[Editor’s Note: We received an anonymous tip regarding this crash. Thank you for your contribution. This CAP plane crash was attributed to pilot error.]
On April 9, 1990, Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 2254 from Muscle Shoals, Alabama to Gadsden, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia was involved in a mid-air collision with a Civil Air Patrol Cessna 172 over Gadsden resulting in the death of the CAP pilot and passenger of the Cessna 172.
Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 2254, operated under 14 CFR 135 with an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, registration N217AS, from Muscle Shoals, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia with an intermediate stop at the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport in Gadsden, Alabama collided in mid-air with Civil Air Patrol Cessna 172 registration N99501, on April 9, 1990 over Gadsden. Following departure from Northeast Alabama Regional Airport Runway 24, the ASA flight turned left toward the east along its intended flight path to Atlanta at an assigned altitude of 5,000 feet.
The Cessna 172 was west bound at the same altitude, facing the setting sun. During the head-on collision at 6:05 p.m. Central Daylight Time, the right horizontal stabilizer of the Embraer was torn from the aircraft. Though significantly damaged, the ASA flight managed to return to Northeast Alabama Regional Airport with no injuries to occupants, the Cessna 172 crashed into a field, resulting in fatal injuries to both occupants. An eyewitness to the event did not report any evasive maneuvers by either aircraft prior to the collision.
The probable cause of the crash was attributed by the NTSB to be “inadequate visual lookout by the pilots of both aircraft which resulted in their failure to see-and-avoid oncoming traffic. A factor related to the accident was the sun’s glare, which restricted the vision of the Cessna 172 pilot.”