Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Beech A36 Bonanza, N104RK: Accident occurred September 28, 2020 near Rusty Allen Airport (KRYW), Lago Vista, Travis County, Texas

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas

Location: Lago Vista, TX
Accident Number: CEN20LA421
Date & Time: September 28, 2020, 13:52 Local
Registration: N104RK
Aircraft: Beech A36 
Injuries: 2 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under:

On September 28, 2020, about 1352 central daylight time, a Beech A36 airplane, N104RK, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Lago Vista, Texas. The pilot and one passenger were seriously injured, and another passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that the airplane was fueled on the evening of September 24, 2020, at Rusty Allen Airport (RYW), Lago Vista, Texas, in preparation for a cross-country flight the following afternoon from RYW to South Padre Island International Airport (BRO), Brownsville, Texas. The pilot stated that he fueled the airplane using the self-serve fuel pump at RYW, and that the airplane was not flown again before he departed for BRO on the afternoon of September 25, 2020. The pilot stated that he preselected 20 gallons to be dispensed at the selfserve fuel pump; that the right tank was filled to the point of overflowing, but the self-serve pump shutoff before left tank was completely full. The pilot stated that the analog fuel tank quantity gauges for both main fuel tanks indicated “full” before he departed on the outbound flight to BRO. The pilot reported that both wingtip auxiliary tanks remained empty.

The pilot reported that after departing RYW he made an intermediate landing at Cameron County Airport (PIL), Port Isabel, Texas, due to thunderstorm activity along his planned route-of-flight to BRO. According to automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data, 1.8 hours of flight time elapsed during the flight from RYW to PIL. The pilot stated that he waited for the weather to improve before he departed PIL and continued toward BRO. According to ADS-B data, about 0.2 hours of flight time elapsed during the second flight leg from PIL to BRO. The pilot stated that he only used fuel from the right main fuel tank during both flight legs from RYW to BRO. The combined flight time for both flight legs was about 2 hours.

On September 28, 2020, before he departed BRO for the return flight to RYW, he asked the fixed-base operator to add 10 gallons of fuel to the right main tank that was “slightly below half.” The pilot noted that he did not use fuel from the left main fuel tank during the flight legs from RYW to BRO and, as such, the left main fuel tank remained “nearly full” from the previous fueling on September 24, 2020. Based on his flight planning, the pilot estimated that he departed on the accident flight with 56 gallons of fuel; however, he did not directly ascertain how many gallons of fuel were in the right and left main fuel tanks before departing on the accident flight.

The pilot stated that he departed BRO with the fuel selector positioned on the left main fuel tank and that he did not change fuel tanks until the airplane lost engine power while in the traffic pattern at RYW. According to ADSB data, 2 hours of flight time elapsed during the flight from BRO to RYW.

The pilot reported that the airplane was not stabilized on his first landing approach to runway 33 at RYW, and that he made a go-around and entered left traffic for a second landing attempt on runway 33. The pilot stated that the loss of engine power occurred while the airplane was on a left base leg to runway 33. The propeller continued to windmill after the loss of engine power, but there was no indication that the engine was operating. The pilot reported that he attempted to regain engine power by switching fuel tanks (from the left main fuel tank to the right main fuel tank), verifying that the mixture control was full rich, and selected each magneto separately before returning the ignition switch to BOTH. The pilot attempts to restore engine power were unsuccessful. The pilot recalled that as he prepared his passengers for a forced landing, he heard the airplane’s aural alert of an approaching aerodynamic stall shortly before the airplane rolled right. The pilot does not recall the final moments of the flight after the airplane entered an aerodynamic stall at a low altitude.

A preliminary onsite examination, completed by a Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Inspector, revealed that the fuel selector valve was positioned to use fuel from the right main fuel tank. There was no fuel found in the lines connected at the fuel selector valve. There was no fuel observed in the fuel lines forward of the firewall, fuel strainer assembly, engine-driven fuel pump, fuel manifold valve, or the fuel injector lines. About ½ tablespoon of fuel was recovered from the fuel metering assembly. Additional examination of the airplane and its engine will be completed after the wreckage is recovered from the accident site.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech 
Registration: N104RK
Model/Series: A36
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KRYW,1231 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C /6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 14 knots / 24 knots, 20°
Lowest Ceiling: 
None Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: Brownsville, TX (BRO) 
Destination: Lago Vista, TX 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious, 1 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 30.476117,-97.955389 (est)


  1. I live in San Antonio and have been to Rusty Allen/Lago Vista before. When I heard about he crash, I was interested because I know the location and that day we had strong 25MPH winds with gusts from the North. According to FlightRadar24, it looks like he intended to land straight in from the South onto Runway 33. However, his track continues (as a missed approach) over the runway and he turns standard pattern to the left. He turns base and then airspeed and altitude bleed off as he goes down into the small valley below the airport. The airport is on a hill, so I imagine the winds, gust, and up/down drafts were a significant factor. It does not look like a base/final stall/spin, but would guess possibly a fuel starvation that unfortunately occurred on base (or slightly before). He flew from Brownsville (250+ miles South) and had strong headwinds the entire way. Depends on how much fuel he loaded before departure. Anyway, just a couple thoughts until the facts are released. Glad everyone survived and pray for a speedy recovery.

  2. I am a CFII/MEI who has instructed extensively out of KRYW. RWY is one of the most difficult airports to land at I have ever flown out of, especially when the winds are > 20 knots and gusting. I live about 20 miles from RYW, and the winds were > 25 knots and gusting that afternoon. Rolling hills on approach from the south, east/west hangars lining both sides of the runway make wind currents unpredictable and wind direction inconsistent, especially on runway 33. Missed approaches on 33 are far higher than average. And I agree with the comment about the non-stop flight from Brownsville. Fuel could have been a factor, if nothing more than from a pilot distraction point of view.

    1. I was on the sight with in minutes after the airplane crashed. There was no fuel in or on ground. His ground speed to me showed he may have been pushing it buy having the power well over 75% due to the head wind. He was a low time pilot with less than 200 hours, I just think he got in over he's head.