Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Cessna 170A, N9515A: Accident occurred March 09, 2021 in Poplar Bluff, Butler County, Missouri

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; St. Louis, Missouri 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; St. Ann, Missouri

Location: Poplar Bluff, MO 
Accident Number: CEN21LA156
Date & Time: March 9, 2021, 12:15 Local
Registration: N9515A
Aircraft: Cessna 170 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On March 9, 2021, about 1215 central standard time, a Cessna 170A, N9515A, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot stated that he departed Shawnee Regional Airport (SNL), Shawnee, Oklahoma, about 0900, for the cross-country flight to Poplar Bluff Regional Business Airport (POF), Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The airplane was equipped with a digital communication radio, but it was not equipped with very high frequency omni-directional range (VOR) equipment or a transponder. Although the pilot had access to a handheld Garmin GPSmap 396 device, he did not use it during the flight. The pilot stated that he navigated via dead-reckoning and following roads. He occasionally referenced a mobile phone application to verify the airplane’s position on a digitized visual flight rules (VFR) sectional chart. The pilot acknowledged that he did not have traditional paper VFR sectional charts to navigate with if his mobile phone’s battery became depleted during the flight.

About 15-20 minutes from POF, the pilot’s mobile phone powered-off after its battery became depleted. The pilot stated that he then inserted the Garmin cigarette-lighter adapter into the airplane’s cigarettelighter, but the GPS device did not power-on. The pilot continued flying his current heading which took him directly over the city of Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

The pilot did not see the airport to the east of the city, so he turned and flew a couple miles south of the city before he made a 180° course-reversal and flew over the city northbound. After flying several miles north of the city, he decided to locate a suitable field for a precautionary landing due to the airplane’s low-fuel status. The left tank gauge indicated “empty” and the pilot estimated that the airplane had about 10 minutes of fuel remaining in the right tank. He turned the airplane into the wind (south) and landed in what he believed to be a suitable field. The pilot stated that the engine was still running throughout the precautionary landing. After touchdown, the airplane rolled about 200-300 ft before the main landing gear dug into the soft terrain and the airplane nosed over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the vertical stabilizer and the engine mounts.

During a telephone interview, the National Transportation Safety Board investigator asked the pilot to connect the Garmin GPSmap 396 device to his vehicle’s 12-volt direct current (DC) cigarette-lighter by means of the Garmin cigarette-lighter adapter; the GPS device automatically powered-on when connected to the power source. The last known position displayed on the GPS device was from a flight completed two days before the accident.

The airplane wreckage was recovered to a secured location where it was examined by two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspectors. The battery had been removed from the airplane during recovery. The 12-volt battery was not an aviation-certified battery and was consistent with a motorcycle battery. Without any electrical load, the battery had 12.45 volts when tested with a digital multimeter. The battery had 11.8 volts when it was connected to an automotive battery tester that subjected the battery to a 5-second electrical load. The battery was then reconnected to the airplane, and when the master electrical switch was turned-on the digital radios powered-on and the cigarette-lighter had 12.45 volts when measured with a digital multimeter. The FAA inspector inserted his personal USB charger adapter into the cigarette-lighter and confirmed that there was sufficient power to charge his mobile phone. The alternator, external voltage regulator, and battery were retained for additional testing.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N9515A
Model/Series: 170 A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
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: POF,327 ft msl 
Observation Time: 11:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C /6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 18 knots / 30 knots, 220°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.32 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Shawnee, OK (SNL)
Destination: Poplar Bluff, MO (POF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 36.8544,-90.4375 (est)


  1. Ouch �� Glad Pilot wasn't injured.

  2. What kind of electrical issue would bring down a 170?

    1. I was thinking the same thing. This thing can technically fly without any electrical power once started. Same with any magneto powered GA aircraft that doesn't requite a fuel boost pump for operation. It's the exact reason why it's a good idea to have a portable backup NAV/COM radio in your flight bag (I have two in there for backup dual NAV/COM for IFR condition total electrical failure).