Saturday, January 25, 2020

Beechcraft B36TC Bonanza, N36TT: Fatal accident occurred January 22, 2020 at Corona Municipal Airport (KAJO), Riverside County, California

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Riverside, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Corona, CA
Accident Number: WPR20FA072
Date & Time: 01/22/2020, 1211 PST
Registration: N36TT
Aircraft: Beech B36TC
Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 22, 2020 at 1211 Pacific standard time, a Beech B36TC Bonanza, N36TT, collided with an airport perimeter fence during takeoff from the Corona Municipal Airport Corona, California. The right-seated pilot, who additionally owned the airplane, was operating it under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The four occupants, which included the right-seated commercial pilot and left-seated private pilot, were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. The personal cross-country flight was originating from Corona, with a planned destination of Torrance, California. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The occupants had departed Torrance earlier that day and had planned to land at Corona to refuel. After entering into the vicinity of the airport, a pilot from the airplane transmitted on the airport's common radio frequency that he was adjoining the downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 25. A witness, who was flying at that time, informed the pilot that the traffic was landing on runway 07. After landing, the airplane taxied to the self-serve fuel tank. At 1130 the left-seated pilot fueled the airplane with the addition of 78.06 gals of fuel. Another witness stated that the passengers went to the restroom and the right-seat pilot used his iPad to circle around the airplane a few times, which he said was in a motion that appeared like he was filming it.

The right-seated pilot paid for the fuel and they departed about 30 minutes later (witnesses reported that they did not see either pilot sump the fuel). A witness observed the occupants board the airplane noting that one passenger was seated in the aft-facing right seat (center row) and the other was in the forward-facing left seat. During the start, the witness then heard the airplane backfire, making a very loud bang followed by puff of black smoke and an arching sound. Thereafter, witnesses observed the airplane depart from runway 07; no witness saw where the airplane started the takeoff roll. As the airplane reached about 1/3 down the runway, the wheels lifted airborne and the airplane assumed a very nose-high attitude. The airplane momentarily became airborne and bounced back down on the runway surface. This occurred several times as it bounced down on the runway in a nose-high attitude.

A review of the recorded security camera footage at the airport revealed that the airplane could be seen midway down the runway (passing by the fuel tanks) and again at the end of the runway. When passing by the fuel tanks, the airplane was in a relatively level pitch attitude and briefly became airborne before touching backdown; the windsock showed an estimated 5 kt tailwind. The airplane remained close to the runway and the wings could be seen rocking back and forth. The airplane then contacted a 6-foot high chain-link airport perimeter fence. The airplane became inverted and travelled over a berm before coming to rest on the east side of the berm; the airplane was engulfed in flames.

The accident site was located in soft dirt about 360 feet from the departure end of runway 25. In character, the terrain was flat, and populated by scattered mature large bush. The main wreckage, consisting of the engine and remains of the fuselage, came to rest inverted near tall brush and had burned the terrain in the surrounding 5 to 10 feet. The wreckage was consumed by post-impact fire and a majority of the fuselage, wings and skin panels were molten metal and ash. The airplane was situated where the fuselage was on a magnetic bearing of about 200 degrees.

The first identified points of contact consisted of disrupted dirt and grass on the flat terrain making up the far west end of the debris field. The markings started as two nearly parallel indentations in the vegetation spaced about 105 inches apart. The indentations continued east a few feet toward the 6-foot fence. Four fence posts were folded over in the direction of the debris field and the stretched fence was still connected up laying onto a berm. A center indentation appeared after the fence posts equally between the right and left indentation. The craters were consistent in size and orientation to that of the landing gear wheels (see picture 01). The indentations were continuous about 20 ft up the berm, which was higher than the surrounding terrain.

Picture 01: Ground Disturbances Leading to Debris Field

The external examination of the Continental Motors TSIO-520-UB revealed no evidence of a catastrophic failure. Investigators removed all cylinders' rocker box covers and noted a light oil film on the rocker arms and valve assemblies. The cylinders' combustion chambers were examined through the upper spark plug holes utilizing a lighted borescope followed by the removal of three cylinders. The combustion chambers remained mechanically undamaged and any evidence of foreign object ingestion appeared to be a result of the intake manifold being broken during the impact sequence. Investigators achieved manual rotation of the crankshaft by rotation of the propeller. Thumb compression was established in all cylinders. The magnetos were removed and the shafts were rotated by a powered drill, during which spark was observed at each post. The turbocharger shaft moved freely upon rotation of the turbine and compressor wheel. A review of the engine logbooks revealed that the last overhaul occurred in 1989, about 2,000 flight hours prior to the accident.

The airplane was equipped with a vernier-style push-pull throttle (black), propeller (blue), and mixture (red) control, which were located on the control console below the control wheel column and subpanel. The control knobs were designed to be repositioned by pushing a button on the face of the knob. With the button extended, fine adjustments could be accomplished by rotating the knob, clockwise to increase and counterclockwise to decrease. The knobs were all found full forward, but it could not be determined if this was the setting at the time of impact because the engine was displaced from the mounts and the cables could have been pulled forward (see picture 02). The throttle and mixture arms were attached to the throttle body with their respective cable attach fittings secured; the cables were thermally consumed. The auxiliary fuel pump switch was caged in the "off" position. The flaps lever was in the 0-degree position; the landing gear lever was in the extended position.

Picture 02: Engine Controls

Control continuity was established onsite. The control cables were continuous to molten bellcranks and portions of the airframe. The airplane was equipped with a dual control yoke, but only the left yoke remained; the right yoke was consumed by fire. The elevator trim tabs were found in the full down position (full nose up trim) and the actuators measured about 2 inches which equated to 27 degrees tab down (maximum travel limit per the FAA type certificate data sheet). There was damage to the left elevator trim tab skin at the hinge area, which appeared to have paint over that area, consistent with prior damage. Additionally, the leading edge of the left horizontal stabilizer was deformed and had the appearance of being painted over (see picture 03). The logbooks revealed no history of damage to the tail section.

Picture 03: Left Stabilizer and Elevator 

Airmen Information

It is not possible to definitely determine who was pilot-in-command at the time of the accident; the seat positions are preliminary and based on witness statements. The presumed right-seated pilot owned the airplane and according to the airplane logbooks, the pilot had amassed over 650 hours in the airplane, of which about 5 hours was in 2019, 0 hours in 2018, 5 hours in 2017. His personal logbooks were not located, but at his last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical examination in December 2017 he reported having a total time of 4,800 hours. The presumed left-seated pilot reported having 1,700 hours total time at his last medical examination in February 2018. His personal notebook was found in the wreckage which indicated he had amassed about 45 hours in the past year where he had flown about 80 days that year. It is estimated that he had acquired 3.7 hours in the accident airplane over the course of 3 flights, the last of which was in April 2019; it is unknown if he acted as pilot-in-command during any of those flights. He owned and regularly flew a 1978 Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II (equipped with a Lycoming O-320 engine and a lever-type throttle quadrant). 

Weight and Balance 

Weight and balance computations were made for the accident takeoff and based on the airplane's empty weight, total moment, and center of gravity that were obtained from the maintenance records. The last weight record was from 1998 (in the same time frame the pilot purchased the airplane) and showed an empty weight of 2,662 lbs. The takeoff condition was calculated for a full fuel tank condition and at 85 gals, which was computed from 78 gals added at the fuel tank and 7 gals in the tanks at the time of landing. The occupant weights and seating positions were obtained from witnesses, the coroner, FAA medical records and the families.

The gross weight at 85 gals of fuel was 3,813 lbs and the center of gravity was 82.6 inches. The gross weight at 102 gals of fuel was 3,915 lbs and the center of gravity was 83.1 inches. The maximum authorized gross takeoff weight was 3,850 pounds with the center of gravity range at that weight between 80 and 87.7 inches forward and aft, respectively.

Review of the Beech Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) for the airplane disclosed that with the flaps in the retracted position, at the maximum gross weight, with a tailwind at 5 kts and at a temperature of 18°C, the takeoff distance required at maximum effort was about 1,400 ft (see picture 04).

Picture 04: Takeoff Performance Chart


Corona Municipal Airport (AJO) was an uncontrolled airport located about 3 miles northwest of the town of Corona, California. The airport's elevation was 533 feet mean sea level (msl), and was equipped with 1 runway: Runway 07/25 was 3,200 ft by 60 ft comprised of asphalt with a 0.32 degree uphill slope. The runway had an approximate 200-ft displaced threshold and a windsock located about 1,600 ft from that threshold (see picture 05).

Picture 05: Corona Municipal Airport Runway Information 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N36TT
Model/Series: B36TC
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: , 533 ft msl
Observation Time: 1215 PST
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 10°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 250°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.15 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Corona, CA (AJO)
Destination: Torrance, CA (TOA)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.896111, -117.602222 (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 

Paula Mitchell, 61, of La Mirada, Daniel Rodriguez, 70, of Whittier, and Teresa Rodriguez, 63, of Whittier, died in an airplane crash at Corona Municipal Airport on January 22nd, 2020. 

It’s not clear who was flying the airplane that crashed in Corona on Wednesday, killing four people, but friends and relatives of the two licensed pilots who were onboard the Beechcraft B36TC Bonanza asserted Friday that both were excellent flyers.

Joseph Zingali, 85, of Torrance; Teresa Rodriguez, 63, of Whittier; husband Daniel Rodriguez, 70, of Whittier; and Paula Mitchell, 61, of La Mirada, were identified as the victims by the Riverside County Coroner’s Office late Thursday.

The National Transportation Safety Board had not yet announced Friday who was flying the plane when it crashed. The NTSB confirmed that the single-engine B36TC airplane belonged to Zingali, who is licensed as a commercial pilot with ratings for single- and multi-engine airplanes and instrument flying, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. Daniel Rodriguez has a private pilot license with ratings for single-engine airplanes and helicopters.

Witnesses said the plane briefly lifted off from Corona Municipal Airport about 12:10 p.m. in clear conditions but then fell back to the runway. The pilot then appeared to gun the engine for more speed, rather than aborting the takeoff. The plane didn’t get more than 3 feet off the ground before it struck a low fence, flipped and overturned into a ditch, where it caught fire and burned quickly.

“It wasn’t my father taking off,” Gerry Zingali, Joseph Zingali’s daughter, said in a telephone interview Friday. “My father was an expert flyer. My father would have aborted that.”

She struggled to talk about her dad. “My father was the greatest man I’ve ever known,” she said, sobbing.

Eddie Rodriguez described his brother Daniel Rodriguez as a safety-first pilot.

“There’s takeoff checklists he goes through every time,” Eddie Rodriguez said Friday. “He was a fanatic for safety. He would criticize other people who were not as safety-conscious as he was.”

Explanations for the crash could include being overweight, engine trouble and attempting to take off with a tailwind, all of which could limit a plane’s lift, said Walt Snyder, a veteran pilot who was at the airport Wednesday. The Corona Fire Department said the pilot had just added 80 gallons of fuel. Specifications for the plane say it can carry 102 gallons.

Eddie Rodriguez said the plane had taken off at Zamperini Field in Torrance and landed in Corona to refuel. The quartet was then going to fly around Southern California before returning to Torrance. Rodriguez said he initially was going to take part in the flight but had to cancel because of a meeting. Mitchell was invited to take his place.

Daniel Rodriguez served as a Los Angeles Police Department officer for 27 years, mostly in the Harbor and Southwest divisions.

“He cared about people’s safety and he was very strict in his thoughts and his life, morally,” said his brother, an LAPD officer for 29 years. “But he was a kind person. He went out of his way to help people in need.”

The brothers had lately become closer and would fly together, often heading from Compton/Woodley Airport to Corona Municipal, where they would fuel both the airplane and their stomachs at breakfast.

Teresa Rodriguez worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years, finishing her career at the La Mirada post office.

“She had a beautiful personality, very nice, very cordial. Everybody who frequented the post office knew her,” Rodriguez said.

Teresa and Daniel married about nine years ago. “He took her to swap meets and took her flying, and he was adventurous in a mild way, and they hit it off,” he said. “She was beautiful, and he was handsome.”

Despite differences in their religions — she was Mormon and her husband was Catholic — they attended each other’s services.

Rodriguez said Mitchell worked even longer at the La Mirada post office — 41 years — than his sister-in-law.

“I knew her and she was a good friend of Teresa’s,” he said.

Rodriguez said he had never met Joseph Zingali.

A preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash will likely be published in the next several days. A report explaining the cause of the crash is not expected to be ready for at least a year.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Never take off downwind.
    God bless these families.

    1. True. If recordings are correct, it wasn't a big tailwind. Not high and not hot, so 4 people and full fuel should have been doable if they did not have added cargo weight on board.
      WX readings @KAJO 1/22/2020:
      11:53 AM 59 F, WNW 3 mph
      12:53 PM 61 F, WSW 5 mph
      Runway 7 is 3200 feet long, El. 515.

    2. B36TC Bonanza driver? You think that should have been doable?

    3. 102 gallons x 6.1 = 622 lbs fuel; four adults average 200 lbs = 800 lbs. Total load = 1,422 lbs (if no baggage or wine cases on board).

      That's about 200 lbs over useful load depending on empty weight in this birds POH. And book numbers represent claimed capability when new.

    4. I have a B36TC. 4 people x 80 gallons is easily achievable if I don't have fatties on board. My UL is 1283. The Wx readings above are a non issue. You who think W&B is the issue, you don't know what happened so quit second guessing. You don't want to admit it could be mechanical because it makes you feel better.

    5. Regarding weight and a useful load rating of 1283 lbs: subtracting 622 lbs for 102 gallons of 100LL (not just the 80 gallons added at KAJO) leaves 661 lbs to carry the four dressed travelers and their day trip belongings. Plugging in example weight for two women at 130 lbs with two men at 200 does not represent four "fatties" but would still use up the rated useful load capacity.

      Takeoff on modest-length runways while at max useful load sets up a combination of unhelpful effects:
      1. Longer distance roll required to get up to a given speed.
      2. Higher airspeed required at rotation.
      3. Added extension of roll because of 2 combined with 1.
      4. Rotation further down the field because of 1,2 & 3 combined.
      5. Less remaining runway at rotation because of 4.
      6. Higher abort ground speed at rotation because of 2.
      7. Longer abort stopping distance because of 6.
      8. Increased likelihood of end overrun because of 5,6 & 7.
      9. Perceived impending/unpreventable high speed runway end overrun accident may influence pilot to not abort, or to rotate at airspeed too low to rise out of ground effect.

      Add a slight tailwind and several feet of uphill runway slope to that max weight extended takeoff run and the number 9 circumstance could come true without there being any performance problem with your aircraft.

    6. I fly a B36TC, just a few serial numbers off this one, about 300 hours a year. With that load I would have fueled up to either 30 a side or 35 a side and would have used approach flaps and full power before rolling off of that runway. I have cancelled flights, near gross, to strips just shorter than this one on warm days. All it takes is a little wind shift and the performance charts numbers match the runway length, no room for error. Whoever was PIC likely didn't have a whole lot of experience flying this plane near gross.

  2. Rest in peace, Joe Zingali, founder of the Zinger Propeller (giant scale aircraft). Very sad news.

  3. Why does FAA ASIAS report "Time: 01:07:00Z"?
    Most reports indicate that the time was around 12:11 PM Pacific Standard Time, which is 20:11:00Z.

    1. Noticed that also. 01:07:00Z/22 January corrected -8 for California would be 17:07:00 PST on the 21st.

  4. My condolences to Mr. Zingali's family and friends.
    I had not heard of him before reading the news about this accident.
    Subsequently, I read his October 2002 autobiography that he submitted to, and was published by, Academy of Model Aeronautics:
    He had an amazing life.

    1. My condolences as well to the families and friends of Paula Mitchell, Daniel Rodriguez, and Teresa Rodriguez.

  5. How tragic and condolences to the families. With two alleged safety first pilots in the front seats, we really need to understand what happened here. As someone else said, taking off in a mild tailwind is not a problem in normal atmospheric conditions unless 1) you are close to max takeoff weight and/or 2) you have limited runway to play with. Or 3) you have an engine problem.

  6. Runway 7 is uphill. Look at this video from the 2010 Corona Airport flood. The accident site of the crash is to the right. The 117 time tag makes it play from 1:57 where the flood waters show the elevation difference.

    This accident was an uphill downwind takeoff.

  7. "The pilot then appeared to gun the engine for more speed"......this might be a question that needs further investigation as the engine was most likely already "gunned" from the start with that much weight, plus its a turbocharged aircraft with ample power for that runway it seems. My guess would be some kind of takeoff item discrepancy.

    1. That quote was from a guy who was at the fuel depot at the same time. He describes first rotation when the aircraft was passing the fuel depot, then dropped back onto the runway, steered straight and then "gunned" it for some added airspeed and pulled nose off again.

      Maybe there was a power loss or maybe it was throttle manipulation, but look at the location of the fuel depot (at the last crossover they went past). There was no more than a third of the runway remaining for the drop back/steer straight/power up/second rotate sequence described.

      Here is the gunned it guy's full accounting:

      Stop this video about two seconds in and find the fuel depot roof (has a circular concrete apron under it):

    2. Thanks anon. The youtube videos make this thing... make more sense!

  8. ASEL TO Rule = If you do not have 75% of your TO airspeed at 50% of the RW used. ABORT! I have witnessed this type of accident. Sad.

    1. You forgot to add this formula does not apply to spray pilots aka crop dusters.

  9. "Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances. "

    No. Aircraft crashed while:

    1. Downwind takeoff
    2. Uphill takeoff
    3. Airplane at or over maximum gross weight.

  10. How much uphill is it really from one end of the runway to the other? The floodwater video shows an un-quantified visual of several feet, but the listing for KAJO lists the following elevations for the two ends of the runway:

    Runway 7/25
    RUNWAY 7
    Elevation: 515.0 ft.
    RUNWAY 25
    Elevation: 533.0 ft.

    The accident flight takeoff roll had to raise the aircraft eighteen feet over the paved length of the runway. The same energy would be required to pick the airplane up on a hoist to a height of 18 feet. That energy was subtracted from what was available to build airspeed during takeoff roll. Yikes!

  11. Based on using full gross weight and the full 10 knot tailwind component in the manual the numbers returned showed just being doable ON PAPER and slightly better using 15 degrees flap.


    Beech charts do not provide a means on this model to factor in the roughly 1/2 percent gradient up hill.
    We don't know if or how much over gross and no means to factor that in.


    To achieve anything close to book performance the plane needs to be flown precisely as described in the manual ... I see few people do this, or even know what the procedure is, on flight reviews.

    While the TEST PILOT who flew the plane to generate the book numbers may have used 'average pilot technique' he was not an average pilot. In addition, he was flying a new and perfectly rigged plane and he had been flying this plane and practicing for a few weeks. Also, at no point did the TEST PILOT start a take-off roll with an obstacle sitting at the distance expected or generated by paperwork.

    My personal policy and the policy that I teach is to add 50% to book generated numbers on most light aircraft (including this model). There are a few planes that I add 100%. Using less than this I recognize that I am increasing risk.


  12. Prelim is out, interesting info:

  13. Two things I noticed in the info available.

    The engine was "gunned" at or around first liftoff. Could have had mixture leaned for taxi and forgot to push to full rich until he noticed power was lacking? Prop not low pitch on initial run.

    Full nose up trim?

  14. Power off, then on sounds like a disagreement on the flight deck. Knew they didn't have enough runway left to abort the takeoff, added the power to continue, "hoping" they would get airborne. Also, arriving at Corona with only 7 gals of fuel (topped off with 78 gal) sounds like they were cutting it pretty close. This whole tragic event is cloaked in a pattern of poor judgement.

  15. Anyone think that full up trim had anything to do with it?

  16. I think a combination of Trim and lack of power, either by prop setting, mixture or throttle. Aircraft jumped in the air premature then bounced which is when the engine surged, possibly correcting one of the 3 knobs (fuel, prop, power). Premature takeoff with full nose up trim is HUGE.


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