Monday, October 26, 2020

Grumman American AA-5A Cheetah, N26136: Fatal accident occurred October 25, 2020 in Woodbranch, Montgomery 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 traveled to the scene of this accident.

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

Location: Woodbranch, TX 
Accident Number: CEN21FA026
Date & Time: October 25, 2020, 08:37 Local 
Registration: N26136
Aircraft: Grumman AA5 
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:

On October 25, 2020, about 0837 central daylight time, a Grumman AA-5A airplane, N26136, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Woodbranch, Texas. The airline transport rated pilot and 1 passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to information provided by local authorities, the airplane took off on a planned IFR crosscountry flight in instrument meteorological conditions from runway 17 at the North Houston Airport (9X1) with a destination of Liberty, Texas (T78). Preliminary radar and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data showed a normal takeoff and climb to the south and subsequent
turn to the east. Passing 1,600 ft, the pilot established communications with the air traffic controller and requested clearance to T78. The controller asked if they could maintain their own terrain and obstruction clearance until leaving 1,700 ft, to which the pilot responded in the affirmative.

The controller then cleared the airplane to T78 via radar vectors and instructed the pilot to climb to 3,000 ft and fly a heading of 270°. The airplane made a left turn to a northeast bound heading when the controller instructed them to stop their turn and climb to 3,000 ft. The airplane was climbing through 2,200 ft when the controller advised the pilot of antennas in front of them and again instructed him to climb to 3,000 ft. The airplane climbed to 2,400 ft, continued turning left, and then began descending rapidly. The Minimum Safe Altitude Warning activated as the airplane descended through 1,900 ft. The controller issued a Safety Alert and instructed the pilot to stop their descent and level off. Simultaneous loss of radar and radio communications occurred with the airplane heading east. The controller advised the pilot that radar contact was lost. There were no radio distress calls heard from the pilot. The estimated flight path is depicted in Figures 1 and 2.

A witness in the area heard what sounded like a go-cart or [motor] bike approaching. As it got louder and realized it was an airplane, he heard the engine “stall.” When the airplane was over his house, he reported the engine “cranked back up to a very high rpm” and then heard “a crash.” The airplane impacted beside his neighbor’s house.

The accident site was located in a wooded area bordering a residential neighborhood, about 8 miles east of 9X1. A photograph of the accident scene is at Figure 3. The elevation of the accident site was about 95 ft and the terrain was predominately flat. The airplane wreckage showed evidence of a nearly vertical impact. Most of the forward fuselage, engine, cabin, baggage compartment and aft fuselage was crushed aft and fragmented. Both wings were separated from the fuselage and broken in several sections. The broken wing sections showed aft crush impact damage spanning the leading edges. The propeller was fractured torsionally at the flange and both blades showed S-bending, leading edge gouges, and chordwise scratches. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for detailed examinations of the airframe, engine, and systems.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Grumman 
Registration: N26136
Model/Series: AA5 A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KIAH,105 ft msl 
Observation Time: 08:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C /15°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 30°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 500 ft AGL
Visibility: 3 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 30.182166,-95.19281

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

WOODBRANCH, Texas (KTRK) -- A Pearland resident was one of the two people on board a plane that crashed over the weekend in a wooded area of Montgomery County.

Texas Department of Safety identified the two people who died in the crash as Nodal Aoki, 41, of Porter, and Karthik Balakrishnan, 46, of Pearland. Aoki was behind the controls of the small aircraft.

The crash happened in the area of Linnwood Street in Woodbranch, near US 59 around 8:40 a.m. Sunday.

Residents in the area reported hearing the plane go down and Texas DPS troopers responded to the scene.

"My house shook," one resident said. "I thought something hit the house, so I ran out the front door. I looked around and the neighbors were all running outside."

Ahmad Siddiqi was distraught and said the pilot involved was his longtime friend who leaves behind a wife and three kids.

"Even until now I cannot even believe that it was him because he is such a good person, such a good pilot, such an experienced, such an all-together very, very humble and kind human being," Siddiqi said.

Woodbranch mayor Mike Tyson said the incident was completely unexpected and that this was "something new to us" and said "we hope it never happens to someone again."

The Grumman American AA-5A Cheetah was registered to a certificated pilot in Porter, according to FAA records.  Investigators with the FAA are taking the lead on the investigation into what led to the crash. The NTSB is also investigating.


  1. flightaware flight tracking for N26136 records 24 flights this last week...

  2. Sun 09:32:33 Departure (Houston, TX) @ Sunday 08:32:33 CDT
    Sun 09:32:33 30.1582 -95.2743 → 86° 87 100 1,493
    Sun 09:32:55 30.1605 -95.2636 → 67° 113 130 1,543 293 Climbing FlightAware ADS-B (KTME)
    Sun 09:33:14 30.1618 -95.2535 → 84° 99 114 1,693 86 Climbing
    Sun 09:33:30 30.1635 -95.2451 → 86° 107 123 1,593 -44 Descending
    Sun 09:33:48 30.1625 -95.2356 → 91° 98 113 1,668 -243 Descending
    Sun 09:34:07 30.1639 -95.2244 → 80° 109 125 1,443 -243 Descending
    Sun 09:34:25 30.1643 -95.2154 → 90° 86 99 1,518 Level
    Sun 09:34:44 30.1677 -95.2068 ↗ 47° 102 117 1,443 -214 Descending
    Sun 09:35:00 30.1744 -95.2032 ↑ 357° 108 124 1,393 265 Climbing
    Sun 09:35:18 30.1818 -95.2076 ↖ 318° 80 92 1,593 42 Climbing
    Sun 09:35:36 30.1837 -95.2148 ← 249° 101 116 1,418 458 Climbing
    Sun 09:35:54 30.1781 -95.2171 ↓ 163° 59 68 1,868 1,083 Climbing
    Sun 09:36:12 30.1739 -95.2142 ↘ 134° 59 68 2,068 513 Climbing
    Sun 09:36:32 30.1717 -95.2071 → 100° 70 81 2,193 263 Climbing
    Sun 09:36:52 30.1733 -95.1982 ↗ 63° 98 113 2,243 355 Climbing
    Sun 09:37:10 30.1791 -95.1943 ↑ 359° 98 113 2,418 -1,072 Descending
    Sun 09:37:28 30.1783 -95.1980 ↘ 129° 127 146 1,600 -2,727 Descending

  3. Wow what in the world were they doing. It looks like a climbing 360 to the left before losing control at somewhere near 2,500 feet then spiraling down. And wow a whopping 2,727fpm descent rate. And that's a very interesting return showing at 09:36:52 they were climbing at 355fpm at 2,243' and what happened next: just 18 seconds later at 09:37:10 they were at 2,418' already on their way down rapidly. So they climbed in 18 seconds at least 257' which translates to an 850fpm climb rate right before losing control (or breaking up somehow in that missing 18 seconds of data). The preliminary of this is going to be one to watch for. what in the world happened.

  4. Spatial disorientation. Weather was definitely low IRF. Or, possible instructor was fighting for control from student in left seat Aoki well know In aviation community. ATP,CFI rated

  5. It appears that Aoki was the pilot. Was the other gentleman the CFI?

  6. Almost certainly IMC at the time. Spatial disorientation?

    KDWH 251307Z AUTO 08004KT 5SM HZ OVC014 16/13 A2999 RMK AO2 T01610133
    KDWH 251330Z AUTO 06004KT 2 1/2SM BR BKN008 OVC012 16/14 A3000 RMK AO2 T01610139
    KDWH 251353Z 00000KT 1 3/4SM BR BKN004 OVC010 16/14 A3000 RMK AO2 SLP156
    KDWH 251405Z 07003KT 2 1/2SM BR OVC004 16/14 A2999 RMK AO2 T01610144
    KDWH 251417Z 08005KT 4SM BR BKN004 OVC019 16/14 A3000 RMK AO2 T01610144
    KDWH 251445Z 09004KT 2SM BR OVC004 17/14 A3000 RMK AO2 T01670144
    KDWH 251514Z 09004KT 2 1/2SM BR OVC004 17/16 A3000 RMK AO2 T01720156
    KDWH 251522Z VRB04KT 4SM BR OVC004 17/16 A3000 RMK AO2 T01720161
    KDWH 251553Z 09005KT 6SM BR OVC005 18/16 A3000 RMK AO2 SLP157 T01780156
    KDWH 251653Z 11005KT 9SM OVC008 21/16 A2998 RMK AO2 SLP150 T02060161

    1. I don't know, based on the flight track and the METAR history I would venture spatial disorientation but that would be a guess. It does seem a little unlikely with 2 pilots on board.

  7. Link to prelim report (the new CAROL site is not as easy to track NTSB accident cases as the old monthly query was).

    1. The new software is not as intuitive as the former. It's going to take some getting used to.

    2. Yup! Sometime change is good but this time change is bad Useless system now!

  8. I miss the monthly accident tracker, it was a lot easier to keep tabs on investigations. Now it appears you HAVE to query for everything, as I couldn't find any main summary pages with all accidents.

    I guess you could always query by date range though.


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