The Pilot Responded, However He Did Not Contact The Departure Controller

Location: Camarillo, CA Accident Number: WPR22FA210
Date & Time: June 10, 2022, 08:03 Local Registration: N305L
Aircraft: Mooney Aircraft Corp. M20K Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On June 10, 2022, about 0803 Pacific daylight time, a Mooney M20K, N305L was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Camarillo, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The pilot had flown in from his home base of Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT) the day before the accident to play golf in the Camarillo area, and the accident flight was to be his return  trip.

About 0730 he contacted Leidos Flight Service and requested an abbreviated weather briefing. The briefer stated that a marine layer was present in Camarillo, and the pilot responded that it was, “socked in”. He requested cloud top information and was provided with the closest pilot report (PIREP), which indicated 700 ft cloud tops at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) which was along the coast, about 40 miles to the east. The pilot responded, “there you go”, and after receiving information on a local temporary flight restriction (TFR), he asked how he should file a VFR-on-top flight plan, and if he could file it with the briefer. The briefer stated that he would need to file an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan, with a VFR-on-top clearance, and that they could do it immediately.

With the flight plan filed, at 0749 the pilot contacted the Camarillo tower controller. Weather at the time included calm wind, visibility of 4 miles, and 300 ft overcast ceilings and mist. The controller provided the pilot with the IFR clearance to DVT, with instructions to turn right to 275° after departure for radar vectors, climb and maintain 3,000 ft, and expect 7,000 ft, 5 mins after departure. The pilot replied, but had omitted the initial 3,000 ft altitude instruction, and was corrected by the controller. About 8 mins later, the pilot responded that he was ready to taxi, and was given instructions to taxi to runway 26 via taxiways F and A. Over the next few minutes, the pilot began to taxi, but appeared to be using taxiway G. He told the controller that this was the first time he had flown from CMT and was given amended taxi instructions to the runway 26 runup area.

At 0801, the pilot was cleared for takeoff, and about 90 seconds later was given instructions to contact the departure controller. The pilot responded, however he did not contact the departure controller. About one minute later, a controller from Southern California TRACON (SCT) called the CMT tower controller to ask if the airplane had taken off, because they had not made contact, and had not seen the airplane on their radar console.

Multiple witnesses driving along Route 101, which was a freeway located parallel to the departure runway and about ½ mile north, reported seeing a low flying airplane travelling at high speed from south to north. They stated that the airplane then collided with the ground just past the freeway, and a fireball ensued. A video from a dashboard mounted camera from one of the witnesses corroborated their accounts and revealed that the airplane was flying just above the height of adjoining power lines. It did not appear to be trailing any smoke or vapors prior to impact.

The first point of impact was identified by a wing-shaped imprint at the top wall of a building located south of the freeway, and one mile west-northwest of the departure end of runway 26. The imprint was about 50 ft above the ground, and its shape corresponded to a 15° right-winglow impact attitude. The outboard section of the right wing and aileron were located on the buildings flat roof. A trail of debris consisting of wing skin fragments and the right flap continued on a heading of 035 degrees, across the freeway to a secondary impact point in a strawberry field, 750 feet beyond.

The debris beyond the secondary impact point consisted of the propeller, cabin skin fragments, and flight instruments, all leading to the main wreckage, which was on the same heading, about 250 ft downrange. The airframe sustained extensive impact and thermal damage through to the leading edge of the tail assembly. Impact and thermally damaged remnants of the entire left wing, along with the inboard section of the right wing remained attached to the center of the cabin.