Pilot Survives with Minor Injuries
The NTSB has released its preliminary report on a 01 June 2023 accident in which a Beech V35A Bonanza, registration N8074R, was substantially damaged and its pilot—the aircraft’s sole-occupant—received minor injuries while attempting to land at Georgia’s Statesboro County Airport (TBR).
The accident-aircraft was operated as a private flight under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
The pilot reported that prior to accident-flight he had tested the function of newly installed servos germane to the aircraft’s Garmin GFC-500 Autopilot installation. The pilot had also calibrated the accident-aircraft’s fuel-flow sensor. During his preflight inspection, the pilot articulated the Bonanza’s yoke and confirmed correct movement of all control surfaces. The aviator then programmed the GFC-500 flight director and set a cruising altitude of three-thousand-feet MSL with a first-segment climb pitch-attitude of between five and seven-degrees.
During the subsequent takeoff roll, the pilot noticed the Bonanza’s controls felt “slightly heavy” and utilized the aircraft’s electric trim switch to adjust ruddervator trim nose-up, thereby lightening the flight-controls.
As the aircraft climbed, the pilot engaged the GFC-500 Autopilot and continued the ascent. The autopilot successfully climbed to, leveled-off at, and maintained the selected three-thousand-foot MSL altitude. Throughout the flight, the pilot commanded autopilot heading changes and continuously monitored the GFC-500 flight display for anomalies.
After one-hour of flight, the pilot programmed the autopilot to descend the aircraft to two-thousand-feet MSL in preparation for approach to TBR. During subject approach, however, the autopilot failed to intercept a waypoint programmed by the pilot. Wary of malfunction, the pilot disconnected the autopilot and took manual control of the aircraft.
As the Bonanza neared TBR, the pilot observed the aircraft was descending to a lower altitude than he’d intended. Notwithstanding immediate application of engine-power, the Bonanza’s nose pitched sharply downward.
The pilot confirmed the autopilot was disconnected—which it was—and attempted to move the yoke aft—which proved impossible.
The aircraft continued to descend as the pilot went on “fighting” the unresponsive yoke.
As the Bonanza turned onto the final-approach leg of the TBR traffic pattern, the pilot realized the Bonanza would land short of the active runway.
Approximately one-thousand-feet from the runway threshold, the Bonanza struck a light-pole, thereafter impacting the ground and coming to rest in short-order.
In accordance with Federal Aviation Regulation, the wreckage was recovered for examination by NTSB and FAA investigators.