Following a structural failure, a 1992 Mooney M20M crashed in Victoria, Minnesota, last Saturday (August 7, 2021), while it was approaching to land at Flying Cloud (KFCM) Airport in Minnesota. All three aboard were killed in the crash. The plane hit hard on an empty lot near residences. No one on the ground was injured.
The plane was flown by a Nebraska physician. Aboard were his stepson and his stepson’s wife, who was also a physician. There was no sense of alarm in the words of the pilot as he communicated with ATC on approach to land at the suburban Twin Cities GA airport, but flight track data shows numerous deviations from the expected flight track, and investigators will be looking to see if that signaled the beginning of the structural failure.
Mainstream media stories on the crash are mostly reporting some version of, “parts fell off the plane,” but it’s worse than that. Investigators confirmed early on that they had found parts of the tail, including parts of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator, located a few blocks away from the plane. Alarmingly, those quick instants of video as the plane enters the frame show both of the Mooney’s wings folded upward. The plane was literally falling from the sky, and the impact forces were unsurvivable.
One of the reasons that structural failures are almost unheard of in Mooneys is that the M20 has a one-piece continuous spar, and the forces required to break it are estimated to be well north of 20 Gs. So how the spar broke is the question that will be on investigators’ minds as they continue the probe.
But while they do, the crash has caused great concern within the Mooney community. One Mooney owner told Plane & Pilot, “A bunch of us grew up on the lore of Al and Art Mooney’s indestructible wing and we’re fishing for damn near any plausible reason [to explain the structural failure].”