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On November 18, 1995, about 1100 hours mountain standard time, N3741Y, a Cessna 210D, operated by the owner/pilot, collided with terrain while maneuvering near Yellow Pine, Idaho, and was destroyed. There was a fire. The commercial pilot and his two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The business flight had just departed from Big Creek, Idaho, and was en route to Boise, Idaho. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR 91.
According to a deputy with the Valley County Sheriff's Office, the pilot and passengers had arrived at the Big Creek airstrip, near Yellow Pine, Idaho, one day prior to the accident. One of the passengers owned a lodge at the airstrip and arrived for the purpose of closing it down for the winter. The other passenger was a property time-share sales employee who viewed the lodge for sales purposes. The deputy spoke with all three occupants and had coffee with them. He stated that he "... showed some concern as to why they had flown to Big Creek with a storm due in that night or the next day." The deputy also stated that the pilot did not appear to be ill or discuss any problems with himself or the airplane. The deputy stated that it was the pilot's intention to depart for Boise the next morning. The following morning, November 18, 1995, a witness observed an airplane circling over Yellow Pine about 1100. According to the deputy who took the witness statement:
... a pilot of [approximately] 30 years, informed me of an airplane...which circled several times over Yellow Pine at [approximately] 6000 to 6200 [feet] elevation. This elevation is well below the tops of the mountains around Yellow Pine and there was zero visibility due to fog and rain. The airplane's engine remained at the same [revolutions per minute] as it left in an Easterly direction."
The airplane was reported overdue and a search effort was initiated. The wreckage was found three days later and was located about five miles northwest of Yellow Pine at an elevation of about 7,600 feet msl in mountainous terrain. No distress calls or radio communications of any kind from the airplane were reported prior to the accident.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at the following coordinates: North 45 degrees, 05.03 minutes, and West 115 degrees, 23.82 minutes.
The pilot, age 69, was issued an FAA commercial pilot certificate on December 5, 1991. He held ratings for airplane single engine land airplanes, and instrument airplanes. According to FAA records, the pilot was issued an FAA Second Class Medical Certificate on November 3, 1994, with the limitation that he "must wear corrective lenses" and "must wear artificial limb."
The pilot was wounded in World War II and his left mid-forearm was amputated. He wore an artificial prosthesis with a hook. According to the FAA, the pilot "was able to safely handle all required maneuvers without any unusual body positions and therefore did not suffer any reduction in his field of vision."
An examination of a copy of the pilot's flight logbook revealed that the pilot had logged a total of 4,150 hours of total flight time, including 83 hours of actual instrument time and 92 hours of simulated instrument time. During the last 90 days, the pilot had logged a total of 18 hours in type, including 3 hours in instrument conditions. The pilot had extensive and recent backcountry mountain flying experience.
According to a witness, a pilot, who resides in Yellow Pine, "zero visibility due to fog and rain" prevailed in Yellow Pine at the time of the accident.
The Safety Board obtained detailed meteorological data (excerpts attached) from the National Weather Service in an attempt to further quantify the weather conditions at the accident site at the time of the accident. The data reveals that pilot advisories for mountain obscuration were valid for the accident area. A light low-level northerly wind flow prevailed with no reports of low level turbulence or wind gusts.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on July 23, 1996. The airplane came to rest about 100 yards beneath the top of a ridge in heavily-wooded, sloping terrain at an elevation of about 7,500 feet msl. The wreckage was distributed along a magnetic bearing of 054 degrees. The wreckage distribution path was measured to be about 100 feet in length and was parallel with the ridge line. The beginning of the path was marked by several sheared and damaged trees. The tallest of these trees was about 60 feet above the ground. One of the trees had been sheared cleanly at an angle.
The right wing was found near the base of these trees and was separated from the rest of the wreckage. An examination of the wing revealed a rounded crush mark in its leading edge that was about 12 inches in diameter and contained evidence of tree bark. The shape and depth of this crush mark was similar to that of the first sheared tree. The metal skin surrounding the crush mark was deformed upward from a location beginning underneath the wing. The radial axis of the crush mark was level and parallel with the remainder of the leading edge of the wing.
The remainder of the wreckage was found about 50 feet down range from the right wing. The left wing and empennage were separated from the fuselage. A portion of a broken tree was found underneath the empennage. The entire cockpit and cabin area was destroyed by a ground fire. No evidence of an in-flight fire, in-flight explosion, or in-flight breakup was found. All primary and secondary flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. No evidence was found to indicate a flight control deficiency.
The electrically-driven flap drive jackscrew was examined; the jackscrew was in the fully retracted position. The landing gear was also found in the retracted position. All cockpit instruments and controls were consumed in the post-crash fire.
The engine, a Continental model IO-520-FCA, remained attached to the firewall and propeller. No holes were found in the crankcase. The bottom of the engine exhibited crush and fire damage. The propeller was rotated and crankshaft continuity was verified. The top sparkplugs from all six cylinders were removed and examined; their leads appeared clean and unremarkable. Further examination of the engine did not reveal evidence of preimpact mechanical deficiencies.
The two-bladed McCauley metal propeller was examined. One blade exhibited evidence of chordwise scratching and leading edge polishing. The outboard half of the blade was twisted, leading edge aft, about 90 degrees into a distinct "S" bend. The other blade did not exhibit significant bending. About 4.5 inches of this blades tip had been broken off. Leading edge gouging was found near the outboard portion of this blade.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An examination was performed on the pilot by Mr. Marvin R. Heikila, Valley Country Coroner, McCall, Idaho, on November 21, 1995. A toxicological analysis (attached) was performed on specimens taken from the pilot by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Initial attempts by the Safety Board investigative team to reach the accident site were made on November 28 and November 29, 1995. Heavy snowfall demanded the use of four-wheel drive vehicles, snowmobiles, and a half-track vehicle to reach the trail head. The team then hiked to the area of the accident, but could not conduct the investigation due to a snow depth in excess of five feet. Helicopter insertion of the team was made impossible due to weather conditions and a lack of suitable landing zones. The team successfully reached the accident site and conducted the on-scene portion of the investigation during the following summer about one week after the mountain access road had been reopened.
The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Tracy Barrus, field adjuster for Southern Aviation Insurance Adjusters, employed by Barrus & Steiger, Inc., Bellevue, Washington, on July 23, 1996.