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N3121J accident description

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Crash location 36.255556°N, 115.992500°W
Nearest city Pahrump, NV
36.208294°N, 115.983915°W
3.3 miles away
Tail number N3121J
Accident date 18 May 2007
Aircraft type Cessna 150G
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On May 18, 2007, approximately 0815 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 150G, N3121J, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain following a loss of power immediately after takeoff from Valley View Airport (NV00), Pahrump, Nevada. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant in the airplane, succumbed to his injuries on May 29, 2007. The airplane was being operated under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal, local flight, which was originating at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed.

Witnesses reported the airplane took off on runway 18, and approximately 50 feet above the ground, the engine began to sputter. They said that the airplane started to turn left, back towards the airfield, and descend. It impacted terrain in a left wing low, nose-low attitude. The airplane's empennage failed in a scorpion like manner and the airplane came to rest inverted.


The 64 year old pilot's most recent third class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate was issued on February 9, 2006. On that application he stated that he was a commercial pilot with 3,400 hours of flight experience. According to the pilot's wife, he had been flying since 1964.


The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven, fixed landing gear, two seat airplane, which was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft Company, in 1966. The airplane had a maximum takeoff gross weight of 1,600 pounds. It was powered by a Continental O-200-A, four cylinder, reciprocating, air cooled, carbureted engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 100 horsepower at sea level. Maintenance records indicate that the last engine overhaul was on October 21, 1974, with a tachometer time of 1,810 hours. The most recent 100-hour/annual inspection was performed on April 23, 2007, with a tachometer time of 2,393 hours. The airplane had been flown approximately 7 hours during the last 13 months.

The airplane was not equipped with shoulder harnesses.


At 0753, the weather conditions at Desert Rock Airport (elevation 3,314 feet), Mercury, Nevada, located 330 degrees for 22 nautical miles from the accident site, were as follows: wind calm; visibility 10 statue miles; clear of clouds; temperature 71 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 14 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 29.99 inches of mercury.


The airplane impacted terrain immediately south of Valley View Airport, Pahrump, Nevada (elevation 2,740 feet). The impact site was flat and open, with negative vegetation. The airplane impacted one of two small earthen hills used for motor cross jumping. All of the airplane's major components were accounted for at the accident site.

The airplane's left wing and left horizontal stabilizer exhibited extensive impact damage and twisting. The engine was compressed towards the fuselage. The empennage was separated from the fuselage, but remained connected by flight control cables. The top of the vertical stabilizer was damaged by impact. Flight control cable continuity was established for the aileron, elevator, and rudder. The left flap cables were separated in the left wing root and exhibited signatures consistent with overload. The right flap was found retracted, and extended/retracted normally by applying electrical power to the flap drive motor.

The engine's crankshaft was rotated by hand, and continuity was established throughout the engine. All cylinders produced compression. The magnetos produced spark at all terminals. The top spark plugs were removed and when compared to the Champion check-a-plug comparison chart, were found consistent with worn-out signatures. The investigative team did not identify any preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance.

A decal near the left fuel tank filler port indicated the use of auto-gas was approved, but no associated FAA Major Repair and Alteration Form 337 was found in the aircraft paperwork. The right fuel tank was breached and did not contain fuel. The left fuel tank contained yellow colored fuel. The firewall mounted fuel strainer screen was discolored, and the reservoir contained brownish-yellow fuel, which was contaminated with dirt and tested positive for water. The carburetor inlet screen was partially obstructed with dirt, rust, and sand.


The Clark County Coroner, Las Vegas, Nevada, performed an autopsy on the pilot on May 30, 2007. They determined that the cause of death was, "multiple blunt trauma."

NTSB Probable Cause

The loss of engine power due to fuel contamination followed by the pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control during takeoff. Contributing factors were the pilot's inadequate preflight and an inadequate 100-hour maintenance inspection by other maintenance personnel.

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