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On December 3, 1995, about 1854 eastern standard time, a Cessna 152, N67369, registered to a private owner, collided with rising terrain while maneuvering near Rush Township, Pennsylvania. The airplane was destroyed, and the private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight had departed Shenandoah Valley Airport, Weyers Cave, Virginia, about 1730, destined for Du Boise, Pennsylvania, and was being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91.
The pilot transmitted a "MAYDAY" that was received by the Altoona Flight Service Station (FSS). He was instructed to contact New York Air Traffic Control Center (New York ARTCC, Sector 93, D and R Radar positions, D93, R93).
At 1839:26, the specialist at Altoona FSS, contacted the D93 controller, and informed him, "we have a guy that's southwest of the Phillipsburg VOR that is calling out mayday, and there's an aircraft up in that area [N369] that's trying to establish contact, we don't know the call sign of the aircraft calling mayday." Altoona said they could not pick up the airplane, and asked the ARTCC if they saw him on their radar. The D93 controller replied that, "I am displaying a VFR target, altitude between twenty eight hundred feet and three thousand feet." The FSS specialist verified that the airplane was "stuck" in a valley southwest of the Phillipsburg VOR. The D93 controller told the FSS specialist, "...that's about right, puts him about...maybe eight miles, six miles southwest of Mid-State Airport."
The conversation between Altoona FSS specialist and the D93 controller continued and Altoona said, "...we already had one guy crash tonight, because...the ceiling dropped and these guys got stuck in a valley."
The D93 controller answered, "...yeah I got guys reporting the icing levels [are] just east of Tyrone...now I'm showing him down around twenty seven hundred feet...just circling out there...."
The controller at New York ARTCC had several aircraft in the area attempt to make radio contact with N67369 between 1841:47, and 1848:33, without any success. The R93 controller made a radio call in the blind in an attempt to make radio contact, and he too was unsuccessful.
The Altoona FSS specialist was getting concerned about the airplane and commented to the R93 controller that, "...if we can't get him out of there he's gonna go down...this guy [was] in a heap of trouble, I bet you he's VFR [rated]...the weather up at University Park [is] twenty three hundred over[cast], three [miles visibility] rain and fog."
At 1849:17, the controller realized that the transponder on N67369 was, "squawking a discrete code, so maybe Cleveland's got him." The R93 controller called Cleveland Center, Clarion sector, and found out that they were in contact with the airplane's pilot, and he was "lost." The pilot further had told Cleveland that he wanted to get into any airport he could and "its all IFR" in the area he was flying in. The pilot was given New York ARTCC's frequency and at 1851:31, radio communication with New York ARTCC was established.
Radar contact was established, and the pilot said, "...I'm lost and...give me vectors to an airport." The pilot was told that his location was "directly overhead the Tyrone VOR" and was asked to verify his altitude.
The pilot said that he was at an altitude of "three three thousand feet ." The radar data supplied by the FAA, showed that the altitude was actually 3,000 feet.
The R93 controller asked the pilot, "...are you IFR qualified...[and] is the aircraft equipped for IFR flight." The pilot answered, "[I'm] not IFR rated sir the aircraft is equipped..." The controller acknowledged the pilot, and said, "all right understand negative IFR qualified, but the aircraft is equipped for IFR flight...squawk ident please...." The pilot further informed the controller that he had half tanks of fuel remaining on "both sides."
The controller then asked the pilot "are you in good VFR [flight] condition," and the pilot answered, "negative sir in and out."
At 1853:14, the recorded radar showed that the airplane was at an altitude of 2,600 feet. The controller said to the pilot at 1853:16, "all right Cessna three six nine, the emergency safe altitude in that area is two thousand five hundred feet . I've had aircraft report the base of the clouds at some airports northeast of your position around two thousand seven hundred feel msl [mean sea level]...the closest airport from your position would be...University Park Airport, which is about two five, twenty five to twenty miles northeast of you present position. Can you maintain VFR around three thousand."
The pilot never answered, and communications was never reestablished. The last two radar returns showed that the airplane was heading in a southerly direction, at altitudes of 2,600 and 2,700 feet. At 1856:05, another airplane reported to the controller that his attempts to make radio contact with the pilot of N67369 were not successful, and that they were receiving an ELT (emergency locator transmitter).
Searchers located the airplane wreckage in rising mountainous terrain at 1030, December 4, 1995, at an elevation of 2100 feet. The top of the mountain that the airplane impacted was 2,600 feet.
A nine-year-old boy was at his home in Beccaria, Pennsylvania, and said that he was eating supper and heard "a aircraft sound that sounded real close...." He ran to the window, but could not see the airplane. The boy's father said, "we heard a low flying aircraft coming from the Beccaria area heading towards Janesville area. My son jumped up and ran to look out the window...but we couldn't see any aircraft due to the heavy clouds."
The accident occurred during the hours of darkness about 40 degrees, 45 minutes north, and 78 degrees, 20 minutes west.
Information on the pilot is contained in this report on page 3, under First Pilot Information. The pilot was not instrument rated and had about 900 hours of flight time.
The weather at Du Bois, Pennsylvania (25 miles northwest of the accident site), at 1856, was reported as: ceiling partial obscuration, 100 foot broken, visibility 1 mile, rain and fog, temperature 46 degrees F, dew point 43 degrees F, wind 260 degrees, 11 knots. The State Police and rescue personnel reported that on the night of the accident, there was dense fog all over the area. Sunset in the area of the crash site on December 3, 1995, was at 1644.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on December 5, 1995, at the Medical Examiner's Office, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, by Dr. Kerry A. Benninghoff.
Toxicological tests were conducted at the Federal Aviation Administration's, Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and revealed "62.200 (ug/ml, ug/g) Salicylate detected in Urine."
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted in a heavily wooded area, less then 1/4 mile south of the Tyron VOR. There was wreckage and broken trees observed along a path on a heading of 285 degrees. The broken trees formed about a 30- to 35-degree angle from a point where the first tree was damaged to were the wreckage came to rest. The distance from where the first broken tree was located to where the airplane came to rest was about 100 feet. The terrain to the right of the wreckage path, sloped downward at about a 7 degree angle. About 50 feet west of the area where the first damaged tree was located, was a broken tree limb about 8 inches in diameter. The limb was found with paint similar in color to the paint on the airplane's propeller blades. The airplane came to rest upside down with the nose heading 285 degrees.
Examination of the airframe revealed that the cabin top was detached. The cabin floor had torn across it's width, just forward of the fuel selector valve, in the vicinity of the door posts.
The left wing and strut were found attached to the fuselage. The right wing, right stabilizer and tail section had separated. These parts were found along the wreckage path, forward of the main wreckage. All of the control surfaces were accounted for within the wreckage area. Control continuity was established to all the flight controls. The trailing edge flaps were found retracted.
The engine was examined at the crash site. The cowling was removed and the interior was found clean. The top spark plugs were removed and no discrepancies were observed. The engine was rotated by hand, and rotated freely. Thumb compression was observed on all four cylinders. Lubrication was observed throughout the engine.
The left magneto was attached to the engine, but had sustained damage , and could not be tested. The right magneto was rotated, and spark was produced from all the leads.
The carburetor was found mounted to the engine and free of obstructions. The carburetor was disassembled and no discrepancies were found. A small amount of fuel was found in the carburetor bowl. Examination of the engine did not reveal any discrepancies.
The two-bladed propeller was found detached from the engine, and had come to rest about 50 feet west of the main wreckage. One of the blades displayed "S" type bending. The same blade displayed layers of paint that appeared to have been rubbed off along the blades leading edge and forward section of the blade. Similar type of paint was found on the 8 inch, broken tree limb, that was found at the forward portion of the wreckage path. The other blade displayed about a 90 degree bend to the outboard portion of the blade. Damage was also observed on the leading and trailing edge of the blade near the tip.
The vacuum was removed from the engine and disassembled. The interior of the pump was not damaged, and no discrepancies were noted.
The aircraft wreckage was released to Trooper Michael Patrick, Pennsylvania State Police, on December 5, 1995. The wreckage was still on the top of the mountain when it was released, and it's disposition from that point is unknown.