The Second Pilot Heard A Distress Call That Sounded Like “I’m Going Down.”

Location: Hemet, CA Accident Number: WPR20LA135
Date & Time: 04/30/2020, 1230 PDT Registration: N6521Y
Aircraft: Piper PA-23-250 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation – Other Work Use

On April 30, 2020, about 1230 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-23-250 airplane, N6521Y, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Hemet, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial survey flight.

According to a second pilot, employed by the same company, he and the accident pilot were conducting aerial survey work over selected areas of land around the city of Palm Springs, California. The two airplanes departed Chino Airport (CNO) to begin the survey flights in two separate areas and remained in radio contact. between 1140 and 1210, the second pilot heard a distress call that sounded like “I’m going down”. He attempted to communicate via radio and received a second unintelligible reply. The second pilot reported that he observed, via a flight navigation application on his iPad, the accident airplane descending rapidly.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted steep mountainous terrain and came to rest inverted about 15 miles west of the intended aerial survey area. The debris path was about 300 ft in length, oriented on a heading of about 270°. One propeller was unaccounted for. All other major structural components of the airplane were located within the debris path.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.