Sunday, 4 August 2019

N3804X Last three hours of flight dodging storms.

2019 August 4th

Review of publicly available material pertaining to the reported crash of N3804X Beechcraft Bonanza.  I was wondering how a pilot could stray over 350 nm off course purportedly looking for a break in a frontally generated line of thunderstorms.  What follows are some images, the first is the flightpath as reported by FlightRadar24, and the rest of the flight paths are from, a freely accessible site for everyone, lightning information is from the Blitzurtung lightning site.

I have my own thoughts, but I will let you create your own conjecture from the following.  Understand that the pilot was within 50nm along the flight of about 20 METAR reporting airports and   likely 30 perfectly serviceable runways along the flight to the crash. It is hard to understand what pushes a person to their death trying to get home when there are so many safe options.  What could have been so important, so critical, that they would risk skirting thunderstorms for hundreds of miles?  There is great wisdom to the phrase:  "Land and Live."

One contributing factor could have been that the Noranda radar site in Canada was not operational at the time of the crash, so weather in the area of the crash was not serviced by radar.  Also, NEXRAD services extend just a bit into Canada so that would not be available either.  Then add in that conditions changed to NIGHT conditions in the 30 minutes or so leading up to the crash.  What is that other saying I have heard and recited so many times?  "The average pilot can manage one or two challenges concurrently in a flight, but the third one can kill you"  See:

The Canadian Transportation Board has begun an investigation into the crash.  That file is located at:

In the following images, the Blitzurtung lightning data was overlain upon the flight path in one hour increments. The imagery from Blitzurtung and Flight Radar24 was first scaled and rectified in Photoshop to line all geographic points up. Therefore each image represents what was occurring at that time.  The lightning imagery is colour coded:  Red is past two hours, white is past 15 minutes, yellow is in between.

Flightradar24 showed this as the last few minutes of the track for N3804X

Flight Aware lists this as the last flight of N3804, from KDXR to KOSH.

This first image shows the flight path, beginning just before 20:00 UTC on July 29th.

Here is the storm picture at the time of departure.

Here is the storm situation at one hour into the flight.  It could be that the pilot was heading for the break in the storms just ahead of the current position.

At two hours into the flight, something prevented the pilot from turning South East through a break in the lightning and heading down to New Hampshire. I believe, but do not know for certain, that that was the destination for the flight.  I could not find radar data for this time, but likely there was still a lot of build-up and CB in the region.

Three hours into the flight and you can see some curves in the last flight path, likely staying clear of storm cells.  The last reported point is seen clearly just a little bit north of the current lightning reported.  As reported in multiple news sources, the aircraft crashed and the pilot was killed in the crash.  The elevation was reported at 7825 at this last point.

So what do you think went on?  What lesson(s) can be learned from this crash?  The pilot gave their life in this flight, so I feel a responsibility to learn something from it.

Copy from Kathryn's Report:

Monday, August 5, 2019

Beechcraft V35B Bonanza, N3804X: Fatal accident occurred July 30, 2019 in Senneterre, Quebec, Canada

Bruce Cameron

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Bradley

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances.

Two Three Echo Ltd

Date: 30-JUL-19

Time: 01:37:00Z
Regis#: N3804X
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 35
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

Beechcraft V35B Bonanza, N3804X

A small American plane that went missing Monday near Senneterre has been found. The pilot, who was the only person on board, was found dead amid plane wreckage in dense forest in northwestern Quebec.

A Canadian armed forces helicopter sent to search for the Beechcraft V35B Bonanza found it around 7 p.m. Friday in Quebec’s Val d’Or region, about 525 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

Capt. Trevor Reid says the air force, provincial police and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada are investigating.

“It was found in very austere terrain, dense forest and large trees,” he said. “The pilot was found with no vital signs.”

About 100 rescuers from the RCAF, Quebec’s provincial police and other agencies participated in the search operation.

“We hope that this discovery helps the family with its grief and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time,” chief of operations John Landry said in a statement.

Six armed forces aircraft, a Coast Guard helicopter, a Sûreté du Québec helicopter and six Quebec rescue aircraft assisted in the search, as did planes from the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association flown by volunteers.

The plane left an airport in Wisconsin, flying toward Danbury, Connecticut. The pilot deviated from his flight plan toward the north because of weather.

“We know he turned north to avoid a very large storm,” Reid said Saturday. “What remains unknown and what is now part of the investigation … is how he came to be that far north.”

Air traffic control lost contact north of Senneterre, in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

The website, which tracks active flights, indicates the plane, with callsign N3804X, took off at 2:55 p.m. Monday from Wittman Regional Airport near Oshkosh, northwest of Milwaukee. It proceeded northeast over Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, passed between Malartic and Val-d’Or and flew north to Senneterre before turning northwest.

The air force did not identify the pilot.

Original article ➤


Anonymous said...
Bad news and strange. RIP
Anonymous said...
He spent 2+ hours at 11,500'. I wonder if his plane was equipped with oxygen or if he had a malfunction with it leading to confusion and poor decision making. Based on the FlightAware track it looked like he was headed to YUY airport but then turned east. I wonder if he finally ran out of fuel?
Anonymous said...
11 500 for having done that many time won't affect you. Just a small like hangover went you land. Unless he was a smoker. Could be worse. We don't know is the last communication. Could be interesting to know. Might be unconscious and just run out of fuel. The final path of the plane makes it look like free falling.
Anonymous said...
"He spent 2+ hours at 11,500'" Insightful observation. 11,500' is high enough to make a person sleepy. This flight took off a few minutes before 3PM. The plane would've run out of fuel perhaps 5 hours later, getting well into evening. Drone of the engine. Sun setting behind the airplane. Fairly remote stretch of the trip and perhaps not a lot of chatter on the radio.
Anonymous said...
Well, he dodged the storm. This reminds me of the guys in Maine who became lost while moose hunting. They complained to their guide "Hey, you said you were the best guide in the whole US!" He replied "I am! But I don't think we're in the US anymore!"
Anonymous said...
High altitude and long duration flight. No supplemental oxygen even at 11000 feet is a recipe for disaster. Use it above 8000, every time. No oxygen, then stat below 7500. Simple as that.

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