The Student Pilot Had Begun Flight Lessons About 1 Month Prior To The Accident

Location: Crossville, TN Accident Number: ERA21FA232
Date & Time: May 25, 2021, 07:30 Local Registration: N26889
Aircraft: Gulfstream American Corp AA-5A Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Instructional

On May 25, 2021, about 0730 central daylight time, a Gulfstream American AA-5A, N26889, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Crossville, Tennessee. The student pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

Preliminary radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an interview with the student pilot’s flight instructor, and telephone records revealed that the airplane departed Crossville Memorial Airport (CSV), Crossville, Tennessee on the second leg of its flight about 0715. The airplane’s next planned stop was Cleveland Regional Jetport (RZR), Cleveland, Tennessee, about 50 miles to the south of CSV. The airplane climbed on a southerly track to 3,700 ft msl before beginning a gradual descent about 0718. The airplane continued its descent on its southerly track until about 0723 and 3,000 ft msl, when the airplane entered a 450° descending right turn.

At 0726, about 2,300 ft msl, the student pilot placed a telephone call to his flight instructor’s cellular telephone. According to his instructor: “He called me from the air. He said the airplane’s engine was not making full power; making 75 knots at 1,700rpm. Normal cruise was around 2,400rpm about 95 knots airspeed.

Initially, his demeanor was quite calm, and remained calm while he was talking to me. I helped him with troubleshooting, I asked about fuel state, magnetos on, carb heat position, and the instruments were all in the green, but the engine was not making full power, and the airplane could not climb. From there, I asked where he was, what is your closest airport, and he thought he was 40 to 50 miles from Crossville and didn’t think he could make it back. I remember telling him to land at the nearest airport and I would pick him up, but he said he had slowed to 70 knots. I told him to make an emergency landing in a field, and he said there were trees and mountains and I asked if he was talking to ATC, and he said he was not. Soon after, I heard the sound of trees and impact and the connection
went dead.”

The airplane completed its course reversal about 8 miles south of CSV, and traversed a large, open, cultivated field before impacting rising terrain on a heavily wooded ridgeline.

The student pilot had begun flight lessons about 1 month prior to the accident. According to his instructor, the student had accrued 44 hours of flight experience, all of which was in the accident airplane. The student pilot was a conscientious student who flew an average of 3 times per week. The instructor stated that the student was enrolled in an online ground school, and that they would discuss the lessons before each flight. The accident flight was the student’s first cross-country solo flight. The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed December 11, 2020 at 5,221.84 total aircraft hours.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site revealed the wreckage path was about 1,800 ft elevation, oriented about 030° magnetic and was about 75 ft. long. The initial impact point was in a tree about 50 ft tall, and pieces of angularly cut wood were found along the wreckage path.

The airplane was consumed by postcrash fire. Remnants of each wing and the main wing spars were found adjacent to main fuselage area. The tail section was impact damage but remained largely intact. Control cable continuity was established from the control column and rudder pedals to the rudder and elevators. Continuity was established from the control column through breaks at each wing root, out to the ailerons. The cable breaks displayed features consistent with overload failure. The instrument panel and its contents were consumed by fire. The engine displayed significant fire damage, and the accessories along with their associated wires, hoses, and fittings, were consumed by fire.

One propeller blade displayed aft bending and the other appeared intact and undamaged by fire. The engine was rotated by hand at the propeller. It was subsequently recovered and retained for further examination.