Observed The Airplane Descending In A Wings Level, Approximate 45° Or Steeper, Nose Down Attitude

Location: Porterville, CA Accident Number: WPR22FA216
Date & Time: June 18, 2022, 14:54 Local Registration: N3835U
Aircraft: Cessna 336 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On June 18, 2022, about 1454 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 336, N3835U, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Porterville, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Recorded Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) data, depicted in figure 1, showed the airplane in a left climbing turn shortly after takeoff from runway 30 at Porterville Municipal Airport (PTV). The airplane climbed to about 825 ft msl on a southeasterly heading. About 1 minute 7 seconds later, the airplane initiated a right turn to a southerly heading. The airplane continued a southsouthwesterly heading for about 2 minutes, 46 seconds, and ascended to about 1,550 ft msl before a descending right turn to a northerly heading. About 37 seconds later, the airplane leveled off about 1,000 ft msl and continued north for about 1 minute, 41 seconds. The last 6 seconds of recorded data showed the airplane in a descent from 975 ft to 725 ft near the last recorded ADS-B target, which was located about 435 ft south of the accident site.

A witness, located near the accident site, reported that he initially heard an airplane approach his location with the engines at a high rpm. The witness subsequently observed the airplane descending in a wings level, approximate 45° or steeper, nose down attitude. As the airplane reached about 60 ft above ground level, engine power was reduced, and the airplane continued to descend into the ground at the same nose down angle. The witness added that the pilot did not appear to try and recover from the descent.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted an open field immediately adjacent to highway 65, about 2 miles southeast of PTV on a heading of about 338°. The wreckage debris path was about 234 ft in length and contained all major structural components of the airplane. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a ground scar, about 5.5 ft in length and about 8 ft wide, which contained the forward propeller and engine cowling fragments. On either side of the FIPC there were 2 distinct impact marks on the left and right side, consistent with the left and right main landing gear. Extending from the FIPC, were two distinct ground impressions, consistent with the left and right wings. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov