December 2004 Accident Reports

These December 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: Piper Twin Comanche.

Location: Boise City, Okla.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Witnesses told investigators that the airplane initiated two go-arounds before departing the airport traffic pattern. The twin-engine airplane impacted terrain while maneuvering just north of the runway.

On-scene examination of the wreckage did not reveal any mechanical anomalies. An autopsy was performed on the 67-year-old commercial pilot. It revealed that his death was caused by a cardiac episode brought on by coronary artery disease. Inside the aircraft investigators found over-the-counter medication used to treat heartburn. The 10,700-hour pilot held a second class medical certificate issued in September 2004. The pilot did not disclose any medical problems at the time of the exam. However, during the autopsy it was determined that the pilot had at least two previous heart attacks before the fatal incident.

Probable cause: The pilot’s incapacitation, resulting in a loss of aircraft control.

Aircraft: Cessna 150.

Location: Longview, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The 93-hour private pilot was nearing the end of a cross-country flight. He contacted the tower at his destination airport and requested clearance for landing. The aircraft was approximately four miles west of the airport when the engine lost power. The pilot’s attempts to restore power were not successful. The pilot reported the problem to the tower and was given authorization to land on any runway. Unable to glide to the airport, the pilot elected to land in a field. He turned off the engine ignition switch and directed the airplane between two trees in an attempt to reach a suitable area. While maneuvering through the trees, the outer right wing hit a tree and the airplane settled to the ground, coming to rest in an upright position. The post-accident investigation found both fuel tanks contained just one inch of fuel each.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper in-flight planning which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

Aircraft: Beech Baron.

Location: Fort Pierce, Fla.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was on final approach to the runway. He had extended the flaps and thought he had extended the gear. He did not use a checklist. During the flare he noticed the airplane was low and noted he did not have three green lights indicating all wheels were down and locked. He reached for the landing gear selector handle, but it was too late and the airplane hit the ground.

Probable cause: The failure of the pilot to follow the checklist and extend the landing gear, resulting in a gear-up landing.

Aircraft: Cessna 195.

Location: Kilmichael, Miss.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot had a total of 212 flight hours, including 96 in the accident airplane. Friends and family members stated the pilot and his son had just dropped off the pilot’s in-laws and were getting ready to fly back to their home airport. The home of the pilot’s in-laws was located near the airport. Witnesses at the in-law’s house saw the airplane fly over the house around sunset in a north heading, turn around and fly toward the house at a low altitude. The airplane’s left landing gear hit power lines that spanned a pond behind the house at an elevation of 75 feet. The airplane nosed over and hit the ground. The airplane cartwheeled between several trees before coming to a stop upside down in the backyard of the home. The left main landing gear spring had an impact mark a half-inch inch wide on the leading edge with evidence of electrical arcing observed. The left main wheel assembly was separated from the left main landing gear spring.

Probable cause: The pilot’s ostentatious display, flying at low altitude, resulting in collision with a static wire power line, in-flight loss of control and collision with terrain.

Aircraft: Bede-4.

Location: Omaha, Neb.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The airline transport pilot had approximately 9,200 hours and had several type ratings, but according to friends he was new to the Bede-4 and had a tendency to skid in the turns. He was attempting to fly a landing pattern when the aircraft entered a stall/spin condition. The aircraft hit the ground nose first.

Probable cause: The failure of the pilot to maintain airspeed, which resulted in a stall/spin accident.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee.

Location: Allentown, Pa.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: During taxi at the departure airport the pilot noticed that the airplane required a significant amount of left rudder to remain on the centerline. The pilot did not believe the issue to be anything important and elected to continue the flight. Takeoff was normal. After performing maneuvers, he made a normal approach to landing. Upon touchdown the airplane veered violently to the right, departed the runway and struck a sign. The lower portion of the right main landing gear had separated from the airplane during the accident. Examination of the separated portion of the landing gear revealed no mechanical anomalies. The upper portion of the landing gear was forwarded to the Safety Board Materials Laboratory and found to have failed due to overstress cracking.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to continue the flight with known deficiencies in equipment. Also causal was the failure of the right main landing gear due to overstress cracking.

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