NTSB Identification: WPR11FA256
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 11, 2011 in Ukiah, OR
Aircraft: BELLANCA 17-31ATC, registration: N79BF
Injuries: 3 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 June 11, 2011, about 1601 Pacific daylight time, a Bellanca 17-31ATC, N79BF, was substantially damaged when it descended rapidly from cruise flight and impacted terrain near Ukiah, Oregon. The owner-pilot and the two passengers were fatally injured. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and no flight plan was filed.
Airport personnel stated that the pilot kept the airplane in a hangar at The Dalles Airport (DLS), Dallesport, Washington. According to relatives of the pilot and passengers, the pilot and one of the passengers were neighbors, and that passenger reportedly asked the pilot to fly him to Casper, Wyoming, in order to attend a rodeo in which his daughter was participating. About 0800 on the morning of the accident, the pilot telephoned Lockheed Martin Flight Service for a weather briefing. Airport fueling records indicated that 39 gallons of fuel were purchased at DLS about 1500 the same day, and that the purchase was paid for using the passenger's credit card.
Examination of ground-based radar tracking data indicated that the first target associated with the airplane was acquired at 1502, about 8.5 miles east of DLS, at an indicated altitude of 2,000 feet. The airplane followed a curving course to the southeast for another 28 miles, and then tracked straight for 53 miles, on a course of 084 degrees true. At the end of that track, the indicated altitude was 13,500 feet. The airplane then turned south, leveled at about 14,500 feet, and flew another 43 miles before it conducted a course reversal to the left. About 2 minutes later, the airplane began a rapid descent, and the last radar target was recorded at 1601, about 1,800 feet from the wreckage location. A search of FAA records revealed that the pilot did not communicate with air traffic control during the flight.
The airplane was the subject of an ALNOT (Alert Notice) issued about midnight on June 11 by Lockheed Martin Flight Service in Prescott Arizona, in response to queries by relatives of a passenger. The search area was determined using a combination of radar tracking data and signal information from two cellular telephones that belonged to the airplane occupants. The wreckage was located about 1500 on June 12 by airborne search teams. Physical site evidence was consistent with a near-vertical flight path.
To date, no pilot's flight history documentation has been located, and according to FAA records, his most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued in February 1999. The airplane was manufactured in 1978, and was first registered to the pilot in 1999. It was equipped with a Lycoming TIO-540 series engine.
The National Weather Service Surface Analysis Chart issued about 1 hour after the accident depicted a low pressure system over Washington with a trough of low pressure extending southward into Oregon, immediately west of the accident site. Several station models over eastern Oregon depicted overcast clouds and light rain. The regional radar mosaic depicted an area of light intensity echoes at 5 to 20 dBZ extending over the area. Airmen's meteorological information advisories (AIRMETs) for icing conditions above 10,000 feet, and mountain obscuration conditions, were current for the flight track and accident times and locations.
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