Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Beechcraft V35 Bonanza, N35AW: Fatal accident occurred November 24, 2020 in Deltaville, Middlesex County, Virginia

Carl Macon Smith Jr.

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 Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Richmond, Virginia
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 

Location: Deltaville, VA 
Accident Number: ERA21LA053
Date & Time: November 24, 2020, 09:28 Local
Registration: N35AW
Aircraft: Beech V35
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On November 24, 2020, about 0928 eastern standard time, a Beech V35, N35AW, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Deltaville, Virginia. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot departed on a local flight from Hummel Field Airport (W75), Saluda, Virginia. He was not in contact with air traffic control during the flight.

Review of preliminary automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the flight departed W75 about 0905. The airplane tracked on a northeast heading for about 9 miles, then turned right and flew east over the Chesapeake Bay for about 17 miles. The airplane then flew south over the bay for about 14 miles, turned west, and flew northwest toward W75 for about 17 miles. The majority of the flight was conducted at an altitude of about 850 ft above ground level (agl); however, the airplane climbed to a maximum altitude of about 1,350 ft agl. The last ADS-B targets were observed about 0928 as the airplane descended through 275 ft about 5 miles from W75.

Two fishermen reported seeing the airplane fly thru a flock of seagulls. They then saw two birds fall to the water. Shortly thereafter, they observed a plume of black smoke from the accident site. Figure 1 depicts the airplane’s ADS-B flight track in red and green targets and the approximate location of the fishermen. The red targets contained incomplete ADS-B data elements. 

Figure 1. Airplane's ADS-B flight track and witness location.

A third witness near the accident site stated that he heard a loud noise, then observed the airplane make a left turn followed by two spirals before it impacted terrain.

Examination of the accident site by an FAA inspector revealed that the airplane impacted a shed on a residential property. The wreckage debris path was about 25 ft long and oriented on a magnetic heading of 240°.

Ground scars at the accident site and damage to the airplane were consistent with the airplane impacting terrain in a steep, nose-low attitude. A postimpact fire consumed most of the wreckage; however, all major structural components of the airplane were located within the debris field. Figure 2 shows the wreckage and debris at the initial impact point.

Figure 2. Airplane wreckage and debris at the initial impact point.

The engine was separated and located 10 ft from the main wreckage. It sustained impact and fire damage. The engine crankshaft rotated smoothly by manually turning the propeller hub. Two of the propeller blades were separated, one remained attached to the propeller hub.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N35AW
Model/Series: V35
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: KMFV,47 ft msl
Observation Time: 09:35 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 29 Nautical Mile
s Temperature/Dew Point: 8°C /-3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 10°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.4 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Saluda, VA (W75) 
Destination: Deltaville, VA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 37.57311,-76.35699 (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

Carl Macon Smith Jr.
December 18th, 1948 - November 24th, 2020

On Tuesday morning, November 24th 2020, Carl was taken from us far too soon. We are heartbroken to say goodbye to a man we deeply loved, respected, and cherished. He was so much more than a UVA and Georgetown Law graduate, Navy fighter pilot, Chief of Staff for the Senate Armed Services Committee, fierce lawyer, and ardent leader of the Save the Rappahannock Coalition. He was a loving husband, loyal brother, devoted father, and doting grandfather.

He was a matter-of-fact believer in God, the arbiter of all family matters, and the peacekeeper of sibling debates. He was the rock of our family, the pillar of every group to which he belonged.

At each stage of life, he taught us by example what mattered most: how to forge a path we could take pride in, treat others with respect, and savor every morsel of existence. The command he carried into a room was surpassed only by the laughter and levity that followed his arrival.

We have never met, nor will ever meet, a person more kind, attentive, and dedicated to those around him. No one loved family, friends, life, and adventure more than he.

On December 9th, he will be laid to rest in a private family ceremony. There will be a Celebration of Life later next year when everyone can gather safely to honor Carl and share stories of his life. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Carl’s church, Light of Christ in Heathsville, VA.

He is survived by his wife Wendy, daughter Kristen Fredericks (Derek), son Bryant Smith, grandson Brooks, and sisters Carol Nelson (John) and Joan Templer (Jerry). They would cherish any stories or pictures of Carl you would like to offer in the wake of his passing.

DELTAVILLE, Virginia  — Virginia State Police have identified the pilot who died after crashing into a garage last week in Deltaville.

The Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the pilot was Carl Macon Smith, 62, of White Stone, Virginia.

Police say the details of the crash are still under investigation, but Smith was the only person who died in the crash. It happened around 9:30 a.m. on November 24 on North End Road in Deltaville.

Smith’s plane was a Beechcraft  V35 Bonanza.

“A loud boom that shook the house. It was pretty frightening that it happened so close to the house, and pretty frightening that it happened to the person who lost their life in the crash,” said Sondra Groft, who lives about a quarter-mile away.

The private North End Shores community where the plane crashed is a cluster of summer homes for people in Hampton Roads and the Richmond area.

Virginia State Police are still waiting for a positive identification on the person who died in a plane crash six days ago in Middlesex County.

Sgt. Michelle Anaya said in a news release the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will make the final determination.

Only one person was on the plane, which the Federal Aviation Administration identified as a Beechcraft Bonanza V35, Anaya said.

The crash happened just after 9:30 a.m. November 24th in the 1270 block of North End Road in Deltaville.

State police were called to investigate and found that the plane hit a garage-type structure, causing it to become completely engulfed in flames.

Anaya said police will release more information once it becomes available.

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, Virginia -- One person was killed when a small plane crashed in Deltaville on Tuesday morning, according to Virginia State Police.

"Preliminary investigations reveal that a fixed-wing aircraft struck a garage-type structure, causing it to become completely engulfed in flames," a Virginia State Police spokesperson wrote in an email.

The crash was reported at about 9:35 a.m. on North End Road.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) arrived around 3 p.m. Tuesday to examine the crash site.

The pilot is believed to be the only person on board the single-engine Beechcraft V35, according to the FAA.

Sondra Englar said she heard the plane falling from the sky before the impact.

"I heard the quick descending sound of a plane and then the loud boom loud enough and strong enough to shake my house," Englar recalled. "It didn’t sound like the engine was stalled, because I could hear the plane. I could hear the engine. It was just that quick descending."

The plane crashed outside several vacation homes that sit along the Rappahannock River. No one was inside of the nearby homes during the crash.

Hummel Field, a small airfield in Deltaville, is about two air-miles from the crash site, according to Virginia State Police Sgt. Michelle Anaya. But, it's unclear where the plane took off and where it was headed.

"We do know who was up in the air, but unfortunately we still have to do positive identification by the Medical Examiner’s office," Anaya stated.

"A single-engine Beechcraft V35 crashed into a residential building near Sandy Beach Road in Deltaville, Va., at 9:45 a.m., local time today. The aircraft caught fire after crashing. Preliminary reports are only the pilot was on board. We have no reports of people on the ground being injured. Please ask local authorities for information pilot’s condition and identity. The FAA and NTSB will investigate. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents. The FAA will release the aircraft tail number once investigators verify it at the scene. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and all updates," a FAA spokesperson said in a statement.

Police are on scene investigating the incident.

DELTAVILLE, Virginia (WAVY) — Virginia State Police say one person is dead after a small plane crashed into a garage Tuesday morning in Middlesex County.

The crash happened around 9:30 a.m. in the 1270 block of North End Road in Deltaville.

Virginia State Police have not released many details, but confirmed there was one fatality. They say the preliminary investigation showed a fixed-wing aircraft struck the garage-type structure, causing it to become engulfed in flames.

Photos from WAVY viewer Sondra Groft show the extent of the smoke. A small airport is about two miles from the crash site.

The medical examiner was at the scene as of 1:20 p.m. working to identify the body.

“We are dealing with someone’s life right here, and it’s so tragic,” said Phil Spencer, who owns the adjoining property. The wreckage of the plane came to rest next to his garage, which is adjacent to the one the plane struck.

The private North End Shores community where the plane crashed is a cluster of summer homes for people in Hampton Roads and the Richmond area.

Sondra Groft lives about a quarter-mile away on Robins Point Avenue. She heard a plane in distress about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and then felt the impact.

“A loud boom that shook the house. It was pretty frightening that it happened so close to the house, and pretty frightening that it happened to the person who lost their life in the crash,” Groft said.

Light planes flying overhead are common in this area near the Chesapeake Bay.

“There’s an airport right here in Topping, at the base of the Whitestone Bridge and there’s a lot of fields up here on the top of the hill. We see a lot of crop dusters and other planes flying over, especially this time of the year,” Spencer said. 

DELTAVILLE, Virginia — Virginia State Police said that one person died after a plane crashed in Middlesex County Tuesday morning.

Sgt. Michelle Anaya said troopers received a call about the crash around 9:35 a.m. It happened at 1270 North End Road in Deltaville. Members of the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office also were there.

Anaya said the fixed-wing plane hit something like a garage and caught fire, burning the entirety of the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released this statement:

A single-engine Beech V35 crashed into a residential building near Sandy Beach Road in Deltaville, Virginia, at 9:45 a.m., local time today. The aircraft caught fire after crashing. Preliminary reports are only the pilot was on board. We have no reports of people on the ground being injured. Please ask local authorities for information pilot’s condition and identity. The FAA and NTSB will investigate. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents. The FAA will release the aircraft tail number once investigators verify it at the scene. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and all updates.

The crash was the second one involving a plane in Middlesex County since the beginning of October. 

In that case, the pilot, who took off from Hummel Field, had to make an emergency landing and ended up crashing on Willow Lane. 

No one was injured in that incident.


  1. Latitude = 37.5718, Longitude = -76.3589
    1270 North End Road, Deltaville, VA
    Flightaware Flight Track Log
    Tue 09:27:04 37.5795 -76.3070 ← 287° 149 171 1,100 -140 Descending ADS-B (KPHF)
    Tue 09:27:28 37.5790 -76.3272 ← 260° 138 159 1,000 -279 Descending ADS-B (KPHF)
    Tue 09:27:47 37.5776 -76.3421 ← 264° 123 142 900 -162 Descending ADS-B (KXSA)
    Tue 09:28:05 Arrival () @ Tuesday 09:28:05 EST
    Tue 09:28:05 37.5757 -76.3541 ↙ 240° 113 130 900 Level ADS-B (KXSA)

  2. Looking at the wreckage photos ,noticed the left ruddervator is missing. This model aircraft has a long history of airframe problems with the ruddervators.

    1. Published:January 19, 2001
      Updated:October 29, 2019
      Bonanza: The Trouble With Old Bos
      A rash of tail flutter incidents suggests owners are still in the dark about ruddervator maintenance.

    2. Left ruddervator is probably under the rubble.The one visible appears to have the leading edge cuff installed per the AD. Seriously doubt this was in flight break up - no reason to believe flutter theory.

    3. Aerodynamic stall - spin?

  3. 72-year-old pilot did a quick pull up to 1000 ft after cruising the Bay at 163 mph and 600 ft. Blew a blood vessel? Blacked out?

    1. Quick pullup? Not hardly - here are the times and altitudes from the Flightaware track log data samples for that "pullup":

      09:23:47 600'
      09:24:12 700'
      09:24:43 800'
      09:25:01 800'
      09:25:19 900'
      09:25:41 1000'
      09:25:59 1100'

      Two minutes elapsed during the 500' change in altitude. Nothing stressful on the body from that.

    2. I've flown Bonanzas for a lot of years. Those altitude changes aren't "quick pull ups" - they're a slow climb.

  4. If the engine was really running, and running properly, it'd almost certainly have been an airframe issue in one way or another or the pilot having a health emergency. Also, is it just me or did the plane change direction a couple times rather quickly in the last minute?

  5. The whole flight from takeoff to the last data point seems normal for a short VFR hop around the bay. It looks like the plane took off from Hummel Field and stayed south just enough to avoid the Restricted airspace around Tangier Island. It seems the pilot got a little low over the water for the traffic pattern back at Hummel and had climbed back up to 1000 ft. for the pattern. He may have been using the shoreline as a guide to get back to the airport, which has a fairly short runway and might be hard to spot. Groundspeed is shown to gradually decrease to what I would consider a reasonable 113 knots, and maybe less but Flightaware data stops there. The plane was well above its unaccelerated stall speed and there were lots of farm fields around if the engine had quit, which witnesses say it did not. Maybe it was a medical event?

  6. ...the FAA ordered a slow-down (AD 98-13-02) which requires fabricating a placard that restricts Vne to no more than 144 MPH or 125 knots. It also requires marking a red line on the airspeed indicator glass at the same value. The AD applies to the straight 35 and A35, B35 and 35R models.

    It may be wishful thinking to assume that pilots observe such slow-down ADs when its quite obvious that some clearly dont observe another critical part of V-tail ownership: Proper maintenance for the all-important ruddervators.

    What was his airspeed relative to the AD (Vne)...?

    1. He could have had trouble with the tail if inspections were ineffective, but he was not required to operate at reduced speed in a V35, per A/D applicability. Here is the rabbit trail and links:

      AD 98-13-02 was amended and became AD 2002-21-13. Speed restrictions, inspections and balancing in those 1998 and 2002 versions of the directive apply only to Models 35, A35, B35, and 35R.

      His V35 Bo (S/N D-8069, Mfg. 1966) is subject to AD 94-20-04 for inspection and balancing, but no speed restriction.

      AD 2002-21-13:$FILE/022113.pdf

      AD 94-20-04 R2:$FILE/942004R2.pdf

  7. FAA AD 98-13-02 has been superseded by AD 2002-21-13. This action came
    from an inspection Service Bulletin by Raytheon and removes the placarded limitations and slow-down. As to the airspeed of the accident aircraft, that can't be determined by sites such as Flightaware as they measure groundspeed not airspeed. Maybe the FAA can get surveillance radar data.

  8. Elev 26 ft, 37.56 °N, 76.35 °W
    from Delta Shores - KVADELTA5 weather station
    Nov 24
    9:29 AM 48.1 F 32.6 F North 4.2 mph 8.0 mph 30.41 in
    9:34 AM 48.5 F 32.3 F NNW 5.2 mph 7.6 mph 30.41 in

  9. Five days earlier, N35AW did a similar hop (see link below). Same airport (W75), so he knew the area. Was returning over land for RW 1 on the accident day, had returned over water for RW 19 on the 19th.

  10. The aircraft looks like it was in mint condition:
    2016 ad.
    The pilot and owner based on FAA registry and assuming articles posted below are correct, was Carl M. Smith. Carl had a commercial certificate and instrument rating flying under basic med. He was also a flight engineer. In my experience flight engineers know maintenance. It will be difficult to find the cause of this accident. I would suspect some medical incident. There is no way to know if he ever had covid 19, but I believe it is causing an increase in strokes, even in those who have recovered. My condolences to his family.

  11. The preliminary report witness statement from the fisherman about N35AW hitting seagulls is info that would have been difficult to discern by inspection, given the impact with the building and fire.

  12. Wow, all the speculation aside it appears seagulls could have been the contributing factor! Good reason not to be flying around Chesapeake Bay at 800 AGL for almost a half hour.

  13. RIP.
    "7-4-1. Migratory Bird Activity
    a. Bird strike risk increases because of bird migration during the months of March through April, and August through November.

    b. The altitudes of migrating birds vary with winds aloft, weather fronts, terrain elevations, cloud conditions, and other environmental variables. While over 90 percent of the reported bird strikes occur at or below 3,000 feet AGL, strikes at higher altitudes are common during migration. Ducks and geese are frequently observed up to 7,000 feet AGL and pilots are cautioned to minimize en route flying at lower altitudes during migration.

    c. Considered the greatest potential hazard to aircraft because of their size, abundance, or habit of flying in dense flocks are gulls, waterfowl, vultures, hawks, owls, egrets, blackbirds, and starlings. Four major migratory flyways exist in the U.S. The Atlantic flyway parallels the Atlantic Coast. The Mississippi Flyway stretches from Canada through the Great Lakes and follows the Mississippi River. The Central Flyway represents a broad area east of the Rockies, stretching from Canada through Central America. The Pacific Flyway follows the west coast and overflies major parts of Washington, Oregon, and California. There are also numerous smaller flyways which cross these major north-south migratory routes.

    7-4-2. Reducing Bird Strike Risks

    a. The most serious strikes are those involving ingestion into an engine (turboprops and turbine jet engines) or windshield strikes. These strikes can result in emergency situations requiring prompt action by the pilot.

    b. Engine ingestions may result in sudden loss of power or engine failure. Review engine out procedures, especially when operating from airports with known bird hazards or when operating near high bird concentrations.

    c. Windshield strikes have resulted in pilots experiencing confusion, disorientation, loss of communications, and aircraft control problems. Pilots are encouraged to review their emergency procedures before flying in these areas.

    d. When encountering birds en route, climb to avoid collision, because birds in flocks generally distribute themselves downward, with lead birds being at the highest altitude.

    e. Avoid overflight of known areas of bird concentration and flying at low altitudes during bird migration. Charted wildlife refuges and other natural areas contain unusually high local concentration of birds which may create a hazard to aircraft."