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On February 20, 1999, at 2015 central standard time (cst), a Cessna 172C, N1831Y, operated by a commercial pilot, was destroyed when while maneuvering on base leg for landing to the south at Liebau Airstrip (45KS), the airplane impacted the terrain. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. There was no flight plan on file. The pilot and passenger on board the airplane sustained fatal injuries. The cross-country flight originated at Goodland, Kansas, at 1630 mountain standard time (mst), and was en route to Grenola, Kansas.
According to his son, the pilot and his wife had flown to Laramie, Wyoming, to attend the funeral of his wife's mother. They were returning to their ranch at Grenola, Kansas, on the day of the accident. The son said that they took off from Laramie at approximately 1430 mst.
A flight instructor for Cowboy Aviation, Laramie Regional Airport, Laramie, Wyoming, said that the pilot came into Cowboy Aviation on the afternoon of February 20, 1999, just before he and his wife departed. The pilot paid his hanger bill and contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Service Station at Casper, Wyoming. The flight instructor said that the pilot obtained a weather briefing. A credit card receipt from Cowboy Aviation, dated February 20, 1999, at 1418 mst, showed that the pilot purchased 18.4 gallons of fuel.
A witness at Renner Field/Goodland Municipal Airport, Goodland, Kansas said that the pilot came into Butterfly Aviation, the fixed base operator on the airport, to pay for fuel. A credit card receipt from Butterfly Aviation, dated February 20, 1999, at 1615 mst, showed that the pilot purchased 15 gallons of 100 low lead fuel. The pilot then departed. The witness said that nobody saw the airplane takeoff from Goodland, Kansas.
The pilot's son said that he and his wife were driving back from the funeral and were at Garden City, Kansas, when he spoke to his mom. It was 1711 cst (1611 mst) when he spoke with her. His mom told him that they were at Goodland, Kansas getting gas for the airplane, and that they would be taking off right after she hung up. She asked the son to have their house-sitter turn on the runway lights on their airstrip. The son said that the pilot had a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver on board the airplane, and that the pilot's route would have been a straight line from Goodland to the airstrip. He said that they would have taken off at 1730 cst, and that the flight from Goodland to Grenola takes approximately 3 hours. He said this would have put them in at 2030 cst. The son said he called the house-sitter at 2100 cst. The house-sitter said that the pilot and his wife had not arrived yet. The son arrived at the house and the airstrip at 2200 cst. He said that he drove up and down the road in front of the house looking for signs of the airplane. At 2220 cst, the son called the Elk County, Kansas, Sheriff. The Sheriff told him that they were receiving an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with single and multi-engine airplane ratings. The certificate cited a restriction prohibiting the pilot from carrying passengers for hire at night and on cross-country flights of more than 50 nautical miles.
The pilot held a second-class medical certificate with privileges limited to crop-dusting. The certificate granted full third- class privileges.
According to FAA medical records, the pilot reported on February 4, 1999, to have accumulated 5,100 total flying hours. The pilot's most recent personal logbook showed that the pilot last completed a biennial flight review on June 12, 1998.
The pilot was self-employed as an agricultural spray (crop dusting) pilot. Records obtained from the FAA Aviation Data Systems Branch, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot had been involved in two previous crop dusting-related airplane accidents; the first occurring on April 29, 1983, and the other on April 28, 1985.
The airplane was registered to the Moline Flying Club, Incorporated, of Grenola, Kansas. It was co-owned by the pilot, his son, and two other associates. The airplane was used for pleasure flying.
The airplane underwent an annual inspection on September 22, 1998. The total airframe time recorded at the annual inspection was 2,815.5 hours, and equaled the total tachometer time. The time taken from the engine's tachometer at the accident site was 2,827.0 hours.
At 2056 cst, the FAA Flight Service Station at Wichita Mid- Continent Airport, Wichita, Kansas, (287 degrees magnetic at 50 nautical miles from the accident site) reported the surface observation as a broken ceiling of 2,700 feet above ground level (agl), and 10 statute miles visibility. The temperature was reported as 36 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dew point was reported as 27 degrees Fahrenheit. The altimeter was reported as 30.40 inches of mercury (Hg), and the winds were 360 degrees magnetic at 8 knots, with wind gusts to 17 knots.
At 2103 cst, the Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) at Chanute Martin Johnson Airport, Chanute, Kansas, (065 degrees magnetic at 48 nautical miles from the accident site) reported the surface observation as a broken ceiling of 1,300 feet agl, an overcast ceiling of 1,800 feet agl, and 7 statute miles visibility. The temperature was reported as 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dew point was reported as 34 degrees Fahrenheit. The altimeter was reported as 30.36 inches Hg, and the winds were 360 degrees magnetic at 11 knots.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The NTSB on scene investigation began on February 21, 1999, at 1400 cst.
The accident site was located on the eastern edge of a cow pasture, bordering a wooded area, approximately 2, 110 feet east of a north-south running unpaved county road. The accident site was also located 3,520 feet northeast of the Liebau Airstrip.
The accident site began with a 25 foot tall, 7 inch diameter hedge tree located within the western edge of a wooded area approximately 80 feet east of a north-south running barbed-wire fence. Severed and broken branches, 1 to 3 inches in diameter, were scattered outward from toward the northwest beginning near the base of the tree. Two other hedge trees, one located approximately 30 feet west-northwest of the first hedge tree, and the other located 42 feet northwest of the first referenced hedge tree, were broken approximately two-thirds up their respective tree trunks from their root bases. Tree branches and trunk segments as small as 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter to as large as 5 feet in length and 6 inches in diameter, fanned outward to the west and northwest for approximately 90 feet. The broken trees aligned along a common descending angle of approximately 34 degrees.
Pieces of plexiglass from the airplane's windscreen, pieces of fiberglass from the airplane's wing tips, aeronautical charts, and several small pieces of severed wood, fanned outward through the trees on the edge of the wooded area, along a 325 degree magnetic heading, to the barbed-wire fence.
A 54 foot long, 78 inch wide, ground scar began 90 feet from the first hedge tree, on a 323 degree magnetic heading. The ground scar was 7 inches at its deepest point, one-third the distance from its start, on the southwest edge. The ground scar ran up the slope of a hill on a 16 degree incline, through the barbed- wire fence, and into the cow pasture. Several small pieces of fiberglass, plexiglass, charts and wood fragments were located in and around the west-northwest side of the ground scar.
The airplane's propeller was located in the ground scar approximately 120 feet from the first hedge tree on a 324 degree magnetic heading. The propeller flange was broken torsionally from the crankshaft. Both propeller blades showed torsional bending, and deep chordwise and longitudinally-running scratches.
The leading edges of both blades showed several nicks, many 1/4 inch in depth. The outboard 7 inches of one propeller tip was broken chordwise, and rested 12 feet southwest of the ground scar, along the barbed-wire fence. The outboard 3 inches of the other propeller tip was bent aft and broken. The rear plate of the spinner remained attached to the propeller. It was bent aft and twisted, conforming to the propeller hub.
A 60 foot section of downed barbed-wire fence crossed the ground scar 124 feet from the first hedge tree on a 324 degree magnetic heading. Two 5 foot high and 4 inch diameter fence poles were broken off at ground level. One rested on the southwest side of the ground scar. The other post rested near the airplane's main wreckage
Small pieces of plexiglass, fiberglass and twisted metal from the engine cowling, the nose gear wheel pants, the nose gear, personal effects, and a 50 inch long, 5 inch diameter section of fence post ran outward, in succession, from the northwest end of the ground scar for the next 81 feet before ending at the airplane's main wreckage.
The airplane's main wreckage was located in an open cow pasture, 225 feet from the first hedge tree on a 323 degree magnetic heading. The airplane was upside-down, resting on the top of the cabin, both wings, and the top of the vertical stabilizer. The longitudinal axis of the airplane's cabin was oriented on a 150 degree magnetic heading. The main wreckage consisted of the airplane's cabin, just aft the firewall location, both wings, the main landing gear, aft fuselage, empennage, and engine.
The remainder of the fuselage, cowling, just forward of the cabin, and the bottom fuselage beneath the front forward cabin at the instrument panel, was bent upward approximately 75 degrees and crushed aft. Most of the firewall was broken out and the engine mounts were bent upward and broken. The windscreen was broken out. Both doors were broken out at the hinges. The right cabin door rested near the trailing edge of the airplane's right flap. The right cabin door window was broken out. The left cabin door was found next to the barbed-wire fence, approximately 60 feet east of the main wreckage. The top of the cabin was peeled upward and aft from the windscreen to the rear seats. The instrument panel and floor of the forward cabin was bent upward and aft. The instrument panel was broken vertically in the center. The majority of flight and engine instruments, and navigation equipment, were dislodged from their mounts and broken. The aft cabin was crushed downward and buckled outward. Both rear cabin side windows were broken outward. Both main landing gear struts, brakes, brake lines, and wheels were intact.
The struts were bent slightly outward and up. The tires showed no damage. The front quarter of both wheel pants were broken vertically, just forward of the tire axles.
The airplane's left wing was crushed inward and aft approximately 15 inches, along the leading edge, from the root to the wing tip.
The outboard wing section, beginning at the wing strut attach bolt, and proceeding outward to the wing tip, was twisted forward and down. The left wing fuel tank was broken near the wing root. The left wing tip was broken off longitudinally along the rivet line. The left wing strut was broken longitudinally, 42 inches inboard of the wing attach bolt. The left wing flap was intact and showed minor buckling in the lower flap skin surface. The outboard edge of the flap was dented inward. The left aileron was buckled downward 30 inches inboard of the wing tip. Flight control continuity to the left aileron was confirmed.
The airplane's right wing was crushed inward and aft approximately 15 inches, along the leading edge, from the root to mid-span. The outboard wing section, beginning at the wing strut attach bolt, and proceeding outward to the wing tip, was crushed inward and bent forward 15 degrees. The right wing fuel tank was broken near the wing root. The right wing tip was broken off longitudinally along the rivet line. The right wing strut showed a small inward dent in the leading edge, approximately 12 inches outboard of the fuselage attach point. The right wing flap showed no damage. The outboard 15 inches of the right aileron was bent aft and twisted downward. Flight control continuity to the right aileron was confirmed.
The fuselage, aft of the baggage compartment rear bulkhead, was broken along rivet lines which circumscribed the fuselage near fuselage station 124.00. The aft fuselage section remained attached to the cabin by flight control cables and wire bundles. The aft fuselage and empennage were intact. The aft fuselage section showed minor outward buckling and skin wrinkling at the side walls, and tail cone assembly. The right horizontal stabilizer and right elevator showed no damage. The outboard leading edge of the left horizontal stabilizer was bent upward 22 degrees and crushed aft, 21 inches inboard of the stabilizer's tip. The left elevator counterweight was bent upward 20 degrees. Flight control continuity to the elevator was confirmed.
The leading edge of the vertical stabilizer showed inward denting, predominately along the left side, beginning just above the fin and running upward to the top. The airplane's rudder showed no damage. Flight control continuity to the rudder was confirmed.
The airplane's engine had broken free of the engine mounts, and was found resting inverted beneath the inboard trailing edge of the left wing and flap. Examination of the engine, the engine controls and engine components, and other airplane systems revealed no anomalies.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, Wichita, Kansas, on February 22, 1999.
The autopsy report stated that microscopic examination of the pilot's heart revealed "areas of fibrosis in multiple sections of the myocardium, some prominent subendocardial fibrosis, and some patchy papillary muscle fibrosis." The report also stated that the pilot had "coronary artery atherosclerosis" with "up to 95- 100 percent narrowing of coronary arteries," and "old myocardial infarct of [the] posterior lateral left ventricle."
The Sedgwick County, Kansas, Deputy Coroner/Medical Examiner, who examined the pilot, said the pilot was a high-risk for arrhythmia.
The results of FAA toxicology testing of specimens from the pilot revealed the following volatile substances:
Moricizine detected in blood. Moricizine detected in urine.
According to the 52nd Edition of the Physicians Desk Reference (1998), Moricizine (commercial brand-name Ethmozine) is an orally-administered Class I antiarrhythmic agent with potent local anesthetic activity and myocardial membrane stabilizing effects. Ethmozine is indicated for the treatment of documented ventricular arrhythmias, such as sustained ventricular tachycardia, that, in the judgement of a physician are life- threatening.
A review of the pilot's medical records obtained from the FAA Medical Certification Branch, indicated that the pilot underwent triple coronary artery bypass surgery on June 24, 1992.
Following a cardiac examination, treadmill stress test and "thallium myocardial perfusion scan," a request to the FAA by the pilot's physician to restore the pilot's second-class medical certificate was made in February, 1993. The pilot was given a second-class medical certificate under special issuance, dated February 19, 1993. The certificate, valid for one year, restricted commercial pilot privileges to crop dusting, and granted full third-class privileges. Medical records indicated that the pilot underwent the heart-related examinations annually, through February 4, 1999, to renew his certificate. The last current second-class medical certificate the pilot had, expired on January 31, 1999. The test and exam results, and the application for the renewal of the pilot's medical certificate was submitted to the FAA, by the pilot's physician on February 4, 1999. At the time of the accident, these results were being considered by the FAA.
The pilot's medical records also indicate that the pilot was prescribed the medications Ethmozine and Procardia in 1992, following his heart surgery. These medications were indicated on all of the pilot's subsequent applications for second-class medical certificates.
A deputy for the Elk County, Kansas, Sheriff Department, Howard, Kansas, reported that at 2224 cst, the FAA at Wichita, Kansas, informed the department that they were receiving a signal from a plane that had possibly gone down one mile east of the Elk County Airport, north of Moline, Kansas. Two Sheriff's Department deputies proceeded to the airport and attempted to locate the origin of the signal by tuning the ELT frequency (121.5 megahertz) on their scanner. During the search, the deputies received an updated position from the Civil Air Patrol, placing the signal south of Howard, Kansas, in the vicinity of the Liebau Airstrip. The airplane was located on February 21, 1999, at 0054 cst.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
One of the pilot's bags retrieved from the airplane, during the on-scene investigation, contained the following medications prescribed to the pilot:
Rezulin, 400 milligrams (mg), prescribed on February 4, 1999, with instructions to take one tablet daily.
Ethmozine, 250 mg, prescribed on January 25, 1999, with instructions to take one to three times daily.
Precose, 50 mg, prescribed on January 1, 1999, with instructions to take one-half tablet with the first bite of each meal.
Glipizide, 5 mg, prescribed on January 25, 1999, with instructions to take one tablet daily.
Lipitor, 20 mg, prescribed on January 19, 1999, with instructions to take one tablet daily.
The 52nd Edition of the Physicians Desk Reference (1998), describes Rezulin as an oral anti-hyperglycemic (reduce high blood sugar level) agent which acts primarily by decreasing insulin resistance. Rezulin is used in the management of type II diabetes (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, also known as adult-onset diabetes). It is prescribed to patients with type II diabetes currently on insulin therapy whose hyperglycemia is inadequately controlled despite insulin therapy administered daily through injections. Precose is an inhibitor for use in the management of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). It is prescribed as an adjunct to diet to lower blood glucose in patients with NIDDM whose hyperglycemia cannot be managed on diet alone. Glipizide is an oral blood-glucose- lowering drug prescribed as an adjunct to diet for controlling hyperglycemia and its associated symptoms in patients with NIDDM, after an adequate trial of dietary therapy has proved unsatisfactory. Lipitor is a synthetic lipid-lowering agent prescribed as an adjunct to diet to reduce elevated total Cholesterol (total-C), low density lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol, apolipoprotein B (apo B), and triglycerides (TG) in patients with primary hypercholesterolemia. Lipitor is used as a component of multiple-risk-factor intervention in individuals at increased risk for atherosclerotic vascular disease due to hypercholesterolemia.
The pilot's physician, a designated aviation medical examiner (AME) stated that he was not aware of these prescriptions. He also said that the condition that required these medications would disqualify the pilot from flying.
The Sedgwick County, Kansas, Deputy Coroner/Medical Examiner, said that on arrival of the pilot at the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, February 21, 1999, a cylinder containing 4 nitroglycerine tablets was found in the pilot's shirt pocket. The Deputy Coroner said that Nitroglycerine tablets are used when the heart is not getting enough oxygen. If the pilot "was experiencing chest pains, he would be using this medication." The Deputy Coroner said that the container looked as if it had been opened.
Parties to the investigation were the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office, Wichita, Kansas, the Cessna Aircraft Company, Wichita, Kansas, and Teledyne Continental Motors, Mobile, Alabama.
All airplane wreckage was released and returned to the pilot's family.