Corporate jets have an amazingly good safety record. It is rare that one crashes because most are flown by two experienced pilots, there are numerous redundant safety systems and the power reserve is such that going around in the event of trouble is almost always an option.

Flight Aware appears to show N605TR, on an RNAV GPS instrument approach to Runway 20 at Truckee Airport. This airport is down in a valley surrounded by very high mountains. Runway 20 is the shorter of the two runways only about 4600 feet long vs. Runway 11 which is 7000 feet.

The winds had switched direction so they were from the East during the approach which would create a quartering tailwind during the approach and landing had the landing been on runway 20.

It appears from the data that the crew elected to circle to land to runway 11, the much longer runway and into the wind which therein lies the problem.

There is a reason airlines no longer fly circling approaches, they are dangerous. The airplane is in landing configuration, in high terrain the visual cues are misleading and a mistake can be fatal.

Instrument approaches, and there was one for Runway 11, end right at or very close to the end of a runway, are usually straight in and require virtually no change in aircraft configuration, speed or descent rate.

That’s why they are flown in what is known as a stabilized approach. On speed, fully configured for landing, normal descent rate. Making a circling approach changes all of that and increases the risks associated with landing especially at a hot, high and mountainous airport like this one. Adverse weather otherwise does not appear to be a factor.

Both approaches are not standard descent rates, both approaches are in mountainous terrain, both can be challenging from the wind direction, suddenly changing, but straight in is way better and way safer.

This is not to say that this accident was caused by the foregoing, but this is what the data shows and this airplane crashed in what appears like a circling approach to the longer runway.  A recording of ATC communications on this approach is attached.

Live N605TR KTRK

The cause remains to be seen.

Arthur Alan Wolk

July 29, 2021




Dale Snodgrass, one of the worlds most accomplished pilots perished in the crash of his single engine aircraft.

Those of us who knew him and flew with him knew ‘Snort” as a magnificent leader, selfless teacher, and fearless pilot.

His accomplishments as a Naval Aviator are legend. He could make an F-14 talk.

I had the privilege of flying with Snort in the CAT Flight for eleven years.

He knew more about war fighting from the air than anyone I ever knew.

He was revered amongst all of us who had the opportunity to fly with him and learn from him.

This accident, of all of them, has impacted me the worst. Dale Snodgrass did not belong among the dead from airplane crashes.

For every man and woman there is that time when no time is expected to follow. Snort was so large, so capable, so magical, such a moment was just never expected.

This is the third of the CAT Flight members who have died and while each passing has been painful this one is so unexpected, so inexplicable, the pain is real but different.

To his lovely family, and the legacy that I hope comforts them, my sincerest condolences and the wish of all CAT Flight brethren that they are able to soon cope with the magnitude of this loss.

Arthur Alan Wolk




The Cessna 421 cabin class twin engine airplane was the queen of Cessna’s attempt to corner the cabin class piston powered twin market in the 1970’s. It was big and was powered by two of the worst engines in modern piston engine aircraft history, the Continental GTSIO-520.

The G stands for geared, the TS turbo-supercharged, the I injected, the O opposed and the 520, the number of cubic inches of displacement. Virtually everything about this engine was troublesome.

The supercharging ruined cylinders that regularly failed before their overhaul time, the gearing made the cabin quieter but was never up to the job of dealing with all the power demanded of the engine. Engine failures occurred constantly especially on takeoff when the power demand was highest.

Worse the airplane’s exhaust system was made first of stainless steel which is brittle and failed repeatedly causing fires and later Inconel parts which should have resulted in better reliability also were found deficient.

All of the above would have been bad enough but if there were an engine failure especially on takeoff the airplane was a handful to control. It flew sideways and unless airspeed was adequate to avoid the dreaded VMC, the airplane would suddenly roll into the failed engine at astonishingly high-speed dooming all aboard.

Because of these well known and documented inadequacies Cessna 421s became cheap to buy though expensive to maintain properly, very expensive!

In Monterey California, a Cessna 421 departed on a mercy flight and flew into overcast conditions.

Suddenly the aircraft bean turning to the right and ultimately descended, crashed and caught fire. Both the pilot and her passenger were killed. While a turning flight after entering an overcast can be caused by lots of things, failure of the right engine is most likely given the good credentials of the pilot and the history of engine failure in this model.

Careful analysis of the engine wreckage is important here but initially the propellers will tell a lot. When loss of engine power occurs, one propeller is bent differently than the other, a tell-tale sign that a failure of the turbocharger, exhaust components, cylinders or even a crankshaft may be the real culprit.

While the airplane is supposed to be able to climb on one engine, in reality on takeoff that rarely if ever is successful because the single engine climb rate and airspeed was determined in a perfect airplane, flown by a test pilot under ideal conditions who knew the failure was going to be simulated. That isn’t reality.

Engine specialists will be needed to examine these engines in detail but no worries the cause of this crash is mechanical and will be found by lawyers like the Wolk Law Firm. We always do.

Sadly, the pilot, an experienced and well thought of woman Mary Ellen Carlin and her passenger Alice Emig, whom she offered to fly to Sacramento on a mercy flight both perished. Their loss is mourned.

Arthur Alan Wolk

July 21, 2021




The Wolk Law Firm recently litigated a takeoff crash of a Mooney M20J in Kansas City Mo.

In that instance two people were killed when the engine lost power intermittently and finally control was lost and it crashed.

The initial NTSB analysis was that water in the fuel caused the engine interruption and it doubled down on the fiction that a rainstorm the night before departure caused water to flood into the fuel tanks that the pilot allegedly did not check after refueling.

It turned out that not only was there a drought and no such rainstorm (that occurred a year later) but the fuel caps on the tanks did not leak and the pilot was seen on surveillance video checking for water.

The cause of the crash, found by The Wolk Law Firm was a failed magneto that had been overhauled some 4.7 flight hours before.  A jury trial resulted in a 9-million-dollar verdict for the plaintiffs.

The magneto in Mooney aircraft is know as a single drive dual mag, in other words a single drive from the engine turns both magnetos in one housing which makes the term “redundant” a euphemism for disaster. The single drive dual mag is not redundant and has been responsible for many accidents and incidents in Mooneys and all other aircraft that use them.

The other recurrent issue in Mooneys is the difficulty in draining water out of the fuel tanks. The fuel drains are raised from the bottom of the fuel tank and care must be exercised to drain enough fuel to get all the water out.

The fact that this airplane flew four hours that day without problems means that likely a mechanical failure in the engine such as the magneto may have caused this crash.

Careful investigation by the Wolk Law Firm is vital to determining the cause of airplane crashes especially when post-crash fires damages or destroys much of the evidence. That is what we do.

We are especially sad that four lives were lost in this crash and wish the families of Henry Punt, Jacquie Ann Fig, Steve Sanz and Kenneth Malinowski our fervent wishes for peace in the face of this tragic loss.

Arthur Alan Wolk

July 21, 2021