Raleigh-Durham Area Aircraft Accidents

Selected Narratives

Last updated: November 5, 2019

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This page presents narrative descriptions of Raleigh-Durham area aircraft accidents, and primarily FATAL, serious, or otherwise notable incidents.

1929 to 1950

1925, FATAL, plane crashes in Coats. One fatality. The light plane was operated by Dr. H. C. Roberts, a prominent physician from Coats. The pilot suffered several broken ribs and a crushed lung, among other injuries. He died on April 28. (April 26, 1925)robesonian30apr25

1929, FATAL, plane crashes at Poindexter Field in Raleigh. One fatality. Pilot is killed at airstrip located outside city limits at the present day site of Jaycee Park on Wade Avenue. Fire department responds. Incident is first fatal airplane crash in Raleigh. (January 11, 1929)rfd

1929, FATAL, plane crashes in Harnett County. One fatality, one injured. The Curtis airplane was owned by a farmer who lived between Dunn and Erwin. He was flying low over their home, dropping a note to his wife, when the craft crashed at 4:30 p.m. The plane entered a dive and struck the top of an outbuilding and struck the ground. The engine dug into the ground, was jammed into the gasoline lank, which ruptured the tank, and spilled gasoline onto the hot engine, which engine and caused a fatal fire. (February 10, 1929)no11feb29, no12feb29

1929, FATAL, plane crashes in Angier. Two fatalities. The light plane departed from "Curtiss Field" (Raleigh Municipal Airport). (December 25, 1929)no13jul30

1940, FATAL, light plane crashes on Highway 15-A, 300 yards south of Raleigh Municipal Airport. Two fatalities. Fairchild 24. Both aboard are killed. The next day, the plane bursts into flames while being towed from site. Unknown if fire department responds. (February 12, 1940)no12feb40, 13feb40

1941, FATAL, Army bomber crashes on approach to Raleigh Municipal Airport. One fatality, one injured. A-24 Douglas dive bomber is making a nighttime approach. It strikes the tops of several pine trees and crashes and burns in the middle of a tent encampment of the 25th Air Base Group, a half-mile north of the airport Plane bursts into flames immediately after striking a recreation tent and a mess tent. Pilot is killed and plane's radio operator is thrown from the plane, injured but able to walk away. Two men in the recreation tent are also injured. Fire department is not called. (November 10, 1941)rt, no11nov41

1942, FATAL, Army bomber crashes after taking off at Raleigh Municipal Airport. Three fatalities, five injured. Twin-engine B-26B. After take-off, strikes group of scrub pine trees about 75 feet from the end of the shorter of the airports two runways, remains airborne for about three-quarters of a mile, and lands in middle of small swamp about 9:30 a.m., kill two airmen and seriously injuring the other five crew members. Six are transported to Rex Hospital, where one dies later. All are burned and suffer other injuries. Rescuers include employees of Serv-Air, operators of the airport, and golfers playing on nearby Raleigh Golf Course. Plane is not carrying any bombs, but 50- caliber machine-gun ammunition is detonating as rescuers arrive. Ambulances are dispatched. Fire department is not called. (August 9, 1942)no10aug42

1943, FATAL, pair of Army pursuit planes crash about three miles south of Raleigh on Garner Highway. Two fatalities. P-47D. Both pilots killed, two of three aircraft flying in formation at time of accident. Raleigh fire department is dispatched at 11:02 a.m. and immediately sends one unit. (October 29, 1943)no30oct43

1944, FATAL, Army Air Corps bomber crashes in Garner. Two fatalities, eight escaped. B-17 bomber. Two crew members are killed and eight others parachute to safety, as the aircraft crashes into a wooded area, five miles southeast of Raleigh. The city fire department is notified of the accident at 5:30 p.m. and sends two trucks and twelve men to the scene. Firefighters are directed by Fire Chief R. W. Butts, who is one of the first officials to arrive at the scene. Highway Patrol officers and military authorities arrive at about the same time. The burning wreckage is scattered over an area 600 yards long and 100 yards wide. Bombs and bullets continue exploding long after the crash. Spectators attracted the scene are warned to keep clear for fear of further explosions. (May 9, 1944)rt10may44, no10may44

1944, FATAL, Army bomber crashes in Raleigh. Five fatalities. Army Air Force B-25C. Crashed near Raleigh-Durham Air Base. (December 13, 1944)nando15dec44

1947, FATAL, light plane crashes into woods west of Wake Forest. Three fatalities. Twin-engine, five-passenger plane. One passenger is rescue before the plane begins to burn, but later dies at the scene while the badly burned bodies of the others are being recovered. The crash site is located five miles west of town. The Raleigh Fire Department also responds. (January 15, 1947)rt15jan47

1947, FATAL, light plane crashes during air show at O'Neal Flying Service field, newly/recently opened airport on the subsequent site of the Raleigh Speedway, two miles north of Raleigh. Two fatalities. Both the pilot and passenger are killed when their plane, one of three engaged in demonstrated precision spins at an altitude of 2,000 feet, plummets wildly to the ground. The accident occurs at 3:20 p.m. and the wreckage is discovered a half-mile from the northern end of the runway. Fire department is not summoned. (June 1, 1947)


1950 to 1969

1950, FATAL, military plane crashes in Fuquay Springs. One fatality. Air Force TF-5H. Crashed two miles south of town on the "Duncan Road." (October 20, 1950)gastongazette20oct50

1950, Air Force training jet crash lands at Raleigh-Durham airport. No injuries. Saber jet. (April 1, 1951)

1953, FATAL, Army C-47 transport crashes in Crabtree Park. Three fatalities. One injured. Just before midnight on January 2, 1953, an Army C-47 transport plane crashed in Crabtree Creek State Park (today called Umstead State Park) while attempting an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham Airport. The weather was raining with dense fog. Three of the four crew members were killed. The fourth member survived, T-Sgt. Edward Matus, who walked to the airport, arriving at the Eastern Airlines office at 1:00 a.m. He followed the "sounds of airplanes taking off." He was rushed to Duke Hospital. The crash was the first fatal airplane accident "since the airport came under civilian operation in 1946." The plane was flying a "routine training flight" from Stewart Air Force Base, in Newburg, NY, to Donaldson Air Force Base, in Greenville, S.C, with a stop at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville. They attempted a landing a Pope, but "visibility there was zero." They diverted to Raleigh-Durham, where visibility "was about a one-quarter of a mile." Their last radio contact with Pope was at 10:41 p.m., when the crew reported "icing at 9,000 feet." The plane crashed in a thickly-wooded area located 1,000 yards from the picnic area.

Matus remembered being struck and falling to the floor in the plane, then waking up in the wreckage. He followed the sounds of airplanes to the airport. "Bleeding profusely despite a crude tourniquet," the survivor stumbled into the nearly empty office. He was "pale with shock and dazed." He couldn't tell from which direction he had come. He was treated at the hospital for "shock and multiple cuts." Wikipedia Photo The 100-person search party included "police, Civil Air Patrol officials, and Air Force investigators." After hours of searching, Highway Patrol officers were sent to the hospital, to retrieve one of the survivor's shoes. The lawmen also procured bloodhounds from the "Cary prison farm." They attempted, though unsuccessfully, to retrace the survivor's steps. None of the residents of the area reported hearing a plane crash. Six hours after they started, a 25-member search party located the wreckage and the bodies of the pilot, co-pilot, and navigator. The plane had crashed in thick woods, some 1,000 yards from the park's picnic area. The wings were sheared by the trees, and the tail section separated. The area "reeked of high-octane gasoline" but there was no fire, as the pilot had cut power. The plane's gear was down. The wreckage was "less than two miles from the airport's control tower."

The dead airmen were Capt. Louis R. Gossman, pilot, First Lt. Norman W. Joyce, co-pilot, both of Donaldson Air Force Base, and First Lt. Robert W. Shaw, of Pope Air Force Base. The area was subsequently secured, though "crowds of curious persons" had converged on the wreckage earlier, "picking up souvenirs from the broken parts of the plane." Cars also jammed the gate at the park entrance, and caused traffic problems on the highway. The process of moving the wreckage started on January 4. (January 2, 1953)rt03jan53, no04jan53, no05jan53

1956, FATAL, Air Force training jet crashes at Chapel Hill Airport. One fatality, one injury. The T-33-A crashed a half-mile east of the airport's main runway. The pilot was killed instantly, and the passenger sustained two broken legs and other fractures. The plane was on a routine training flight from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. (January 7, 1956)dailytarheel10jan56

1964, FATAL, plane crashes at Raleigh Municipal Airport. One fatality. One injured. Single-engine Piper J4F, only recently purchased, begins losing power about 100 feet above the runway after taking off. Pilot attempts to turn around and plane nose-dives to earth. Pilot is killed, passenger, nine year-old son, survives. (August 1, 1964)no02aug64

1965, Light plane crashes after take-off at Raleigh-Durham airport. Four aboard, no injuries. Crashes near airport, the occupants walk a mile to an airport, and flag down a United Airlines plane about to take off. (February 21, 1965)

1965, FATAL, Light plane crashes into lake at Umstead State Park. Five fatalities. Single-engine Cessna 182. Plane crash lands in freezing waters about two miles south of airport, which attempting a landing at the airport. Searching party finds body of woman floating near the plane. Crash occurs between 10:30 and 11 p.m. Plane is found in middle of 55-acre lake, submerged except for portion of tail. (February 25, 1965) no26feb65

1965, FATAL, one-person rotorcraft crashes at airport. One fatality. Bensen B8M gyrocopter crashes during low-altitude, high-speed maneuver as part of final day of third annual Popular Rotocraft Association fly-in. The crash occurs about noon, when the craft is flying at about 20 feet off the ground. (June 27, 1965) no28jun65, aviationdb

1966, FATAL, one-person rotorcraft crashes at airport. One fatality. Pilot is killed instantly when the Bensen B8M gyrocopter plummets an estimated 1,500 feet. Accident occurs about 11:30 a.m. on east end of east-west runway. (October 22, 1966) no23oct66, aviationdb

1967, FATAL, military training plane crashes in Orange County. Two fatalities. Single-engine T-28, a training plane of Korean War vintage. It crashed woods about five or six north (or northwest) of Chapel Hill, killing both occupants instantly. The aircraft had departed RDU airport at 12:10, to return to New River Marine Air Field in Jacksonville, NC. The crash occurred at 12:20 p.m. (May 10, 1967)dailytarheel11may67

1967, light plane crashes in Chapel Hill. Two injured, one serious. The plane crashed on take-off from Horace Williams Airport, and may have been trying to return to the runway when it stalled. The plane was broken in half by the impact. The pilot and passenger were transported to Memorial Hospital, one with lacerations and a concussion, the other with a skull fracture and "mild brain damage." (May 10, 1967)dailytarheel11may67

1968, FATAL, light plane crashes in Hillsborough. One fatality. Single-engine Cessna 172. (April 24, 1986)aviationdb

1968, FATAL, twin-engine light plane at airport. One fatality, two injured. Twin-engine Beechcraft D55 crashes about a half-mile away from the front of the main terminal. One passenger killed; two with serious injuries. Incident occurs about 12: 20 a.m. Aircraft is headed west and crashes about 2,300 feet from the end of the runway, having veered around 750 feet to the left. (December 17, 1968) no17dec68, aviationdb

1969, FATAL, light plane crash in Clayton. One fatality. Piper JSC-65. Crashes and burns in open field, while spraying crops. Crash time 11:45 a.m. (July 10, 1969) 

1969, FATAL, light plane crash in Wake Forest. One fatality. Piper PA-23. Crashes into trees on approach to Raleigh-Durham airport. Crash time 7:07 a.m. (September 16, 1969)  ADD TO MAP

1969, FATAL, light plane crash in Apex. One fatality. Piper J3C. Crashes after experiencing engine failure on take-off from Beckwith airstrip. Crash time 11:50 a.m. (November 29, 1969) ADD TO MAP


1970 to 1979

1970, FATAL, light plane crashes in Benson. Three fatalities, one injured. Single-engine Cessna 172K. Crashed within a quarter mile of Mclamb airfield. (January 10, 1970)aviationdb

1970, FATAL, light plane crashes south of Interstate 40. Five fatalities. Twin-engine Cessna 401A. All five passengers killed while aircraft attempts landing in fog. Late-night crash site is not discovered until morning. Located within two miles of the airport. (April 2, 1970).no, aviationdb 

1970, FATAL, light plane crashes in Garner. One fatality. Piper PA-28. Crashes after striking power lines, four miles from Raleigh Municipal Airport, due to "unwarranted low flying." Crash time 5:30 p.m. (August 20, 1970)

1971, FATAL, light plane collides with Eastern Airlines passenger jet southwest of airport. Two fatalities. Both people aboard single-engine Cessna 206 are killed when McDonnell Douglas DC-9 descends on top of it, while on final approach to Runway 5. Accident occurs at 1:46 p.m. Cessna crashes. Flight #898 carries 23 passengers and four crew. NTSB determines probable cause as "inadequacy of air traffic control facilities and services in flight paths of the two aircraft and the configurations physically limited each flight crew's ability to see and avoid the other aircraft." (December 4, 1971)no, ntsb/asn

1972, light plane crash lands on rural road near airport. Two injured. The nose gear of the single-engine Cessna 182 is torn off and the plane flips on its back and becomes tangled in some power lines, about ten feet off the paved road. Both occupants are transported to the hospital by State Highway Patrol helicopter, which located the crash site at 12: 35 p. m. about two miles northeast of the airport. (April 13, 1972)no14apr72

1972, plane crash lands in a store parking lot in Cary. Three injured. The single-engine Cessna 180 is approaching the airport, when it crashes at 12:55 a.m. Apparently runs out of fuel, strikes a set of high-voltage electric transmission lines, and crash-lands in the parking lot adjoining a Kroger grocery story, at the corner of Kildaire Farm and Maynard roads. Two of the passengers suffer multiple fractures. (July 22, 1972)no23jul72

1975, light plane crashes near Highway 54 in Morrisville. Two injured. Bellanca Viking 300 is about 1.5 miles southwest of airport, on approach pattern, when the pilot reported engine trouble. Plane crashed 30 seconds later, about 2:30 p.m. The plane crashed in a wooded area about 50 feet off Highway 54, and cut a path through the trees, which tore off the right ring. It crossed the road, hit a ditch, and which ripped off wheels, and slid into the woods about 20 feet off the road, uprooting more trees, that tore off the left wing. The plane stopped about 200 feet from the entrance to a mobile home park, Mobile City, located on the east side of Highway 54 some 200 feet north of Green Drive. Morrisville FD and Cary Rescue Squad arrived minutes after the crash. The two occupants were transported with injuries, one critical. (January 5, 1975)no06jan75

1977, FATAL, light plane crashes on Ridge Road in Raleigh, after striking steeple of Highland United Methodist Church. One fatality. Accident occurs about 4:48 p.m., the Cessna 150E crashing into the front yard of a house a block away from the church. The pilot's body is thrown clear of the crash, across a driveway, and into a chain link fence. No fire is discovered at either the church or the crash. Neighbors plug the leaking fuel tank with sticks and begin searching for the pilot's body. Twisted piece of metal remains draped on peak of church roof, while shattered parts of aircraft are scattered throughout yard of residence at 1924 Ridge Road. The aircraft was returning from a brief flight to Durham Sky Park when radio communications were lost at 5:10 p.m. At 5:53 p.m., the Raleigh-Durham Airport tower was notified of the crash by the police. NTSB report cites probable cause as pilot "diverted attention from operation of aircraft" and "failed to see and avoid objects or obstructions" and was engaged in "unwarranted low flowing." Read NTSB reports. (June 19, 1977)no20jun77

1978, FATAL, light plane crashes near airport. Four fatalities. Two injured. Twin-engine Aero Commander 680 disappears from radar at 8 p. m. and begins emitting automatic distress signal. About 300 searchers, including private citizens who join after hearing about the crash on their CB radio, are hampered by fog, swampy, wooden terrain, difficulty tracing the emergency transmitted of a downed craft. One or more local television stations scroll message across bottom of screen announcing crash and that authorities need everyone with a CB radio to report to the airport. People begin streaming into airport with cars lined up on I-40 and US70 for at least a mile in each direction. Airport Road is equally crammed, with people chasing down all sorts of reports and little convoys of cars and trucks going everywhere. Meanwhile, a member of Raleigh's Civil Air Patrol is attempting to take-off when his Emergency Location Transmitter (ELT) is activated, sending rescuers to the north area of the airport.

After a Coast Guard helicopter from Elizabeth City equipped with triangulation equipment arrives, a command post is set up on Interstate 40. The wreckage site is narrowed to an area south of I-40 and, about an hour, is spotted by members of the search party. Two survivors are located, one who is pinned in the wreckage for five hours and later listed in fair condition, and another with frostbite on both legs and multiple abrasions and cuts, having apparently been thrown from the plane and discovered wandering about 200 feet from the wreckage crying "Mama, help me. "Four others are dead. Cause of crash is not immediately known, though one of survivors says the plane "hit one hell of a tall tree, " lost its left wing, and spun to the ground. Authorities also discover at least $20, 000 in cash and about 2 pounds of marijuana in the wreckage. Read NTSB reports. (February 13, 1978)no15feb78, oh



1980, FATAL, light plane crashes into wooded area about half-mile from runway. One fatality, one injured. Pilot is killed and passenger is critically injured. They are testing flying a new single-engine plane when the crash 8:12 p.m. southwest of the airport. Controllers lose contact with the plane between 8:10 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. After almost an hour's search, the wreckage is located by airport firefighter Eddie Pegram. The first "rescue alarm" is received at 8:15 p.m. The plane is found in a wooded area, with the nose down. Both male occupants were trapped in the plane. Extricating the injured passenger takes about an hour. He's transported to Wake Medical Center by Cary Area Rescue Squad. Read NTSB reports. (February 12, 1980)rt13feb80

1981, FATAL, light plane crashes near Chapel Hill High School. Seven fatalities. The twin-engine Cessna 310 crashed into thick forests about 300 yards from a residence on Homestead Road, more than a mile north of Horace Williams Airport. The RDU control tower lost contact with the aircraft at 7:10 p.m. The aircraft clipped trees as it crashed, and had its landing gear down. After striking the trees, the plane traveled 500 to 600 yards before hitting the ground and turning over. The nose, an engine, and parts of the wings were torn off by the impact. (Saturday before February 8, 1981)starnews08feb81, observerreporter09feb81

1981, FATAL, light plane crashes at Chapel Hill airport. One fatality, three injured. The Piper Tri-Pacer crashed about 7:25 p.m. after taking off. It climbed to about 200 feet, turned to the left, and crashed about 125 feet to the left of the runway. The occupants were trapped in the plane for over 30 minutes, while rescuers performed extrication. (June 4, 1981)

1981, light plane crashes near Chapel Hill airport. One injured. Piper Comanche crashed into woods near Horace Williams airport. Pilot suffered severe forehead cuts and a broken ankle. The crash occurred about 10:00 p.m. in a wooded area behind Elizabeth Seawell Elementary School. (October 30, 1981)dailytarheel02nov81

1982, FATAL, light plane crashes near Knightdale airport. Two fatalities. The Bede 4 custom-built aircraft was landing at the airport. Witnesses said it appeared to circle and was coming in for final approach when it hit the top of the trees and crashed. Both victims were killed on impact. The aircraft crashed into north of Highway 64, between 0.25 and 0.50 miles from the runway's north end, reported the News & Observer. Another news account stated the crash site as a wooded area 1.5 to 1.75 miles from the airport, and three miles from Knightdale, near unpaved State Road 2236. The crash occurred about 6:30 p.m. (March 18, 1982)timesnews19mar82, nando19mar82

1983, light plane crashes into pasture in Fuquay-Varina, killing a horse. The Cherokee 140 had just taken off from South Raleigh Airport, when the student pilot crashed after losing power after take off. The pilot was uninjured. (August 15, 1983)thecourier16aug83

1984, FATAL, light plane crashes into wooden area in Franklin County. Two fatalities [?]. Witnesses reported seeing someone jump from the plane, moments before it crashed. Wreckage was scattered over a half-mile strip, with wings and tail section about a quarter-mile from the rest of the plane. (December 6, 1984)Star News, 07dec84

1985, FATAL, experimental plane crashes at Umstead State Park shortly after takeoff. One fatality. Crash site found about 200 feet from Umstead Park Lake. Pilot of the experimental, home-built McClellan J. Grote Dragonfly is killed. Owner/builder prepares aircraft for its first flight, including high-speed taxi tests, repairs to a brake line, and engine adjustments. Two 17.6 pound barbell eights are tied to the wing lift bulkhead with 5/16 inch hemp rope for purposes of weight and balance. Decision is made for owner's father, an experienced pilot, to fly initial test flight. Pilot makes a high-speed run with option to takeoff, but aborts when engine developed a miss. Pilot performs a satisfactory run-up and becomes airborne on next attempt. After taking off, pilot remains in traffic pattern and turns onto a downwind for Runway 23. Aircraft then noses over and crashes in a near-vertical descent. Two helicopters utilized in search effort, one from North Carolina National Guard and one from WRAL-TV. Subsequent examination of flight control system reveals no evidence of pre-impact malfunction. All fractures show evidence of overload failure. Ballast weights were not secured in accordance with normal aeronautical practices. There is evidence that they could have come loose and jammed the flight controls or shifted the center of gravity. Read NTSB reports. (February 22, 1985) ntsb, oh

1985, FATAL, light plane crashes while trying to land at private airstrip near Carrboro. Two fatalities. The four-seat Cessna Skyhawk is witnessed crashing about 3:00 p.m., and was upside down and burning when a witness reached the scene. He pulled one of the passengers from the wreckage, who was taken to a Chapel Hill hospital with serious injuries, and later died. The aircraft had taken off from the private airfield, located about three miles northwest of town on Lake Hogan Farm, and had apparently experienced trouble while flying, and was attempting to return to the airstrip. (October 1, 1985)nando02oct85

1986, FATAL, light plane crashes at Umstead State Park after takeoff. Two fatalities. Pilot and wife are killed after twin-engine Piper PA-60 is taking off from Runway 14. Ground witnesses and control tower observe aircraft using nearly all of runway for takeoff roll. After an abrupt rotation, controller observes aircraft yaw to left and make low-altitude left turn. Seconds later, the aircraft rapidly descends into the trees and catches fire. Left propeller is found in feathered position and left engine is consumed by ground fire. No evidence of internal engine failure. Witnesses heard the aircraft takeoff with a series of loud backfires 25 days prior to accident. Injector nozzles on right engine were leaned to correct the problem after six hours of operation one week later. Pilots log fails to show any recent training in single engine procedures. Same pilot was surrounded by Secret Service agents a few weeks earlier during visit by President Ronald Reagan, after attempting to taxi out during time President is on the airport. Pilot is held until President gets off airport. Conspiracy theories abound after pilot's death just a short time later. Read NTSB reports. (July 24, 1986) ntsb, no, oh

1988, FATAL, American Eagle commuter plane crashes at RDU. Twelve fatalities. Visit this page. (February 19, 1988)

1988, FATAL, light planes collide near airport. Two fatalities. Two people are killed and one person is uninjured aboard Piper PA-28R and Cessna 172, both departing for formation flight to Petersburg, VA. Piper is lead aircraft and Cessna is wingman. Cessna pilot later reports that during takeoff and initial climb, the lead aircraft begins to accelerate ahead of him. The Piper turns slightly right and levels at approximately 1500' as the Cessna tries to regain position and keep lead aircraft in sight. Wingman reports having difficult seeing lead aircraft with city lights in background. Wingman's aircraft begins "building up momentum" and he trims to level off at 1500'. After flight is cleared to contact departure control, wingman looks away to locate and change radio frequencies. While changing frequencies, he loses sight of the lead aircraft. Subsequently, the Cessna converges on the Piper, but the wingman doesn't see it until just before his prop and nose gear strike the vertical fin and fuselage of the piper. The Piper enters an uncontrolled descent and crashes. The Cessna's engine loses power, but the wingman makes a successful forced landing on Runway 32 with a failed nose gear. Read NTSB reports. (May 25, 1988) ntsb

1989, FATAL, light plane crashes near airport. One fatality. Twin-engine, four-seat Beechcraft E55 crashed about 11:30 a.m., striking trees and crashing into a wooded area several hundred yards behind a house, in a subdivision off Countrywood Road, near the intersection of Highway 50 and Highway 98.

The aircraft departs airport at 11:19 a.m. Four minutes later, at 11:22 a.m., flight is cleared to Tar River VOR. Pilot "rogers" instructions as last recorded conversation. Witnesses report hearing engines revving up before aircraft impacts ground. One witness reports seeing airplane is nose-low attitude before impact. No weather difficulties were reported by pilot and no depictions of thunderstorm activity within the flight plan vicinity were seen on radar. No pre-impact failure or malfunction is found. Radar data shows some instability in heading, altitude, and airspeed between 11:20:51 a.m. and 11:23:40 a.m.. Read NTSB reports. (August 10, 1989) ntsb, star-news, 11aug89

1989, FATAL, light plane crashes near Chapel Hill airport. One fatality. Crashes while attempting an emergency landing, about 9:25 p.m., into heavily wood area off Seawell School Road, and not far from the elementary school and the high school school. The aircraft is nearly entirely destroyed by a resulting fire, with the tail the only recognizable section. (August 11, 1989)nando12aug89


1990 to 1999

1991, FATAL, news helicopter crashes in field in Fuquay-Varina. Three fatalities, one injured. The Aerospatiale AS350D Astar, operated by WTVD, is returning from a reporting assignment in Wilmington when it crashed at 12:15 a.m. into a open rural field off Highway 401. The craft skidded for about thirty yards, and landed upright. The fuselage split into two pieces, and the front of the cockpit was destroyed. Four people were aboard, and one survived, ejected from the craft. He was injured and walked a half-mile through dense woods to get help. It took about forty-minutes for him to reach the house. He was transported to Wake Medical Center with a broken ankle and deep cut on his arm. Rescuers located the crash site at 3:45 a.m. Read NTSB reports. (December 7, 1991)times-news08dec91

1992, FATAL, light plane crashes near airport. Two fatalities. Four-seat, single-engine Piper Cherokee goes down about a half-mile behind a Toyota dealership at 9100 Glenwood Avenue about 10: 45 p. m. Both persons are killed, including a Wake County Commissioner. Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight had been cleared for Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach to airport. Low ceilings and fog at time of accident. Examination of radar data shows aircraft heading varying numerous times from one side of the approach to the other. Aircraft is found in wooded area approximately one mile from airport, on the centerline for the ILS. Examination of aircraft reveals navigational instruments operating within factory specifications. Examination of instrument landing system at airport reveals system is operation within specifications. Read NTSB reports. (February 18, 1992) ntsb

1993, FATAL, light plane crashes near golf course in Chapel Hill. Three fatalities. The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza crashes about 4:30 p.m. near Finley Golf Course, minutes after taking off from Horace Williams Airport. The pilot had radioed that he was having engine problems. (December 11, 1993)chherald12dec93

1994, private plane crashes near airport. Two injured. The single-engine Piper Cherokee goes down in heavily wood area near Hickory Grove Church Road, about three miles from airport. Pilot and passenger walk from wreckage to nearby house to report crash about 9:45 p. m. Both are transported to Wake Medical Center and later listed in stable condition. From NTSB report:

On April 14, 1994, at 2157 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28- 140, N6380W, collided with trees during a forced landing, about 3 miles northeast of the Raleigh-Durham Airport, Raleigh, North Carolina. Visual conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal, night flight operated under 14 CFR Part 91, with no flight plan filed. The airplane was destroyed; the pilot and passenger received minor injuries. The flight departed the Allegheny County Airport, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 1830 hours.

According to the pilot, he diverted into Raleigh to refuel, but while on final the
engine quit. The pilot elected to leave the fuel selector on the right tank; the right fuel gauge showed approximately one half tank of fuel. Attempts to restore full engine power failed, and the pilot selected an area along the final approach course to runway 23R for a forced landing.

Examination of the airplane disclosed that the left fuel tank was half full and the right tank was ruptured. A few drops of fuel was recovered from the gascolator assembly. During an interview with the pilot, he stated that he forgot to change the fuel selector before the engine quit. (April 14, 1994)

1994, FATAL, American Eagle commuter plane crashes in Morrisville at night, approximately 5 miles short of runway. Fifteen fatalities. Visit this page (December 13, 1994)

1995, FATAL, light plane crashes on airport property. Two fatalities. The single-engine Piper PA-28 clips trees and crashes into wooded area at 4:20 a.m. and while on approach to Runway 23. Both persons are killed. Pilot is unable to land at Franklin County airport in Louisburg, NC, following two radar approaches and two instrument approaches due to low clouds and visibility, and diverts to RDU for instrument landing system approach. According to radar data, flight path of aircraft deviates from side to side of localizer course centerline for most of approach. Aircraft impacts terrain approximately 1/2 mile northeast of approach end of Runway 23L at approximately 400 feet MSL. The decision height for the ILS runway 23L approach is 636 feet MSL. (July 5, 1995) ntsb, dispatch04jul95

1997, FATAL, biplane crashes at Lake Jordan. Two fatalities. The antique Steadman biplane crashed about 300 yards off-shore, near Farrington Point, on the north end of the lake. The plane landed in about 18 feet of water. Witnesses reported that the plane was about 100 feet above ground when it suddenly nosed dives. The pilot was attempting an "interverted loop" stunt. The occupants were rescued about an hour after crashing, but could not be revived. (April 20, 1997)dailytarheel21apr97

1997, FATAL, light plane crashes in woods on airport property. One fatality. Single-engine Cessna 172. Disappears from radar at 8:11 p. m., six minutes after take-off. Wreckage is located at 11:18 p.m. Emergency workers find the plane's wreckage scattered in woods on the airport property. Read NTSB reports. (December 24, 1997)

1998, light plane crashes at Chapel Hill airport. Three injured. Single-engine Cessna 195. Crashed at 8:05 p.m. on the west end of the airport, about 40 yards to the north side of the runway, and 20 feet from the airport fence. The plane flipped when it struck the ground. Firefighters had to cut a small piece of the engine, tor rescue the passengers. Two sustained critical injuries, and third was listed as serious condition. (February 25, 1998)dailytarheel26feb98, 27feb98

1998, light plane crash lands on sports field at Chapel Hill middle school. No injuries. The pilot of the RV4 lost power on approach to Horace Williams Airport and attempted an emergency landing on the practice field of Guy B. Phillips Middle School. Nearing the field, he saw that a sports team was on the field, so he aimed for the school's parking lost. The plane struck trees near the lot and crashed. (August 29, 1998)dailytarheel05jan99


2000 to Present

2000, light plane crashes near Horace Williams airport. Two injured. Piper Cherokee Warrior on approach to airport as storms arrived. Crashed just before 11:00 a.m. at intersection of Estes Drive and Airport Road. Two occupants transported to UNC Hospital, listed each in good and fair condition. The aircraft crashed into trees on the corner, and continued into a storage area in the parking lot of the UNC physical plant building. (May 25, 2000)wral, dailytarheel01jun00

2000, light plane crashes near private airstrip in Apex. Two fatalities. Single-engine aircraft. Plane had just left Cox Airfield when the engine stalled halfway into its ascent, reported witnesses. It crashed to the ground, struck an embankment, and slid ten feet into a wooded area. (Sunday on/before May 15, 2000)theitem15may2000

2001, light plane crashes near Interstate 85 and Falls Lake. Two injured. Single-engine aircraft. Plane was approaching Lake Ridge Aero Park when it crashed about 11:30 a.m., and became lodged in a tree about 50 feet from Interstate 85. Both received non-life threatening injuries. (Saturday before March 11, 2001)starnews11mar01

2001, FATAL, light plane crashes near airport. One fatality. Two Injured. Twin-engine DeHavilland DHC-6. Crashes near the center of Umstead State Park while on approach to the airport. Pilot is killed and two passengers are transported to Wake Medical Center after control tower loses radar contact with plane 12:22 a. m. Emergency workers are notified of possible plane down at 12: 40 p. m. A park ranger discovers the wreckage lying across Company Mill Road after smelling jet fuel, about 2. 5 miles southeast of the airport at 3: 28 a. m. From NTSB report:

Accident occurred Monday, July 31, 2000 at RALEIGH, NC
Aircraft: Dehavilland DHC-6-200, registration: N201RH
Injuries: 1 FATAL, 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

The flight had proceeded without incident until a visual approach was made to the destination airport, but a landing was not completed because of poor visibility due to ground fog. The pilot then requested vectors to another airport, and was advised by ATC that he was below radar coverage, and he could not be radar identified. The pilot stated he would proceed to a third airport; he was given a heading, instructed to proceed direct to the airport, and report the field in sight. He was told to over-fly the airport, and might be able to descend through a clearing in the clouds. An inbound air carrier flight reported instrument meteorological conditions on the final approach to a parallel runway. At a location of 1. 13 miles east of the airport, the flight, for no apparent reason, turned south, away from the airport. The last radio contact with pilot was after ATC told him his heading was taking him away from the airport and he said he was turning back. The last known position of N201RH was 1. 95 miles southeast of the airport, at 500 feet MSL. According to the statement of the passenger that was sitting in the co-pilot's seat, ". . . all we could see were city lights and darkness underneath us. We were in a right turn, when I saw the trees and subsequently hit it. " According to the pilot's log book and FAA records revealed a limitation on his commercial pilot certificate prohibited him from carrying passengers for hire at night and on cross-country flights of more than 50 nautical miles. The records did not show any instrument rating. As per the entries in his personal flight logbook, he had accumulated a total of 1, 725. 2 total flight hours, 1, 550. 9 total single engine flight hours, and 184. 3 total flight hours in multi-engine aircraft of which 145. 6 hours were in this make and model airplane. In addition, the logbooks showed that he had a total of 487. 3 cross country flight hours, 61. 9 total night flight hours, and 21. 6 simulated instrument flight hours. (Monday, July 31, 2000) no

2001, FATAL, Light plane crashes into house at 7609 Stone Horse Court near Umstead Park. Three fatalities. One injured on ground. Piper PA-46-350P. Pilot had attempted one landing and was going around for another attempt. Upon striking the house, the building exploding, possibly from a ruptured natural gas line. One person was inside the home, and he escaped with slight injuries. Three people were aboard the aircraft. Two were thrown from the plane. The house was destroyed by the fire, which rekindled the following day. The explosion and fire also destroyed a nearby vehicle, and caused minor damage to surrounding homes. Responding agencies included the Raleigh Fire Department and the Durham Highway Fire Department.

From NTSB preliminary report:

"On December 12, 2001, about 1906 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-46-350P, N41003, operated by M&M Aero LLC, as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 business flight impacted with a private home in a residential area about 2 miles southeast of the Raleigh-Durham International (RDU) Airport, Raleigh, North Carolina. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. An IFR flight plan was filed and activated. The airplane and a house were destroyed. The private rated-pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. There were no injuries on the ground. The flight had originated from the Dothan, Alabama Airport at 1600 central standard time. According to Air Traffic Control (ATC) the flight was picked up over the Buzzy intersection at 9, 000 feet and the pilot requested lower. He was given 6, 000 feet and once he joined the localizer, he was given a further clearance to 3, 000 feet. In addition, he was asked to maintain 170 knots until the final approach fix.

The pilot was cleared for the ILS Runway 5R approach and was observed on radar at 2, 900 feet, at a speed of 150 knots at the final approach fix. The local tower controller issued the pilot clearance to land runway 5R and gave him the rollout runway visual range (RVR) of 4, 000 feet.

Radar showed that after crossing the final approach fix the flight maintained an altitude of 2, 900 well above the glide path and a ground speed of about 118. During the entire approach until midway down the runway the flight never descended below 2, 000 feet. The controller asked the pilot if he was going around and he answered he was. ATC cleared the pilot to maintain 2, 000 feet, and fly runway heading, which the pilot read back correctly. Radar data showed the airplane turned right to a heading of about 123 degrees then descended to 1, 400 feet and within 5 seconds climbed to 1, 600 feet. The flight stayed at 1, 600 feet for about 30 seconds and then disappeared from radar.

The reported weather at RDU at 1803 was: wind calm, visibility 1/4 mile, ceilings 100 broken, 800 overcast, temperature 52 degrees F, and dew point 52 degrees F, altimeter 30. 31 in Hg. " Read NTSB reports. (December 12, 2001)

2003, F-15E Strike Eagle fighter crashes in Johnston County. Pilot and Weapons System Officer eject without injuries. The jet crashed during a training exercise 25 miles of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, about 5:00 p.m. in a wooded area near Strickland Crossroads Road. One flier's parachute was snagged in a tree, and he was rescue about an hour after the crash. (June 4, 2003)wral

2004, FATAL, Light plane crashes into small lake near Brampton Moors apartments off W. Chatham Street in Cary. Two fatalities. Mooney M20M. The aircraft was on approach to RDU, having made two aborted attempts to land. Five miles from the airport, it veered off course, and crashed at 3:20 p.m. The plane clipped trees and barely missed the apartment buildings before striking the lake and breaking apart. Fragments landed just twenty feet from buildings. Two occupants were aboard, both killed. At least one neighbor witnessed the crash, and jumped in the water, hoping to find survivors. Responders located the downed aircraft at 3:45 p.m. Rescuers used diving equipment to locate the victims in approximately eight feet of water. The second victim was located the day after the crash. Responders included the Apex Fire Department's dive team. Read NTSB reports. (May 3, 2004)ntsb, wral?05may04

2004, FATAL, light plane crashes on approach to airport. One fatality. Single-engine Beech A36 crashes on approach to airport, after pilot reports that his engine had failed. The plane struck two power lines before striking the ground. The wreckage debris was scattered over an area 45 feet wide and 125 feet long. The main wreckage was inverted in a creek 4,800 feet on an extended centerline on the approach side for Runway 23L. The pilot died on impact. (May 16, 2004)ntsb

2005, FATAL, National Guard helicopter crashes near Buckhorn Dam on the Cape Fear River on the Chatham and Lee county line. Two fatalities. AH-64 Apache. Crash occurs about 8:30 p.m. The helicopter, with a two-man crew and no weapons, was on a routine training mission. The National Guard lost communication about 8:00 p.m. Responders established a command post at the Lee County Boat Ramp, and used all-terrain vehicles to search wooded areas near the crash site. Rescue efforts were hampered by the darkness, by rain, and confusion to where the craft may have crashed. Responders were assisted by a North Carolina State Highway Patrol helicopter, and another National Guard helicopter. The wreckage was found about 10:30 p.m. Power lines were found down on both sides of the river, near the dam. (May 6, 2005)wral06may05



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