On March 28, 1995, about 0820 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172N, N2196E, crashed in the Gulf of Mexico just offshore of the Venice Municipal Airport, Venice, Florida, while on a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private noninstrument-rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. One passenger sustained serious injuries and one passenger sustained minor injuries. The flight originated about 0805 from the Venice Municipal Airport, Venice, Florida.

About 0609, the pilot contacted the St. Petersburg Automated Flight Service Station (PIE AFSS) by telephone and requested a weather briefing for a proposed round trip flight to the Charlotte County Airport, Punta Gorda, Florida. The proposed time of departure was 0830. The pilot was advised in part that fog existed at two airports near the destination airport and an Airmet was in effect though not for the departure airport, for fog. The pilot was advised that VFR flight was not recommended and the forecast for improvement was after 1000. The pilot was advised to call back for a weather update before departure; however, he did not call back.

The survivors and one witness stated the pilot performed a preflight of the airplane which included verifying fuel quantity by measurement using a dipstick. The pilot stated to the witness and survivors that the fuel tanks contained about 2 hours of fuel. An engine run-up was accomplished and shortly before takeoff the pilot stated to the survivors "we're a little overweight, I'm not sure if we are going to takeoff." The flight departed and flew over the water then encountered fog. According to the survivors and numerous witnesses, the pilot flew into and out of the fog several times. One of the witnesses estimated that the fog base was at least 300 feet with a visibility at least 5 miles below the fog. The survivors stated and the airplane was observed by one witness to fly over the airport three times. The survivors stated that the airplane was not aligned with any runway when the airplane flew over the airport. One witness stated that during one of the passes the airplane was aligned with runway 4 and was about 75 feet above ground level at the approach end of the runway. The survivors stated that the pilot then advised them "we are going to land on the next pass." The pilot flew toward the Gulf of Mexico, again encountered fog at the shoreline and remained in the fog for a longer duration this time. The pilot executed a "very slow left bank then even slower left bank again." They then heard a "buzzer" sound which the male survivor associated with the stall warning horn. The airplane then descended nose and left wing low and the pilot responded by applying power. The airplane impacted the water about 5-10 seconds after hearing the "buzzer" sound. Numerous witnesses and the survivors stated the engine sounded normal during taxi, takeoff, and while in flight. Additionally, the survivors heard the "buzzer" sound several times during the flight.


Information pertaining to the pilot is contained in the NTSB Factual Report-Aviation. Review of the pilot's airmen file revealed that he was not instrument rated. Review of a certified copy of the pilot's medical file from February 11, 1986, to May 3, 1995, revealed that the pilot's last medical certificate was dated December 13, 1989. The limitations of that medical certificate indicated that it was not valid after December 31, 1990.


Information pertaining to the weather is contained in the NTSB Factual Report-Aviation. An Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) was located on the Venice Municipal Airport, and recorded about 1 minute after the accident, the following: ceiling 500 feet overcast with 7 miles visibility, temperature and dew point were each 73 degrees F., and the wind was from 280 degrees at 5 knots. The AWOS weather is not reported to the St. Petersburg (AFSS). Additionally, the pilot of another airplane was executing a non-precision instrument approach to the airport about the time of the accident. The pilot reported that the ceiling of the clouds was about 600 feet and the visibility was about 3 to 5 miles beneath the lowest layer of clouds.


The wreckage was located in the Gulf of Mexico about 200 yards offshore, west-southwest of the approach end of runway 04. The wreckage was recovered for further examination.

Examination of the airframe revealed evidence that the airplane impacted the water in a right wing and nose low attitude. The wings, engine assembly, and instrument panel were found to be separated from the airframe. Examination of the right wing revealed leading edge chordwise crushing near the wingtip and the lift strut. The leading edge of the left wing was relatively intact. Examination of the aileron, elevator, and rudder flight controls revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. The flaps were confirmed to be in the fully retracted position.

Examination of the engine revealed crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity. The throttle and mixture control cables were connected to their respective control arms at the carburetor. Examination of the carburetor revealed that the throttle was 3/4 open, and the mixture was found to be near full rich. Each magneto to engine timing and internal timing of the magnetos was correct with no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction of the magnetos. Thumb suction and compression were noted in all cylinders. Examination of the vacuum pump revealed that the driven components were intact and internally the rotor and rotor vanes were intact.


Post-mortem examinations of the pilot and right front seat passenger were performed by James C. Wilson, M.D., at the Sarasota Medical Examiner Facility. The cause of death for the pilot was drowning. The cause of death for the right front seat passenger was multiple severe blunt traumatic injuries. No abdominal bruising was noted on either the pilot or right front seat passenger.

Toxicological analysis was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs. The results were positive in the urine for Diltiazem.


The wreckage was released to Mr. Dale Kraus of the Venice Flying Service on March 29, 1995.

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