Airplane Was Less Than 100 Ft Above The Water And Was In A Descending Right Turn

Location: Gilford, NH Accident Number: ERA23FA384
Date & Time: September 30, 2023, 19:42 Local Registration: N6312G
Aircraft: Cessna 150K Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On September 30, 2023, at 1942 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150, N6312G, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Gilford, New Hampshire. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

A preliminary review of radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed, the pilot departed Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport (PVD) Providence, Rhode Island, about 1810, and was destined for the Laconia Municipal Airport (LCI), Laconia, New Hampshire. About 1938, the pilot entered a right downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 26 at LCI. The airplane continued on the downwind and made a slight left turn when while over Lake Winnipesaukee. The airplane then entered a descending right turn before it then began to climb. The airplane then entered another descending right turn before radar contact was lost.

A witness was parked on the beach of the lake and sitting in his truck when he saw the “bright” landing lights of the airplane pass by him from left to right. The airplane was less than 100 ft above the water and was in a descending right turn. The airplane then impacted the water “at an angle.” The witness got out of his truck and ran to the edge of the beach and called 911. He described the weather at the time as dark, with haze due to wildfires. The moon was full, but the haze diminished its illumination. The wind was calm and there was no fog in the area. A second witness was also on the beach when he heard the sound of the airplane’s engine and looked up to see the airplane to his left. He describe that it was a little “foggy” out, but he could see the airplane’s red/green position lights and also its white landing lights. The airplane then went “full throttle” and “dove down” in a descending right turn. The witness told his friends that the airplane was going to crash, and a few seconds later, it impacted the water with the engine at “full power.” The witness called 911, then got on a boat with his friends and went out onto the lake to see if they could help.

The wreckage was located the following morning by New Hampshire Fish and Game authorities, about 3 miles east north-east of LCI, in water that was about 57 ft deep. The airplane was subsequently recovered and examined. The airplane sustained extensive impact damage, but all major flight control components were accounted for and remained attached to the airframe via flight control cables. The flaps were in the fully retracted position, and there was no evidence of any inflight or postimpact fire.

The engine remained secure to the fuselage, and the two-blade propeller remained secure to the engine. Both blades were bent aft and exhibited slight twisting. The engine’s crankshaft was manually rotated via the propeller and compression/valve train continuity was produced on each cylinder. The top spark plugs were removed, and the electrodes were covered in mud, but appeared to be in good condition. Both magnetos remained attached to the engine and several tears were noted to the ignition harness. The magnetos were removed and both couplings snapped when rotated. Spark could not be obtained due to water damage. The aircraft maintenance logbook was found in the wreckage. A review of the logbook revealed that the last annual inspection was conducted on March 12, 2023, at a tachometer time of 2,599.6 hours.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land and did not hold an instrument rating. The pilot’s flight logbook was found floating on the water near the impact site. A review of the logbook revealed that the first entry was made on December 3, 2020, and the last entry was made on September 9, 2023, which was also the date of his last flight review. At that time, the pilot had logged 674.8 total flight hours. No flight time at night was logged between December 2020 and September 2023. The pilot’s most-recent FAA thirdclass medical certificate was issued on May 2, 2023. 

At 1956, the weather at LCI was reported as wind calm, visibility 5 miles, haze, clear skies, temperature 14 degrees, the dewpoint was not reported, and the barometric altimeter setting was 30.19 inHg.