NTSB Identification: CHI98LA041.
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Accident occurred Thursday, November 20, 1997 in BURLINGTON, KS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/1998
Aircraft: Beech 95-B55, registration: N3681K
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The pilot said they were about 40 minutes into their flight when 'my passenger and I heard the pneumatic door seal give way.' He recycled the switch, but nothing happened. A few minutes later, the pilot and passenger noticed 'the faint smell of electrical burn.' The pilot switched the heater off and the smell seemed to subside. He switched the heater back on and noticed a stronger smell immediately. Black smoke began to enter the cabin from above and beneath the instrument panel. The pilot said that as he reached for the throttle, he noticed 'that there was orange spark and flame under the panel.' He initiated a steep descent and began looking for a place to land. He located a north-south running dirt road, and initiated a 180-degree turn to land. The pilot overshot the road and decided that he didn't have enough altitude and airspeed to maneuver back to the road. He leveled the airplane and landed in a field. During the landing, the airplane encountered uneven (rising) terrain and trees. An exam of the airplane revealed the door seal inflation pump was heavily charred. An exam of the cabin revealed the door inflation seal around the cabin door was missing, both forward air vents were in the open position, and plastic insulation surrounding electrical wiring in front of the right air vent was melted. Melted plastic was observed on the floor, beneath the right side air vent. No other anomaly was found.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: an undetermined event resulting in the door seal inflation pump catching fire, the pilot's failure to close the cockpit air vents allowing heat and flames from the airplane's nose section to melt electrical wiring behind the instrument panel, and the pilot overshooting the road during his precautionary landing. A factor contributing to this accident was the trees. Full narrative available
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