The Airplane Collided With 80-Ft-Tall Hardwood Trees

Location: Midland, VA Accident Number: ERA24FA053
Date & Time: December 3, 2023, 15:48 UTC Registration: N76SB
Aircraft: Beech C23 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On December 3, 2023, about 1548 eastern standard time, a Beech C23 airplane, N76SB, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Midland, Virginia. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated  as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Initial Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) track data revealed that the pilot departed from runway 15 at Warrenton-Fauquier Airport (HWY), Midland, Virginia about 1308 and conducted several practice instrument approaches to Stafford Regional Airport (RMN) in Stafford, Virginia and Culpeper Regional Airport (CJR) in Culpeper, Virginia before returning to attempt an approach and landing at HWY.

According to preliminary information obtained from air traffic control, the pilot provided several PIREPs to Patomac (PCT) Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) regarding cloud heights. The flight was cleared for the RNAV runway 33 approach to HWY with an intended full stop landing. The pilot advised PCT TRACON that he intended to cancel his instrument flight rules clearance in the air once he descended below the clouds. ADS-B data revealed that the airplane descended toward runway 33 and track data was lost about 4,350 ft short of runway 33 and right of the runway centerline. The pilot made no distress calls over the radio during the approach.

The airplane collided with 80-ft-tall hardwood trees on a 330° heading about 0.35 nm east of the runway 33 threshold. There was a postaccident fire that consumed most of the forward fuselage and cockpit. The right wing separated during the impact with trees. 

Recorded weather near the time of the accident included 1 ¾-mile visibility in mist and a cloud ceiling at 300 ft.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.