Report released in Novato fatal plane crash


A pilot who died when his plane crashed eight miles west of Novato last month reported partial restoration of the plane’s engine before air traffic controllers lost contact with him, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Robert John Madge, 51, of Redwood City, left Brookings, Oregon, around 7:20 p.m. on Aug. 18 in a Beechcraft Bonanza single-engine aircraft bound for the San Carlos airport, NTSB officials said.

Madge told the Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control facility he was having engine problems and was unable to maintain altitude in the plane, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Madge received vectors to Gnoss Field in Novato 14 miles to the east and while en route, he reported partial engine power was restored, according to the NTSB.

Madge then reported he was losing engine power again and was in the clouds at 1,000 feet. Air traffic controllers lost radar and radio contact when the plane was eight miles west of Novato, NTSB officials said.

The plane crashed in west Marin County north of Hicks Valley around 9:30 p.m. and started a 32-acre brush fire. A witness about a mile southwest of the accident site reported hearing a plane with a loud engine flying low over his house.

Another witness two miles southwest of the accident site also reported a low flying plane at the time of the accident, according to the NTSB. The plane was found near the location of the last radar contact, NTSB officials said.

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