NTSB Identification: NYC01FA040.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 26, 2000 in RIXFORD, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/14/2001
Aircraft: Mooney M20K, registration: N252MW
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot received clearance for an IFR departure. Three minutes later, in IMC conditions, the pilot transmitted that he wanted vectors back to the airport. He later stated that he had an engine emergency, but did not reveal its nature. The controller advised him that he did not have radar contact and asked the pilot for his position, but the pilot did not respond. About a minute later, the pilot of an airplane on the ground reported that he had seen the accident airplane on TCAS, and that it appeared to be on a short final for runway 32. Shortly thereafter, the accident pilot transmitted, "can you see the field or the runway? i'm trying to get down." The airplane flew over the airport from south to north, made a 180-degree turn, and flew over it from north to south. The bottom of the airplane became briefly visible to a witness on the ground. About 8 minutes after departure, radar contact was established at 3,500 feet, and the pilot was asked if he had just made a missed approach. The pilot responded, no sir, unable. i'm trying to get the engine here to [unintelligible]." During the next 17 minutes, the controller gave the pilot numerous headings and no-gyro turns for an ILS approach, but the pilot had difficulty in complying with them. The airplane's altitude during the last part of the flight generally ranged between 4,500 feet and 3,800 feet. The airplane was equipped with an autopilot. The wreckage site was in rising mountainous terrain about 10 miles northeast the airport, about 2,120 feet msl. The airport elevation was 2,143 feet msl. Accident site tree strikes descended in a straight line at an 8-degree angle, and were consistent with an approximately wings-level attitude. The engine had been overhauled after a propeller strike by the pilot, and he subsequently complained of "surging". When the airplane flew over the airport from north to south, the propeller sounded like it was "cycling". Previously, leaning the engine had eliminated the surging. One propeller blade showed no leading edge damage, while the other exhibited leading edge gouging, chordwise scoring, and minor "s-bending." The spark plug electrodes were gray in color. The interior walls of the vacuum pump housing exhibited rotational scoring. Engine disassembly revealed no mechanical malfunctions, and total flight duration was about 25 minutes. The pilot received his instrument rating 10 days before the accident flight. Weather at the departure airport included an overcast cloud layer at 200 feet, visibility 5 statute miles in light rain and mist, and cloud tops at 5,700 feet.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's loss of control of the airplane while maneuvering. Factors included low ceilings and the pilot's lack of instrument flight experience.

Full narrative available

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