Accident Reports Nov 2004

These November 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 206.

Location: Taylorville, Ill.

Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor, 4 Uninjured.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The airplane was being used for a skydiving operation. It had reached 10,500 feet when the first of five parachutists opened the door and positioned himself on the strut. Parachutist No. 2 was just stepping onto the exit platform when his main parachute deployed prematurely. The chute dropped outside the airplane in front of the landing gear strut and inflated. The force jerked the parachutist down and the chute became tangled on the landing gear. Parachutist No. 1 released from the airplane. The airplane pitched nose down due to the drag created by the parachute on the strut. The pilot could not stop the airplane from rolling inverted and entering a flat spin. The cutaway attempts to free parachutist No. 2 were unsuccessful due to G forces and rotational spin. The other parachutists were able to jump clear from the airplane. The pilot, who was also wearing a parachute, continued the spin recovery procedures to about 6,000 feet but was unsuccessful. He then jumped from the airplane. Parachutist No. 2 was not able to free himself from the aircraft before it crashed.

Probable cause: Aircraft control not possible by the pilot following a premature deployment of a parachute as a parachutist exited the jump airplane during cruise flight.

Aircraft: Cessna 182.

Location: Idaho Springs, Colo.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, an ATP with about 4,300 hours, called FAA’s Denver Automated Flight Service Station around 5 a.m. He asked the briefer for any reports of cloud tops in the Denver area. The briefer replied the forecast called “for the tops layered to 24,000 feet.” The pilot did not ask for or obtain a full weather briefing and declined a briefing on adverse weather conditions. The weather in the vicinity of the accident on the day of the flight included a visibility of less than 1/4 statute mile in light snow with a ceiling of 200 feet. At 6:30, the pilot called a business associate and told him that he was going to fly north to go around the weather. There was no record of a flight plan being filed. The pilot never arrived. The next day a surveyor found the wreckage in the woods.

Based on the condition of the wreckage, investigators determined that the aircraft flew into the ground.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain, and his inadequate planning and decision making resulting in VFR flight into IMC. Contributing factors include the pilot’s self-induced pressure to arrive at his destination, the low ceiling and the fog.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee.

Location: Altoona, Wis.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot conducted the entire flight drawing fuel from the left tank. When he was approaching the destination airport the engine lost power. The pilot switched over to the right tank but the engine did not immediately regain power. The pilot attempted to glide to the runway but did not have enough altitude to reach it. The airplane came down short of the airport and hit a power line. During an on-scene examination of the wreckage, 12.5 gallons of fuel was found in the right tank and approximately a pint of fuel in the left tank. The pilot told investigators that he had starved the engine of fuel.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate fuel management leading to the fuel starvation in the left tank during the flight.

Aircraft: Beech A36.

Location: Downing, Mo.

Injuries: 3 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The instrument rated private pilot was on a night cross-country flight. The aircraft was equipped with a storm scope but there were no indications the pilot was using it. The pilot established radio communications with an air traffic controller at about 8:27 p.m. The controller observed the plane enter an area of adverse weather. At about 8:36, an air traffic controller advised the pilot that radar contact was lost. The pilot did not respond and there were no further communications.

A witness, who was a commercial pilot, saw the airplane come out of the clouds in a spin. The plane hit the ground and burst into flames. Investigators determined that the airplane entered an area of level three to level four thunderstorm activity. A section of the right wing tip was found near a ground scar. The left wing was found detached from the fuselage. There were multiple breaks in the control cables consistent with overload.

Probable cause: The pilot not maintaining airplane control during cruise flight.

Aircraft: Fairchild 24R-40.

Location: Custar, Ohio.

Injuries: 1 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot had his airman and mechanic certificates revoked by the FAA about two years before the accident for flying without a medical certificate and performing an unauthorized alteration to the airplane by installing a Chevrolet V-8 engine in it.

The pilot intended to sell the airplane, and was in the process of reinstalling the original engine to bring the airplane up to specifications. On the day of the accident, he started the plane and attempted to depart on the 1,100 x 25-foot turf runway. A witness stated there was a crosswind on the runway, then added he could not see the airplane as it passed behind a barn. A short time later the witness went to look for the airplane and found it lying on its side next to the runway.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control during takeoff, which resulted in a collision with terrain.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Olympia, Wash.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot, who had 105 hours total time, was attempting to fly a cross-country night flight from Troutdale, Ore., to Everett, Wash., and back again. The pilot had difficulty locating the airport in Everett. According to the tower controller, the pilot indicated that she could not see the field when she was right over it. The pilot then asked if the lights could be turned up, which they were. The pilot then entered a left downwind and landed without incident. The pilot then picked up her cousin for a short local flight. The cousin told authorities the pilot again became lost trying to find the airport and he had to help her out. The pilot dropped off the cousin then stopped to refuel the aircraft. The line service technician commented on the winds that had kicked up. He suggested the pilot delay her departure. He told her he could have the aircraft tied down for the night and arrange transportation to a hotel as the weather would probably be better the next day. The pilot stated she intended to leave that night.

She took off at 10:40 p.m. At 10:44 the pilot contacted Seattle Approach reporting that she was three miles southwest of Paine Field and requested flight following to Troutdale. The controller responded and told the pilot to squawk 4667. The pilot repeated the squawk as 4467 and requested vectors to Olympia. The controller corrected the pilot, then asked if she was now landing at Olympia. The pilot responded that she was not landing at Olympia, but wanted help in getting out of Class Bravo airspace. The controller then asked the pilot to verify that she was squawking 4667. The pilot responded that she was squawking 4467. The controller then instructed her again to squawk 4667. The pilot then changed the squawk code and the controller verified radar contact and gave her the current altimeter setting. The controller noted that the pilot appeared confused. When the controller instructed her to turn to the south she turned east. The pilot repeatedly asked how far she was from Olympia and requested radar vectors, which the controller supplied. The pilot had selected a flight path over mountainous terrain. The pilot reported heavy rain and turbulence before contact was lost when the aircraft was five miles north of the Olympia airport. The next day the wreckage was located about 200 feet below a ridgeline in a clear-cut area with an elevation of 1,700 msl. Evidence indicated that the aircraft was in a level attitude when a wing tip collided with a dead tree. The plane then hit the rising terrain.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering in known adverse weather conditions. Clouds, rain, high wind, dark night, trees, mountainous terrain and the pilot’s inadequate in-flight planning/decision were factors.

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