “quick, sharp turn to the left, that wasn’t smooth. It then nose-dived and disappeared behind a building.” Another witness stated that, when the airplane was in the turn, one wing was pointing to the ground and the other was pointing to the sky. The mother of the passenger stated that he and the pilot were good friends. Her son was not a pilot but had recently purchased the airplane and was excited about learning how to fly. The airplane Bill of Sale recorded the purchase on July 24, 2021. According to the previous owner of the airplane, he recently had sold the airplane to the passenger, who was accompanied by the accident pilot. The passenger completed the purchase and the two departed with the airplane. The mother of the pilot reported that her son was going to meet with the owner of the airplane and have the oil changed. A review of records revealed that he purchased 6.5 gallons of fuel while at REI. WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION The airplane came to rest in a rock-covered, open field, on a heading about 020° magnetic, at an elevation of 2,253 ft msl. The first point of impact was a rock that displayed paint transfer about 75 ft north of the main wreckage. A path of disturbed rocks and debris extended away from the wreckage about 75 feet, on a heading of 014°. All major components of the airplane were located within the main wreckage area. A post-impact fire thermally damaged the cabin, fuselage, and wings. The left wing exhibited a significant aft chord-wise bend from about mid-span outboard, and substantial aft crushing of the leading edge in the same region. The left aileron remained partially attached and exhibited substantial damage. The flap remained attached at the hinges and was thermally damaged. The aft section of the fuselage and the empennage came to rest inverted and was thermally damaged throughout. The right aileron and flap remained attached at the hinges and exhibited some small areas of impact damage and some areas of thermal damage. Flight control continuity was established for all flight controls from the control yoke and pedals in the cabin, to their respective flight control surfaces. Elevator trim continuity could not be established due to the thermal damage. The left main landing gear and the nose gear separated from the fuselage. The nose area and engine cowling exhibited crush and aft bends, consistent with a nose-down, left-wing low impact. The spinner was thermally consumed. One propeller blade exhibited a 90° chordwise aft bend. The other blade was heavily thermally damaged, but the remnants of the blade appeared straight. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The pilot’s exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack while maneuvering in the airport traffic pattern, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and loss of control.


Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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