Preliminary Report: MU-2 Crashes Short of Runway

 - October 18, 2006, 1:47 PM

Mitsubishi MU-2B-36, West Memphis, Ark., Sept. 22, 2005–The 12,600-hour ATP-rated pilot of the McNeely Charter Services MU-2 had departed West Memphis Municipal Airport (AWM) about an hour before the accident on a flight to Gainesville, Ga., when he returned so a McNeely mechanic could check the right engine fire warning caution light. The light had flickered but he found no signs of fire.

The mechanic found no warning indication and the pilot took off again for Georgia in night VMC on an IFR flight plan. When the flight was about 62 nm east of AWM, the pilot reported to Memphis Center that he needed to return to AWM to have something “checked out.” He told the controller he was not experiencing any problems.

He canceled IFR, flew over the departure end of Runway 35 at 1,600 feet msl, made a descending left turn, crossed the final approach course for 35, continued in a descending left turn and, instead of landing, flew parallel to the runway, still descending, then made another left turn. The last radar return showed the airplane about 400 feet msl at about 107 knots. The airplane hit the ground 2.8 nm from AWM and ran into the side of construction machinery parked at the industrial building site. The front of the airplane was destroyed and the pilot was killed.