Friday, February 07, 2020

Visual Flight Rules encounter with Instrument Meteorological Conditions: Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, N24MG; accident occurred February 06, 2020 near Murray Field Airport (KEKA), Humboldt County, California

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Eureka, California
Accident Number: WPR20CA089
Date & Time: February 6, 2020, 06:56 Local
Registration: N24MG
Aircraft: Cessna 208 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: VFR encounter with IMC
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Non-scheduled


While the pilot was on a visual approach to the airport and descending over water on the left base leg, about 100 ft above the water's surface, the airplane entered instrument meteorological conditions with no forward visibility. The pilot looked outside his left window to gauge the airplane's altitude and saw "black waves of water approaching extremely rapidly." He tried to pull back on the yoke to initiate a climb, but the nosewheel contacted the water. Subsequently, the airplane nosed over and came to rest inverted in the water. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's delayed response to initiate a go-around during a night visual approach over water after the airplane entered instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in a loss of forward visibility and subsequent impact with the water.


Personnel issues Delayed action - Pilot
Environmental issues Low visibility - Effect on personnel

Factual Information

History of Flight

Approach-VFR pattern base VFR encounter with IMC (Defining event)
Approach-VFR pattern final Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline transport; Flight instructor
Age: 57,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane multi-engine; Airplane single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: June 24, 2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: September 6, 2019
Flight Time: (Estimated) 10156 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1282 hours (Total, this make and model), 9644 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 153 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 51 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N24MG
Model/Series: 208 B 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2000 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 208B0850
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Date/Type of Last Inspection: January 2, 2020 Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 8752 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo prop
Airframe Total Time: 19184 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney Canada
ELT: C126 installed, activated 
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-42A
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 850 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: ACV
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 06:45 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 190°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility: 9 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.29 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point:
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Sacramento, CA (MHR )
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Arcata/Eureka, CA (ACV )
Type of Clearance: IFR;VFR flight following
Departure Time: 05:30 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 10 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 12 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3011 ft / 75 ft 
VFR Approach/Landing: Full stop; Straight-in

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 40.823333,-124.14167(est)

Humboldt Bay Fire


On 02/06/2020 at 7:24A.M., Humboldt Bay Fire resources were dispatched for a water rescue in Humboldt Bay near Woodley Island along with the U.S. Coast Guard.

A Cessna 208B Grand Caravan carrying one pilot had crashed into the Bay after losing visibility in the fog attempting to land at Murray Field Airport.

Working together with the U.S. Coast Guard Humboldt Bay boat and helicopter, Humboldt Bay Fire Water Rescue Team members boarded a Port Authority vessel and began a search for the plane in the water which was heavily impeded by heavy morning fog. Land resources including fire engines, command, and Sheriff’s vehicles patrolled the boundaries of the bay attempting location as well.

The pilot was located at 7:49A.M. atop his overturned plane and was pulled out of the water by Humboldt Bay Fire personnel at 7:52A.M, just 28 minutes after the initial dispatch. We are happy to report that the pilot suffered no major injuries, and has been transported to the hospital for observation and treatment of minor cold exposure.

Humboldt Bay Fire would like to acknowledge the work of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay, Humboldt County Sheriff's Office for scene control, unified command, and water search, the Harbor District and Port Authority for their cooperation and resources, as well as Eureka Police Department 9-1-1 Dispatch who remained on the line with the pilot and aided in his discovery.

This incident highlights the efficiency of work that can be accomplished when our joint agencies work together, and we are so thankful for the relationships we have with our partner agencies.


The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office reports that deputies are plucking what appear to be Amazon packages that were inside the plane that crashed into Humboldt Bay this morning out of the water.

The pilot was rescued in “good condition” and the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.


Humboldt Bay Fire reports the pilot “suffered no major injuries” and was taken to St. Joseph Hospital for “observation and treatment of minor cold exposure.”


A pilot was rescued from atop his partially submerged plane after crashing in Humboldt Bay this morning.

The pilot reportedly called 911 while standing on the plane's landing gear as it was sinking into the bay shortly before 7:30 a.m.

“A pilot just landed in the Bay,” the dispatcher reported.

The pilot reported he was on the east end off of Woodley Island, according to the dispatcher. He told her he could hear a responding helicopter but couldn't see the Samoa Bridge because of dense fog.

Firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard responded but had difficulty finding the plane due to the fog. At about 7:40 a.m., the pilot reported to the dispatcher that he could see the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, which was still having trouble locating him. A few minutes later, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office launched a rescue boat.

Shortly after 7:50 a.m., the Coast Guard helicopter told the dispatcher it was lowering its hoist with a rescue swimmer to the downed plane. At 7:55 a.m., the dispatcher reported the crew had recovered the pilot and was en route to St. Joseph Hospital.

With the pilot safely transported, crews from various agencies have turned their attention to the plane and voiced concerns about the potential for a fuel spill in the bay.

Original article ➤

UPDATE, 10:39 a.m.: The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office notes that its deputies are currently fishing numerous packages out of the bay near the site of this morning’s delivery plane crash.

UPDATE, 9:03 a.m.: According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the plane is a Cessna 208B single-engine plane belonging to Redding Aero Enterprises, Inc.

It had just flown up toward ACV from Sacramento, according to flight records.

UPDATE, 8:50 a.m.: Capt. Libby Tonning — aka “Capt. Zippo” — is at the scene of the crash aboard the vessel Mr. C Street and sends along photos from nearby. Tonning says that they’re setting an anchor to the plane right now to secure the thing while they figure out what they’re going to do next.

UPDATE, 8:20 a.m.: Paramedics and Humboldt Bay Fire personnel have left the scene now that the pilot has been rescued. Now it’s a question of getting the plane out of the bay.

Lt. Kevin Miller of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office tells the Outpost’s Ryan Burns, at the scene that the plane is upside-down and mostly submerged on a mud flat. The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified, and will decide whether to forward the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Miller said that the pilot was alert, conscious and talking when the Coast Guard picked him up, and confirmed that he called in his own plane crash to 911.

Original Post: A small Cessna crashed into Humboldt Bay this morning somewhere to the east of Woodley Island. The pilot apparently was able to extricate himself from the plane and called emergency dispatchers.

At just before 8 a.m., the Coast Guard helicopter crew recovered the pilot and is transporting him to St. Joseph Hospital, according to scanner traffic.

The plane — a small Cessna — was reportedly shrouded in fog this morning, and rescuers had a difficult time locating it. The Coast Guard, Humboldt Bay Fire and the Sheriff’s Office established a unified command post on Woodley Island.

Original article ➤


  1. Crashed in dense fog...shouldn't take a year of investigation to figure out what went wrong here.

    1. ...while fulfilling a segment of Amazon delivery. Never mind the outdated concept of get-there-itis, now its fly no matter what in the new world of delivery subcontracting. Fog, zero AGL, whatever, must fly.

  2. As a commercial pilot with over 30 years of experience, including numerous flights into KEKA, it never ceases to amaze me how some people with obviously so little knowledge of aviation can so easily determine the cause of a crash with so little information.

    What we know: Pilot was attempting to land at KEKA, it was apparently foggy, and aircraft somehow ended up in the water. Was the flight IFR or VFR? I'm guessing VFR since the flight track did not coincide with the KEKA RNAV (GPS) RWY 12 IAP. Other reports say, "Fire officials said the pilot had crashed into the bay after losing visibility in the fog while attempting to land at Murray Field in Eureka." Is this what the pilot told them, or is it just a guess? If true, why did the pilot "lose visibility"? If not on an instrument approach, (most) pilots don't intentionally fly into fog banks. And for an instrument rated pilot, the path to escape from IIMC is up, not down. Too many unknowns to draw any conclusions as to the cause.

    We don't know what the weather was at KEKA at the moment of the crash. The closest weather report is at KACV, 12 miles away. The weather at KEKA can change change rapidly (in just a minute) as fog rolls in and out (like waves).

    1. It’s really not that hard to figure. The post-crash drama inside the company is the really fun part.
      Talking shit to the pilot got at least one guy fired there. Sounds like like a nice place to work.
      Happy trails......