Date & Time: Aug 17, 2019 at 1613 LT
Type of aircraft:
Cessna 303 Crusader
Flight Phase:
Takeoff (climb)
Flight Type:
Sky Acres - Farmingdale
Crew on board:
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
Captain / Total flying hours:
Captain / Total hours on type:
Aircraft flight hours:
On August 17, 2019, about 1613 eastern daylight time, a Cessna T303, N303TL, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in Lagrangeville, New York. The private pilot and one person on the ground were fatally injured. Two passengers and one person on the ground sustained serious injuries, and one person on the ground sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. According to the passenger seated in the copilot’s seat, on the morning of the accident the pilot and two passengers departed Republic Airport (FRG) and flew to Orange County Airport (MGJ), Montgomery, New York, where the pilot had a business meeting. After the meeting, they departed MGJ for the return flight to FRG, which included a stop at Sky Acres Airport (44N) in Lagrangeville, New York, to purchase fuel. The passenger reported that the flight from FRG to MGJ and the flight from MGJ to 44N were uneventful. He recalled that the pilot performed an engine runup prior to departing FRG; he did not recall if one was performed prior to the departure from MGJ or prior to the accident flight. The pilot fueled the airplane at 44N, where fuel records indicated he purchased 100 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. A review of surveillance video revealed that the airplane engines were shut down for about 10 minutes while the pilot and one of the passengers added fuel to both wing tanks. After the fueling, they did not take any fuel samples from the airplane’s sump drains. After the pilot and both passengers boarded the airplane, the pilot made several unsuccessful attempts to start the left engine for about 30 seconds. Next, the pilot attempted to start the right engine several times over a period of about 30 seconds. During the last attempt, the engine started. The left engine was then started after about 10 seconds of engine cranking. No smoke was visible at any time during the engine start attempts. The airplane remained in position with the engines idling for about 2 minutes before it taxied around to the opposite side of the fuel pump and stopped for about 45 seconds with the engines at or near idle. The pilot then taxied from the fuel pump to runway 17 and did not appear to stop for an engine run-up (although the airplane was out of the camera view for about 14 seconds near the end of the taxiway). The pilot performed a rolling takeoff, and the airplane lifted off the runway in the vicinity of the windsock, which was located on the left side of the runway about 2,100 ft from the runway 17 threshold. According to the passenger in the copilot’s seat, shortly after liftoff at an altitude of less than 50 to100 ft, both engines lost partial power. They did not stop completely but sounded as though they were “not getting full RPM.” The engines began “stuttering,” which continued until impact with the house. As the airplane proceeded down the runway, it began to drift toward the left until they were over the grass next to the runway. The pilot corrected the drift and the airplane then tracked straight and remained over the grass. As the airplane continued beyond the end of the runway, it was not climbing, and the passenger noticed obstacles that he described as trees and a structure or building. The pilot pitched the airplane up to clear those obstacles. The airplane then began a left turn and as it reached the house the left wing struck the ground, and the right wing struck a tree and the house. The airplane had “very little forward motion” after the initial impact. The passenger estimated that the airplane remained below 100 ft of altitude for the entire flight. He reported that the pilot continued to fly the airplane until impact and did not make any radio calls or say anything to the passengers. He did not hear any warning bells or alarms during the flight. The pilot and both passengers wore their seatbelts and shoulder harnesses. The airport manager who was mowing the grass at the airport described the airplane’s rotation as “very abrupt” compared to other light twin airplanes he has observed taking off at the airport. Immediately after rotation, he noticed the airplane maintained very shallow bank angles; however, the nose was “high”, and the airplane appeared to yaw slightly to the left. The airplane appeared to correct toward the right before he lost sight of it behind the airport fuel tank. When the airplane emerged from the other side of the tank, the nose was initially lower, but then it pitched up again near the end of the runway before it disappeared behind some trees. The airport manager was wearing ear protection and listening to music and did not hear any engine noise. Another witness reported that the airplane was “went in a straight line for a short distance and then quickly turned left about 40-45°” which she described as appearing “deliberate and controlled.” She added that she was “surprised the left wing didn’t dip down as the airplane turned. The wings looked like they were steady and pretty parallel to the ground during and after the turn.” A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recorded automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast data revealed that after the airplane reached the end of the runway, it climbed from about 675 ft to 775 ft pressure altitude (about 20 to 120 ft above ground level [agl]) in a gradual left turn. During this time the calculated groundspeed decreased from about 80 knots to about 69 knots. The pressure altitude then decreased to 725 ft (about 50 ft agl), the calculated groundspeed decreased to about 66 knots, and the left turn decreased in radius until the recorded data ended about 100 ft west of the accident site.
Final Report:
N303TL.pdf101.62 KB