Airplane Then Abruptly Turned Left And Transitioned Into A Nose Down Attitude

Location: Willits, CA Accident Number: WPR22LA192
Date & Time: May 30, 2022, 08:40 Local Registration: N1043B
Aircraft: Maule MX-7-180C Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On May 30, 2022, about 0840 Pacific daylight time, a Maule MX-7-180C airplane, N1043B, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Willits, California. The pilot was fatally injured, and the passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the passenger, they departed Sonoma, California about 0715 and flew directly to their destination about 84 nm northwest of their departure airport. After an uneventful flight they approached the private dirt airstrip from the southwest, but during the landing attempt the airplane contacted the runway hard and bounced. The passenger further reported that the pilot immediately added power to perform a go-around and the airplane appeared to transition into a normal climb. However, as they were cresting a group of 60-100 ft tall trees, the passenger observed the pilot express concern while he attempted to manipulate the throttle. The airplane then abruptly turned left and transitioned into a nose down attitude before it impacted the ground. A postcrash fire ensued.