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On February 10, 1994, approximately 1825 Pacific standard time, a Mooney M20K, N1093M, collided with mountainous terrain approximately 12 miles south of Applegate, Oregon. Visual and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed while en route. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The flight had departed from Red Bluff, California, on February 10, 1994, approximately 1700 for the personal flight.
The flight had originally taken off with a visual flight rules flight plan filed to Eugene, Oregon. While inflight, the pilot reported to Seattle Center that he would have to pick up an instrument clearance to Medford, Oregon. The flight was cleared direct to Medford at 12,000 feet. Approximately 20 minutes after the clearance, the pilot reported to Seattle Center that he was picking up ice and the engine was losing power. Communication with the flight and Center continued until radio and radar contact was lost.
A witness in the area was interviewed at the accident site on February 11, 1994. This person stated that she was travelling south on Applegate Road. Light snow was falling and it was very dark. This person noticed the airplane because of the flashing lights. The airplane was observed flying northbound along the east side of the lake. The tree line begins approximately 200 feet up from the water level, and the witness stated that the airplane was flying below the tree line. The witness then lost site of the airplane as the car travelled around a corner. The witness stated that the only visible lights in the area were from the three lights that are on the dam itself. The witness stated that she did not hear any engine noise because she was inside the car, but the airplane appeared to be flying in a level attitude and maintaining altitude as it maneuvered around the edge of the lake.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single engine land with an instrument rating. The pilot's flight logbook indicates that the first logged flight in N1093M, was on March 17, 1991. At the time of the accident, the pilot had accumulated a total flight time of 881 hours, with 479 hours in this make and model airplane. The flight logbook indicates that the pilot was receiving instrument flight training in N1093M, and attained the instrument rating on December 16, 1993. This rating also acted as a biennial flight review. The last night flight was logged on May 19, 1993.
On August 4, 1993, the airplane was signed off for an annual inspection and determined to be in an airworthy condition. Family members reported that the pilot was preparing to sell the airplane and a pre-purchase inspection was performed at Reliant Aviation, Inc., Albany, Oregon, on January 23, 1994. Several discrepancies were noted at this time. The aircraft logbooks do not reflect that any repairs were performed after this date. A copy of the inspection is attached.
The Airman's Meteorological Information (AIRMET), Zulu, for icing and freezing, was in effect at the time the flight departed from Red Bluff and valid until 1800. The AIRMET reported light occasional moderate rime/mixed icing in the clouds and precipitation from 7,000 feet to 19,000 feet. There was isolated severe mixed icing in the clouds and precipitation in the southern third of Oregon, and the northern third of California. The AIRMET reported that the conditions continued beyond 1800 thru 0100 on February 11, 1994.
The AIRMET notifications continued for IFR conditions, mountain obscuration, turbulence and low level wind shear along the flight's entire route.
At 1751, Medford's surface observation reported 2,200 feet scattered, 3,100 feet scattered, measured 5,500 feet broken, 7,500 feet broken and 20,000 feet broken. Visibility was 15 miles and the temperature was 40 degrees. The wind was from ten degrees at six knots. The altimeter setting was 30.05" Hg. Cumulonimbus clouds were reported in all quadrants moving south, with visibility lower to the south.
At 1853, Medford's surface observation was still reporting several scattered and broken layers. The visibility had decreased to 10 miles and the temperature was 38 degrees. The cumulonimbus clouds were continuing their movement to the south- southwest.
On February 10, 1994, at 0845, the pilot requested and received an outlook briefing for Red Bluff, California and Eugene, Oregon, from the Hawthorne, California Flight Service Station (FSS).
At 1225, the pilot requested and received an abbreviated weather briefing from Hawthorne FSS. The briefing included the winds aloft and terminal forecasts. The pilot declined information regarding the AIRMETS.
At 1520, the pilot made initial contact with Stockton, California approach control. Approach control advised the pilot of a weather cell and vectors were issued for the flight to maneuver around the cell.
At 1536, the pilot was handed off to Sacramento approach control. At this time, the pilot amended his destination to Redding, California. The pilot then requested and changed frequency to Flight Watch. Flight Watch gave the pilot the current Convective Significant Meteorological Information (SIGMET) and weather. The pilot stated that he had the AIRMETs for his route of flight.
At 1622, the pilot amended his destination from Redding to Red Bluff, California and canceled air traffic services.
At 1644, the pilot entered the Red Bluff FSS and requested the Medford weather. The Specialist stated that he gave the pilot the current Medford weather and asked if the pilot wanted a standard weather briefing. The pilot replied "no thank you." The specialist stated to the pilot that there were currently reports of tornado and thunderstorm activity in the area, and that flight advisories reported icing, turbulence, mountain obscurement and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) along the route of flight. The Specialist stated that Visual Flight Rules (VFR) were not recommended. The pilot stated that he was aware of the weather conditions and would be talking to center en route.
The flight departed from Red Bluff approximately 1700.
At 1701, the pilot contacted Oakland Flight Watch to report that he was VFR, en route to Eugene and requested the cloud tops over the Siskiyous. The Specialist reported that the cloud top information was not available. The Specialist then advised the pilot on the current AIRMETs for the route of flight and stated that VFR flight was not recommended.
At 1711, the pilot reported that he was at 9,500 feet, north of Red Bluff, and requested VFR advisories. RADAR contact was established and advisories were given.
At 1713, the pilot requested a report of the cloud tops for the vicinity of Ft. Jones (Ft. Jones VOR is located 62 nautical miles northwest of Redding). The pilot advised that he was climbing to 16,500 feet. At 1715, the pilot was advised by the controller that the last reported tops for Ft. Jones were at 22,000 feet.
At 1717, the pilot advised the controller that he was diverting to a coastal route towards Crescent City, California, with the possibility of spending the night.
At 1722, the pilot was issued a frequency change to Seattle Center.
At 1723, the pilot made contact with Seattle Center and reported that he was VFR at 12,500 feet to Eugene.
At 1748, the pilot advised Seattle Center that he was "...going to try and make it into Medford." The pilot then requested vectors to Medford and that when he got closer to the weather, he would ask for an IFR clearance.
At 1751, the pilot was cleared direct to the Rogue Valley VOR and to maintain 12,000 feet.
At 1807, the pilot reported that "we're picking up a little ice here." The controller then confirmed that it was rime ice.
At 1808, the pilot reported that he was losing power. The controller advised the pilot that 10,000 feet was the minimum IFR altitude and in a minute and-a-half, the minimum altitude would be 9,000 feet.
At 1809, the pilot reported that he is going through 9,500 feet.
At 1810, the controller advised the pilot that there was an airport ranch to the pilot's nine to ten o'clock position at 12 miles. The pilot responded that he was descending 1,000 feet per minute and showing no power.
At this time, RADAR data indicates that the pilot initiated a right turn that the controller had not instructed him to perform.
At 1811, the controller described the terrain to the pilot, and to look for a lake. The pilot responded that he didn't see anything. The controller then instructed the pilot to continue the right turn to 340 degrees, direct to the Rogue Valley VOR and to lower terrain.
At 1812, the pilot stated "Yea we're stalled out now and going down." The controller asked if the pilot was in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) and the pilot responded "affirmative."
At 1813, the pilot asked for vectors to Medford, however, the controller reported that RADAR contact was lost.
At 1814, the pilot stated "Well it looks like I'm forty one on my present whatever the heading is. I'm at 310 heading right now and uh 31 from Medford." The pilot also reported that he was at 5,800 feet and the terrain was in sight.
At 1815, the pilot reported at 5,600 feet and asked the controller if he could get him clear of the terrain. The controller stated that RADAR contact was lost and the plane had flown into a valley. The pilot responded that he was heading 350 degrees and at 5,500 feet. The pilot then reported that he saw nothing of a river or a road below.
At 1816, the pilot reported at 4,400 feet.
At 1817, the pilot stated "(unintelligible) is at 2,000 feet now in trouble here." A few seconds later, the pilot stated "Forty seven hundred feet."
The last transmission was at 1817:42, when the pilot stated "(unintelligible) I've got terrain."
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located at the 1,700 foot level. The airplane was positioned right side up in a ditch along side the Applegate Road, at the north end of Applegate Lake. The Applegate dam runs east/west across the valley at the north end of the lake. A road crosses the dam and a ten foot chain link fence blocks access across to the east side. Three spot lights are positioned on the dam and were illuminated at the time of the accident. Further south on Applegate Road, two to three other lights were also illuminated. The water level was approximately 75 feet below the road. Another road that ended approximately mid-point across the lake was located approximately one-quarter of a mile further south and visible from the accident site. There was no damage noted to the fencing on the dam or to the guard rail that parallels the Applegate Road. Mountains in excess of 3,000 feet surround the area.
The airplane had been travelling in a westerly direction across the valley and collided with a rock wall on the west side of the road. The initial impact was approximately 20 feet above where the airplane came to rest. The airplane then slid down to its present position in the ditch. The nose of the airplane was pointing uphill, with the tail of the airplane at the bottom of the ditch.
The engine had been pushed aft and upward. The underside of the engine was destroyed. The underside of the fuselage displayed extensive impact damage. The landing gear was retracted. The airplane appeared to have impacted the rock wall, belly first. Both wings were intact and no leading edge damage was noted, except for at the wing root. The flaps were attached to their respective hinges and in the retracted position. The ailerons were also attached and free to move. The fuselage, aft of the rear seat to the empennage, displayed minor damage. Both elevators and rudder were attached and control continuity was established forward to the cockpit area.
The propeller separated as a unit from the crankshaft flange. The spinner remained in place. One-half the diameter of the spinner displayed crushing impact damaged. The other half of the spinner was not damaged. The point of the spinner was still present. One propeller blade displayed rearward bending and deep leading edge gouges. Deep scratches were present along the blade back. The other blade displayed minor bending and no leading edge damage.
The engine was examined and it was found that the lower portion of the crankcase had broken away at the oil sump and the accessory case.
The camshaft and lifters were intact and exposed. All connecting rods and the crankshaft were intact. The pistons and interior of the cylinders were inspected through the spark plug holes with no discrepancies noted. The spark plugs displayed normal operating signatures. The magnetos had broken away from the accessory case, however, a spark was produced with hand rotation. Both impulse couplings were functional.
The manifold valve and diaphragm were intact and the screen was clear. The vacuum pump was disassembled and found that the rotor was shattered, however, the vanes were intact. The turbocharger displayed impact damage and the impeller shaft could not be rotated.
The alternate air door is located at the bottom of the engine cowling. The air filter and door displayed extensive impact damage. The filter was intact and free from blockage. The door itself is operated manually and was found jammed in the mid range position.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed by James N. Olson, M.D. at the Perl Funeral Home, Medford, Oregon on February 11, 1994. It was reported that the cause of death was due to severe blunt facial, chest and lower extremity trauma.
Toxicological samples were taken and sent to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for examination. It was reported that Diphenhydramine was detected in the blood and urine.
The RADAR tracking data made available from Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center, indicates that the flight was at 12,000 feet, heading for Medford, when the pilot reported the icing and loss of power. The pilot maintained a northerly heading to Medford until 1810, when the controller notified the pilot of a possible landing area to his nine to ten o'clock position. At this point, the pilot initiated a right turn away from the landing area. The controller instructed the pilot to continue the turn to the right to head the flight back to a northerly heading. The flight at this point was over the south edge of Applegate Lake. Approximately one minute later, the flight had descended below RADAR contact.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on February 28, 1994. At the time of the release, the wreckage was located at Specialty Aircraft, Redmond, Oregon.