On September 9, 2001, at 1404 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna P206B single engine airplane, N146A, impacted trees and terrain during an attempted a go-around at the Willits Municipal Airport, Willits, California. The airplane was co-owned, and operated by, the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot and a rear seat passenger were fatally injured. The two other passengers sustained serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed. The personal flight originated at San Carlos, California, about 1305, and was destined for Willits.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operations inspector and two pilot-rated witnesses observed the accident. According to their statements, the airplane made a stable approach to runway 34, but touched down hard on the runway. The airplane "bounced and drifted past the right side of the runway. The witnesses heard power being applied to the engine and assumed the pilot was going to perform a go-around. The witnesses observed the airplane climb at a "steep angle." The right wing then dropped and the airplane contacted trees approximately 360 feet east of the runway while in an approximate "90-degree right wing down" attitude. The right wing separated from the airplane and the airplane continued descending until it impacted the ground inverted.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on May 21, 2001, with no limitations. The pilot accumulated a total of 312 total flight hours, of which approximately 100 hours were flown in the accident airplane make and model. His last biennial flight review on October 19, 2000. He became the co-owner of the accident airplane on September 26, 2000.

The right front seat passenger was the co-owner of the airplane and he held a student pilot certificate. He was issued a third-class medical certificate with no limitations on November 3, 1999. He accumulated 140 total flight hours, none of which was logged in the accident airplane make and model.


The 1967 model airplane underwent its last annual inspection on July 23, 2001, at an aircraft total time of 4,095 hours. The Continental IO-520-A engine accumulated a total of 2,034.4 hours, and 363.4 hours since its last overhaul. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 4,140.18 total hours. The airplane was equipped with a Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) kit, and a four point restraining system for the two front seats.


The weather observation facility at the Ukiah Municipal Airport (located 20 miles southeast of the accident airport at an elevation of 614 feet msl) reported the wind from 130 degrees at 8 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky clear; temperature 24 degrees Celsius; dew point 12 degrees Celsius; and altimeter setting of 29.85 inches of mercury.

The witnesses reported the wind was out of the west at the accident airport at the time of the event.


The Willits Municipal Airport is an uncontrolled airport with one runway, 16-34. The asphalt runway is 3,000 feet long at 75 feet wide. According to the Airport/Facility Directory, there are trees in the vicinity of the runway.


The accident site was located approximately 500 feet east of the runway abeam the runway midpoint. The right wing was located suspended in the impacted tree and the airplane came to rest adjacent to the trees. An FAA inspector and an investigator from Cessna Aircraft Company examined the wreckage on September 10 and 12, 2001, at the airport.

Examination of the wreckage revealed a shallow ground scar below the wreckage with no evidence of significant movement along the ground. The right wing was separated from the fuselage at its root and impact marks were noted along its inboard leading edge. The left wing was structurally separated from the fuselage but remained attached to the main wreckage via the aileron and flap control cables. The flap actuator was measured and found extended 4.25 inches, which equated to a 22-degree flap setting. The vertical and horizontal stabilizer remained attached to the empennage; however, the right side horizontal stabilizer and elevator sustained extensive damage. The elevator trim was found extended 1.25 inches, or 5 degrees tab down (nose up). According to Cessna, the maximum trim deflection is 1.35 inches.

The cockpit and cabin area was significantly reduced and both of the front seats were found outside of the fuselage. The left front seat was broken loose from its structure, leaving both of the front attachment feet near the front seat rail stop. Impact marks on the seat rail were noted to the third seat track hole from the front. Both front seat belts and harnesses were buckled and had been cut by first responders. The inboard seat belt attachments for seats number 3 and number 4 were torn out of the airplane structure. They were otherwise intact.

The engine was found lying inverted, and the propeller was separated from the engine crankshaft mount. No external damage was noted on the engine. The propeller separation surface displayed a torsional torn appearance. The three propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub and displayed torsional twisting and chordwise scratches.

The emergency locator transmitter activated during the impact and was turned off by airport personnel.

No preimpact anomalies were noted with the airplane or engine.


An autopsy on the pilot was conducted at the Mendocino County Coroner's Office. According to the coroner, no anomalies were noted that would have precluded the pilot from operating the airplane. Toxicological tests for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs were negative.

The front seat passenger/student pilot died as a result of his injuries 12 days after the accident.

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