NTSB Identification: WPR11FA316
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 07, 2011 in Watsonville, CA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20F, registration: N7759M
Injuries: 4 Fatal.
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. 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.
On July 7, 2011, about 1920 Pacific daylight time, a Mooney M20F, N7759M, was substantially damaged when it impacted a parking lot and a building shortly after takeoff from Watsonville Municipal Airport (WVI), Watsonville, California. The private pilot and the three passengers received fatal injuries. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight.
The airplane was co-owned by the pilot and one other individual. According to the co-owner, the airplane was based at WVI. Relatives reported that the pilot, his wife, and their two children planned to travel to Groveland, California, for the weekend. Lockheed Martin Flight Services (LMFS) information indicated that the pilot contacted LMFS by telephone on the day of the accident about 1023, and again about 1417, to obtain weather briefings. The pilot informed the LMFS representative that his intended destination was Pine Mountain Lake Airport (E45), Groveland.
According to information provided by several eyewitnesses, the airplane departed from WVI runway 20. Two witnesses, in separate locations, and one of whom was a pilot, reported that the climb angle after takeoff appeared "steep." Both observed the airplane commence a very rapid left roll when it was approximately 500 feet above the threshold of runway 2. The airplane appeared to roll until it was "nearly inverted," and the nose "dropped," so that it was pointing towards the ground. It descended rapidly, and completed about two "tight turns" or "spirals" before it appeared to begin to recover, and then disappeared behind trees. Both witnesses observed fire and smoke immediately thereafter. Ground scars indicated that the airplane first impacted a parking lot about 700 feet southeast of the threshold of runway 2, slid about 130 feet forward, and struck the building. Parallel slash marks in the pavement were consistent with propeller strikes from an engine that was developing power. The airplane structure was severely disrupted by the impact, and portions were consumed by fire.
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) information, the airplane was manufactured in 1974, and was equipped with a Lycoming IO-360 series engine, and a 3-blade propeller. The pilot was issued his private pilot certificate on March 17, 2011. The airplane co-owner indicated that they purchased the airplane in late November 2010. The co-owner indicated that the pilot accrued about 140 total hours in the airplane, which included most of his flight training for his pilot certificate.
The WVI 1853 automated weather observation included winds from 190 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 miles; clear skies; temperature 16 degrees C; dew point 12 degrees C; and an altimeter setting of 29.91 inches of mercury. Multiple witnesses reported that the low layer of stratus clouds that was typical for the region at that time of year, was present just southwest of the airport. Some witnesses reported that the boundary of the stratus layer was coincident with Highway 1, which ran perpendicular to runway 2/20, and was situated about 1/4 mile from the threshold of runway 2.
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