On March 16, 1995, at 1915 eastern daylight time, a Beech T- 34B, N1440L, owned and operated by the U.S. Navy Flying Club, Lakehurst, New Jersey, struck trees in Jackson, New Jersey. The airplane was destroyed and the two pilots received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a local VFR flight plan had been filed for the flight, which was operated under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The local training flight departed Lakehurst at 1909, intending to remain in the traffic pattern. The inflight visibility had been reported as restricted, therefore, the pilot requested the latest weather at McGuire AFB, located 12 NM west of west. The tower responded the McGuire was reporing 7 miles visibility, and the Lakehurst visibility was 4 miles with haze.
At 1915:17, the Lakehurst Control Tower requested a position report from N1440L. There was no reply.
The front seat pilot, who was receiving instruction stated:
...After the gear was up I noticed the nose light still on. We saw the haze that was in front of us. (As they were approaching the haze) Don said, "stay at this altitude to stay out of the haze and remain VFR (approx 600'[feet]). (I) started turning left to start downwind for runway 06, rolled out level. Over my left shoulder I thought I could see the runway lights. Don said I was gaining altitude and needed to watch the climb. I responded OK and pushed the nose over. Thought I saw what appeared to be the runway on my left. Don said, "don't go down too fast" his voice sounded excited over the ICS. Then I saw the trees in the passing light, the last thing I saw.
The pilot had logged 27 hours of night time and 17 hours of instrument time, none in the preceding 90 days.
In a written statement, the rear seat pilot and flight instructor said:
Take off and climb to traffic pattern altitude (800'[feet]) was normal. We...made a left down wind turn and headed back to the field. During the down wind, I told Bob [front seat pilot] to go down to 500' [feet] but no lower. I looked out the window to see if I could see the lights of the runway. When I looked back in, we were below 300'[feet] and descending rapidly. I grabbed the stick, pulled it back and it was to late. Prior to impacting the trees, the flashing (anti-collision light) lit up the trees (peripheral vision).
The aircraft was working well with no mechanical problems. I had been flying with Bob on other flights and he was a good pilot. Bob did the take off and down wind turn. [I] Though he could fly on instruments
When asked, Were you ever in the clouds?, the pilot replied, "Never in the clouds or fog, it was misty."
The flight instructor had logged 192 hours of night time, and 609 hours of instrument time. In the preceding 90 days, he had not logged any night time; however, he had logged 3 hours of instrument time in the preceding 90 days.
The airplane came to rest upright, over 600 feet from the initial tree strike, in an unlighted area. The remote antenna on the ELT was separated from the ELT. On the following morning, the dual student manually activated the ELT, and extended the attached antenna. The signal was received by search aircraft and the airplane was located.