According to a recent NTSB Factual Accident Report, on March 12, 2004, a Mooney M20C was flying at 11,000 feet msl, at a point just west of Clovis, NM when it encountered rime icing conditions. After descending to 8,000 feet msl the pilot decided to divert to CVN. The pilot was given vectors for runway 04 and, at approximately 4,400 feet msl, while supposedly “established on the glide slope and localizer”, the aircraft struck something, and all radio communication was lost. The pilot initiated a missed approach and, after flying around for an hour, was able to establish intermittant communication with approach control. After receiving vectors to Cannon Air Force Base, the pilot was able to land the aircraft without incident.
According to an FAA inspector who examined the airplane, the bottom of the aft fuselage and empennage contained “braided” scratches similar to scratchesassociated with power transmission line contact. Several areas exhibited burns and “arcing” and the aft fuselage bulkhead and lower tail cone assembly sustained substantial damage. Additionally, upon inspection of the power lines near the approach to runway 04, it appeared that the aircraft had struck the top phase, 14,000 volt, #2 ACSR conductor wire that, at the point where the damage occurred, was approximately 27 feet, 3 inches, above the ground.
The NTSB Probable Cause Report held that the cause of the accident was “the pilot’s improper in-flight planning and decision making during an instrument approach resulting in the pilot’s intentional descent below approach minimums, and the pilot’s failure to maintain obstacle clearance resulting in the in-flight collision with an object.”
In my book, the pilot of this aircraft is lucky to be alive. At almost 150 feet below the glideslope, this pilot definitely did more than “sneak a peek”. I am not sure if the FAA initiated any enforcement action against the pilot. My guess is that they did. Regardless of whether or not the pilot’s certificate was suspended or revoked, hopefully he learned a lesson from this near-fatal incident.