The Flight Instructor Added That The Weather Was Conducive To Icing

Location: Ellicott, NY Accident Number: ERA21LA035
Date & Time: November 1, 2020, 17:48 Local Registration: N791GA
Aircraft: Grumman GA7 Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:

On November 1, 2020, about 1748 eastern daylight time, a Grumman American GA-7, N791GA, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Ellicott, New York. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The airplane was based at Chautauqua County/Jamestown Airport (JHW), Jamestown, New York. The pilot rented the airplane and flew uneventfully from JHW to Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport (BUY), Burlington, North Carolina on October 28, 2020. According to the pilot’s flight instructor, they spoke via telephone prior to the accident flight and discussed weather decisions and avoiding ice. The flight instructor then checked a commercial website and realized that the pilot was conducting the accident flight from BUY to JHW. He hoped that the pilot would divert and sent him a text message to that effect. The flight instructor subsequently drove to the airport and listened to air traffic control communications as well as common traffic advisory frequency communication. The flight instructor added that the weather was conducive to icing.

According to preliminary air traffic control data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, a controller asked for a pilot report while the flight was inbound. The pilot did not report ice accumulation, but reported being in and out of clouds, updrafts, downdrafts, snow, and light to moderate turbulence. The pilot asked for and was cleared for the RNAV RWY 25 approach to JHW. Radar contact was lost about 1.5 miles northeast of the airport and no further communications were received from the accident airplane.

A witness lived near the airport and reported that he was in a tree stand for hunting purposes. The witness could not see well due to wind and snow and did not initially hear the airplane. He then heard loud engine noise for 10 to 15 seconds, followed by silence. The tree stand was located about 3/4 mile northeast of the wreckage. Later that evening, the witness was notified that there had been an airplane accident and he assisted first responders in their search for the airplane. The witness subsequently observed tops of trees severed where he heard the engine noise increase. The severed trees were located about 1/4 mile east of the wreckage.

The wreckage was located the following day in a wooded area about 1 mile from the approach end of runway 25. The wreckage came to rest upright and the left engine had separated. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage was retained for further examination. The pilot obtained weather briefings via a commercial weather service. The recorded weather at JHW, at 1750, was: wind from 280° at 20 knots, gusting to 30 knots; visibility 3/4 mile in light snow; scattered clouds at 500 ft, broken ceiling at 1,000 ft, overcast ceiling at 1,700 ft; temperature -1° C; dew point -2° C, altimeter 29.85 inches of mercury; peak wind from 270° at 30 knots at 1747; ceiling variable between 800 ft and 1,300 ft.