Monday, December 16, 2019

Mooney M20C, N5557Q: Fatal accident occurred December 08, 2019 in Flower Pot, Yavapai County, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona 
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Flower Pot, AZ
Accident Number:CEN20FA034 
Date & Time: 12/08/2019, 1300 MST
Registration: N5557Q
Aircraft: Mooney M20C
Injuries:1 Fatal 
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 8, 2019, about 1300 mountain standard time, a Mooney model M20C airplane, N5557Q impacted terrain about 2 nm southwest of Flower Pot, Arizona. The pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Marginal visual meteorological conditions with potential instrument conditions and mountain obscuration prevailed for the flight, which was not on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG), Flagstaff, Arizona, at an unconfirmed time, and was destined for the Deer Valley Airport (DVT), Phoenix, Arizona.

The accident site was discovered by a rancher on the morning of December 13, 2019. There were no witnesses to the impact, but witnesses that saw the airplane on December 8, 2019 came forward once they discovered that the airplane had crashed. The witnesses were driving in a car southbound on Interstate 17 near Munds Park, Arizona, when an orange and white low-wing airplane flew over their car at low altitude. The witnesses reported that the weather conditions at that time consisted of a low ceiling but with good visibility below the clouds. The witnesses provided 3 pictures of the airplane that they had taken from their car. The pictures showed the airplane traveling in the same direction as the car close to the ground. The witnesses said they watched the airplane and it appeared to be following the road. The pictures also showed low clouds with obscuration of mountain peaks in the background of the image. The witnesses reported that about 20 minutes after taking the pictures, when they were about where the airplane was reported to have crashed, the visibility had reduced to about ¼ mile and the clouds were right on the ground. Subsequent to the witness report, preliminary radar track data for an aircraft traveling along interstate 17 on December 8, 2019 was found.

The airplane impacted the ground about 1 mile east of interstate 17 on a heading of about 60 degrees. The main wreckage came to rest about 320 ft from the initial impact point.

During the investigation it was discovered that the pilot had purchased the airplane on December 4, 2018. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Mooney
Registration: N5557Q
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:Unknown
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SEZ, 4830 ft msl
Observation Time: 1955 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 25 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 10°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 160°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 1800 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Flagstaff, AZ (FLG)
Destination: Phoenix, AZ (DVT)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 34.479444, -111.989167

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 

A man found nearly two weeks ago at a plane crash site on remote ranch land in Yavapai County was identified as 23-year-old Mingwei Du. 

Du's body was found December 13, 2019 at the crash site southeast of Interstate 17 and Highway 169 in Yavapai County, said Yavapai County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn.

D'Evelyn said Du was a student from China, but could not confirm where he attended school. 

Grand Canyon University spokesman Bob Romantic said the college has an online student named Mingwei Du, but couldn't confirm if it was the same man involved in the crash. 

A rancher alerted authorities just before 9 a.m. to remnants of a single-engine plane found east of milepost 117 off of Flower Pot Road, according to D'Evelyn. The rancher told authorities the wreckage seemed a "couple days old," he said. 

No other bodies were found at the crash site, according to officials. 

The plane, a Mooney M20, crashed under unknown circumstances, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor. 

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident, Gregor said.

YAVAPAI COUNTY — A body was discovered Friday at the site of a "days-old" plane crash, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office (YCSO).

YCSO says they received a call from a rancher just before 9 a.m. Friday, December 13. The rancher told the sheriff's office that he found "remnants of a plane crash on remote ranch land" just off Flower Pot Road, southeast of the I-17 and Highway 169.

The rancher told deputies he believed the crash was "a couple days old."

Deputies investigated and determined a plan crash had occurred. Additionally, they located one body at the crash site.

The human remains were identified as 23-year-old Mingwei Du. He was a student at a Phoenix university and was from China.

YCSO delayed the identification update to locate family in his home country.

YCSO says the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has taken over the investigation.

The plane, according to YCSO, is a fixed-wing single engine type.

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  1. Any report of overdue planes in the area? Should not be a total mystery.

  2. We actually may have seen this a/c when we were driving to PHX Sunday about noon. Saw a single engine, low wing plane scudrunning about 300’ agl following the freeway. 20 minutes later, when we passed the area the a/c was eventually found, conditions were 0/0, visibility less then 1/4 mile. Sad choice this pilot made, could’ve easily diverted to Cottonwood. We did report to SO and later NTSB.

  3. This couldn't have been the same aircraft if you're referring to an aircraft you saw Sunday 12/15 - this was discovered fri 12/13 9am and assumed crashed a few days earlier.

  4. We saw an a/c matching the description (white w/ orange belly) on 12/8; not 12/15. NTSB guy I spoke to, said it matched in color scheme. Once I saw the tail number here, I looked it up and it is in fact very similar to what we saw. That said, we saw and photographed an aircraft Sunday, 12/8; it was found along the track to Phoenix 12/13- 5 days later. Sadly, the investigator said it was probably the same plane. They now had a timeline narrowed down to track radar returns and verify.