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.