Airplane crash report now online
November 9, 2007
Preliminary report reveals engine problems
The News Herald

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its preliminary report on the Nov. 1 crash of a light plane in the water off Panama City Beach.

The pilot was killed when the plane submerged. A passenger survived and was pulled from the water by a man on a personal watercraft.

The report reveals that problems with the plane's battery and fuel sump (including water in the fuel line) were known to the pilot and mechanic before flight.

NTSB Identification: MIA08FA010
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 01, 2007 in Panama City, FL
Aircraft: Mooney M20K, registration: N4091H
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor.

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.

On November 1, 2007, at 1406 central daylight time, a Mooney M20K, N4091H, registered to Treasure Realty Incorporated and operated by a private individual as 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, had a reported engine failure and ditched one mile off the shore of Panama City Beach, Florida. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed. The private pilot was fatally injured and his passenger received minor injuries. The flight originated from Panama City International Airport (PFN), Panama City, Florida, the same day, at 1348.

According to the pilot's mechanic, the pilot contacted him at approximately 1219, and requested that he prepare his airplane for a short flight. He went over to the airplane, and noted that the battery was "dead". He said that he called the pilot and advised him that the battery was "dead". The pilot advised the mechanic to charge the battery, and he would arrive at the airport, at 1330. The mechanic informed the pilot that this would not be enough time to recharge the battery, and the pilot requested that the mechanic jump-start the airplane and let it run. The mechanic requested assistance from the head lineman at the Sheltair FBO to jump-start the airplane. He said that while he was attempting to jump-start the airplane, the engine turned over fine but it did not start. He then pulled the fuel sump ring below the pilot's seat to sump the fuel. As head lineman watched, he confirmed that only water was coming out of the fuel sump. The mechanic stated "he held the ring for 30 to 40 seconds, and nothing but water came out".

The mechanic then attempted to start the engine again but was unsuccessful. He then sumped the tanks again, and was able to start the engine. He said that he ran the airplane for two minutes and it ran fine, before shutting it down. The mechanic then exited the airplane and noticed that the tires were low. He attempted to start the airplane again so that he could taxi it over to the hanger and fill the tires. The airplane did not restart and they had to jump the airplane again. The mechanic then called the pilot to inform him about the water in the fuel tanks. The pilot advised the mechanic that he would be there in 15 minutes. The mechanic then filled the nose and the left main tire, and as he finished the right main tire the pilot and passenger showed up at the airport. He asked the pilot to allow him to continue draining the water out of the airplane, and also order a new battery. The pilot advised him to order a new battery and that he would be back in 30-minutes. The pilot then boarded the airplane along with his passenger. The head lineman jumped the airplane again and the engine started. Once running the pilot taxied to the end of the runway without conducting a run up, and then departed.

According to the Panama City Air traffic Control tower personnel, at 1345, the pilot contacted the (PFN) tower controller, and requested to depart VFR to the west. The controller advised the pilot to taxi to runway 32. At 1348, the PFN tower controller cleared the pilot for takeoff. At 1403, the pilot contacted the tower and advised the controller that he "lost engine power and was attempting to restart the engine." The tower controller advised the pilot that "he was cleared to land on runway 5, and to squawk 7700". The controller stated that the airplane was at 2,100 feet over the beach, and 13 miles west of PFN when the pilot radioed that he lost engine power. At 1406, the controller observed the airplane on radar at 600 feet, and the pilot made no further radio contact with the air traffic control tower personnel.

Examination of the wreckage site revealed that the airplane was located at a depth of 35 feet below the ocean surface, and 1,500 feet off the shore of Panama City Beach. The airplane was approximately 13 miles west of Panama City International Airport, Florida, at a coordinates of, N 030 12:54.61, W 08 53:25.57. The airplane remained intact, and all primary flight control surfaces and airframe components were located on the airplane during the recovery.

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