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N251BD accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Pendleton, OR
45.672075°N, 118.788597°W
Tail number N251BD
Accident date 23 Jan 2000
Aircraft type Mooney M20K
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On January 23, 2000, at 1853 Pacific standard time, a Mooney M20K, N251BD, was destroyed when it collided with terrain approximately 1.5 miles from the end of runway 29, shortly after takeoff from Pendleton, Oregon. The private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The airplane had been cleared for takeoff approximately two minutes before the pilot declared a "Mayday." Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and the pilot had received an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) clearance to climb to ten thousand feet mean sea level (MSL) en route to Eugene, Oregon. The airplane burned after impact. The emergency locator beacon (ELT) assisted in the location of the wreckage.

The pilot had departed Billings, Montana, earlier in the day on a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flight plan, with a destination of Creswell, Oregon. While en route, he had picked up an IFR clearance, and had closed his VFR flight plan. He had elected to land at Pendleton while en route. During approach to Pendleton, he had advised that he was encountering icing conditions, and had requested that after-hours refueling be made available. After landing, he had parked on the ramp and his airplane was refueled ("topped off") with 36.6 gallons of 100 octane low-lead aviation gasoline.

The pilot borrowed a 2" x 6" wheel chock from the refueler and - according to the refueler - "...started pounding the leading edges of the wings and vertical stabilizer. After finishing the vertical stabilizer, he [the pilot] made the comment that his airplane was now deiced." The refueler, who was a highly experienced general aviation commercial pilot, did not specifically observe the pilot knocking the ice off the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer.

During an interview by investigators, the refueler stated that about a half inch of somewhat moist snow had accumulated on the wings of the airplane prior to the time he fueled the airplane, necessitating brushing snow away from the fuel caps. He stated that after wiping the snow off, there was still a covering of rough ice on the upper surface of the wing. During the fueling, he noticed that none of the ice on the wing had melted (ambient temperature at the time of the accident was minus 1 degree Celsius).

In a written statement, the refueler stated, "after refueling, I looked at the right wing leading edge and pointed out some rough ice behind the area that he [the pilot] had cleared, both on top and bottom of the wing. Rubbing his hand over the rough area, he commented that there wasn't enough ice to make any difference."

"He then paid for the fuel, requesting a cash receipt. I went to the office to complete a receipt and then returned to the aircraft. I did not leave my vehicle and did not observe whether or not any additional snow or ice had been removed from the wing. The aircraft departed immediately. I observed the aircraft taking off about 1/3 of the way down the runway. It appeared and sounded normal."

The air traffic controller observed the airplane using most of the 5,581-foot runway during its takeoff roll. After losing sight of the airplane, and issuing a hand-off to contact departure control, he heard the pilot radio "Mayday, mayday, two five one bravo delta going down." There were no further communications with the airplane.

The wreckage was located in rolling terrain about 1.5 miles west-northwest of the departure end of the runway.


The most recent weather sequence, at 1856 local, reported winds of 350 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 1 statute mile with light snow and mist, a broken cloud layer at 700 feet, 1,500 foot overcast, temperature and dew point of minus 1 degree Celsius, altimeter 30.04 inches Mercury, and tower reporting visibility of two miles.


Contract tower personnel at Pendleton air traffic control tower stated that the pilot called for an IFR clearance at 1848, taxi clearance at 1849, and called ready for departure at 1851. The controller logged the departure as 1855 from runway 29, IFR to Eugene.


The wreckage was located in an open field at N45 degrees 42.85 minutes, W118 degrees 52.66 minutes, approximately 8,150 feet from the departure end of runway 29, and slightly to the right of the extended centerline. At the time of inspection by investigators, the surface was muddy, with several inches of snow. The wreckage was oriented on a heading of 175 degrees on the centerline of the fuselage, from tail to nose. A ground impact scar, of about 40 feet overall length, and oriented on a heading of 016 degrees toward the main wreckage, was observed. The right-hand wing tip was located next to the ground scar, furthest from the main wreckage. The inboard section of the right wing, followed by the outboard section of the right wing, were located between the main wreckage and the ground impact scar. The right landing gear was found retracted in the wheel well, and the right flap was up.

The cockpit area, forward of the trailing edge of the wing, was consumed by fire, and it was still smoldering at the time of the onsite investigation. The tailcone, aft of the cabin area, exhibited extensive wrinkling. The empennage surfaces were intact; the elevator was resting in the down position, and the rudder was neutral. Control continuity of the rudder and elevator was established to the aft portion of the cabin

The vacuum pump was disassembled; its rotor was fractured, its vanes were intact. The coupling was consumed by fire.

One blade of the two-bladed propeller was exposed; the other was embedded in the surface. The exposed blade exhibited leading edge gouges and scratches running diagonally across the face. The blade was bent aft in a gentle arc.


SallyAnn G. Clausen, M.D., conducted the post-mortem examination of the pilot at the facilities of Burns Mortuary, 336 SW Dorion, Pendleton, Oregon, on Jan 24, 2000. The FAA's Toxicology Accident and Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological evaluation of samples from the pilot. The findings were reported as negative (refer to attached TOX report).


The engine was disassembled and inspected at the facilities of Teledyne Continental, Mobile, Alabama, on August 23, 2000. There was no evidence of pre-impact malfunction noted during the examination.


The wreckage, except for the engine, was released to the insurance adjuster, as owner's representative, on March 9, 2000. The engine was released to the insurance adjuster on August 29, 2000 (refer to attached NTSB Form 6120.15).

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to adequately remove ice and snow from the airplane. A contributing factor was the pilot's inability to maintain control during climb due to degradation of the airplane's aerodynamic performance.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.