WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — While plane crashes are extremely rare — and deaths in one even more so — air disasters have taken hundreds of lives in Connecticut.
The state’s deadliest crashes were all small, private planes, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which tracks and investigates crashes.
There are 170 fatal crashes in the board’s database, with the most deadly claiming nine lives. Investigations into the collisions can take years to complete.
Here are the 10 most deadly aircraft crashes in Connecticut’s history, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Although there are 12 crashes that each had four fatalities, only the most recent are listed:
10. Nov. 10, 1980
Aircraft: Piper PA-31
Summary: The pilot and three passengers were killed when the plane crashed into water, according to the crash report. The plane, which was traveling from Worchester, Massachusetts, to Bridgeport, was trying to perform an emergency landing at the time.
Probable causes of the crash are listed as fuel exhaustion and a pilot who was lost or disoriented.
The full narrative is not available due to the age of the crash.
9. June 11, 1983
Aircraft: Beech K35
Summary: The personal flight crashed after witnesses heard unusual sounds coming from the airplane, according to the crash report. The sound, a witness told investigators, was a sputtering, and then a noise as if the engine started and then restarted. Two other witnesses reported that they heard a backfiring or sputtering noise.
The pilot sent a mayday message before the plane crashed.
The investigation into the crash found that there was no evidence of a mechanical problem. However, the left fuel cap o-ring was cracked from age, and the top of the left wing had signs of fuel streaming.
On the previous flight, which was from Youngstown, Ohio, to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and then to Danbury, the pilot said he had seen fuel streaming from the wing and planned to visit a mechanic about it. A mechanic had told him to replace the o-rings, according to the investigation.
The cause of the crash is listed as a nonmechanical loss of engine power during initial climbing, fuel starvation and inadequate aircraft preflight preparation, among others.
8. Sept. 8, 1984
Aircraft: Bell 206B
Summary: The helicopter hit wires after the pilot announced that he was going to make a low pass over an outdoor event he had attended, according to the crash report. The helicopter flipped upside down and then broke into parts as it fell.
The probable cause of the crash is listed as an inflight collision with an object during maneuvering.
7. Aug. 27, 1988
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-201
Summary: The Piper crashed in a wooded area after the pilot announced that he was going to descend, according to the crash report.
The probable cause of the crash is listed as improper weather evaluation from the pilot, along with an uncontrolled spiral. An investigation found that the aircraft did not malfunction.
6. Dec. 4, 1993
Location: New Haven
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200
Summary: Another pilot noted that the conditions were “rough and turbulent” around the same time that a plane crashed into the water four-and-a-half miles away from the airport, according to the final crash report.
The plane was registered to the University of New Haven. The pilot and the aircraft’s three passengers were killed.
The pilot was enrolled as a student at the university’s flight operations program and was working toward receiving his commercial pilot’s certificate. His body was never found.
The probable cause of the crash is listed as the pilot not maintaining control of the plane during a night approach in adverse weather conditions. Other factors are listed as adverse weather conditions, nighttime, the radar controller’s vectoring not being in accordance with procedures, the radar controller issuing the pilot an altitude that wasn’t in line with procedures and the radar controller failing to give radar monitoring.
5. June 27, 2005
Aircraft: Cessna 182Q
Summary: The personal flight hit the water during its approach to runway five, according to the crash report. Thirty minutes before the crash, the plane made several turns to the right and left, flew straight for the control tower and then made a request to circle again before landing.
The airplane tried to land again, and then approached to the left of the runway. The tower told the pilot that the flight was not on course, but did not receive a response.
The crashed plane was found about a mile away from the runway. Investigators found no evidence that there was a mechanical malfunction or failure.
The probable cause of the crash is listed as the pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control while executing an instrument landing system approach to minimums.
4. Feb. 10, 1970
Aircraft: Dehavilland DHC-6
Summary: The plane’s two crew members and three passengers were killed when the personal flight crashed, according to an incident report.
It was nighttime when a witness saw the plane descend and then crash about two miles away from the airport.
The plane didn’t show any evidence that it had malfunctioned, and there wasn’t any indication that the pilot was incapacitated or impaired, according to the investigation. The probable cause of the crash is listed as high terrain, night light conditions and the pilot not maintaining the proper altitude.
3. March 30, 1986
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-180
Summary: The two crew members and three passengers were killed while on their way from Groton to Jamaica when the plane tried a forced landing on water, according to the crash report.
The probable causes of the crash are listed as the pilot in command having inadequate preflight preparation and planning, having improper inflight decisions or planning, and fuel exhaustion. Other factors are listed as weather, which included rain and fog.
Only two bodies were recovered from the Long Island Sound. The others are presumed dead.
2. April 27, 1994
Aircraft: Piper PA-31
Summary: Eight people were killed, and one seriously injured, when the pilot of the commuter plane flew into fog and didn’t realize the airplane was too high on his approach and landing, according to a final crash report.
The plane crashed into the blast fence and was destroyed. The passenger seats in the plane hadn’t been properly assembled using approved parts, and the seat belts were installed incorrectly.
Although there was “persistent” communication between the local communities and the Federal Aviation Administration, the area was not able to get support for runway safety improvements and approach lighting.
Of the nine people onboard, only one person survived.
- June 14, 1969
Aircraft: Piper PA-23 and Beech 35-B33
Summary: Nine people died after a Piper PA-23 and a Beech 35-B33 collided while in flight. The pilots in both private planes didn’t see the other aircraft, according to the crash report. Weather, including restricted vision and fog, are also listed as factors.
One crew member and all three passengers on the Beech were killed, along with one crew member and all four passengers on the Piper.
The Beech was attempting to land due to the poor weather at the time, according to the investigative report.