She Asked If The Sun Was In The Flying Pilot’S Eyes, And He Said “Yes”

Location: Falmouth, MA Accident Number: ERA23FA077
Date & Time: December 2, 2022, 15:04 Local Registration: N3515H
Aircraft: Mooney M20J Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On December 2, 2022, about 1504 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20J, N3515H, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident at Falmouth Airpark (5B6), Falmouth, Massachusetts. The private pilot was fatally injured, and commercial pilot received serious injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to a friend of the (private) pilot, he said earlier that day, he and 3 other aircraft (including the accident airplane), flew from 5B6 to Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport (BAF), Westfield/Springfield, Massachusetts, for lunch. He reported that after having lunch they all returned to 5B6. Prior to landing he heard a female voice from N3515H making the radio calls. 

She made an announcement as they were entering the downwind leg of the traffic pattern and then onto the final leg for runway 25. The witness continued his approach and while on short final he spotted the crashed airplane at the approach end of runway 25. In a brief interview with the surviving (commercial) pilot, she remembered flying up to BAF. She said the flight was uneventful. On the approach to 5B6, she was not the pilot-in-command but was double checking everything during the flight. On short final, she asked if the sun was in the flying pilot’s eyes, and he said “yes”. She adjusted the sun visor, looked down for a “GUMPS” check, and when she looked up, she knew they were going to hit the trees. She believed the pilot couldn’t see because of the bright sunlight at the time of the approach. She stated that the engine was running fine, and they had no flight control anomalies at the time of the accident.

The airplane came to rest 200 ft, from the runway 25 threshold end. Two small impact craters were observed. The first containing clear and green plexiglass. This was followed by a 10 ft ground scar that ended with a 2 ft deep crater. All major components of the airplane were located at the accident site.