Sunday, September 01, 2019

Runway Excursion: Beech K35 Bonanza, N5321E; accident occurred September 01, 2018 at Harrisville Airport (5Y0), Alcona County, Michigan

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Harrisville, MI
Accident Number: CEN18TA374
Date & Time: 09/01/2018, 1400 EDT
Registration: N5321E
Aircraft: Beech 35
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Runway excursion
Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On September 1, 2018, about 1400 eastern daylight time, a Beech K35 airplane, N5321E, overran the runway during an aborted takeoff at Harrisville Airport (5Y0), Harrisville, Michigan. The private rated pilot sustained minor injuries and the three passengers were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The flight was departing at the time of the accident.

A 32 second video of the takeoff attempt was reviewed and showed the following. As the video began the airplane was already in the takeoff roll on the grass runway that was defined by large yellow cones. At 14 seconds the airplane veered toward the left side of the runway until 22 seconds when a loud noise was heard from the end of the runway. The airplane made a sharp right turn then slid on the runway toward the trees where it came to rest (figure 1).

Figure 1 – Accident site (Courtesy of FAA)

The Sheriff's deputy who responded to the scene reported that he spoke to the pilot after the accident. The pilot stated that he could not get the airplane up to speed because of the tall grass on the runway. The pilot added that the data he had for the airport showed an additional 600 ft available runway. The pilot also stated that he knew he did not have the speed or altitude to make it over the trees at the end of the runway so he put the airplane back on the ground before going into the woods.

The deputy's photos from the accident site revealed several lopped tree limbs and tire marks in the grass beyond the left side of the runway.

In a postaccident statement the pilot reported that he flew the same three passengers earlier that morning to an airport where he filled the left fuel tank with 25 gallons of fuel; the right fuel tank contained 2 to 3 gallons and the auxiliary fuel tank was empty. After fueling, the pilot proceeded to takeoff from a 2,952-ft-long asphalt runway and climbed to 50 ft above ground level before reaching 1,500 ft of runway distance. They landed at 5Y0, a 2,140 ft x 60 ft grass runway, without incident and consumed about 5 gallons of fuel during the flight.

About 1400 they returned to the airplane and the pilot completed a preflight inspection and an engine run-up with no anomalies noted. He taxied to runway 21 and extended 10° of flaps. He started the takeoff roll and noted that the first 200 ft of the runway was soft and consisted of long grass, while the rest of the runway consisted of sand and patches of weeds. The pilot stated that during the takeoff roll he was able to lift the nose wheel off the runway around 300 ft and the main landing gear lifted off near mid-field where he kept the airplane in ground effect. About three-fourths of the way down the runway, while still in ground effect, the airplane would not gain altitude and the left wing contacted the trees on the left side. The pilot stated that it felt like the airplane was being pulled into the trees. The pilot aborted the takeoff, attempted to stop the airplane in the grass, but collided with trees at the end of the runway.

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the engine or airframe that would have precluded normal operation.

The airplane's pilot operating handbook (POH) states that the maximum ramp weight is 2,960 lbs and the maximum takeoff weight is 2,950 lbs. The aft center of gravity (CG) limit at 2,950 lbs is 84.7 inches aft of datum.

The pilot provided a completed weight and balance loading form for the accident flight, which noted that the ramp weight was 2,948 lbs (2 lbs under the limitation) and the takeoff weight was 2,938 lbs (12 lbs under the limitation). The calculated CG was 84.77 inches aft of datum (0.07 inches over the limitation).

Using the same weight and balance information for the previous flight, except with 25 gallons of fuel, the ramp weight would have been 2,978 lbs and the takeoff weight 2,968 lbs; both of these weights exceeded the maximum ramp and takeoff weights, an exceedance of 18 lbs for both weight limitations as specified in the POH. Also, the calculated CG was 84.7 inches aft of datum.

At the request of the deputy the pilot submitted a blood sample while on scene. Forensic analysis of the sample was negative for alcohol. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 50, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/13/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 09/24/2017
Flight Time:  242 hours (Total, all aircraft), 156 hours (Total, this make and model), 176 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 47 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 14 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N5321E
Model/Series: 35 K35
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1959
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Utility
Serial Number: D-5801
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/02/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2950 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 76 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6239 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental Motors
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-470-C
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 250 hp
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: KOSC, 634 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1815 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 197°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2100 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 220°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 21°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Harrisville, MI (5Y0)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Detroit/Grosse Ile, MI (ONZ)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1400 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Airport: Harrisville (5Y0)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 675 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Vegetation
Runway Used: 21
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2140 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 44.665556, -83.307222 (est)


  1. Another "classic" reduced to scrap metal through no fault of its own. Pilot was acting as a "test pilot". He did make the right decision to put it back down and abort the takeoff which saved their lives.

  2. Max takeoff weight on a soft field with overgrowth which most certainly impeded acceleration rate vs. on a paved surface. Why do we keep seeing these entirely basic operation GA pilot errors time after time after time?

  3. Because people still do stupid things. Can't stop stupid.

  4. If any of the passengers were women they almost certainly lied about their weight; the plane could have been several hundred pounds heavier than calculated.