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N429RM accident description

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Tail numberN429RM
Accident dateApril 27, 2008
Aircraft typeMooney M20M
LocationMidlothian, VA
Near 37.444444 N, -77.598333 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On April 27, 2008, about 1019 eastern daylight time, a Mooney Airplane Company, Inc., M20M, N429RM, registered to RKJ Aero LLC, experienced an in-flight loss of control shortly after takeoff from Chesterfield County Airport (FCI), and crashed into a house located in Midlothian, Virginia. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight from FCI to Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport (FKN), Franklin, Virginia. The airplane was destroyed by impact and a postcrash fire, and the private-rated pilot and pilot-rated passenger in the airplane were fatally injured. The house was destroyed by impact and the postcrash fire, and the sole person in the house sustained serious injuries due to burns. The flight originated about 1016, from FCI.

According to preliminary air traffic control information, the pilot obtained an IFR clearance from FAA Potomac Clearance Delivery while on the ground at FCI; the release time was 1009. The pilot was advised to fly heading 180 degrees after entering controlled airspace, and the flight was cleared to FKN via the Harcum (HCM) VORTAC, direct FKN, maintain 2,000 feet, expect 5,000 feet 10 minutes after takeoff, frequency 134.7 mHz, and transponder code 5321.

The pilot-rated passenger informed a FBO employee at the departure airport before initiating the flight that they were flying to FKN to practice approaches. She informed the passenger before boarding the airplane that the ceiling at FCI was 800 feet overcast. A witness at FCI reported that the accident airplane remained on the ramp with the engine running for approximately 15 minutes, taxied to the approach end of runway 33, and remained there for approximately 15 minutes with the engine running. The witness further reported that the engine sounded normal during the takeoff from runway 33, and the airplane was flying below the tops of trees while over the runway abeam the windsock. The airplane continued past the departure end of the runway and entered clouds; it was not raining at the time the flight departed.

According to preliminary air traffic control information, there was no recorded communication from the pilot after the flight became airborne. Preliminary review of recorded radar data associated with the discrete transponder code indicates that at 1016:03, the airplane was at 300 feet mean sea level (msl) over runway 15/33, near the departure end of runway 33. The radar data indicates the airplane flew in a northwesterly direction for approximately 1 minute and climbed to 1,100 feet msl. The airplane then turned to the left flying in a west-northwesterly direction and climbed to 1,400 feet, then turned to the right and flew again in a northwesterly direction climbing to 1,800 feet. The airplane flew over U.S. Route 360, turned to the left and proceeded in a south-southwesterly direction maintaining 1,800 feet. The airplane then turned to the right first flying in a westerly direction while maintaining 1,800 feet, then turned to the left flying in a west-southwesterly direction also at 1,800 feet. The airplane then turned to the right, and between 1018:26, and 1018:31, descended from 1,800 to 1,600 feet. The airplane continued the right descending turn and between 1018:31, and approximately 1018:41 (last correlated radar return), the airplane descended from 1,600 to 600 feet. The last correlated radar return was located just south of the intersection of Dumaine Drive and Tevis Lane. At 1019, a controller from Potomac Approach Control advised on the frequency of a low-altitude alert.

One witness located near the accident site reported seeing a large part separate from the airplane during a wings level descent. He then heard the engine sound decrease, and noticed the propeller turning slowly. He lost sight of the airplane. Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane descending at what was described as a 45-degree nose-down attitude. Yet another witness located near the crash site reported seeing the airplane flying in a southerly direction across Woodsong Drive at a high rate of speed.

The airplane impacted the ground in front of a house located at 3117 Woodsong Drive, then impacted the house. The crash site was located approximately 400 feet south-southeast from the last correlated radar target, or about 3 3/4 nautical miles straight line distance from the departure end of runway 33. The airplane was fragmented and heat damaged. All structural components necessary to sustain flight and sections of all flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site.

Examination of the area surrounding the accident site revealed a fiberglass lower fuselage fairing was located in the front yard of a house located approximately 600 feet northwest from the crash site. Twenty-three pieces of the right hand rear window were located on the ground between the lower fuselage fairing and the crash site. The window pieces were not sooted nor have evidence of fire damage.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.