Sunday, July 21, 2019

Van's RV-8, N138PM: Fatal accident occurred July 24, 2020 near Tehachapi Municipal Airport (KTSP), Kern County, California -and- Accident occurred July 17, 2019 at Custer County Airport (KCUT), South Dakota

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Tehachapi, CA
Accident Number: WPR20LA237
Date & Time: 07/24/2020, 1159 PDT
Registration: N138PM
Aircraft: Vans VANS RV-8
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 24, 2020, about 1159 Pacific daylight time, a Vans RV-8, N138PM, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Tehachapi Airport (TSP), Tehachapi, California. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

A witness reported that he had just finished landing and he stopped to watch two airplanes coming in to land. The first airplane was the accident airplane, he observed it touch down onto the runway tailwheel first. The airplane then oscillated between its tailwheel and main landing gear a few times before it tipped up onto the left main gear. The airplane turned toward the right edge of the runway and appeared to slow. The witness reported that he turned away because he thought the pilot finished landing. But when he looked back a few seconds later, he observed a cloud of dirt as the pilot abruptly reapplied power. The engine coughed a "number of times" before running smoothly. The airplane lifted off quickly but made a "perceivably slow" turn to a left crosswind. The nose of the airplane was "alarmingly" high; the left turn steepened as the airplane flew behind some trees. A couple seconds later the witness heard the engine "cut out," and almost immediately thereafter he heard the impact.

The pilot of the second airplane reported that the two airplanes took off from Whiteman airport and flew in very close formation to TSP. Upon arriving at TSP, the accident airplane flew a straight in approach to land onto runway 29 with the second airplane following. The accident pilot's approach speed looked "ok." When the accident airplane touched down, it appeared as if it was having "directional control issues" on the runway. The airplane was along the right edge of the runway when the accident pilot transmitted that he was "going around." At that moment, the second pilot observed a brief cloud of dust. The second pilot landed his airplane and when he rolled to a stop, he observed the accident airplane about 30 degrees left of the runway heading at about 150-200 feet. The nose of the airplane was up, but it didn't look like it was accelerating; more like it was descending. Shortly before impact, the airplane disappeared behind the buildings nose up with the wings wobbling.

The airplane struck a commercial building and came to rest on the roof. It has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans
Registration: N138PM
Model/Series: VANS RV-8 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KTSP, 4100 ft msl
Observation Time: 1950 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , Variable
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: San Fernando, CA (WHP)
Destination: Tehachapi, CA (TSP)

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: 35.136111, -118.446389 (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

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has identified the person killed in a plane crash outside Tehachapi Municipal Airport Friday as 69-year-old Michael Glen Phillips from Westchester. The plane crash occurred on Green Street just outside the Tehachapi Municipal Airport at around 11:53 a.m. Phillips was the sole occupant of the plane that crashed.  He was declared dead at the scene.  The cause and manner of death are still unknown.

July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020

UPDATE (1:09 p.m.) — Firefighters said one person has died in the crash. The plane hit a building at 421 N. Green Street just outside the Tehachapi Municipal Airport

No injuries or deaths were reported to anyone in the building or surrounding businesses, according to Kern County Fire Department. The area will be closed off for several hours.

TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KGET) — A plane crashed Friday morning in Tehachapi, authorities said.

The California Highway Patrol said a Van's RV-8 aircraft went down near Tehachapi Municipal Airport and multiple agencies were at the scene. It crashed in the 400 block of Green Street, officers said.

A Van's RV-8 aircraft with one person onboard crashed onto the rooftop of a business near Tehachapi Municipal Airport in Tehachapi shortly before noon Friday.

The plane landed inside the heavily damaged business. The condition of the pilot was not immediately known; however, no person was taken from the area by ambulance.

A small fuel leak was quickly mitigated by the Kern County Fire Department. No explosion or fire was reported.

The crash occurred inside the Industrial Park located in the 400 block of North Greet Street located just outside the perimeter of the airport.

First responders included the Kern County Fire Department, with engines from Tehachapi, Golden Hills, Bear Valley Springs and surrounding community, Tehachapi Police Department, Hall Ambulance and Edison and Kern County Fire, Search and Rescue.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident. A cause was not known Friday afternoon.

No other injuries were reported by anyone of the ground.

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Rapid City, South Dakota

July 17, 2019:  Aircraft on landing veered into the grass.

Date: 17-JUL-19
Time: 23:30:00Z
Regis#: N138PM
Aircraft Make: VANS
Aircraft Model: RV8
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91


  1. You were a kind soul Mike. You helped me out by imparting your knowledge when I was a new RV owner. Every time I saw you, you had a positive frame of mind and a calming disposition. I will miss you dropping by my hanger with a brief 'Hey' and 'How's it going?' inquiry. The world needs more people like you. Rest in peace my friend.

  2. you only leave behind the love and good deeds by these posts
    he was a kind soul now hes flying at god speed R.I.P.

  3. NTSB preliminary report: