FTW96FA143
FTW96FA143

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 9, 1996, approximately 1955 central standard time, a Cessna 150, N66362, registered to a private owner, and operated by a flight school administered by the owner, was destroyed after impacting transmission lines and terrain, near Muleshoe, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a VFR flight plan was filed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 solo instructional cross country flight. The student pilot, sole occupant, was fatally injured. The flight originated from Hobbs Municipal Airport, Hobbs, New Mexico, approximately 1740, and was attempting to navigate to Levelland, Texas, when the accident occurred.

According to the operator, the aircraft departed Levelland at 1500 commencing a VFR round trip flight back to Levelland, via a planned full stop at Hobbs. While en route to Hobbs, the pilot became disoriented and lost. According to Hobbs' tower records, the pilot informed the tower that he needed assistance to locate the airport. After attempting to help the pilot, they called Fort Worth Center, Midland Low (MAFLO) position to assist. To try to locate the aircraft's position, MAFLO relayed a descreet beacon code to the tower, whereby, they passed it on to the pilot. Subsequently, MAFLO controllers were able to identify, and redirect the pilot toward the airfield. At 1716, after 2 hours, 16 minutes of flight, the airplane landed without incident at Hobbs.

A ramp attendant at Hobbs had a conversation with the pilot after landing. He reported that the pilot seemed "real nervous", and when asked if he wanted to re-fuel, the pilot declined. After using the rest room, the pilot returned to the ramp to pre-flight. The ramp attendant again queried the pilot regarding re-fueling, but the pilot again refused. The attendant observed that the pilot was "clearly disoriented", and attempted to calm him through casual conversation. He also noticed that the pilot spent a rather "long time" doing his pre-flight checks prior to departure. The ramp attendant called the tower after the pilot entered the cockpit to inform them that he "felt uneasy" about allowing the pilot to depart. According to tower records, the pilot departed Hobbs approximately 1750 en route to Levelland.

After being airborne for approximately 50 minutes, the pilot became disoriented again and contacted the Fort Worth Center, Lubbock Low (LBBLO) position for assistance at 1835. He stated to the LBBLO controller that he was "lost or something." In order to try to get radar contact, the controller attempted to talk the pilot through setting his transponder to a discreet beacon code with no results. During the communications, the controller also asked the pilot if his VOR was functioning, to which the pilot replied, "its out of order, [and it] says OFF and I can't get a TO or FROM." Subsequently, the controller tried to assist the pilot to orient on terrain and man made features and suggested that he climb to a higher altitude (6,500 feet) to gain more reference points. Several other aircraft in the vicinity also assisted the controller to try to establish the aircraft's position. After 28 minutes of radio contact, the pilot reported to the controller that was passing over what he thought was an airport. He told the controller that he was going to land at the airport. No further transmissions were received from the pilot.

Emergency personnel from Muleshoe, Texas, located the aircraft wreckage at 1959 on the shoulder of U.S. highway 84, about 1 mile east of Muleshoe, Texas (approximately 60 miles north of Levelland, Texas). They also observed damage to power lines that were adjacent to the wreckage and oriented perpendicular to the highway.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot was an Egyptian national who was in the United States on a student visa for flight training. According to information extracted from his flight log book, he had a total of 27.6 hours of day VFR flight, and 0.0 hours of night time at the time of the accident. Total solo time was 1.6 hours, all of which were in the local landing pattern. His last flight prior to accident was flown on the morning of the same day of the accident. The flight was the pilot's "safe for solo" endorsement check flight. According to his flight instructor, the route of flight was the same as the accident route of flight (Levelland to Hobbs to Levelland). The round trip flight took 2.2 hours. The endorsement was recorded in the pilot's log book, signed by the flight instructor. In an interview with the investigator-in-charge, the flight instructor reported that the student completed the flight successfully and "understood" lost plane procedures and that he was a "good" student. The pilot's training records were requested from the flight school administrator. He reported that the student was not in a Title 14 CFR Part 141 program, and therefore, no records were kept. He further stated that the student was being trained under Part 61, and that he paid a lump sum amount of money in advance for aircraft rental and flight instruction. The only records of what the pilot accomplished during his 27.6 hours of training was that of which was annotated in the remarks section of his flight log.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to available maintenance records, the airframe total time was 9,207 hours as of its last annual inspection performed on November 19, 1995 (tachometer time 1,559 hours). The last entry in the engine maintenance log was September 23, 1995, at which time a 100 hour inspection was annotated (tachometer time 1,519.8 hours).

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The last 30 minutes of the flight was flown in dark night visual meteorological conditions. The pilot had not flown at night prior to this event.

COMMUNICATIONS

A transcript record (from audio tapes) of the pilot's communications with Air Traffic Control facilities are included as an attachment to this report. The audio tapes indicated that the pilot had some difficulty with the English language.

There is no record of the pilot calling his home base (via telephone or radio) for assistance. Also, there is no record of the pilot's flight instructor or flight school personnel contacting FAA authorities or Hobbs tower to inquire about their overdue aircraft.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The main wreckage was found on a shoulder, parallel to a highway, approximately 198 feet west of power lines that crossed the highway. The aircraft was inverted with the engine and forward cabin structure folded under the fuselage. Both wings were crushed aft along their entire spans. The energy path was oriented on a 296 degree magnetic heading. The entire debris pattern, including the power lines and ground impressions, encompassed a linear rectangular area approximately 278 feet long, and 50 feet wide. One wire of the power lines was damaged. The initial ground impression was found 178 feet west of the power lines along the energy path.

The propeller, separated from the flange mount, was found 21 feet west of the initial impression along the path. Both propeller blades exhibited bending aft. Approximately 128 ounces of fuel was removed from both of the wing fuel tanks, and measured in calibrated containers. No fuel spillage was detected at the site. No obvious wire strikes were found on aircraft components, however, there was visible damage to the power lines, and according to the local utility commissioner, the lines were intact prior to the accident event.

Examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any mechanical defects that would have contributed to the accident.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL

An autopsy of the pilot was performed at the Lubbock County Medical Examiner's Office. The cause of death was determined to be multiple blunt force injuries. Toxicology tests, performed by CAMI, Oklahoma, City, Oklahoma, were negative for alcohol, carbon monoxide, and drugs.

FIRE

There was no evidence of an in-flight or post impact fire.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

According to the aircraft manufacturer, each wing fuel tank had a 13 gallon capacity for a total of 26 gallons, 3.5 gallons of which is unusable (1.75 gallons each tank). According to fuel performance charts, at 5,000 feet MSL, and 75% power, the fuel consumption rate is 5.6 gallons per hour. According to the verified take off and landing times, the aircraft was airborne for approximately 4 hours and 21 minutes (4.33 hours), not including ground operation of the engine. 4.33 hours X 5.6 gallons/hour = 24.25 gallons of fuel consumed. The usable fuel of the airplane with full tanks is 22.5 gallons. A total of 128 ounces (2 gallons) of fuel was found in aircraft's fuel system at the accident site. Fuel was not present in the carburetor bowl.

The pilot reported that the aircraft's VOR receiver was inoperative during the flight. Functionality of the VOR receiver could not be validated due to impact damage.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative.

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