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On February 8, 1996, at 1052 hours Pacific standard time, a Piper PA28-181, N791CR, and an Avions Pierre Robin R2160, N216JM, collided about 3 miles southwest of Ramona Airport, Ramona, California. The pilot in each airplane was conducting a visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight to Ramona Airport. N791CR landed on runway 27 at Ramona Airport and N216JM crashed and burned in an open field about 1 1/2 miles southwest of Ramona Airport. N791CR, registered to a private individual and operated by Airtime Aviation, Carlsbad, California, sustained substantial damage; N216JM, registered to and operated by the pilot, was destroyed by impact and the postimpact fire. The certificated private pilot aboard N791CR and the certificated commercial pilot aboard N216JM both sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. N791CR departed Palomar Airport, Carlsbad, at 1035 hours; N216JM departed Montgomery Airport, San Diego, California, at 1033 hours.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators interviewed the pilot at Ramona Airport, on February 8, 1996. The pilot said that he was flying to Ramona Airport to practice some touch-and-go landings and takeoffs. The pilot flew to the practice area after departing Palomar Airport. The pilot executed a few "S" turns after he arrived at the practice area and proceeded toward Ramona Airport.
When the flight was about 2 miles east of Mt. Woodson he heard some airplanes on Ramona Airport's common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF - 122.7 MHz). He said that runway 27 was in use and he continued toward Mt. Woodson to enter the left traffic pattern at a 45-degree angle. The airplane's altitude was 2,700 feet mean sea level (all altitudes in this report, unless otherwise noted, are mean sea level altitudes).
When the airplane was abeam Mt. Woodson he began a descent and announced his position and landing intentions on runway 27 on the CTAF. Moments after leaving 2,000 feet, he saw a blue and white flash off and below his right wing and then felt the impact. Other than the blue and white flash, he never saw N216JM.
After the collision, the pilot declared an emergency and landed on runway 27. He said that he did not realize that the airplane's right main landing gear separated at the collision. On touchdown, the airplane began to skid to the right and then stopped. The pilot exited the airplane without any assistance.
Safety Board investigators interviewed the pilot at Palomar hospital, Escondido, California, on February 8, 1996. The pilot said that he was going to Ramona Airport to drop off some keys to his mechanic. He said that he received a weather briefing from the FAA, San Diego Flight Service Station, before departing on the accident flight.
He said that he received VFR radar advisories from the FAA, South Coast TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control). When the flight was a few miles southwest of Mt. Woodson, the sector controller terminated the radar advisory service.
When the airplane was abeam Mt. Woodson, descending through 2,600 feet, he heard another airplane report in the vicinity of Mt. Woodson. He looked for the airplane, but did not see it. Moments later, the canopy blew off and the engine began to vibrate severely. He elected to land in an open field.
The airplane bounced when it touched down and almost immediately erupted into flames. The pilot exited the airplane when it came to rest.
In a follow-up telephone interview conducted on February 9, 1996, the pilot said that the airplane was level at the time of the collision. He said that the airplane's altitude was 3,500 feet when the sector controller terminated the radar services and he descended the airplane to 2,400 feet. While level at 2,400 feet, he heard the other airplane announce his position moments before the collision.
Safety Board investigators interviewed several ground witnesses. All but one of the witnesses saw the airplanes after the collision.
This ground witness that saw the airplanes before and during the collision reported that he was in front of his residence when he saw the airplanes. He said that both airplanes appeared to be flying in a formation with one airplane above the other. He became distracted momentarily and then returned his attention to the airplanes. The lower airplane [N216JM] then appeared to climb into the other airplane. The upper airplane [N791CR] continued its flight to the airport. The lower airplane [N216JM] crashed in an open field.
The pilot holds a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating that he received on August 7, 1995. He also holds an unrestricted third-class medical certificate dated March 31, 1995.
Safety Board investigators examined the pilot's flight hour's logbook. The flight hours reflected on page 3 of this report were derived from the logbook examination. The examination disclosed that the pilot satisfied the general recency and biennial flight review requirements of current federal air regulations.
The pilot holds a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument ratings. He also holds a third-class medical certificate; the certificate contains a "must wear glasses" limitation endorsement.
Safety Board investigators did not examine the pilot's flight hours' logbook. The flight hours reflected on page 3 of this report were provided by the pilot. The pilot also provided the Safety Board with a copy of the pilot's logbook entry depicting his last biennial flight review.
The data received from the pilot shows that he satisfied the general recency and biennial flight review requirements of current federal air regulations.
Safety Board investigators examined both airplanes' maintenance logbooks. The examination disclosed that the airplanes were maintained according to current federal air regulations.
Both airplanes are a low wing construction. N216JM had a glass canopy with a 360-degree view and an unrestricted upward view. The pilot said that before accident, he placed a sun restrictor device on the upper part of the canopy.
Ramona Airport is operated by the County of San Diego, and is located 2 miles east of Ramona. It has one 4,000-foot-long by 150-foot-wide asphalt surfaced runway. The runway is oriented in an east/west direction (9/27). The field elevation is 1,393 feet and the posted traffic pattern altitude is 2,400 feet.
The airport does not have an FAA Air Traffic Control Tower. Pilots can obtain airport information by using the CTAF. According to the airport manager, the CTAF is operated by Pacific Executive Aviation, a fixed-based operator on the field.
The CTAF operator told Safety Board investigators that there were several airplanes in the traffic pattern at the time of the accident. He said that he does not specifically recall talking to either airplane. He said that he did give airport and traffic pattern information to some airplanes approaching the airport.
Ramona Airport does not have an official weather observation facility. The weather data reflected on page 4 of this report was obtained from the accident pilots and ground witnesses. According to the witnesses, visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident and the surface and airborne visibility exceeded 20 miles.
Safety Board investigators used a Sun and Moon Information computer program and determined that at the time and approximate location of the collision at 2,500 feet elevation, the magnetic bearing to the sun was 143 degrees. The sun was about 40.1 degrees above the horizon.
Wreckage and Impact Information
The airplane came to rest, right-side-up, about 2,006 feet from runway 27 threshold, and about 10 feet north of the runway centerline. Except for the right main landing gear, all of the airplane's major components and flight controls remained attached at their respective attach points.
The flight controls operated normally by movement of their respective control mechanism.
The nose tire, the nose gear strut, and the underside of the engine cowling exhibited several propeller slash marks.
The right main landing gear was not found. Examination of the landing gear wheel well revealed that the landing gear upper casting fractured toward the right rear. The right flap inboard hinge exhibited an impact signature.
The airplane came to rest, right-side-up, facing 260 degrees, about 189 feet north of the initial impact point. A boulder along the airplane's ground path displayed blue and white paint transference signatures.
All of the airplane major components were found. Both wing's wing-to-fuselage attach fittings melted. The flight controls remained attached at their respective attach points.
Numerous airplane debris, including several plexiglass pieces of the canopy, were found surrounding a residence about 1 1/2 miles southwest of the impact site. A plexiglass piece of the canopy displayed numerous tire scratch marks.
The entire cabin/cockpit area and both wings inboard sections were incinerated by the postimpact fire. All of the flight instruments were destroyed.
The upper section of the left wing and propeller spinner displayed numerous scratch marks oriented about 20 degrees tangential and to the right of the wing chord line. The propeller spinner was also crushed.
Medical and Pathological Information
Toxicological examinations were not taken on either pilot involved in this accident; nor were they requested.
Safety Board investigators released N791CR to Ramona Aircraft Salvage, Ramona Airport, and N216JM to the registered owner's insurance representative on February 9, 1996. Both airplanes were at Ramona Aircraft Salvage storage facility.