NTSB Identification: CHI97FA084B
Accident occurred Saturday, March 15, 1997 in NEWTON, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/1997
Aircraft: Beech A36, registration: N3657A
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

At 1400 cst, modified Douglas DC-3C/BT-67R, TZ389, & Beech A36, N3657A, began formation flight to get DC-3 flying time & for the 2nd occupant of the A36 to get aerial photos of the DC-3. A witness saw the airplanes (acft) at 500' to 700' agl, 'flying close together heading north.' He said 'the big plane (DC-3) was flying straight & level. The little plane (A36) was just to the west of the big plane. The little plane then hit the big plane near the middle.' After impact, pieces of acft were seen falling. Another witness saw the DC-3 heading north & the A36 circling it above & below. On its last pass, the A36 circled behind the DC-3, then crossed over the top & hitting the top of the DC-3. About 5 seconds after impact, the DC-3 gently rolled/turned westbound (apparently descending & gaining airspeed); the left wing then came off, followed by the right wing about 2 seconds later. Parts of the A36 empennage were found 3590 to 4910 ft from the main wreckage. There was evidence that during impact, the DC-3 elevator and rudder controls were severed. No preimpact anomalies were found. At 1445cst, an AIRMET had been issued, forecasting light to moderate turbulence below 8,000 ft msl. Toxicology tests of the DC-3 copilot's blood showed 0.127 mcg/ml amitriptyline (a prescription antidepressant with sedative side effects), 0.039 mcg/ml nortriptyline (metabolite of amitriptyline), and an undetermined amount of ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine (over-the-counter medications used in cold preparations, diet aids & stimulants).

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

failure of the Beech A36 pilot to maintain clearance from the modified Douglas DC-3, while positioning the A36 for photography of the DC-3.

Full narrative available

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