Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Beechcraft 58P Baron, N162DF: Accident occurred September 13, 2021 near Palo Alto Airport (KPAO), Santa Clara County, California

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 Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Jose, California

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Faford Aviation Leasing Co

Location: Palo Alto, CA 
Accident Number: WPR21LA342
Date & Time: September 13, 2021, 13:50 Local
Registration: N162DF
Aircraft: Beech 58 
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N162DF
Model/Series: 58 P 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
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: KPAO,7 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:47 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C /15°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 330°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Palo Alto, CA 
Destination: Reno, NV (RNO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 37.457391,-122.10347 (est)

An 80-year-old Vietnam Vet was reportedly the pilot and only person aboard a small plane that crashed in Palo Alto on Monday afternoon after coming into contact with power lines, KTVU reported. 

KTVU didn't share the pilot's name but interviewed his daughter who said that her father "flew Navy aircraft for years and likely relied on his muscle memory in making Monday’s difficult landing."

A Beechcraft 58P Baron struck power lines northeast of the Palo Alto Airport about 1:50 p.m. local time today, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The pilot of a plane that reportedly experienced mechanical failure after taking off from the Palo Alto Airport Monday at 1:47 p.m. tried to return to the facility, only to crash into the marshland near the airport at 1:50 p.m., according to local officials and a flight-data website.

After takeoff, the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron 58P made a U-turn near Fremont's Dumbarton Point, then struck Palo Alto power lines and crashed landed, flight-tracking data shows. The impact sheared off a part of the plane's wing, which landed a couple hundred feet away from the aircraft.

"The plane landed on its belly," Palo Alto fire Battalion Chief Shane Yarbrough told this news organization.

The pilot didn't have significant injuries, according to the Fire Department.

The pilot was able to safely exit the aircraft and paramedics administered medical aid. He was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure, Yarbrough said.

The plane carried 166 gallons of fuel, leading to fears of a fuel spill in the Baylands on Monday afternoon, according to emergency dispatch reports.

California Fish and Wildlife inspectors were called to assess any potential fuel spill and its effect on the wetlands, Yarbrough said.

City of Palo Alto spokesperson Meghan Horrigan Taylor said on Tuesday that some fuel spilled. City personnel, along with a cleanup contractor, were on-site yesterday containing and cleaning up the spill.

The small plane was visible, upright and resting on marshland just east of the Baylands Nature Interpretive Center. A hazardous waste team was called to the scene, as well as a helicopter crew from the California Highway Patrol.

The incident will be investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, with NTSB in charge, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said.

The plane is registered to Faford Aviation Leasing Company in Atherton, according to Federal Aviation Administration registry records. It was built in 1982 and is currently registered with the agency.

The plane took off from the airport, located at 1925 Embarcadero Road, 19 minutes ahead of schedule, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.com. It ascended to an altitude of 450 feet. The trip covered 8 miles and lasted three minutes.

Palo Alto — A small plane crashed into a marsh near the Palo Alto Airport on Monday after striking power lines, the Palo Alto Fire Department said.

At about 1:50 p.m. Monday, the pilot of a Beechcraft Barron hit the wires and crashed into marshland surrounding the airport but was able to safely walk away, Palo Alto Fire Department Deputy Chief Kevin McNally said.

The male pilot was the only passenger on the aircraft and didn’t appear to have suffered any significant injuries, McNally said. The pilot was taken to a local hospital for precautionary purposes.

The plane is currently sitting on the marsh “fairly intact” and missing part of a wing and there’s a smell of fuel in the air but no visual sheen on what’s mostly dry vegetation.

The FAA said in a statement that it will release the tail number of the aircraft once investigators verify it at the scene. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The safety board will be in charge of the investigation and will provide all updates.

PG&E and Palo Alto Utilities do not show any significant power outages related to the crash in the area.


  1. One lucky pilot. Questions immediately arise as to why a B58, more than capable of climbing in a turn on one engine with just one soul on board (managed correctly mind you), couldn't make it back to the airport. This is assuming a simple engine out. I'm calendar bookmarking this for the preliminary which will be some time next year to follow up on.

    1. I listened to the audio (liveatc.net archives), and he called the tower to return because he was having difficulty with one engine. Shortly (very) after he declared an emergency stating both engines had quit. So, a single engine out it was not apparently.

  2. Seeing how the right engine was starting to fail, I'm wondering why he accepted a right turn toward the problem engine, or maybe it's the case that he ignored ATC, worked the problem, and turned left without addressing ATC? Hmm.... Regardless, nice job getting it down and walking away with just 1.5 wings!

  3. Former Navy Aviator, Nam vet, almost made it back to the airfield. Came out pretty good, in spite of the large diameter posts studding the ground at the boat launch that knocked off some wing.

    Missing the blue porta john at the boat launch was a plus.

    Raw chopper video showing the ground path and left wing at 1:44 time mark:

    Close-up view of wing with the post he hit laying on it at 0:51

    Hope the pilot makes a speedy recovery and this was not another Jet-A misfuel.

  4. Any Baron pilots here that can shed some light into the fuel management for the plane? Do you have fuel gauges that are shared between tanks (so you can select an empty tank to feed the engine but the gauge shows fuel from a different tank)?

    Other than that, do we have another case of someone trying hard (with the different nozzle shape) and succeeding to put Jet A in it?

  5. This is a P (pressurized) Baron. Significantly heavier than the non-pressurized counterpart, and more apt to fall like a rock with no engine power. I won't speculate on the cause of the dual flameout - but glad to pilot is OK.

    1. Heavier does not affect the glide angle - just the glide speed, so it won't fall like a rock ...

  6. The Barron was maybe fueled with Jet A rather than 100LL. A duel engine failure in a twin is very rare.

  7. He would not have caught the wire without good paddles.

  8. May have regained some power and wasn't still fully two engine out right before hitting wires:


  9. I’ll give this pilot the highest of praise for managing the emergency with no injuries and without collateral damage in such a congested area. I fly in and out of Palo Alto weekly and recognize it as one of the busiest airports ( located within the Class B airspace of SFO ) in the area,, surrounded by high density housing and several obstacles.
    Before my current B60, I owned a 58P for seven years. The fuel system is straight forward, no hitches other than departing and landing on the mains. There have been a few issues with the fuel selector valve being worn to the point the detents are missed, potentially causing fuel starvation. These are few and far between. The 58P is heavier than it’s non pressurized sister which leads to its major downfall, an anemic 230 FPM climb on one engine. Loss of an engine after departure requires extreme diligence to keep airspeed safely above Vmca and manage the totality of the emergency.
    If in fact this pilot lost both engines, he truly was a professional in picking the best option for an emergency landing. Given the fact he had but seconds to decide, I’d say he deserves the highest of praise.

  10. I flew scores of Barons and King Airs in the early 80's.

    Maintenance test flights for Beech Aircraft and sales demo flights. The 58P always put me on my A-game, if I had an A-game. It was almost as sluggish an airplane as the Duke, which was great once you got it in the air.

  11. Whenever I had my aircraft fueled, I was always standing there to make sure the proper fuel was put in.

  12. Reading in the Beechtalk Forum, it looks fairly evident that this Baron was mis fueled with JetA. Being present when your airplane is fueled by someone other than yourself is good practice.

  13. If misfueled how come those idiot/novice linemen always find a way to pour the stuff? Try to make something idiot proof and an imbecile will always find a way around it, as in having the nozzle sideways and above the hole. For that matter the only solution would be to have inlets for fueling be DOWN on the airframe for Jet-A and UP for 100LL, this way the duck billed JET-A wouldn't be able to come up. Sadly a bit too late for a fundamental design flaw. Now per Murphy's law 99.9% of the 100LL is legacy and not about to ever change while mostly JET-A fueled planes are produced.

  14. For those of you that are interested in mis fueling, identifying fuel nozzles. Here is a fine article :

    During my time flying turbine powered helicopters, many had fuel inlets that would not allow the duck billed “j” nozzle, instead the 1 1/2 “ round was used. In my case it was the reverse of what a piston pilot was wary of, my rubbing being fueled with 100ll. The problem is, the 1.5 inch nozzle pumping JetA will fit into many, many avgas aircraft. I had restrictor plates installed in my Duke, and am always present when fueling.

  15. I visited the downed airplane. You could smell the Jet A from 50+ feet away. Last I checked, Barons burn 100LL.