Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Mooney M20M / 257 TLS Bravo, N21890: Accident occurred November 15, 2021 near Peter O. Knight Airport (KTPF), Davis Islands, Florida

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; Tampa, Florida

Location: Tampa, Florida
Accident Number: ERA22LA064
Date and Time: November 15, 2021, 10:12 Local
Registration: N21890
Aircraft: Mooney M20M
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On November 15, 2021, about 1012 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20M, N21890, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Tampa, Florida. The private pilot and one passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot stated that he had operated the airplane earlier that day on an uneventful 15-minute flight. After departure on a second flight from Peter O Knight Airport (TPF), Tampa, Florida, the airplane climbed to between 2,000 and 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl) and the pilot noticed a very high turbine inlet temperature (TIT) reading. At the same time, he noticed liquid on the bottom portion of the
windshield. He confirmed that the engine mixture control was full rich and reduced engine power, which decreased the TIT reading, but there was still liquid on the windshield. He diverted to TPF, entered the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern, and lowered the landing gear. While on the downwind leg the fuel pressure was 34 psi which was a normal reading. He turned onto the base leg of the traffic pattern and while at 1,200 ft msl before turning onto final approach he added power, but the engine did not respond. He pushed the mixture, propeller, and throttle controls full forward. He noted the propeller was windmilling and subsequently ditched the airplane in Tampa Bay.

The airplane was recovered the same day and initial examination of the engine did not reveal any internal engine failures. The fuel lines in the engine compartment were all hand-tight except for the inlet fuel line at manifold valve which was loose. There was no provision for safety wiring the b-nut and there was no torque stripe on the b-nut or inlet fitting. Pressure testing of the fuel supply system using a 12-volt auxiliary fuel pump and a portable fuel tank that was plumbed into the left-wing root revealed that with the mixture control full rich, the throttle out slightly, and the b-nut at the manifold valve in the as-found position, fuel leaked at the b-nut of the loose fuel hose. After the fuel line was tightened, no leakage was noted at the b-nut. In addition, inspection of the threads of the fitting and the hose, and of the fitting and b-nut revealed no discrepancies.

The airplane was equipped with an engine data monitor, which was removed and retained for download.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Mooney
Registration: N21890
Model/Series: M20M NO SERIES 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
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: KTPF, 8 ft msl
Observation Time: 10:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C /6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 20°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 10000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Lakeland, FL (LAL) 
Destination: Gainesville, FL (GNV)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 27.903517,-82.455067 

TAMPA, Florida – Two people are safe after Tampa police say the plane they were in had to make an emergency landing in Hillsborough Bay, just off the coast of Davis Island.

According to the Tampa Police Department, calls came in just after 10 a.m. Monday for a plane down in the water just 500 yards southwest of the Peter O. Knight Airport.

A TPD Marine Unit responded to the site of the splashdown and rescued one of the plane’s occupants. Another person was rescued by a seaplane that saw the emergency landing, police say.

Genesah Duffy is a Navy veteran and was piloting the seaplane. Duffy said she just happened to be three nautical miles from Peter O. Knight airport when she heard the problem developing over her radio.

“I hear over the radio for Peter O. Knight airport that a Mooney went down in the water, so I verified they are in the water? They landed in the water?” she said.

So she flew to the area to help.

“As I was over flying, I saw the plane already in the water and then I saw the inflated life vests of one of the passengers who was already out of the water already. I circled one more time to see if there was anybody else. I noticed that it was just that group of people together and so I decided to land to see if I could help,” she said.

When she landed, she could see one of the plane occupants was starting to struggle in the water without a life jacket.

“I landed and then I kind of taxied up to them and they kind of grabbed onto the airplane. One of them didn’t have a life vest and I noticed he was already kind of tired so I went half into the water and half out and I put the life vest on him and inflated it,” Duffy said.

“Both of (men in the plane) were uninjured and they are safe, both of them feel very, very lucky to be alive,” said Sandra Bentil, spokesperson for TPD.

Bentil said the pilot reported having engine issues leading up to the emergency landing.

Police say the plane was coming from the Gainesville area.

TPD is now working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to get the submerged plane out of the water and back on land. An investigation is ongoing.

The Tampa Bay area has experienced several small plane crashes and emergency landings within the past two weeks. On Nov. 4, a pilot experienced a loss of power and had to land on Bruce B Downs Boulevard. Five days later, a pilot reported a lack of throttle control and had to make a landing in Sarasota Bay. Then on Nov. 12, a pilot splashed down in front of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents off Cedar Key.

Thankfully, all incidents so far have resulted in no injuries.


  1. Possible fuel starvation? "Engine trouble" would be a definite result. I noticed on his track he made a turn away from the airport (potentially to lose altitude) and unfortunately it burned too much altitude and he came up short. Its amazing how quick my Mooney drops at idle compared with a Piper Cherokee. I try to practice pulling power in the pattern so I'm not surprised by the sink rate in a similar engine out circumstance.

    1. I'm pretty sure any Mooney has a much better L/D than a Cherokee.

    2. "I'm pretty sure any Mooney has a much better L/D than a Cherokee."

      It does so long as you do have that potential three bladed speed brake up front windmilling in RPM pitch under minimal power. Otherwise all bets are off if that engine was not completely off and fully feathered.

    3. I guess you have a Missile or a Rocket with a feathering propeller, otherwise, uh, no.

    4. Feathering prop? You mean constant speed? You sir have no idea what you are talking about. Yes 3 blade M20 (not Missile or Rocket) and drops significantly higher rate at idle compared to warriors and archers I have hundreds of hours in.

  2. If that is the case Fuel Starvation(ran out of usable fuel) why do pilots continue to push it, gamble and then come up short. From my following of of Kathryn's report this seems to happen way to often. With often fatal results

  3. No to anonymous at 4:08:00. I told you I’ve flown both and no it doesn’t. Probably due to reason anonymous at 7:07 says.

  4. Appears to be a mag issue. Not magneto, but magazine...meaning he was reading boating when he should have been reading flying!