Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Mooney M20J/201, N201DG: Fatal accident occurred May 29, 2019 in Cape May, New Jersey

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Cape May, NJ
Accident Number: ERA19FA184
Date & Time: 05/29/2019, 1115 EDT
Registration: N201DG
Aircraft: Mooney M20J
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 29, 2019, at 1115 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N201DG, was destroyed by contact with the water and subsequent collision with the surf while maneuvering at low altitude along the beach at Cape May, New Jersey. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which originated at the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport (N87), Robbinsville, New Jersey, and was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

In a written statement, a witness described his position on the beach near the Cape May Lighthouse where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay and the New Jersey coastline curves westward from its generally north-south direction. According to the witness, "… I saw a single engine plane flying parallel to the beach but only about 10 feet above the water. It appeared stable and in control but then dipped, hit the water, and skipped up out of control. It climbed steeply gaining perhaps 100-200 feet, stalled, turned downward, and plunged almost straight into the water perhaps 500 feet off shore, directly off or slightly west of the (WWII civil defense) battery."

The witness estimated the pitch-up attitude of the airplane after it contacted the water at 65-70 degrees and the nose-down attitude at 75-80 degrees during its descent. The witness said that a strong odor of fuel "came ashore" about 10 minutes after the accident.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector, reports of a low-flying airplane travelling along the beach from north to south were received from several towns north of Cape May. Witnesses reported that the airplane would dive to the surface, fly low-level along the beach, and climb again.

One witness forwarded a video of the airplane as it passed her position on Diamond Beach, about 5 miles or an estimated 2.5 minutes north of the accident site. The airplane was near the shoreline, about 10 feet above the wave break, and the sound of the engine was smooth and continuous throughout. At one point, the airplane descended below the horizon line. About 20 seconds into the 30-second video, the airplane began a steep climb. The airplane was about 200 feet above the surface when the video ended.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land and he completed the FAA BasicMed course on September 20, 2018. A review of the pilot's logbook by the FAA inspector revealed the pilot had accrued 333 total hours of flight experience, of which 17 were in the accident airplane make and model. The owner/operator of the airplane stated that the pilot had "returned" to flying in October 2018. Training and rental records revealed that since that time the pilot completed on-line FAA flight-review training, received 17 hours of dual instruction, and had accrued 44.1 total hours of flight experience.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1977 and was powered by a Lycoming IO-360-A3B6D 200-horsepower engine. Its most recent annual inspection was completed February 13, 2019 at 5,233.2 total aircraft hours, and the airplane had accrued 58.7 hours since that date.
State and local law enforcement attempted recovery of the pilot in the days following the accident but were hampered by the strong current, low visibility, and storms. On June 1, 2019, a commercial underwater salvage operator recovered the pilot along with the wreckage.

Examination of the wreckage revealed that all major components were recovered except for the left wing. The roof, left wing, and empennage were separated from the fuselage. The fracture surfaces displayed features consistent with overload failure. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit area, through several breaks, to all available flight control surfaces. The fracture surfaces at the breaks displayed features consistent with overstress. The leading edge of the right wing was uniformly crushed aft along its entire span.

The engine was rotated by hand at the propeller and powertrain continuity was confirmed through to the accessory section. Thumb compression was confirmed on all cylinders. Examination of the top spark plugs from each of the 4 cylinders revealed signatures consistent with normal wear and salt water immersion. The single-drive dual magneto was destroyed by impact and salt water immersion. The engine driven fuel pump was removed and when actuated by hand, pumped fluid from the output port. The fuel supply line was removed at the inlet port to the fuel manifold where trace amounts of fuel were detected.

The propeller was attached at the hub, and all 3 blades displayed similar aft bending.

At 1056, the weather recorded at Cape May County Airport (WWD), Wildwood, New Jersey, 5 miles north of the accident site included clear skies and winds from 260 degrees at 7 knots. Visibility was 10 statute miles, the temperature was 30°C, and the dew point was 20°C. The altimeter setting was 29.75 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Mooney
Registration: N201DG
Model/Series: M20J No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Air Mods And Repair Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KWWD, 23 ft msl
Observation Time: 1056 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 260°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:   10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.75 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Robbinsville, NJ (N87)
Destination: Robbinsville, NJ (N87)  

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 38.925556, -74.943056 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

Lawrence Klimek

Howell, New Jersey - Larry left us last week to go on to his forever home, where he is filled with joy in the presence of Jesus! He exited this side of Heaven doing what he loved best, flying a Mooney M20J aircraft! Larry loved anything that was adventurous. He spent his spare time skydiving, skiing, driving fast cars, riding motorcycles, and of course the not so adventurous, golfing!

Toward the end of his life his relationship with Jesus became his priority. He had a deep desire to draw closer to God and a sincere repentance in his heart for his past actions. 

Larry was predeceased by his father, Lawrence Klimek. He is survived by his daughter, Ashley; his mother Edna Klimek; his wife Catherine Klimek; his 5 step children Emily, Billy, Erin, Eddie and Jimmy, his sister Donna Clement, and nephews Clay, Kyle and JT.

A Memorial Service will be held at 6 PM on June 9th at Shiloh Baptist Church located at 44 Union Ave., Manasquan, NJ. In lieu of flowers please consider donating to a mission very close to Larry's heart, Destiny's Bridge, which is a non-profit organization that provides temporary housing and care to homeless adults. (

Published in Asbury Park Press on June 6, 2019





CAPE MAY POINT — The body of a 58-year-old Monmouth County pilot and the plane he was flying were recovered Friday evening after they crashed into the ocean Wednesday.

After an extensive search, the plane and the body of Lawrence Klimek, of Howell Township, were located by divers and brought into Cape May Harbor, said Captain Jack Moran, owner of Sea Tow Cape May, the salvage company that worked with Northstar Marine in the recovery effort.

Klimek’s body was found still strapped into his seat in the cockpit of the Mooney M20J/201 plane, Moran said.

State Police, who are leading the investigation into the crash, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Three divers and a dozen other crew members used sonar to find the plane on the ocean floor, Moran said. The diving conditions were difficult, with zero visibility, he added, but they got the plane on board a 90-foot boat about 7 p.m.

“It was completely, in several different places, held together by rigging and wiring running through the plane, but it was structurally destroyed,” Moran said.

The crash did no damage to the environment, Moran said, leaving behind no gas or oil pollution and no damage to the ocean floor.

Klimek took off in the Mooney M20J/201 from Trenton-Robbinsville Airport about 8 a.m. Wednesday, and reports came in of a plane in the water about 11:30 a.m.

Klimek was the only person on the plane.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration, Klimek was issued his commercial pilot’s license in January 2016.

Original article ➤

Lawrence Klimek


CAPE MAY POINT — Authorities have identified the pilot of a small plane that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, and divers are still searching for his remains.

State Police announced Friday the pilot was 58-year-old Lawrence Klimek, of Howell, Monmouth County. Klimek was the only person on the plane.

Klimek’s Facebook page is full of photos and videos of him flying and skydiving. A March posting shows a rented Mooney M20J 201 plane — the same model involved in the accident — when he first flew it solo in January.

“Checked out and approved to solo in just 5 hours flight time on 1/26/19,” he wrote. “I do have over 300 flight hours logged day and night (simple and complex).”

Klimek was apparently fearless.

He describes the video of him doing three jumps from 14,000 feet, saying he was crammed into a plane with 15 others sitting on the floor facing backward, “with someone’s legs wrapped around you from behind.”

All of a sudden the door opens, freezing air rushes in, and people start jumping out, he said.

“Then you realize, you’re next.”

The recovery of the pilot is being conducted by State Police, and the recovery of the aircraft is being conducted by a private salvage company. Both operations are active and ongoing.

According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration, Klimek was issued his commercial pilot’s license in January 2016.

He was the former owner of Environmental Specialists of Howell, which specialized in oil tank removals, according to a Better Business Bureau listing on the closed business.

Klimek took off in the single-engine plane from Trenton-Robbinsville Airport about 8 a.m. Wednesday, and reports came in of a plane in the water about 11:30 a.m.

Heidi Pontoriero, general manager of Trenton-Robbinsville Airport, said Wednesday she was familiar with Klimek.

“The gentleman ... has flown out of this airport many times before. He’s most certainly up to date on all his credentials, and the plane is most certainly up to date,” Pontoriero said.

Beachgoers described a plane flying low near the beach before turning out to open water, skipping off the surface and flying straight up, a trail of black smoke behind it, before falling into the ocean, coming to rest in 18 feet of water.

Original article ➤

Mike Peteani of Cape May Court House, says the likeliest cause of any aviation accident is pilot error.

A pilot and his plane remain submerged in the water off Cape May Point more than a day after they crashed into it.

“There’s been no recovery at this time,” said State Police Lt. Ted Schafer. “We still have troopers on scene diving. The operator of the plane still has not been recovered.”

On Thursday, as State Police boats idled near an orange buoy marking the spot where a single-engine plane came to rest in 18 feet of water, beachgoers watched a short distance away at the water’s edge.

Patty Oat arrived at the beach about 10 minutes after hearing the Mooney M20J go down Wednesday morning.

“There was literally no sign of it,” said Oat, whose husband, Bill, heads the Cape May Point Beach Patrol. “The gentleman that was there, that was the witness, said that it went 75 feet off the beach … and there was (no) bubbles, smoke, nothing.”

A section of the beach was still cordoned off Thursday around noon, and a parking lot near the Cape May Lighthouse was closed to all but official vehicles.

Authorities were unable to elaborate on what difficulties the recovery team faced.

Bystanders near Cove Beach the day before described a plane flying very low near the beach before heading to open water. One said a trail of black smoke followed the aircraft before it nosed straight up, crashing back down into the water. Authorities said the plane took off from Trenton-Robbinsville Airport about 8 a.m. and reports of a plane crash were received about 11:30 a.m. The Coast Guard and State Police responded soon after.

The pilot’s identity has not been made public.

Mike Peteani, 64, of Cape May Court House, has been flying out of Cape May County Airport in Lower Township since 1989. Leaned over a small plane’s engine, he said the likeliest cause of any aviation accident is pilot error, but until the conclusion of the investigation, led by the National Transportation Safety Board, “it’s just speculation.”

“They have to inspect the airframe, the engine. They tear down the whole airplane,” Peteani said. “It’ll take months for that to happen.”

But he had an educated guess following news reports.

“From what I gather, from what I think, he just pulled it up,” Peteani said, “and he just didn’t have enough altitude to recover from the stall and just nosedived it right in.”

Ed and Paul Johnston, co-owners of The Cove Restaurant right off the beach, saw a similar plane last week close to the water.

“A guy was flying really dangerously low last week,” Ed Johnston said. “And when it happened yesterday … I thought it was the same plane.”

Across the beachfront near Cape May, the crash was on residents’ and visitors’ minds, with State Police boats offshore driving home the gravity of the accident.

Susie Woodland, 75, of Souderton, Pennsylvania, stared out over the water with her husband, Dale, discussing theories. None was satisfactory for them.

“Your mind tries to explain it,” Susie said, “and it’s an accident, and that’s what happens with an accident.”

Original article ➤

Mike Peteani of Cape May Court House has been flying out of Cape May County Airport since 1989.  Leaned over a small plane's engine Thursday , he said the likeliest cause of any aviation accident is pilot error.

CAPE MAY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A search has been suspended after a small aircraft crashed into the ocean in Cape May, New Jersey.

The aircraft departed Trenton-Robbinsville Airport in Robbinsville, New Jersey, about 8 a.m. Wednesday.

U.S. Coast Guard officials confirm a Mooney M20J single-engine plane went down in the water approximately 1,200 feet from the lighthouse before 11:30 a.m.

"I heard a big boom, like a big explosion," said witness Patty Oat.

"Next thing I know all the lifeguards from Cape May were racing down the beach," Oat added.

Other witnesses who saw the plane gliding by the water said they knew something was amiss.

"We thought they were just showing off and buzzing the beach, they were very close. It didn't seem right at all to me, I don't know how illegal it is to be that close to the water," said Frank Newman and his wife Annakate Price.

Officials say there was one person on board the aircraft that is now submerged.

The U.S. Coast Guard as well as local first aided in the search.

Viewer Jacqueline Morroni of Villas captured the moments the small plane veered into the water.

The aircraft crashed in the area of South Cape May Meadows Path, at the southwest tip of the Cape May peninsula.

Late Wednesday night, Coast Guard officials said the search for the missing pilot has been suspended.

The NTSB will be investigating the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤




  1. It's so easy to Id a Mooney

  2. even better than the V-tail Bonanzas.

    Sad to see it in this context

  3. That video shows him in control. He didn't crash for another 9 miles from where that video was shot

  4. Correct. This was not an accident. The fortunate thing is that he didn't hurt anyone other than himself. It's a tragedy but it could've been much worse.

  5. Fuel exhaustion? Suicide? Based on the FlightAware flight track the pilot clearly was in control until the end.

  6. A witness in this video said that the plane touched the water before going straight up and then coming straight down. The pilot was a frequent renter of the airplane and for a few days prior witnesses reported a similar plane buzzing the waves off the beaches in the area.

    It kind of sounds like a reckless pilot whose luck ran out. One less plane for folks to rent.

  7. How's the old saying go: There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are NO old,bold pilots. Sounds like he flew too close to the surface and caught a wave, over-corrected and stalled. Now he's dead and another classic GA plane is gone forever.

  8. Slap the belly of a Mooney hard enough and just right and you can jamb the flight controls.

    RIP Richard

  9. There are only a few hundreds of thousands planes in the world but almost 8 billion people. Not a popular opinion I bet but planes are getting more precious than the asshats that crash them. As it's always pilot error in 95% of the cases.

    A loss for the community with one less precious bird available, as only 900 or so are build every year and out of reach of most folks. Unless you finance it like a house.

    Instead of buying an overpriced house in a crowded market like Cali or Florida, buy a brand new plane instead and get the 100% tax deduction...

    One can sleep in a plane but no one can fly in a house.

  10. Maybe he was practicing for a new career in barnstorming. Fly the Mooney to beaches and county fairs. Amaze the crowds with his low passes and stunts.

  11. You can only tie the low altitude record - it can't be broken.

  12. May not have been suicide. Low level "Fishspotting" over open water can be performed safely in the right conditions and the right aircraft at the right altitude. However, with the wave action shown in videos, he might have hit some air pockets, lost lift or whatever.

    BTW - the commenters above calling him names just indicates their callous ignorance and insensitivity. He paid the ultimate price for whatever mistakes he made - at least give him the dignity of keeping your snarc to yourself.

  13. Just one very slight error in maneuvering of the aircraft and that idiot could have easily ripped the lives out of those innocent beachgoers!

    Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 91.119, Minimum safe altitudes, prohibits low flying....

  14. I think we're all on the same page here. Just a little bit of levity and fun pretending that perhaps he was barnstorming or fish spotting.

    The reality is this was either a suicide or a very stupid stunt. Probably the former.
    The only thing that's good about this story -- and there is very, very little about this story that's good -- is that no one else was hurt.

  15. not saying he wasn't extremely careless but in response to the anonymous poster starting to cite the minimum altitude rule my guess is you didn't complete the statement because when you finally READ the rule you realized he was probably not breaking any of them 3 areas are described in the min altitude rule, congested area, other than congested area and sparsely populated area. obviously not a congested area and likely not even an other than congested area which are 1000 feet agl and 500 feet agl respectively. this probably qualifies as a sparsely populated area which has no min altitude as long as you are 500 feet from any person, place, vessel, vehicle, structure etc. so even though he was probably just being stupid, the only laws he broke was darwin's law which you normally only get to break once. sounds like from witness statements he got away with it before. it likely made him braver this time. bravery is an admirable quality on land or in battle, not so much on an airplane joy ride!

  16. M20J with a 6 cyl engine?

  17. Look at the pic of the engine recovery at the accident site. It is a 4 cylinder.

  18. He tied the record for min altitude flight.

  19. M20J is a 4 Cylinder Lycoming engine.

  20. sad everyone is saying its pilot error ... as a pilot flying low is stupid and reckless however did any one ever think at 58 like me it could have been a stoke or heart attack lets not judge until we know for sure