Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Cessna 177RG Cardinal RG, N98SW: Accident occurred April 04, 2020 at Santa Paula Airport (KSZP), Ventura County, California

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel 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: Santa Paula, CA
Accident Number: WPR20LA117
Date & Time: 04/04/2020, 1900 PDT
Registration: N98SW
Aircraft: Cessna 177RG
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 4, 2020, about 1900 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 177RG airplane, N98SW, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power at Santa Paula Airport (SZP), Santa Paula, California. The private pilot received minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a personal flight, conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was not filed for the local flight, which was originating at the time of the accident.

According to the pilot, the purpose of the flight was to maintain currency in the accident airplane, which had not been flown in several months. He performed a preflight inspection, during which time he observed a total fuel quantity of about 15 gallons, evenly balanced between the left and right wing fuel tanks. The pilot only used the fuel gauges to verify the fuel, as he did not look inside the fuel tanks to visually confirm the fuel level. He then sumped the fuel tanks and discovered water in the right wing tank. He eventually observed water-free samples after he sumped the right wing about 4 times.

The pilot started the airplane and taxied to runway 22 where he performed an engine run-up and did not observe any anomalies. During the initial climb on his fourth touch and go maneuver, the pilot experienced a loss of engine power as the airplane reached about 100 ft above ground level. He immediately began a left turn with the intention of landing on runway 04. The engine momentarily regained power multiple times during the descent as the nose of the airplane dropped, but the pilot was unable to successfully restore and maintain engine power. The airplane impacted a dry riverbed and came to rest upright.

Postaccident photographs provided by the Federal Aviation Administration showed substantial damage to the stabilator.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N98SW
Model/Series: 177RG 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: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: , 76 ft msl
Observation Time: 1855 PDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 210°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  9 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.88 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Santa Paula, CA (SZP)
Destination: Santa Paula, CA (SZP)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 34.346667, -119.060833 (est)

SANTA PAULA, California - The Ventura County Fire Department confirmed that a plane went down Saturday night.

It happened near the end of a Santa Paula airport runway just after 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Ventura County Fire officials said no one was hurt.

Peggy Kelly of the Santa Paula Times said it appears the single-engine plane that went down on the south side of the runway ran out of fuel.

Kelly said it was difficult to see due to heavy brush.

The plane has moderate to heavy damage.

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