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N2291L accident description

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Tail numberN2291L
Accident dateAugust 19, 1999
Aircraft typeBeech F33A
LocationWhite Swan, WA
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On August 19, 1999, about 1145 Pacific daylight time, a Beech F33A, N2291L, registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 business flight, collided with an embankment shortly after takeoff from a private grass airstrip near White Swan, Washington. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private pilot and two passengers were seriously injured. The fourth passenger was fatally injured. The flight was departing for Othello, Washington.

During an interview, the pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was to give two of the passengers (customers) an overview from the air of the mint fields and production area in the Yakima Valley. After touring the facility, the pilot and passengers drove down in one vehicle to the airstrip. Upon arrival at the airstrip, the pilot noted that the sprinklers were still on the southern half of the airstrip. The pilot had some of the workers remove the sprinklers while he and the passengers drove over to another field to look at the mint. The pilot reported that normally he would have driven his truck down the airstrip to check its condition, however, this day, the pilot was not driving and he did not check the condition of the airstrip's surface. About 15 minutes later, the sprinklers were removed and the pilot and passengers returned to the airstrip. The pilot reported that he performed the normal pre-flight inspections and then boarded the occupants. The engine was started on the concrete pad in front of the hangar and at the beginning of the airstrip. The pilot reported that he utilized the short field takeoff procedure by increasing power and holding the brakes. The pilot extended the flaps to ten degrees, then released the brakes to begin the takeoff ground roll. The pilot reported that at the beginning of the airstrip (first half), he felt a couple of spots that were softer, but that he did not think that it was unusual. It wasn't until about 70 percent of the runway was used, did the pilot realize that the aircraft was not accelerating fast enough, and that "it was going to be close." The pilot estimated that he had about three to five seconds before he was going to run out of airstrip. The aircraft finally became airborne about 150 feet from the end of the airstrip and the airspeed was very slow with the stall warning horn sounding. The pilot stated that he could tell that he didn't have enough lift or speed to climb, so he held the aircraft level and retracted the landing gear. The takeoff was continued and the aircraft collided with the southern canal embankment.

The pilot reported that there was no mechanical failure or malfunction with the aircraft at the time of the accident.

Witnesses stated that the ground roll and takeoff appeared normal. The witnesses reported that after the airplane lifted off, it did not achieve an altitude of more than about four feet. The airplane continued to the end of the 2,200 foot airstrip, at this altitude, where it then collided with the south side of an irrigation canal embankment located approximately 71 feet from the end of the airstrip.


The pilot holds a private pilot certificate, with an instrument rating for single-engine land aircraft. At the time of the accident, the pilot had accumulated a total flight time of approximately 1,300 hours, with approximately 1,200 hours accumulated in the Beech F33A.


The aircraft came to rest approximately 133 feet from the end of the 2,200 foot grass airstrip, and approximately 134 feet northwest of runway centerline. The airstrip is 805 feet in elevation. Approximately 71 feet from the end of the airstrip, an approximate four-foot high embankment runs perpendicular to the runway heading. The runway alignment is approximately 35/17. The aircraft was taking off on runway 35. Evidence of an initial ground impact was noted on the south side of the southern canal embankment, and approximately 104 feet northwest of runway centerline. Two parallel running ground signatures measuring about four feet in length, and about nine feet apart, travel to the base of the embankment. At the end of the left side signature, and about two feet up the embankment, the left main landing gear door was located. At the top of the embankment, a dirt canal access road parallels an irrigation canal. The dirt road is approximately 17 feet wide. On the north side of the canal, another access road parallels the canal. The canal is approximately 45 feet wide. Evidence of a second ground impact was noted just above the water level, on the south side of the northern canal embankment. The nose landing gear was found just below the water level at the base of the ground disturbance. The aircraft was positioned inverted just above the ground disturbance on the northern access road. The nose of the aircraft was pointing 190 degrees magnetic. The right main landing gear, with the strut attached, was located about 30 feet further north of the main wreckage. The right side main landing gear trunnion, and a section of the engine cowling were found by Yakima County Sheriff's Department divers in the canal within 30 feet of the main wreckage. The left main landing gear, with the strut attached, was found in the canal about seven miles downstream by a local resident.

Both wings remained attached to the wing roots. Evidence of leading edge rearward crushing was noted on both wings. Both the flaps and ailerons remained attached to their respective hinges. Th ailerons were not damaged, however, both flaps were bowed upward about mid-span. The flaps were extended approximately 13 degrees. Control continuity was established from both wind tips to the cockpit area. Both wing fuel tanks were intact. No evidence of fuel leakage was noted. The fuel tanks were drained and approximately 38 gallons was removed from the left fuel tank, and approximately 33 gallons was removed from the right fuel tank.

The empennage section remained intact. The horizontal stabilizer and elevator was not damaged. The elevator remained attached to its respective hinges. The vertical stabilizer was undamaged except for the top area where it, and the top of the rudder came in contact with a wooden beam that was partially buried along the access road when the aircraft nosed over. The rudder remained attached to its respective hinges. Control continuity was established from the tail to the cockpit area.

The fuselage remained intact. Rescue personnel cut the right side of the fuselage, aft of the cockpit door, in order to extricate the occupants. Wrinkles in the fuselage skin were noted around the area of the baggage compartment. The top of the fuselage, over the front cockpit seats, was partially crushed downward to the top of the instrument panel. All three landing gear were separated from the airframe. The skin structure around the gear wheel wells were torn and deformed. Inspection of the landing gear system revealed that the landing gear was in transit at the time of the separation.

The engine remained attached to the airframe. All four engine mounts were damaged. The engine was pushed upward and aft. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft. All three propeller blades were loose in the hub. All three propeller blades displayed evidence of severe leading and trailing edge nicks and gouges. Two of the blades were bent aft about 80 degrees at the tips. The third blade was bent aft about 30 degrees. The tips of all three blades were torn and separated.


The private airstrip is approximately 2,200 feet in length and about 35 feet wide. The surface is covered with short cut green grass measuring about four inches in length. Members of the investigative team walked the length of the airstrip about six hours after the accident and noted that the south end half of the airstrip was soft. The north end half of the airstrip was more firm. The aircraft began the takeoff roll from the south end. One of the owners of the airstrip reported that the airstrip is watered frequently and cut once a week on Friday or Saturday. The accident occurred on a Thursday.

The weight and balance of the aircraft was calculated for the conditions that existed at the time of the accident. The pilot and right front seat passenger confirmed their body weights as 210 pounds and 212 pounds respectively. The left rear seat passenger confirmed his body weight as 200 pounds. The Yakima County Coroner reported that the right rear seat passenger weighed approximately 190 pounds. Approximately 71 gallons (426 pounds) of fuel were drained from the fuel tanks. Approximately 15 pounds of miscellaneous items were located throughout the fuselage. The empty weight of the aircraft, as reported during the last weight and balance calculation on May 6, 1997, is 2,308.6 pounds. The total gross weight of the aircraft at the time of the accident was approximately 3,561.6 pounds. The Beechcraft Pilot's Operating Handbook indicates that the gross weight for this make/model aircraft is 3,400 pounds.

The pilot reported that he had fueled the aircraft the day before the accident, filling the fuel tanks. The pilot also reported that he did not calculate the weight and balance of the aircraft prior to takeoff.

The engine was inspected at Specialty Aircraft Company, Redmond, Oregon, on September 2, 1999. During the inspection, it was noted that the throttle body was crushed upwards, the turbocharger bracket was bent and the turbocharger center clamp had popped off. The top spark plugs, fuel pump, and valve covers were removed. The crankshaft rotated easily by hand. All six cylinders produced compression. Gear and valve train continuity was established. Both magnetos produced a spark during the rotation of the crankshaft. The ignition harness was intact and functional. The top spark plugs displayed normal operating signatures. The fuel pump coupling was intact and the pump was operable. The manifold valve and injector lines were intact. The metering unit fuel inlet screen was free of obstructions. The mixture control was found in the idle/cutoff position. The throttle body was partially broken and crushed upwards against the oil sump. The throttle valve/metering unit link was bent forward. The throttle valve was found in the full open position. The oil pump was intact. The propeller governor was intact and found in the high rpm position. The turbocharger's impeller and turbine were connected and rotated freely. The wastegate and actuator was intact and the valve was free moving. The overboost valve was intact and the valve was seated.

The wreckage was recovered by Specialty Aircraft Company, and moved to their facility in Redmond, Oregon. The wreckage was released to the owner on September 21, 1999.

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