NTSB Identification: ERA11FA312
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 25, 2011 in Murphy, NC
Aircraft: BEECH 58, registration: N77AR
Injuries: 4 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.
On May 25, 2011, about 1615 eastern daylight time, a Beech 58, N77AR, collided with mountainous terrain near Murphy, North Carolina. The certificated airline transport pilot and three passengers were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Aero Resources Corporation, operated by Friendship Flying Service, Inc., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 as an on-demand, non-scheduled, domestic passenger flight to Wendell H Ford Airport (K20), Hazard, Kentucky. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Fulton County Airport (FTY), Atlanta, Georgia, about 1545.
According to preliminary information, the flight plan indicated 3 on board; however, the airplane operator reported that an additional individual asked the pilot before departure to be flown to K20.
Preliminary air traffic control (ATC) information indicates that after takeoff, the flight proceeded towards the destination airport and while flying at 9,000 feet mean sea level (msl), in communication with the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (Atlanta ARTCC), ATC communications were transferred to Knoxville Terminal Radar Approach Control (Knoxville TRACON. The pilot established contact with that facility but the radar controller did not answer immediately due to workload. Less than 30 seconds later the controller responded to the pilot and at about 1612. The pilot advised the controller that there was a fire and he was declaring an emergency; the pilot did not specify where the fire was located. The radar controller asked the pilot if he was going to land; the pilot did not respond and there were no further recorded transmissions received from the pilot. Radar data indicates three successive radar returns at 8,900, 8,700, and 8,500 feet msl. No further radar returns were received from the flight.
A witness reported to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector he heard a twin-engine airplane flying overhead his location, and observed the airplane flying straight and level about 1,500 feet above the mountains in a northwesterly direction. The witness reported hearing the engines accelerate and the airplane continued briefly then the right wing dipped and the airplane pitched nose down. While in the nose-low attitude the witness heard the engines accelerate more. He lost sight of the airplane over the ridge and heard an explosion seconds later. He could not see the registration markings or individuals inside, but reported he did not notice any smoke or flames coming from the airplane before losing sight behind the ridge.
Another witness who was located at the Unaka Community Cemetery, and who was outside, reported first hearing the airplane. He reported the sound was loud which was what caught his attention and was consistent with a low flying airplane. He pointed out that the airplane was flying towards his position at the cemetery from the approximate location of the Hiwassee Dam Lake (approximately 060 degrees). He did not notice any extreme nose low or nose high pitch position. He noted that the airplane made a “sharp right turn” confirming the direction of the turn. The airplane then went behind trees and he heard an explosion much like a “sonic boom.” He then saw a puff of black smoke. Immediately after the explosion he looked at his watch with reflected 1618 hours local. Another individual came to the cemetery, and they both went towards the area where they thought the airplane had crashed. They went down Joe Brown Highway, then turned onto Allen Bell Road. They drove to a house close to the crash site and hiked down to a creek. They went into the creek and about 50 to 60 yards downstream, saw smoke to their left. They saw a wing on the right side of the creek as they were walking. When they were about 25 yards from the crash site, he reported there was an explosion. The smoke was intense, and about that time, 1 acre of woods were on fire. He looked at his watch and noted the tine he arrived on-scene was about 1640. He reported the weather conditions were clear and sunny.
Still another witness who was located at his house near the crash site reported hearing a low flying airplane with engine surging. He then heard a loud explosion which rattled his windows. He initially thought lightning had struck the house. He went onto his deck, and saw smoke. He and several individuals went to the crash site area and were on-scene about 10 minutes after the crash. When they arrived he noted that the fuselage was on fire, which was not spreading fast. He did not notice anything on fire on his side of the creek. He heard an explosion on the side he was on. A noticed a lot of paperwork with no char marks. The witness reported that there was no rain or breeze at the time, and the clouds were scattered. About 30 minutes after the crash he noted a helicopter was overhead. He estimated the time of the accident about 1615.
The cockpit and cabin area of the fuselage was nearly consumed by fire; structural components of the airplane consisting of a section of the right wing, outer portion of the left wing, and left horizontal stabilizer were located outside of the postcrash fire area.
Index for May2011 | Index of months