Federal investigators say the pllot of an airplane flying from Oregon to Seattle thought ice was developing in the engine, leading to a series of aerial maneuvers that ended with a crash-landing at Swanson Field in Eatonville.
The single-engine Cessna 172A stalled shortly before touching down and skidded into a house, causing minor injuries to the pilot and a passenger but virtually destroying the plane. The house was damaged, but its resident was away when the accident occurred.
In their report on the May 30 incident, National Transportation Safety Board investtigators said the airplane was 35 miles from its destination when the pilot reduced engine power and descended from 6,500 feet of altitude to 3,000 feet. The pilot suspected carburetor ice had formed, which can be of serious concern in the performance of a small plane’s engine, officials said.
The pilot applied carburetor heat through the engine’s system to counteract any ice, but the engine didn’t regain full power, according to NTSB.
The pilot diverted the flight to Swanson Field and began a landing pattern, but “determined that he was landing long” and applied power to go around for a second attempt, investigators said. He told them the engine didn’t accelerate sufficiently, however, and as he made a left turn to avoid trees, the airplane stalled, entered a descent and hit the house near the runway.
The investigators said there was a “possibility of serious carburetor icing.” They also said their examination “of the airframe and engine revealed no pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failure that would have precluded normal operation.”
The pilot and passenger, both men in their 30s, were on their way to Seattle for a convention. Their names weren’t released by authorities.
According to NTSB, 319 general aviation accidents have been reported this year through April. In the same first four months of 2012, 372 accidents were reported. The majority both years involved private aircraft.
Swanson Field has a single runway and no control tower. Owned by the town of Eatonville, it’s used primarily by single-engine aircraft.