Sunday, October 25, 2020

Cessna 172H Skyhawk, N724BC: Fatal accident occurred October 25, 2020 and accident occurred June 29, 2019

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 traveled to the scene of this accident

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 
Continental Motors; Tampa, Florida

Location: Dunnellon, FL 
Accident Number: ERA21FA029
Date & Time: October 25, 2020, 10:52
Local Registration: N724BC
Aircraft: Cessna 172 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:

On October 25, 2020, at 1052 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172H, N724BC, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Dunnellon, Florida. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot, who was also the owner of the airplane held a private pilot certificate for single-engine airplanes with an instrument rating. A review of preliminary air traffic control (ATC) communications and radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the pilot was not in communication with ATC; however, radar data indicated that the airplane departed to the south from the Back Achers Airport (8FL3), Belleview, Florida, about 1034. He then turned toward the southeast and flew over Lake Weir before turning on a westerly heading toward the Marion County Airport (X35) at an altitude between 1,250 and 1,300 ft mean sea level (msl). Around 1038, the airplane began a slow descent to about 900 ft msl before climbing to about 1,000 ft msl. Between 1051:39 and 1052:02, the airplane decelerated from a groundspeed of about 94 knots to 47 knots. One second later, the airplane had climbed to 1,025 ft msl, then entered a descending left turn before the data ended at 1052:12. At that time, the airplane was at 600 ft msl, a heading of 086°, and a groundspeed of 60 knots. The airplane impacted a large open field in a nose-low attitude about 1.2 miles north-northeast of X35. The initial impact point was a ground scar that had pieces of the left-wing tip fairing embedded in the dirt. The airplane then traveled about 120 ft before coming to rest. On-scene examination of the airplane revealed that all major components of the airframe were located at the accident site and there was no postimpact fire. Both wings remained attached to the airframe but sustained extensive leading-edge impact damage. The flaps were retracted. The left fuel tank was breached and empty of fuel. The right fuel tank was intact; however, the fuel line was disconnected, and fuel was leaking from the line. A small amount of fuel was recovered from the airplane’s fuel system. The fuel was blue in color and absent of water and debris. The tail section was folded over the top of the airplane and sustained impact damage.

Flight control continuity was established from all major flight control surfaces to the cockpit. The fuel selector valve was in the “both” position. The airframe fuel filter was drained and about 1 tablespoon of cloudy water was removed. The fuel strainer was disassembled, and heavy corrosion was noted in the bowl and on the fuel filter screen.

The engine was partially separated from the firewall and came to rest next to the airplane. The two bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. One blade was bent aft about 20° and exhibited some leading-edge polishing and the other blade was straight.

The engine was placed on flatbed truck and the top spark plugs were removed and the engine was rotated manually via the propeller. Compression was established on all cylinders except for the No. 6 cylinder which sustained impact damage its pushrods. As the engine was being rotated, valvetrain continuity was established for each cylinder and spark was produced to each magneto ignition lead. The carburetor separated from the engine during impact. The carburetor was disassembled and empty of fuel;
however, a small amount of corrosion was observed in the fuel bowl and on the carburetor inlet screen.

The airplane was equipped with an electronic engine data monitor, which was removed for further examination and data download.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N724BC
Model/Series: 172 H 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: 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: OCF,89 ft msl 
Observation Time: 10:51 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C /23°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Belleview, FL (8FL3)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 29.083241,-82.361285 (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
Police Chief Greg Graham, right, shown here flying with Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods.

DUNNELLON, Florida — Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham died Sunday morning in a small-plane crash in southwest Marion County, according to Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn.

The mayor said he received word from OPD Deputy Chief Mike Balken. Guinn has named Balken interim chief. 

Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham addressed the Ocala City Council in August when council was discussing the mask ordinance.

Marion County Fire Rescue received the plane crash call at 11:32 a.m. The plane crashed into an open field in the 9700 block of Southwest 140th Avenue, not far from the Marion County Airport, a county-owned facility in an unincorporated area near Dunnellon.

Valerie Strong, a spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said no one else was injured.

According to Guinn, Graham had recently obtained his private pilot's certificate. He said the chief enjoyed skydiving and scuba diving and always had a fascination with flying.

"It's hard to believe," the mayor said.

Graham had served as chief since January 2012. At the time, the Star-Banner noted that he was the agency's 30th chief. (The police department dates back to 1869.)

Graham worked at OPD for many years, raising to the rank of deputy chief. He was interim chief for a short time in 2003 until Sam Williams was appointed. 

Graham left the agency in 2008 to become police chief in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was the first chief to be selected from outside the Cedar Rapids department in 30 years.

While in Iowa, he guided the department through rising flood waters in June 2008. Talking with a Star-Banner reporter, Graham said, “It’s trial by fire. I feel like I’m back in Florida during the 2004-2005 hurricanes we had, and we had to get ready for them.”

Graham came back to become Ocala chief after Williams resigned in late December 2011.

In 2013, after one year at the helm back in Ocala, Graham told the Star-Banner he was paying a lot of attention to department morale and best practices.

"Graham said he felt a disconnect between the administration, officers and civilian employees," the paper  wrote at the time. "So he engaged personnel, similar to an approach he used in Iowa, and adopted a few tenets he hoped would break down barriers.

"They were simple: Do the right thing, ask for forgiveness instead of permission, find ways to say yes, treat everyone with respect and have fun." 

About two dozen law enforcement vehicles, with light bars activated, were parked in front of the Ocala Police Department on Sunday. Drivers on Pine Avenue, just south of Silver Springs Boulevard honked in salute.

In 2016, Graham was placed on paid administrative leave when a grievance was filed on behalf of three police officers alleging racial discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile treatment and retaliation. He was reinstated in January 2017 after a law firm hired by the city cleared him and recommended that he be reinstated with all rights and benefits.

Despite that report, and City Council's decision to reinstate Graham, the city later agreed to pay $500,000 in settlements to the officers.

In February 2018, through the leadership of the mayor, Graham and other community leaders, the police department started a special Heroin/Opioid Amnesty Program. Simply put, the program allowed anyone experiencing a drug addiction problem to come forward and receive help – no judgment and no penalties.

"Graham said the goal is to get those who need help the assistance they need because the agency will never be able to 'arrest our way out of this crisis,' ” the Star-Banner wrote at the time.

Most recently, Graham has been a presence at demonstrations in downtown Ocala that were held in the wake of George Floyd's death. When a group marched from downtown to a local park, Graham was there with them, bullhorn in hand, so he could be heard.

"He affirmed the group’s right to gather and said he shared their dismay about what happened in Minneapolis," the Star-Banner reported at the time. "He said members of the public could call him personally if they believe one of his officers has done anything wrong. He promised that any such complaint would prompt an investigation and consequences, if wrongdoing is confirmed."

In Ocala's system of government, the mayor oversees the police department.

"His leadership was responsible for changing the direction of the department," Guinn said on Sunday. "I couldn't have asked for anybody better."

As the news spread on Sunday, leaders and residents began posting reactions on social media.

"An incredibly tragic day for Ocala. Please pray and send comforting thoughts to the entire Graham family," City Council member Matt Wardell posted on Facebook.

"I will miss you my friend," former school board candidate and community leader Shelia Arnett wrote on Facebook.

The police department itself posted a Facebook tribute. Meanwhile, more than two dozen law enforcement vehicles, light bars activated, were parked in tribute outside police headquarters on Pine Avenue just south of Silver Springs Boulevard.

"We have had the great privilege to have called him a friend, a boss, and a part of our family for well over thirty years," the department's post said. "He was the heart of the Department. His heart beat for Ocala, for his community, for his department, and especially for his family.

"We will miss his passion for community and law enforcement; his candor and personality; his strong leadership; and most definitely his smile." 

Sheriff Billy Woods, a former OPD officer and Graham's friend, said at a news conference at the Sheriff's Office said they were shocked and grieve-stricken to learn that the pilot was his friend and mentor, Chief Greg Graham.

Woods said he had the pleasure of serving with Graham for more than 30 years in law enforcement. He said they don't have all the answers on what happened, and investigators will be working on it in the coming days.

He said he and Balken met with Graham's wife and family and they will need "your prayers in the weeks and months ahead." He said he and Balken have also spoken to the staff and the men and woman of the OPD and they too will need "your prayers and thoughts."

The Sheriff said the two agencies have enjoyed "a great working relationship." He said he considered Graham a personal friend. 

"I call him a friend and mentor," Woods said, adding Graham loved being chief and loved Ocala and Ocala loved him. He said Graham did "quite a bit and was taken too soon."

In his remarks, Balken said the area has "lost one of greatest lawmen I've ever known." He called Graham "a true mentor," and "a true leader." Balken said Graham was "a forward-thinking professional," and one of the greatest friends he has ever had in his life.

Balken said Graham has done "tremendous things for this community and will be truly missed by our entire agency." He said their department is reeling upon hearing the news.

Woods said the the Federal Aviation Administration will be conducting the investigation into the cause of the crash.


Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greer, South Carolina

Location: Greer, SC
Accident Number: GAA19CA477
Date & Time: 06/29/2019, 1809 EDT
Registration: N724BC
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

The pilot reported that, he entered the traffic pattern, downwind, and that the airplane's airspeed was too fast, and the altitude was too high. The pilot decided to continue the landing and the airplane touched down about mid-field on the 1700ft runway. The pilot tried to use aerodynamic braking, but the airplane overran the end of the runway and collided with a drainage culvert.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left side elevator and the rudder.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 57, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/03/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/30/2018
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 206 hours (Total, all aircraft), 194 hours (Total, this make and model), 206 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 65 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 18 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N724BC
Model/Series: 172 H 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1966
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17255148
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/13/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 8330.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C91 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-300-D
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 145 hp
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: KGSP, 971 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2153 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 175°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 190°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 16°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Greenville, SC (GMU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Greer, SC (PVT)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1801 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Flying Few (PVT)
Runway Surface Type: Dirt; Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 1024 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Soft; Vegetation
Runway Used: 28
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 1700 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Traffic Pattern

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: 34.938611, -82.227222 (est)


  1. Airframe damage history can be a contributor in some accidents. His Cessna 172 experienced a runway overrun in June of 2019. The Form 6120 narrative description included:

    "I was unable to stop the aircraft before running off the end of the runway into a small ditch. The engine was at idle and as I entered the ditch the prop struck, immediately stopping the engine. As the plane settled into the ditch the back end of the plane struck the edge of the ditch causing damage to the elevator, rudder, and the vertical."

    1. That is a good point you made. Whole airliners have gone down from a fatigue crack that stemmed from a corrosion pit or previous accident damage. The tail section might reveal some clues.

    2. Yes his 172 (N724BC) according to the registration information on the 6120:

    3. Prop strike with sudden engine stoppage described in the 2019 accident report could have set the stage for engine failure if full teardown and inspection was not performed before returning to service.

    4. Engine was completely overhauled after the prop strike.

  2. Low time pilot will be a factor 200 hour range

  3. Pinned map location of crash below, based on WESH TV video (by comparison to planted row of trees at 1:03 minute mark).

    1. site appears he was in the traffic pattern for "Marion County Airport, a county-owned facility in an unincorporated area near Dunnellon."
      Wonder what was the 'active' ?

    This aircraft (N724BC) is not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator.
    That's my airplane! How do I track my airplane on FlightAware?

  5. Prelim is out. Some points to mention - Flaps were retracted, minimal fuel found in carb and fuel system, lots of corrosion found in fuel system and some corrosion in carb, fuel filter had cloudy fluid in it. No post impact fire.

  6. Preliminary report appears to describe loss of speed during straight and level flight at 940' AGL followed by a stall with ground impact before recovering control.

    Sad to think that a startle reaction or distraction in dealing with the slowdown delayed lowering the nose to stay above stall speed while figuring things out.