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On July 5, 1994, at 1459 central daylight time, a Beech H-35, N7917D, came apart, inflight, while maneuvering in the vicinity of a thunderstorm near Jackson, Alabama. The business flight operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane was destroyed, and the two occupants were fatally injured. The flight departed Hawkins Field in Madison, Mississippi, at 1358 hours.
At 1328, a man who identified himself as the pilot of N7917D telephoned Jackson Flight Service Station and requested a weather briefing for a planned visual flight to Gainesville, Florida. The pilot was given a standard weather briefing which included the current and forecasted weather information for his planned route of flight. According to the briefer, the pilot was also given a summary of the pertinent adverse weather conditions.
At 1400, the pilot established radio contact with Jackson (Mississippi) Approach Control and received flight following service until the flight departed Jackson's area of coverage. Memphis and Atlanta Centers continued the flight following service until the pilot established contact with Houston Center.
At 1452, the pilot reported on radio frequency with Houston Center and stated that he was at 9500 feet. At 1455, the controller advised the pilot of his mode C readout of 12000 feet, but the pilot verified that his altitude was 9,500 feet, and requested radar vectors. The pilot stated that he was getting into some clouds and that he thought he was near a thunderstorm. The controller asked the pilot if he was instrument qualified, and the pilot stated that he was not. The controller suggested that the pilot turn to a 080 degree magnetic heading and told the pilot that he should be clear of the weather in 2 1/2 miles; there was no response from the pilot. At 1257, the controller attempted to contact the pilot, and on the second attempt the pilot asked the controller to repeat his transmission. At 1458, the pilot reported two "Maydays" and that they were going down. At 1459, another airplane in the immediate vicinity of N7917D reported receiving an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal.
Information on the pilot is included in this report at the data field labeled "First Pilot Information". The pilot's flight logs were not recovered for examination. A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records revealed the pilot had accumulated a total of 100 flight hours at the time of his last medical examination. The records also disclosed that the pilot was not instrument flight qualified.
Information on the aircraft is contained in this report at the data field labeled "Aircraft Information". The aircraft logs were not recovered for examination.
Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Weather information is contained in this report at the data field labeled "Weather Information". According to FAA records, the pilot received a weather briefing prior to departing Madison, Mississippi. Included as part of the briefing was SIGMET 051754 issued from Kansas City, Missouri at 1255 for thunderstorm activity in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and coastal waters until 1455. The thunderstorm activity was moving west to east at fifteen knots. The tops of the thunderstorms were forecasted to be above 45,000 feet, with wind gusts to fifty knots. A second SIGMET overlapped 051754, and was valid until 1555. Again thunderstorm activity was forecasted with movement out of the northwest to the south east at fifteen knots (see attached weather data). A review of surface observations from weather reporting sites in Alabama confirmed thunderstorm activity at the approximate time of the accident. According to local law officials, heavy rain accompanied the thunderstorm which reduced visibility. The surface observations also showed the lowest cloud layers to have been between 3,500 feet and 4,000 feet.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Aircraft wreckage was scattered over an area 2,500 feet long and 300 feet wide. The wreckage debris was orientated on a 160 degree magnetic heading. Examination of the accident site disclosed that both wing assemblies were located north of the main wreckage. Both ailerons and flap control surfaces were attached to the wing assemblies. The right wing assembly was 600 feet north and the left wing was located 160 feet north of the main wreckage. The examination of the wing assemblies revealed a fracture through the carry through main spar with bending in the upward direction on both the upper and lower spar caps. The spar web sustained compression and buckling damage in the vicinity of the fracture faces.
The examination of the empennage section disclosed that both ruddervators and stabilators separated from the airframe. Both stabilator assemblies exhibited downward bending along the leading edges outboard from the leading edge cuff installations. The inboard trailing edges of both stabilator assemblies exhibited upward bending, and both spar assemblies separated from the airframe in an upward and aft direction. The right leading edge cuff installation was not damaged during the separation, but the left leading edge cuff assembly sustained upward deformation on the trailing edge of the assembly (see attached photographs of aircraft damage). The left ruddervator control surface cables tore through the top skin of the empennage section adjacent to the control surface installation.
An examination of the engine assembly did not reveal a component failure or system malfunction. The field examination of the recovered aircraft components failed to disclose a mechanical failure or a system malfunction.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The postmortem examination on the pilot was performed by Dr. James C. Downs on July 6, 1994, at the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Mobile, Alabama. The cause of death was reported as multiple trauma secondary to the accident. The toxicological examinations were negative for drugs and alcohol.
The wreckage was released to:
Jimmie Rickerson (Insurance Adjustor) 1450 Rivershyre Place Lawrenceville, Georgia 30243