Saturday, March 21, 2020

Mooney M20K 231, N777WP: Fatal accident occurred March 13, 2020 in Sylmar, Los Angeles County, California

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

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Sylmar, CA 
Accident Number: WPR20FA108
Date & Time: 03/13/2020, 1447 PDT
Registration: N777WP
Aircraft: Mooney M20K
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 13, 2020, about 1447 Pacific daylight time, a Mooney M20K, N777WP, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Sylmar, California. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Preliminary review of air traffic control communications between the pilot and the air traffic control tower controller revealed that the pilot initially advised the controller he was inbound on the ILS approach. The controller subsequently cleared the pilot to land on runway 16R, and reported wind from 140 degrees, at 7 knots. A short time later, the controller queried the pilot, advising that he was deviating to the west and at a low altitude, to which the pilot responded they were on course and level. About 18 seconds later, the controller alerted the pilot that he was right of course and if he was not established, alternate instructions would be provided. The pilot responded shortly after that he was turning. About 15 second later, the controller issued the pilot instructions to fly heading 160°, climb and maintain 5,000 ft, to which the pilot acknowledged. The controller responded to the pilot's acknowledgement and instructed to the pilot to fly a 160° heading and climb to 5,000 ft, which the pilot acknowledged a second time. Despite further attempts, no further radio communication was received from the pilot.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted power lines, which were about 50 ft in height, before impacting terrain about 250 ft downslope of the powerlines. The fuselage came to rest inverted on heading of about 014° magnetic in a canyon surrounded by mountainous tree covered terrain at an elevation of about 2,315 ft mean sea level (msl). The wreckage debris path was measured about 260 ft in length, oriented on a heading of about 064° magnetic. All major structural components of the airplane were located within about 10 ft of the main wreckage. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Mooney
Registration: N777WP
Model/Series: M20K 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: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KVNY, 770 ft msl
Observation Time: 2156 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 11°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 150°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 900 ft agl
Visibility:  7 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: North Bend, OR
Destination: Van Nuys, CA (VNY)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 34.330556, -118.526389
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

John R. Calvert, age 77, of Valencia, California

Kevin Alexander Solis, age 36, of Fontana, California

John R. Calvert


  1. Pilot forum discussions of recorded LiveAtc audio and ADS-B data noted difficulty in navigating the approach and apparent stall/LOC. IMC may have exceeded capabilities or caused spatial disorientation.

  2. Preliminary report:

  3. I was on frequency when this happened. Sad. Rather terrifying to listen to. Gave my wife an extra big hug when I came through the door. We just never know when something like this is coming, often until its too late. RIP