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On February 5, 1999, approximately 2103 central standard time, a Cessna 182B airplane, N54FC, registered to and operated by RO Farms Incorporated of Midkiff, Texas, was destroyed upon impact with terrain shortly after takeoff from runway 34 at the Ozona Municipal Airport, Ozona, Texas. The non-instrument rated private pilot and his four passengers sustained fatal injuries. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was departing on a planned 25-minute flight to a private ranch airstrip located near MidKiff, Texas. The approximate time of take off from Ozona was 2100.
Two witnesses, who observed the aircraft takeoff from runway 34, commented that the visibility at the time was "clear." One witness stated, "how odd it was that [the] aircraft was on the south end of the runway, because there was a breeze out of the south approximately 5 to 10 miles per hour." Both witnesses stated that the airplane appeared to have a "normal" takeoff roll and climb out. One witness stated that he thought that the airplane did not use the entire runway length during the take off roll, and followed the aircraft's lights as it climbed out into the darkness. Neither witness thought that the aircraft was in distress from their observations.
The wreckage was found the next morning approximately three miles from the departure end of the runway on gently rising terrain, GPS coordinates North 30 degrees 45 minutes 25.6 seconds West 101 degrees 15 minutes 19.5 seconds, at an elevation of 2,978 feet MSL. The published elevation of the Ozona Airport is 2,381 feet MSL.
The pilot's flight logbooks were not found. According to the most recent FAA records available, the pilot's total flight time, as of the date of his last 3rd class medical on November 1, 1997, was 390 hours. His private pilot certificate was issued on March 8, 1995.
The Cessna 1959-model 182B, serial number 51897, had a total airframe time of 2,935.4 hours as of the date of its last annual inspection on June 9, 1998. The engine, a factory re-built Continental model O-470-L16F, serial number 069869-R, had 53.2 hours as of the date of its installation on June 9, 1998.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft was found severely fragmented along a 625-foot energy path bearing 360 degrees magnetic. All of the components of the aircraft were found within the energy path. The initial ground impression on the hard, gently rising terrain correlated to the right wing tip, as fragments of the "green" navigation light lens were found within the impression. The cabin and cockpit sections were severely fragmented along the debris path and separated from the empennage and right wing, which were found about 357 feet from the initial impact point. The left horizontal stabilizer and vertical fin were found still attached to the empennage/tail section. The left wing, found about 232 feet from the initial impact point, was separated from the fuselage and severely damaged from impact with several small trees along the path. Both wing fuel tanks were destroyed. Flight control continuity could not be established due to the fragmentation of the airframe. However, the control cables were examined, and each exhibited overload in the segments that were broken.
The two-blade Hartzell propeller and hub assembly (with one of the blades attached), found about 300 feet from the initial impact point, was separated from the engine crankshaft at the flange. The flange fracture exhibited signatures of torsional overload. The other propeller blade, found about 45 feet from the initial impact point adjacent to blades strikes in the hard ground, was fractured in two segments. Both blades exhibited "S" bends, twisting, and chord-wise scratches and scoring along their respective lengths. The engine was found detached from its fractured airframe mounts, about 600 feet from the initial impact point.
Examination of the engine did not reveal evidence of any pre-impact anomalies. The cooling fins of all 6 cylinders showed impact damage. Valve covers one, three, five, and six showed impact damage. The ignition harness was partially separated, and both magnetos were separated. The top spark plugs and valve covers were removed and the crankshaft was rotated. Continuity was established to all of the cylinders and to the rear accessory drive of the engine. Thumb compression was noted on all of the cylinders, except number five, which had a partially separated head. The oil pump rotated when the crankshaft was rotated. The spark plugs exhibited very light wear. The carburetor was disassembled and the bowl was found clean and clear. The metal float and needle valve were attached and free to move. The throttle was free to move and the fuel screen was clean and clear. The vacuum pump was disassembled and no interior damage was noted. Both magnetos sparked at all terminals when rotated by hand. The oil filter was crushed, and after opening the case, no debris was found in the element.
There was no evidence of a pre or post-impact fire. However, a small area of burned vegetation was found adjacent to where the engine exhaust manifold was laying.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Toxicology tests on the pilot were negative, and no pre-existing medical conditions were found during an autopsy that would have contributed to the accident.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The estimated weight and balance for the accident flight was within the maximum allowable gross weight and center of gravity limits of the airplane.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative.