Monday, May 30, 2022

Maule MX-7-180C, N1043B: Fatal accident occurred May 30, 2022 in Willits, Mendocino 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 traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Location: Willits, California
Accident Number: WPR22LA192
Date and Time: May 30, 2022, 08:40 Local
Registration: N1043B
Aircraft: Maule MX-7-180C 
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On May 30, 2022, about 0840 Pacific daylight time, a Maule MX-7-180C airplane, N1043B, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Willits, California. The pilot was fatally injured, and the passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the passenger, they departed Sonoma, California about 0715 and flew directly to their destination about 84 nm northwest of their departure airport. After an uneventful flight they approached the private dirt airstrip from the southwest, but during the landing attempt the airplane contacted the runway hard and bounced. The passenger further reported that the pilot immediately added power to perform a go-around and the airplane appeared to transition into a normal climb. However, as they were cresting a group of 60-100 ft tall trees, the passenger observed the pilot express concern while he attempted to manipulate the throttle. The airplane then abruptly turned left and transitioned into a nose down attitude before it impacted the ground. A postcrash fire ensued. 

The airplane came to rest at the base of a tree about 2,000 feet northeast of the private strip. The airplane was mostly consumed by postrcrash fire with the exception of the right wing, which remained attached to the fuselage frame. Both propeller blades were attached to the propeller hub, which had separated from the engine at the crankshaft. The empennage frame was intact, but the vertical stabilizer, rudder, and elevator fabric were consumed by postcrash fire.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Maule
Registration: N1043B
Model/Series: MX-7-180C 
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: KUKI,626 ft msl
Observation Time: 08:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 22 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C /3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Sonoma, CA (0Q9)
Destination: Willits, CA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 39.493855,-123.21109 (est)

Aircraft experienced engine issues and crashed while landing on a private strip and caught on fire.

Date: 30-MAY-22
Time: 15:40:00Z
Regis#: N1043B
Aircraft Make: MAULE
Aircraft Model: M7
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Flight Crew: 1 fatal
Pax: 1 serious
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

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. 

The pilot of the aircraft that crashed yesterday east of Willits is on life support after suffering traumatic head injuries, a close friend of the family told us this morning.

Despite initial reporting, yesterday’s plane crash resulted in two parties injured, the pilot and his girlfriend [Male Adult age 33-year-old from Willits and a 26-year-old female]. The pilot reportedly “sacrificed his body for his girlfriend and threw himself on her when he knew the plane was crashing” taking the hardest impact.

Information in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Accident and Incident Notification System stated the “aircraft experienced engine issues and crashed while landing on a private strip and caught fire.”

After the plane had crashed, the pilot’s girlfriend reportedly “grabbed him and pulled him out of the burning plane since he was unconscious.” She suffered internal bleeding requiring surgery. Meanwhile, the pilot is fighting for his life, a close friend told us.

Multiple sources have stated the crash did not occur at the Eden Valley Ranch airfield as originally reported, but at a recently installed airstrip located on private land.

The family friend confirmed that this is accurate. The airstrip they were attempting to land on is located on the property of the pilot’s father.

The pilot’s loved one refuted online claims that the pilot and his girlfriend were associated with the cannabis industry. “They are outdoor enthusiasts, adventure-seeking, hard-working individuals who got into a bad accident”, she told us.

Investigators identified the aircraft as a Maule MX-7-180C well-known amongst civilian aircraft.

Initial notes on the incident within The FAA characterized the event as an “accident” that resulted in a “serious” injury and “substantial” damage.

UPDATE 9:25 a.m. Wednesday: Information from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department:

On 05/30/2022 at approximately 08:45 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a plane crash causing a fire on private property near the 16000 block of Hearst Willits Rd. near Willits, CA.  Upon arrival, deputies discovered Cal-Fire was already on scene and had extinguished the fire.

Deputies observed the plane was almost complete destroyed by fire.  Deputies were told by a witness at the scene the aircraft was an unknown make and model small passenger aircraft that had two occupants when it crashed near a landing strip on private property.

A witness at the scene reported the adult male pilot and female passenger had significant injuries and were transported by a family member of the pilot to a local hospital for medical treatment.  The pilot and female passenger were eventually transported to an out-of-county hospital for further medical treatment.

The cause of the crash was unknown at the time and the incident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. The Federal Aviation Administration was also notified of this incident.


  1. N1043B - MX-7-180C Star Rocket

    The following are pertinent messages in the comments section of but not substantiated by any other source that I have been able to find:

    "I believe this is the accident that involved the son of a friend. If so, the pilot was also a commercial helicopter pilot and helicopter instructor. He is currently on life support. Such a tragedy."

    "This is my good friend and his GF. I learned how to fly at his fathers airfield. Please keep him in your thoughts tonight that he is able to make a full recovery."

    "Unfortunately, the male has passed"

  2. Comments from

    "Both occupants were injured! And both were extremely heroic! The pilot sacrificed his body for his girlfriend and threw himself on her when he knew the plane was crashing. He took the hardest impact. When the plane crashed and it caught fire, she grabbed him and pulled him out of the burning plane since he was unconscious. She had internal bleeding, but was able to save him! She’s going to recover, but he has to fight for his life now! Please pray!"

    "This was not a marijuana landing strip for an illegal grow! These were two very straightedge people who were attempting to fly out to a mountain biking trail! It’s also not illegal to make your own runway! Do your research and have some respect for the people who were injured! They were not wreck less, the plane malfunctioned and it wouldn’t pull up. This could have happened to anyone!"

    "One of the best pilots I know. Very kind and strong young man! praying for you ky. Hang in there and pull through."

    1. The passenger was my daughters nanny and is beautiful person and fine athlete.
      So sad to hear this,

      Rest In Peace young man.

  3. story excerpts:

    On May 30, around 8:45 a.m. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the plane crash, which caused a fire on private property near the 16000 block of Hearst Willits Road.

    A witness on scene told deputies that the small plane crashed near a private landing strip with two people inside. The 33-year-old adult male pilot and a 26-year-old female passenger had “significant injuries,” according to the MCSO.

  4. Many people in that area are associated with the cannabis industry so that may have led to some people speculating. Good airplane with a good safety record.