Controller Then Asked The Pilot To Update Him With His Intentions When He Was Able To

Location: Vancouver, WA Accident Number: WPR22FA235
Date & Time: June 28, 2022, 07:40 Local Registration: N444PM
Aircraft: Beech V35B Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On June 28, 2022, about 0740 Pacific daylight time, a Beechcraft V35B, N444PM, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Vancouver, Washington. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to preliminary automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane departed Pearson Municipal Airport (VUO), Vancouver, Washington at 0723 on an easterly heading and was in contact with air traffic control. At 0926, the pilot informed air traffic control that he was going to “circle back” due to clouds. When the controller asked for the pilot’s intentions, the pilot stated that he was going to fly to Vancouver Lake and lose some altitude and “see if this clears.” For the next 2-3 minutes the pilot and air traffic controller attempted to troubleshoot a transponder issue with the accident airplane. During this time, the pilot continued to fly northwest. At 0730 the controller asked the pilot to update him on his intentions and the pilot responded that he was “wondering about the weather…thought it was 4,000 ft, but it’s a lot lower than that.” The controller then asked the pilot to update him with his intentions when he was able to. The pilot requested meteorological information from the controller who offered to send him to approach control. After the pilot accepted his offer, the controller provided the radio frequency for approach control and then gave him a report of another aircraft in his area. The pilot replied to the controller that he was looking for the aircraft.

At 0734, the controller discovered the pilot was not in contact with approach control. He contacted the pilot and informed him that he was still with Portland tower. During this time, the pilot was tracking southbound over Vancouver Lake, approximately 4 nm from Pearson Airport. The pilot then informed the controller that he was going to return to Pearson. The controller asked if he had the airport in sight and the pilot acknowledged that he did. At this point, the controller informed the pilot that radar services were terminated and instructed him to squawk VFR and change to the airport’s common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF).

At 0735, the pilot announced that he was entering the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern for Pearson over the airport’s CTAF radio frequency. Approximately 1 minute later the pilot announced that he was on the downwind leg, which was his final radio transmission. The airplane turned onto the base leg of the airport traffic pattern about 0736 and maintained a southerly heading.

Surveillance video captured the airplane’s final seconds of flight before its impact with the ground. The airplane came into view in a slight right wing low attitude. In the two seconds that followed, the airplane’s right bank angle increased as it descended rapidly towards the ground. The airplane’s right wing impacted the ground first in a near 90° attitude immediately followed by the nose as it burst into flames. The airplane slid inverted for several seconds along the displaced threshold towards runway 26. The airplane came to rest inverted on a heading of about 038° magnetic about 120 ft east of the runway 26 numbers. All four corners of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The first point of impact (FPI) was marked by a 20 inch long depression about 270 ft northeast of the main wreckage and adjacent to the displaced threshold for runway 26. A second ground scar was observed adjacent to taxiway A2 about 10 ft forward of the FPI and measured 30 inches long. The second ground scar was collocated with a broken airport taxi light. A debris field was oriented on a heading of 255° magnetic and was comprised of plexiglass and fragments of airframe skin. The right wingtip was located in the debris field about 90 ft from the main wreckage.