Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Riverside, California
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors Inc; Mobile, Alabama
Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms
Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
KEITH C. DAVIS: http://registry.faa.govN988RH
NTSB Identification: WPR15FA222
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 26, 2015 in Riverside, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/04/2017
Aircraft: BEECH F35, registration: N988RH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The private pilot was receiving vectors for an instrument landing system approach during daytime visual flight rules conditions when he advised the controller that the engine had lost power and that he needed to land at a nearby airport located northeast of his position. The controller responded with the distance and direction from the airport and asked the pilot if he had the airport in sight, which he acknowledged. The controller advised the pilot to proceed inbound to the airport, told him that he could land on the runway of his discretion, and asked him to tell him which runway he was going to use; however, the pilot only responded that he was going to land into the wind. The controller repeated that the runway was at his discretion and the pilot repeated that he was going to land into the wind. Shortly after, the controller provided the pilot with the current weather conditions at the airport, which included wind from 280° at 12 knots gusting to 18 knots, and he then cleared the pilot to land on runway 27. Subsequently, the pilot responded that he was not going to make it to the airport. No further radio communications were received from the pilot.
Review of recorded radar data revealed that, when the pilot initially reported the loss of engine power, the airplane was about 1,644 ft above ground level; traveling on a heading of about 094°; and about 1.65 nautical miles (nm) west-southwest from the approach end of runway 34, 1.74 nm southwest of the approach end of runway 9, and 2.3 miles southwest of the approach end of runway 27. The radar data showed the flight track of the airplane continued on an easterly heading until it was about 0.96 nm south of runway 27 and about 653 ft above ground level. The airplane then turned left to a northerly heading while continuing to descend until radar contact was lost.
Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the landing gear were in the extended position and that the wing flaps were extended to about 20°. A postimpact fire and impact damage precluded a determination of the fuel quantities in all three fuel tanks. The engine test run did not reveal evidence of any preexisting anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.
The Pilot's Operating Handbook for the accident airplane states that the maximum glide configuration includes landing gear and flaps up, cowl flaps closed, propeller low rpm, with an airspeed of 105 knots. With this configuration, the glide distance is about 1.7 nm per 1,000 ft of altitude above the terrain. It is likely that, if the airplane had been properly configured for a maximum glide distance and if the pilot decided to turn directly toward runway 34 or runway 9, for a downwind or crosswind landing, the airplane would have been able to reach either of those runways.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The total loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined during postaccident examination of the airplane and engine. Also causal to the accident was the pilot's decision to attempt to reach the farthest runway and land into the wind instead of conducting a crosswind or downwind landing at a closer runway following the loss of engine power.
HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On July 26, 2015, about 1704 Pacific daylight time, a Beech F35, N988RH, was destroyed when it impacted a power pole and terrain during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Riverside Municipal Airport (RAL), Riverside, California. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions were reported at the airport about the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from Brackett Field Airport, La Verne, California, about 1619.
Review of air traffic control (ATC) audio recordings and transcripts provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that a Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SoCal TRACON) controller was providing the pilot vectors for the instrument landing system 26R instrument approach at the Chino Municipal Airport, Chino, California. The SoCal TRACON controller issued the pilot a heading change from 070° to 350°. Shortly after, the pilot responded that he had lost engine power and needed to land at RAL. The controller responded with the distance and direction to RAL and asked the pilot if he had the airport in sight, which the pilot acknowledged. The controller advised the pilot to proceed inbound to RAL, told him that he could land on the runway of his discretion, and asked him to tell him which runway he was going to use. The pilot responded that he was going to land into the wind, and the controller repeated that the runway was at his discretion and asked how many people were on board. The pilot responded that he was the only person onboard and repeated that he was going to land into the wind.
Shortly after, the controller relayed the current weather conditions at RAL, which included wind from 280° at 12 knots gusting to 18 knots, and cleared the pilot to land on runway 27. Subsequently, the pilot responded that he was "not going to make it." No further radio communications were received from the pilot.
The pilot, age 52, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, which was issued February 2, 2013. He was issued a first-class airman medical certificate on April 1, 2014, with the limitation that he "must have available glasses for near vision."
Review of the pilot's personal logbook revealed that, as of the most recent entry, dated June 19, 2015, he had accumulated a total flight time of 443.9 hours.
The four-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane, serial number D-4131, was manufactured in 1955. It was powered by a 225-horsepower Continental Motors E225-8 engine, serial number 30406-D-4-8. The airplane was equipped with a Hartzell model HC-A2V20-4A1, 2-bladed, constant-speed propeller, serial number AK1334.
Review of the airframe and engine maintenance logbook records revealed that the most recent annual and 100-hour inspections were completed on October 5, 2014, at a tachometer time of 609.40 hours and total time since major overhaul of 606.4 hours. The engine was overhauled on April 5, 1999, at a total engine time of 4,428.6 hours and subsequently installed on the airframe on May 12, 1999, at a tachometer time of 3 hours. The most recent maintenance performed on the engine was the replacement of a carburetor valve door assembly, alternate air door spring, and induction filter on May 29, 2015, at a tachometer time of 729.9 hours.
The pilot operating handbook for the F35, section III, Emergency Procedures, page 3-6 states in part:
"MAXIMUM GLIDE CONFIGURATION
Landing Gear – UP
Flaps – UP
Cowl Flaps – CLOSED
Propeller – LO RPM
Airspeed – 105 Knots/121 MPH
Glide distance is approximately 1.7 nautical miles (2 statute miles) per 1,000 feet of altitude above terrain."
At 1653, the RAL automated weather observation station, located about 0.50 mile north of the accident site, reported wind from 290° at 12 knots, gusts to 19 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 30° C, dew point 16° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.87 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane struck a power pole and power lines about 0.50 mile south of the approach end of runway 27. The first identified point of impact was a power pole, which exhibited a downed wire and impact marks about 40 ft above ground level. Portions of the right flap and ruddervator were located immediately adjacent to the power pole. The right wing was located about 40 ft beyond the power pole in the middle of a residential street. The main wreckage, which consisted of the fuselage, left wing, engine, and left ruddervator, was located about 89 ft from the power pole. The wreckage debris path was oriented on a magnetic heading of about 045°.
Examination of the airframe revealed that the right wing was separated outboard of the right main landing gear. The wing exhibited fire damage to both separated areas. The aileron remained attached via all its mounts. The right flap was separated into two sections, which were located near the first identified point of impact. The right main landing gear was observed in the extended position. The right main fuel tank was mostly intact. The fuel line fitting at the root of the fuel tank was separated. About 6 gallons of 100-low-lead fuel was drained from the fuel tank. The right auxiliary tank was consumed by fire.
The left wing remained attached to the fuselage and exhibited fire damage throughout. The inboard portion of the wing from the flap aileron junction was mostly consumed by fire. The outboard portion of the left flap remained attached to the wing; however, the inboard portion was consumed by fire. Both the left main and auxiliary fuel tanks were consumed by fire. The aileron remained attached via all of its mounts and exhibited fire damage. The left main landing gear was observed in the extended position.
The flap actuator was measured and was found to be in a position consistent with 20° flaps.
The fuselage came to rest inverted and exhibited extensive fire damage. A majority of the bottom of the fuselage forward of the baggage compartment was consumed by fire. Oil residue was observed on the aft area of the fuselage structure. The instrument panel was consumed by fire and exhibited multiple instrument displacement. The radio panel was fire damaged. The throttle, mixture, and propeller controls were found in the full-forward position and were fire damaged. The fuel selector valve was heavily fire damaged. The fuel screen was free of debris, and the selector valve was found in a position consistent with the auxiliary position.
The empennage was mostly intact. The right ruddervator was separated and severed into two pieces. A circular impact mark, consistent with the size of the power pole, was observed and extended to the spar.
Both propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub. One propeller blade was bent aft about 90° midspan. The opposing propeller blade was bent aft slightly midspan and exhibited a slight forward bend about 5 inches inboard from the blade tip.
The engine remained attached to the engine mount via all its mounts. All of the engine accessories remained attached to the engine. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft. The propeller was moved by hand and rotated about 1/2 inch. Throttle, mixture, and propeller control continuity was established from the cockpit to the engine. The throttle and mixture control cables were separated from their respective control arms, consistent with impact damage. The engine was removed from the airframe and was shipped to the Continental Motors Inc., facility for further examination.
The engine was examined on November 16 and 17, 2015. To facilitate an engine run, the propeller governor was removed, and a blanking plate was installed. The oil sump was impact damaged with multiple holes noted. The oil cooler exhibited impact marks, consistent with striking the left magneto. Engine-to-magneto timing was 30° for the right magneto and 19° for the left magneto. Scrape marks were observed on the mounting flange of the left magneto, consistent with impact from the oil cooler. The left magneto was adjusted to an area where the scrape marks originated, and timing was verified at 25°. A test propeller was installed along with various fuel lines and control cables to facilitate an engine test run. The engine was installed on an engine test stand and run at various power settings uneventfully until being shut off using the mixture.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Riverside County Coroner conducted an autopsy on the pilot. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "massive blunt force injuries to torso."
The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) performed toxicology tests on specimens from the pilot. According to CAMI's report, the results were negative for carbon monoxide, volatiles, and all screened drugs.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Review of FAA radar data and ATC transcripts revealed that, when the pilot initially reported the loss of engine power, the airplane was about 2,425 ft mean sea level (msl), or about 1,644 ft above ground level (agl); traveling on a heading of about 094°; and about 1.65 nm west southwest from the approach end of runway 34 at RAL, 1.74 nm southwest of the approach end of runway 9, and 2.3 nm from the approach end of runway 27. The radar data depicted the flight track of the airplane continuing on an easterly heading until it was about 0.96 nm south of runway 27 at an altitude of about 1,400 ft msl or about 653 ft agl. The airplane then turned left to a northerly heading while continuing to descend. The last radar target was located about 0.1 nm west of the accident site at an altitude of 775 ft msl.
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 26, 2015 in Riverside, CA
Aircraft: BEECH F35, registration: N988RH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On July 26, 2015, about 1704 Pacific daylight time, a Beech F-35, N988RH, was destroyed when it impacted a power pole and ground during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near the Riverside Municipal Airport (RAL), Riverside, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was fatally injured. There were no reported ground injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The local flight originated from Brackett Field Airport (POC), La Verne, California, about 1619.
Information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that the airplane was receiving vectors for the instrument landing system (ILS) 26R instrument approach at the Chino Municipal Airport (CNO), by Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SoCal TRACON). Review of the recorded communication between the pilot and SoCal TRACON revealed that the pilot was issued a heading change to 350 degrees by the controller. The pilot responded shortly after that he had lost the engine, and needed to land at Riverside. The controller responded with the location of RAL, and asked if the pilot had the airport in sight, which the pilot acknowledged. The controller advised the pilot to proceed inbound to RAL and that he could land on the runway of his discretion. The pilot responded that he was going to land into the wind, and the controller repeated that the runway was his discretion, and asked how many people were on board. The pilot responded that he was the only person onboard and that he was going to land into the wind.
Shortly after, the controller relayed the current weather conditions at RAL, which included reported wind from 280 degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 18 knots, and cleared the pilot to land on runway 27. Subsequently, the pilot responded that he was not going to make it. No further radio communication was received from the pilot.
Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane struck a power pole and power lines about .50 miles south of the approach end of runway 27. The first identified point of contact was a power pole, which exhibited a downed wire and impact marks about 40 feet above ground level. Portions of the right flap and right ruddervator were located adjacent to the power pole. The right wing was located about 40 feet beyond the power pole, in the middle of a residential street. The main wreckage was located about 89 feet from the power pole, in a residential yard and consisted of the fuselage, left wing, engine, left ruddervator, and a downed street light pole. The wreckage debris path was oriented on a heading of about 045 degrees magnetic. All major structural components were located within the debris path. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.
The pilot who died Sunday after crashing his plane in a Riverside neighborhood has been identified by his mother as Keith C. Davis of Claremont.
Yvonne Davis said there must have been a malfunction in her son's plane before he tried to make an emergency landing along Adams Street.
The younger Davis, 52, was recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013 for achieving the highest standard for pilots of air carriers and commercial planes. It's unclear whether Davis was employed by a commercial airline.
On Sunday, Davis' small plane barreled through power lines and hit a light pole before coming to rest upside-down on the fence that borders two houses along Adams Street, just south of Riverside Municipal Airport, according to Joshua Cawthra, aviation investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
"He was trying to either land on the street or in that field," said Riverside Fire Department Capt. Tim Odebralski, motioning to the soccer field at Adams Elementary School across the street from the wreckage.
The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza was built in 1955, according to the FAA registry.
The plane burst into flames upon impact, but the Fire Department quickly extinguished the blaze before it spread. Despite the massive explosion, nearby homes were not damaged; only a fence was destroyed.
Davis was the only occupant of the plane. No one on the ground was injured.
The plane departed at 4:19 p.m. out of Brackett Field Airport in La Verne, about 22 miles northwest of where it crashed.
After experiencing engine problems, the pilot radioed his intentions of landing at the Riverside Municipal Airport.
“I don't think I'm going to make it,” Davis said in his final radio transmission, according to Odebralski.
The crash occurred moments after 5 p.m., about a quarter-mile from the airstrip. Some reported seeing smoke billowing from the engine just before the crash landing, Odebralski said.
"We're not sure yet if some of the fire started in the sky," Odebralski added.
Officials with NTSB are investigating the cause of the crash. It could take up to a week before additional details are released, Cawthra said.
On Monday morning, the airplane was still in the backyard where it crashed, but officials planned to move it later in the day.
A small plane crashed and burst into flames in a residential area of Riverside on Sunday, killing the pilot, a fire official said.
The air traffic control tower at Riverside Municipal Airport about 5 p.m. received a distress call from a Beech 35 Bonanza, according to Capt. Tim Odebralski of the Riverside Fire Department.
The pilot reported having engine trouble and requested an emergency landing at the airport. Shortly afterward, “the pilot stated that he didn’t think he was going to make it and that’s the last transmission,” Odebralski told KTLA.
The plane then crashed in the 4500 block of Adams Street, coming to a stop on a sidewalk and through a fence in the backyard of a single-story home, the Fire Department said. The location is across from the campus of Adams Elementary School and less than half a mile from the nearest runway at the airport.
“We were coming down the street and I heard my daughter yell at my husband and there was literally a fireball,” said witness Shanene Romero, who was in a vehicle with her family. Her husband then swerved to avoid falling debris, she said.
“It was intense heat and then we heard a terrific crash,” she added.
In an interview, Catherine Burke said her aging parents were inside their home when the plane slammed through the rear fence.
“While they were eating, they looked up and saw a lot of smoke and dirt in the air,” she said, “and then flames.”
The couple called 911, initially unaware of what exactly had happened. Meanwhile, according to Romero, neighbors used a garden hose and fire extinguisher in an attempt to knock down the blaze and help the pilot.
“Another gentleman,” she said, “was yelling in the plane and saying, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?”
Firefighters from the department’s airport station arrived at the scene and quickly extinguished the flames, Odebralski said.
The unidentified pilot, the plane’s only occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene, he said, adding that no one on the ground was injured.
The aircraft’s tail number was indecipherable in the wreckage. It was unclear where the plane had taken off from, but a Fire Department official said the flight had not originated from Riverside Municipal Airport.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators were en route to the crash site.
“I’m sure with everyone else, I feel for the pilot and his family and what they’re having to go through,” Burke said.
A pilot died Sunday during the fiery crash of a single-engine plane near Riverside Municipal Airport, narrowly missing two houses.
The pilot radioed the airport shortly before the 5:03 p.m. crash, telling of engine trouble and a plane to make an emergency landing at the airport, said Riverside Fire Capt. Tim Odebralski.
“I don’t think I’m going to make it,” the pilot said in his final radio transmission, according to Odebralski.
The pilot was the only person aboard the plane. The body remained inside the wreckage until after dark and had not been identified.
No one on the ground was hurt.
The white and blue Beech 35 Bonanza landed upside-down in the backyard of a house on the southeast corner of Adams Street and San Vicente Avenue, just south of Arlington Avenue.
Richard and Doris Godfrey have lived in that house for more than 55 years.
“They were just sitting down to have dinner,” said son-in-law Keith Burke. “There was a crash, and the backyard was engulfed in flames – lots and lots of smoke.”
Doris immediately called 911.
“Before she even got through ... the Fire Department was here and extinguishing the flames,” Burke said.
The plane landed squarely in the couple’s backyard. Neither their house nor their neighbors’, about 40 feet away, was damaged by the plane or the flames. Only the Godfreys’ backyard fence was destroyed.
The Godfreys were grateful they escaped injury, but uncertain how they avoided it.
“Either skillful flying ... or just luck,” Burke suggested.
“Our heart goes out to the family of the pilot and the loss they suffered this evening,” he said.
While most of the wreckage ended up in the Godfreys‘ yard, small pieces were strewn against the perimeter fence of Adams Elementary School, across the street from the house.
Power lines bordering the elementary school lay coiled on the ground, apparently snapped during the crash.
A one-block stretch of Adams was closed between San Vicente and Brunswick Avenue for several hours after the crash.
The pilot of the Beech 35 Bonanza reported a loss of engine power at about 5 p.m. before crashing about a half-mile east of Riverside Municipal Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
"They were requesting an emergency landing at the Riverside [Municipal] Airport. Shortly thereafter, they received an additional distress call saying that he didn't think that he was going to make it to the airport, and then several calls came in right after that for a plane crash," city fire Capt. Tim Odebralski said.
The plane narrowly missed two houses and landed upside down in Dick and Doris Godfrey's backyard.
"They were having dinner, eating their salad, and they looked up, and all of a sudden they saw smoke and a lot of dust, and then the plane burst into flames," their daughter, Catherine Burke, said.
The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not immediately identified.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, which initially left 350 people in the area without power, according to Riverside Public Utilities.
Power was restored at about 8:50 p.m. Nobody on the ground was injured, Odebralski said.
"Knowing that the person called mayday, he knew something was wrong, he did the best he could. No other life had to be taken," witness Jessica Aviles said.