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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 44957
Last updated: 23 November 2017
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Time:14:26 EST
Type:Silhouette image of generic PA30 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche
Owner/operator:Florida Central Aviation LLC
Registration: N8735Y
C/n / msn: 30-1889
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Airplane damage: Substantial
Location:North of Clearwater Airpark, Clearwater, Florida -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Gilbert Airport, Winter Haven, Florida (GIF/KGIF)
Destination airport:Clearwater Airpark, Clearwater, Florida (CLW/KCLW)
On January 17, 2004, about 14:26 EST (Eastern Standard Time), a Piper PA-30, N8735Y, and a Cessna 150H, N6622S, both registered to private individuals, collided in-flight while in the traffic pattern at Clearwater Air Park, Clearwater, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight of the Piper airplane from Winter Haven's Gilbert Airport, Winter Haven, Florida, to Clearwater Air Park, Clearwater, Florida. No flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 local, personal flight of the Cessna airplane from Clearwater Air Park, Clearwater, Florida. The Piper airplane was substantially damaged and there were no injuries to the airline transport-rated pilot or private pilot-rated passenger. The Cessna airplane was destroyed and the private-rated pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The Piper flight originated approximately 1400, from Winter Haven's Gilbert Airport. The Cessna flight originated from the Clearwater Air Park at an undetermined time.

According to a transcription of communications with the Tampa International Airport (KTPA) Air traffic Control Tower (ATCT), at 1403:05, the pilot-in-command (PIC) of the Piper airplane established contact with the facility and requested his IFR clearance. The controller provided the flight with a discrete transponder code, established radar contact, and provided the IFR clearance to the Clearwater Air Park. The controller advised the pilot to fly over runway 9/27 at KTPA; ATC communications were then transferred to another sector at the KTPA ATCT. The PIC established contact with that sector, and requested to descend at 1420:05. The controller approved the flight to descend to 2,600 feet, and at 1420:17, the controller stated, "november three five yankee you can go direct clearwater park", which was acknowledged. The controller then advised the pilot to maintain 1,600 feet and to report the destination airport insight, to which he reported, "one point six ahh three five yankee and we'll report we would like to go over and come back up" with the rest of the comment unintelligible. The flight continued and at 1423:05, the PIC advised the controller "tampa ahh three five yankee we've got clearwater" to which the controller cleared the flight for a visual approach to the airport. At 1423:16, the PIC advised "okay we'll go ahead and cancel right now three five yankee." The controller responded at 1423:22, "three five yankee roger IFR cancellation is received I am showing traffic about a mile mile and a half north of the airport slow moving southbound squawking VFR." The PIC responded "three five yankee appreciate it we'll look for him." The controller advised the flight that frequency change was approved which the PIC responded by stating "good day."

The pilot of the Piper airplane reported that after cancelling his IFR clearance the controller warned him, "...that there had been numerous traffic in the vicinity of CLW. I acknowledged and I changed my radio to 123.0 and began to monitor for traffic. I crossed the center of the airport from east to west at 1,500 feet. Once on the west side of CLW, I made a left turn and started my descent to traffic pattern altitude, at which time I announced my intentions to enter a left crosswind for runway 16." The flight turned onto the downwind leg and he announced that on the radio. He also reported that "up to this point, no traffic had been observed." He continued on the downwind leg and slowed the airplane, and was looking for traffic. When the flight was approximately two thirds down the downwind leg, the passenger began to shout "look out, look out, look out." He looked to the right and saw an airplane coming at us, which was so close he did not have time to react before the collision. He lost control of the airplane momentarily and then saw a glimpse of the aircraft to his left. He noted that the airplane was "... going down, maybe in a spin." He proceeded to KCLW and landed without further incident.

The pilot-rated passenger who was seated in the right front seat of the Piper airplane reported that while on the downwind leg flying straight and level between 900 and 1,000 feet, he looked to the left, then when he looked to the right out the door, he saw a wheel and the bottom of the fuselage which was blue or white in color, and also saw part of the registration number of the Cessna airplane. The number he saw was either a 6 or 9. He reported that the right wheel of the Cessna airplane hit the right wing of the airplane he was in. He felt the airplane shake two times, pitch straight down, and roll to the left. He thought the closure angle was between 30 and 45 degrees. He reported that at the time of the collision, the visibility was between 15 and 20 miles, there was no rain, and there were no restrictions to visibility.

An individual on the ground at KCLW reported hearing the pilot of the Piper airplane make repetitive radio calls on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) while in the traffic pattern, announcing the intention of landing on runway 16. The same individual who personally knows the pilot of the Cessna airplane, reported hearing him report crossing midfield at KCLW; the Cessna pilot did not report altitude or intention. The individual did not hear any other radio calls from the Cessna pilot.

A witness who was located east of the crash site reported seeing a Cessna airplane fly over his location south-southeast bound, then bank to the right towards a north-northwesterly direction. He observed the Piper airplane flying briefly in a southeasterly direction, then bank to the left towards a north-northwesterly direction. The flight paths converged and it appeared to him that just before the collision, the pilot of the Cessna airplane attempted to maneuver to avoid the collision. The witness further reported that the Cessna pitched up violently for 50-100 feet, then stalled and spun about 3 times before he lost sight of the airplane behind trees. At that point, he observed "...several large pieces floating down from the impact area. One piece appeared to be dark in color and floated slowly down, long after the planes had disappeared."

The NTSB Air Traffic Control Radar Data report (NTSB Radar Report) contains radar data of both aircraft. The NTSB Radar Report indicates the 1200 codes associated with the Piper airplane were reliable and were traced back to the discrete transponder code assigned while the aircraft was operating under an IFR clearance. The 1200 codes associated with the Cessna airplane are presumed to be correct based on witness statements and known facts about the collision. The radar data indicates that the Piper airplane proceeded in a westerly direction just north of the approach end of runway 16 at KCLW, and made a left 180-degree turn that was completed south-southwest from the departure end of runway 16. At that time the airplane was at 900 feet mean sea level (msl). The Cessna airplane was noted flying in an easterly direction approximately 1.3 nautical miles north of the approach end of runway 16, and proceeded east of runway 16/34. The Cessna airplane turned right flying in a southerly direction until approximately 1.3 nautical miles east-northeast from the departure end of runway 16, then began a right turn and proceeded to an approximately 45 degree angle to runway 16/34, flying at 900 feet msl. The Piper airplane flew in a northeasterly direction east of the extended runway centerline for runway 16/34, and turned to the left flying on a northerly heading, while the Cessna airplane turned right also flying on a northerly heading; both flight paths converged. The last radar target associated with the Cessna airplane occurred at 1426:14, the mode C transponder return indicated the airplane was at 900 feet msl. After the collision, the radar plot indicated the Piper airplane flew downwind, base, then onto final approach to runway 16. The Cessna crash site was located in close proximity to the last radar target. The NTSB Radar Report also indicates erratic mode C reports for the Cessna airplane.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: The failure of both pilots to maintain adequate visual lookout while entering the traffic pattern (downwind leg) at an uncontrolled airport resulting in a midair collision.


1. NTSB Identification: MIA04FA043A at
2. FAA:

Revision history:

28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
09-Apr-2017 19:58 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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