Sunday, December 12, 2021

Cessna 310J , N3187L: Fatal accident occurred December 12, 2021 near Dobies Airport (0K6), Inola, Rogers County, Oklahoma

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 Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 

Location: Inola, Oklahoma 
Accident Number: CEN22FA070
Date and Time: December 12, 2021, 09:31 Local
Registration: N3187L
Aircraft: Cessna 310J 
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Ferry

On December 12, 2021, about 0931 central standard time, a Cessna 310J airplane, N3187L, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Inola, Oklahoma. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 ferry flight.

According to the airplane owner, he had hired the pilot, who was also a mechanic, to ferry the airplane to North Carolina in order to complete an overdue annual inspection. The airplane’s most recent annual inspection had been completed on February 1, 2020. Prior to the accident flight, the airplane fuel tanks were topped off with fuel, and the pilot completed a preflight inspection that the owner estimated took about 1 hour. The pilot then started the engines and taxied the airplane for departure. A few minutes later, the owner overheard on a handheld radio that the pilot informed air traffic control that he needed to return to the parking area due to an engine issue. The pilot called the owner via cellular phone and advised him of the situation. The owner observed the pilot complete an extensive engine run-up, and about 20 minutes, the pilot taxied back for departure. The owner had no further communication with the pilot.

A review of Tulsa International Airport (TUL) air traffic control ground and tower communications revealed that at 0838, the pilot requested a visual flight rules (VFR) clearance for departure. At 0855, the pilot stated he needed to taxi back to parking due to “a miss on the right engine there pretty bad.” About 20 minutes later, the pilot contacted ground control and stated, “ready to go and try it again sir…we’ve got it cleared up enough.” TUL ground control cleared the pilot to taxi for departure. At 0921, the pilot was cleared for takeoff and to execute a left turn to a 090° heading. At 0925, the pilot was cleared to an altitude of his discretion, and
the pilot acknowledged a climb to 9,500 ft mean sea level (msl). At 0932:36, the TUL tower radar west controller terminated radar services and approved a frequency change for a VFR flight. At 0932:43, the TUL controller radioed the pilot and there was no response. There were no further transmissions with the airplane.

Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast data for the accident airplane began at 0922 and ended at 0931:11, about 21 miles east of TUL. The data showed the airplane climb to 5,800 ft msl, and about 1 minute before the accident, the airplane made a left turn to the north and began a rapid descent (see Figure 1.).

About 1100, the airplane wreckage was located on a private ranch by personnel who were tending to cattle.

Postaccident examination of the site revealed the airplane impacted terrain on a measured magnetic heading of about 060°, and the wreckage distribution field measured about 900 ft in length. Fragmented sections of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, rudder, and elevators were the first components identified in the debris field. A large impact crater, consistent with the left engine and propeller assembly was located about 300 ft from the fragmented empennage components. The left engine came to rest adjacent to the crater. Another large impact crater, consistent with the right engine and propeller assembly, was located about 300 ft from the left engine crater. The right engine came to rest adjacent to the crater. The main wreckage, which consisted of the inboard left and right wings, left and right engine nacelles, fuselage, and cockpit, was located about 300 ft from the right engine crater.

Examination of the airplane revealed the left and right fuel selectors were found in the main fuel tank positions. The nose landing gear was separated, and the main landing gear assemblies were found retracted in the wing wheel wells. The cockpit flight and engine instruments were fragmented and destroyed. The cockpit throttle quadrant control levers were found in the following positions: Left and Right throttles – full forward, Left propeller – feather; Right propeller – full forward; Left and Right mixtures – full forward.

The airplane wreckage was recovered for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N3187L
Model/Series: 310J
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: KGCM,725 ft msl
Observation Time: 09:35 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 4°C /-3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 160°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.28 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: Tulsa, OK (KTUL)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 36.221,-95.519 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.


  1. Replies
    1. Radar from Tulsa matched the clear sky in the photo of the scene:

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Replies
    1. Some previous flight dates found on Adsbexchange:
      Local flights at Cape Fear Airport 2020-02-02, 2020-02-27
      (^^Registered to Oak Island, NC owner at the time / since 2007)

      (Certificate was issued to Okmulgee owner 04/06/2020)
      Cape Fear to Okmulgee Regional 2020-09-19

      Okmulgee Regional to Tulsa International 2020-11-30
      Local flights at Tulsa International 2020-12-10, 2020-12-21, 2021-03-02 and accident flight 2021-12-12.

    2. News story says pilot is from North Carolina.

      News story's drone video shows debris field and main wreckage.

  4. This is a strange one. ADS-B track shows a fairly normal climb to 5,800 and then a shallow turn to the north east followed by a smoothly increasing descent straight into the ground. The last few ADS-B returns show a blistering descent rate of -24896 ft/min

    The descent seems controlled with no lateral deviation, so it's hard to imagine what sort of failure may have occurred other than some sort of medical incapacitation.

    1. I would want to see what the ferry was for / any conditions documented in prior work, etc. You just never know with this type of situation. Mechanical seems like the obvious main point of interest, and then other possibilities like medical/suicidal.

  5. Cold weather. CO poisoning? Doesn't the 310 have an AD out for one of the cabin heaters?

    1. Yeah my money is on CO poisoning. The flight track has all the signatures of CO incapacitation, although 8 minutes after takeoff seems a little quick. One of the ADs on 310 cabin heaters:$FILE/2017-06-03.pdf

  6. Pilot communicated request to go to 9500', was granted at 15:25:25Z.

    On LiveAtc's Tulsa Gnd/Twr/Dep 1500Z recording (approximate times):
    Tulsa Controller --> 3187Lima at 21:10 "you're #1 sir", then cleared for RW18R Takeoff @21:17. At the 23 minute point, 3187Lima pilot contacts departure, is at 1800 climbing will maintain at or below 2500 and requests going up to 9500, with controller advising of regional jet traffic 2 o'clock 8 miles 4000 northbound, and "continue on course at or below 3000", which 3187Lima pilot confirms with read back. "On course at or below 3000, 3187Lima".

    At 25:25, departure controller advises Cessna3187Lima "traffic passed above you now no factor, altitude your discretion", 3187Lima responded "Alright, 3187Lima up to nine thousand five hundred, thank you sir."

    On the subsequent 1530Z recording:
    At 2:35 (15:32:35Z actual, if LiveAtc timing is accurate) Tulsa controller tells 87Lima radar service terminated and to "squawk VFR" followed by controller calling again "TwinCessna3187Lima, Tulsa Approach?", but nothing further.

    1. If the LiveATC timing is accurate, N3187L had plummeted off radar and to the earth at 24896 ft/min and what was ATC's response?
      "Radar service terminated, squawk VFR."

      This is why I would never rely on ATC to care if you abruptly drop off radar when you are on with VFR flight following. If you think flight following means you will get search and rescue when you experience an emergency and crash but are unable to get a mayday call out, you are fooling yourself. You should always file a VFR flight plan, no matter if you are getting flight following also or not. It took a rancher stumbling across the crash site for anyone to notice. Sadly, in this particular case, it wouldn't have made any difference, but there are many cases where people survive the crash only to die because there was no timely rescue.

    2. The N670BS crash comes to mind.

      Tower instructed the incoming pilot to report a left downwind for runway 5, he acknowledged, flew through the Class D airspace and descended into the ocean, unnoticed. Search didn't begin for two days.

  7. The turn toward Claremore Regional Airport (KGCM) and descent instead of continuing climb on course to 9,500 as planned may have begun as a divert for conditions warranting expedited approach, with pilot becoming overwhelmed before completion.

    Wreckage location (see map link below) is just 5 miles short of reaching KGCM.

    The location correlation to video is based on image at 00:40-00:41, oriented with north at top of view, noting pond, distinct color shapes at/near aircraft, road track and erosion feature seen just beyond the aircraft at 00:17-00:19, all at a general location consistent with ADS-B track.

    Map-pinned wreckage location: video of wreckage location:

    1. That could explain the initial turn, but after that the descent was continuously increasing from 200fps initial to over 20,000fps at the end which would suggest incapacitation soon after the turn.

    2. True, and that speed increase is why it was stated as a possible expedited approach with pilot becoming overwhelmed before completion.

      Looked for examples of significant inflight fire/smoke in cockpit on Cessna twins in CAROL and NASA ASRS to explain expediting the approach, but did not find anything to suggest significant cockpit fire/smoke from avionics or electrical that would incapacitate, so did not include those as likely.

      The nature of becoming overwhelmed/incapacitated is yet unknown. CO acting that fast from the known heater problem the AD inspects for is questionable and he should have smelled combustion product outflow at such a leak rate as would be required.

      Pilot correcting himself in comms with controller may or may not be a clue if you have listened to him.

  8. 76 years old, probably stroke, 76 is more than most of us will see. Godspeed brother! Hope I can still fly that well at 76, did great til you left this world