Video Showed The Airplane’s Bank Angle Increase, The Nose Drop And The Airplane Enter A Near Vertical Left Spin

Location: Modesto, CA Accident Number: WPR23FA092
Date & Time: January 18, 2023, Local Registration: N4765G
Aircraft: Cessna 414 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On January 18, 2023, at 1307 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 414 airplane, N4765G, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Modesto, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The airplane departed runway 10L at Modesto City-County Airport-Harry Sham Field (MOD) at 1259. The pilot’s planned destination was Buchanan Field Airport (CCR), Concord, California. Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) flight data showed that the airplane climbed to 3,200 ft mean sea level (msl) as it made a right turn and departed to the northwest, reaching about 150 kts. The airplane made a left turn back to the southeast about four minutes after takeoff. The airplane paralleled the runway about three miles west of MOD and descended in what appeared to be a modified traffic pattern for runway 28R. The airplane reached an altitude of about 1,500 ft msl and an airspeed of 96 kts as it was abeam the runway 28R threshold. The airplane then turned to the northeast on a heading towards the runway threshold. During the left turn the airplane maintained about 90 kts and continued to descend until it reached 200 ft msl about 0.5 miles from the runway. The airplane then entered a right turn to about a 090° heading before it started a left turn to the north. During the left turn the airspeed decreased from about 72 kts to 52 kts and the altitude decreased to 100 ft when the last ADS-B return was recorded at 1306:56.

An aeromedical helicopter pilot and flight nurse reported they had just departed a hospital helipad about three miles north of MOD when they heard a pilot on the MOD tower frequency asking the controller if he could hear the pilot. The tower controller responded that they heard the pilot the entire time. The helicopter crew then observed the airplane maneuvering on what they thought was a downwind leg of the traffic pattern. They said the airplane was doing unusual maneuvers, “like S-turns”. The flight nurse, who was a fixed wing private pilot, told the crew that the pilot was going to stall the airplane. A few seconds later, they witnessed the airplane stall and spin to the ground. Another witness, who was about a mile from the accident site, observed the airplane’s departure and then the final moments of the flight. He said the engines sounded normal as the airplane departed and returned, and he heard the engines RPM increase as the airplane descended in the spin.

Dash camera video was obtained and showed the final segments of the flight. The video showed the airplane’s bank angle increase, the nose drop and the airplane enter a near vertical left spin.