September 2004 Accident Reports

These September 2004 Accident Reports are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, they are intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Mountain Home, Idaho.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The 634-hour pilot took the plane without authorization. The pilot’s father reported his son had been depressed recently and confirmed that he had been taking medication that would have precluded him from legally obtaining a medical certificate. The pilot had his medical certificate denied once because of the use of antidepressants, but was able to get a medical in subsequent years when he did not disclose the previous denial of his certificate or his use of antidepressants on the application.

The owner of the aircraft stated that the pilot had been checked out by a CFI and was authorized to rent aircraft. However, the aircraft owner stated that he was not aware the pilot was on medication. The aircraft was seen flying over a canyon. A witness said the aircraft was flying very low to the ground, then pulled up steeply. The wreckage of the aircraft was found on the side of a mountain. It was determined that the aircraft had collided with the rising terrain. Toxicological testing detected multiple medications, including an anti-psychotic medication, two prescription mood stabilizing medications used in the treatment of manic depression and a high level of a prescription antidepressant in the pilot’s system.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from high terrain while maneuvering.

Aircraft: Piper J3 Cub.

Location: Louise, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The 1,600-hour private pilot was attempting to land at a private airstrip. While on the downwind leg the pilot thought he was applying carburetor heat, but inadvertently grabbed the fuel shutoff valve.

The pilot noted that he had recently been flying a Piper J5 Cub, which has a different cockpit layout from a J3. The fuel shutoff valve in the J3 is in the same panel location as the carburetor heat in the J5 model. Subsequently, after turning base, the engine lost power and the airplane descended into trees. The pilot did not notice his mistake until it was too late.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadvertent shutting off of the fuel, resulting in fuel starvation and subsequent loss of engine power.

Aircraft: Glastar GS-1.

Location: Hayward, Wis.

Injuries: 2 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot of the float-equipped airplane was attempting to take off from a lake. He added one notch of flaps, raised the water rudders and allowed the airplane to weathervane into the wind. Winds were reported as 170° at 14 knots with gusts to 18 knots.

The pilot added power and the plane lifted off. The aircraft had reached an altitude of 150 feet when the wind shifted.

Airspeed dropped to zero and the plane rolled to the right. The pilot tried to correct with aileron, but the aircraft then rolled left and descended, coming down hard on the beach.

The pilot blamed the accident on wind shear.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to compensate adequately for the gusty wind conditions, which resulted in a loss of aircraft control.

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Aircraft: Cessna Cardinal.

Location: Anderson, SC.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The pilot did not visually verify the amount of fuel on board the aircraft before departing on a cross-country flight. He assumed that he had enough fuel to fly for five hours. During the flight, however, he noticed that the fuel gauges were reading lower than he expected they would be, but he did not stop for fuel. The plane was about four miles from the destination airport when the engine quit. The pilot did not have sufficient altitude to glide to the airport. He made an emergency landing on a road. During the landing roll, the left wing struck a fence. Investigators determined the fuel tanks were empty.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight planning of fuel required for the flight and his improper in-flight decision, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Provo, Utah.

Injuries: 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot was attempting to do a soft-field takeoff. He applied full power, but noted that the airplane did not respond as it had earlier in the day when it was cooler. When the airplane did not climb as expected the pilot increased the angle of attack. The airplane veered off the left side of the runway. The airplane’s nose dropped and the left wing struck the ground.

Probable cause: The pilot’s premature liftoff, resulting in failure to attain airspeed, which resulted in a stall and impact with the ground.

Aircraft: Cessna 152.

Location: Dayton, Ohio.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: During the preflight inspection, the student pilot noted that one fuel tank was full and the fuel level in the other tank was approximately 1.5 inches below the top of the tank. He took off and practiced maneuvers near the airport for approximately two hours. He then returned to the airport, but did not refuel the airplane. A short time later he took off again, and practiced maneuvers for an additional 2.2 hours. While returning to the airport, the engine lost power, then quit altogether. The student pilot attempted to glide to the airport, but came up short and made a forced landing in a field about a half-mile from the runway. During the landing, the airplane nosed over. Examination of the wreckage revealed the fuel tanks were empty.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s inadequate preflight and in-flight planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power during cruise flight due to fuel exhaustion.

Aircraft: Cessna T210.

Location: Kingman, Kan.

Injuries: 2 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: A pilot was receiving instruction from a CFI to meet the dual instruction requirements of the FAA Wings Program. The plane was in a turn when the engine lost power. The pilot receiving instruction immediately turned back toward the airport while simultaneously attempting to restore engine power. Approximately three and a half miles from the airport the engine quit. The pilot made a smooth landing in a field, but during the roll out the nose wheel was sheared off by uneven terrain. The airplane flipped onto its back. The post- crash investigation revealed a trail of oil down the left side of the fuselage and a hole in the top of the crankcase near the number two cylinder. Examination of the oil pressure line from the engine to the turbocharger revealed a loose nut. The rod ends for the number one and number two cylinders were discolored, deformed, and separated from the crankshaft. The discoloration was consistent with the heat produced by a lack of lubrication. The tee fitting and pressure line with the loose nut were removed from the engine case. The line and tee fitting ends were capped off and a fluid under pressure was supplied to the tee fitting. That fluid was observed leaking from the loose nut.

Probable cause: Lack of engine oil due to the mechanic’s improper maintenance in not securing a loose nut for the oil pressure line to the turbocharger, leading to loss of engine power while maneuvering.

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