Monday, August 26, 2019

Mooney M20C Ranger, N78988: Accident occurred August 26, 2019 near Reno Stead Airport (KRTS), Washoe County, Nevada

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Reno, NV
Accident Number: WPR19LA243
Date & Time: 08/26/2019, 1644 PDT
Registration: N78988
Aircraft: Mooney M20C
Injuries: 2 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 26, 2019, about 1644 Pacific daylight time, a Mooney M20C airplane, N78988, was substantially damaged during a forced landing at Reno/Stead Airport (RTS), Reno, Nevada. The private pilot was not injured and the two passengers were seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight, which departed Black Rock City Airport (88NV), Gerlach, Nevada about 1600.

According to the pilot, he departed 88NV for RTS to collect a friend who was attending an event in the Black Rock Desert. Prior to his departure, the pilot sumped the fuel tanks, added oil and subsequently departed on the accident flight with the fuel tanks about half full. The soft field takeoff from 88NV, climbout, and cruise segments of the accident flight were uneventful. The pilot departed with the right fuel tank selected and then immediately switched to his left fuel tank after he reached about 8,500 ft mean sea level. He then configured the airplane for cruise flight by reducing his throttle setting and leaning the mixture. As he approached RTS, he descended below the airport's traffic pattern altitude, engaged the fuel pump and switched to the right fuel tank just before he entered the right base leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 26. The pilot stated that he verified positive fuel pressure while he switched the fuel tanks. Immediately after the pilot disengaged the fuel pump and while he was turning onto the final approach leg of the airport traffic pattern, the engine sputtered and then quit. The pilot made one unsuccessful attempt to restart the engine after he switched the fuel selector back to the left tank and engaged the fuel pump. He then pitched the airplane for the published best glide speed, 100 mph, and configured the airplane for a forced landing. The pilot stated that he was focused on the airspeed indicator during the landing attempt and was not looking outside the airplane when the airplane impacted a fence and then the ground.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Mooney
Registration: N78988
Model/Series: M20C No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: , 5050 ft msl
Observation Time: 1635 PDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Gerlach, NV (88NV)
Destination: Reno, NV (RTS)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 39.656944, -119.857500

STEAD, Nevada (KOLO) - A plane making a landing at the Reno Stead Airport crashed short of the runway, outside of the airport property.

Reno Fire says the plane did not catch on fire. Officials with the Reno-Tahoe International Airport tell KOLO 8 that sources are telling them the plane was coming east from The Playa.

Three people were on board and they have all been transported to a Reno hospital. Two reportedly suffered minor injuries and one person is hospitalized with critical injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration is due on scene to begin their investigation. Bravo Avenue will be limited to one lane for the next day while the crash is being investigated.

The Mooney M20C Ranger is registered out of Woodland Park, Colorado.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Post-crash intact condition of the Mooney suggests that the critical injury may be from sudden stoppage contact with panel/yoke or perhaps hard-downward impact forces on spine (or both). If hard downward was not the cause of the primary critical injury, this may be an instance where an upper body restraint harness would be beneficial (if those were not in use here). The intact appearance does not look like there was spinning at impact. Lap belts were the only restraints an older M20 provided back in the days of my riding in it, never considered what our after condition could be if the panel and yokes came rushing back at us in an otherwise survivable event like this one. Hope all three recover from their injuries, particularly the critical one.

  2. Shoulder harness was not a requirement when this plane was built. There are STCs available and worth every penny.

  3. STC is not required for shoulder harness. It only requires an A&P signing it off in the log books. FAA went this route so more people would get shoulder restraints into older planes.

  4. Ok. The two installations I did had an STC ... Not that it really matters I guess.

  5. Dont mess with switching fuel tanks near airports