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On March 24, 1996, about 1510 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150J, N5587G, was destroyed during a forced landing and collision with trees near Warwick, New York. The private pilot received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at Montgomery, New York, about 1430. No flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
In a written statement and telephone interview, a certified flight instructor (CFI) stated that she flew with the pilot/owner just prior to the accident flight. The CFI said that the pilot of N5587G had not flown recently, and was due for her bi-annual flight review in the near future. The CFI accompanied the pilot to the Warwick Municipal Airport (N72), and observed the pilot preflight the airplane. The CFI stated that she asked the pilot if the airplane needed fuel, and the pilot responded that they had "plenty." At the completion of the preflight, the CFI and pilot boarded the airplane, and the engine was started.
The CFI further stated:
"...[The pilot] started her checklist. She followed it completely and she was using it to start the engine on the second blade. I saw the oil pressure come up and noticed the other gages were all reading as they should..."
The flight instructor also stated that after takeoff from N72, while en route to the Orange County Airport (MGJ), in Montgomery, the CFI turned off one magneto and had the pilot perform turns to demonstrate that the airplane would fly on a single magneto. This was performed to build the pilot's confidence. The CFI stated that the pilot tended to panic during emergencies.
When they arrived at MGJ, the pilot performed a touch and go landing, followed by a full stop simulated emergency landing. After a brief stop, the CFI and pilot returned to the airplane for additional flying. During the second flight, the pilot performed two simulated forced landings to MGJ, a touch and go and a full stop. Both pilots deplaned at the conclusion of the second landing. The combined duration of both flights was estimated to be .9 hour.
In a telephone interview, another pilot stated that he also kept his airplane at N72, and had flown to MGJ that morning. He stated that he was in the MGJ airport restaurant when the pilot and CFI of N5587G joined him.
The second pilot stated that when he departed MGJ for N72, the pilot of N5587G had also planned to fly back to N72, and the CFI had left to fly with a third pilot. While en route to N72, the second pilot heard the pilot of N5587G announce her takeoff from MGJ. That was the last transmission heard from N5587G.
Two witnesses near Warwick reported that they observed a low flying airplane prior to 1515. One witness stated that he heard the airplane's engine surging. Both witnesses stated that the airplane was less than 100 feet above the ground, and they lost sight of the airplane when it flew below the tops of the trees.
The airplane was discovered in a wooded swamp, 1 mile southwest of N72, about 0700, March 25, 1996. The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at approximately 41 degrees, 16 minutes north latitude, and 74 degrees, 18 minutes west longitude.
Mrs. Irene K. Coyman held a Private Pilot Certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. Her most recent FAA Third Class Medical Certificate was issued on July 26, 1995.
Mrs. Coyman's pilot log book was located; however, the last entry was dated August 8, 1995. It was estimated that she had accumulated approximately 234 hours of total flying experience, of which about 165 hours were in this make and model. According to her husband, her last flight was estimated to have occurred during November 1995, in N5587G. The pilot's last bi-annual flight review was completed on April 18, 1992, in a Cessna 150.
The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on March 25 and 26, 1996. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene, and the airplane came to rest nose down, on an approximate magnetic bearing of 120 degrees.
Initial tree impact scars started approximately 200 feet northwest of the wreckage. Tree impact scars became progressively lower on the trees in the direction of the wreckage. The tree scars indicated a general magnetic direction of 135 degrees. Numerous pieces of the fuselage, wings, and ailerons were found along the tree impact flight path. The top of a 10-inch-diameter tree, 50 feet northwest of the main wreckage, was separated from the tree, as were several tree limbs. The left fuselage and center wing section of the airplane came to rest against a 12-inch-diamenter tree.
The left and right wing leading edges sustained impact damage, and pieces of tree wood and bark were imbedded in the sheet metal of both wings. Examination of the wings revealed that the wing fuel tanks were not ruptured, and the finger screens inside of the tanks were not blocked with debris. The right tank contained 3.5 pounds of fuel, and the left contained 7.5 pounds of fuel. The fuel in the tanks was light blue in color. The airframe fuel filter contained about 2 to 3 ounces of fuel, and was absent of debris. When the fuel from the tanks and filter were tested with water finding paste, the fuel was found to be absent of water. No fuel odor was detected on the ground below the left and right wing tanks.
Control continuity was confirmed from the pilot flight controls to the left and right ailerons, rudder, and elevator.
The airplane was not equipped with pilot and passenger shoulder harnesses. The pilot's seat belt was found unfastened. The emergency locator transmitter (ELT) switch was found to be in the off position. The flap switch and actuators indicated the flaps were in the retracted position.
The engine and firewall were separated from the main fuselage, and the propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft flange. The upper spark plugs of all four cylinders were inspected and found to be light gray in color. The engine primer knob, shaft, and lock ring were found in the pilot's coat pocket by the medical examiner. The engine was removed for further examination.
The propeller blades did not display chord wise twisting or scratches, and the leading edges were not nicked. One blade displayed a slight aft curve, and the last third of the other blade was curved aft about 90 degrees.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on Mrs. Irene Coyman, on March 25, 1996, by Dr. Lewis Roh of the Orange County Coroner's Office, Orange County, New York.
Toxicological testing was conducted at the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The engine was shipped to the Mattituck Airbase, INC., Mattituck, New York., for further examination. On April 10, 1996, a test run of the engine was conducted in the presence of the NTSB Investigator-In-Charge. Prior to the test, the number one and three muffler exhaust stacks were removed and replaced with short stacks. Also replaced was the number one intake elbow that had received impact damage, and the number three cylinder valve cover. The number three cylinder upper spark lead was crushed at the top of the spark plug, and was repaired prior to the test.
The engine started on the second attempt, and operated with a slight miss; however, it was able to obtain full operating RPM. The engine was shut down, and the number four cylinder upper spark lead was also found to be crushed at the top of the spark plug. The spark plug lead was repaired and the engine was restarted. During the second run, the engine developed full power, and was accelerated from idle to full power several times.
A review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed that an annual inspection was completed on August 21, 1992. The next annual inspection was completed 14 months later, on October 8, 1993. According to the pilot's flight log book, she flew the airplane on September 8 and 20, 1993. The next and last annual inspection was completed 14 months later, on December 30, 1994. According to the pilot's log book, she flew the airplane to the maintenance facility on November 30, 1994. An entry in the airplane's maintenance log on December 3, 1994, authorized the airplane for a ferry flight to have the annual inspection completed.
Refueling records at the Warwick Airport revealed that 17 gallons of fuel was last purchased for N5587G on October 11, 1995. The pilot's husband estimated that the pilot flew the airplane once or twice during November 1995.
The left wing contained 7.5 pounds of fuel, or 1.25 gallons, and the right wing contained 3.5 pounds of fuel, or .58 gallons. The Cessna 150 Owner's Manual listed a fuel capacity of 26 gallons, 13 gallons in each wing tank. The manual also stated that the usable fuel for all flight conditions was 22.5 gallons, with 3.5 gallons of unusable fuel.
The Warwick Airport was located about 14 miles south of MGJ. Airplane traffic at the time of the accident was landing on runway 03. The accident location was about 1 mile southwest of N72, outside of the standard traffic pattern.
The accident occurred in a stand of trees about 350 feet wide by over 1,000 feet long. About 275 feet northwest of the wreckage site was an open field that contained scrub brush, about 300 feet wide, by over 1,000 feet long. The field length was oriented northeast to southwest. About 50 feet southeast of the wreckage site was an open field about 200 feet wide by 600 feet long. The length of this field was also oriented northeast to southwest.
The airplane wreckage was released on March 26, 1996, and a copy of the NTSB Wreckage Release Form was left at the Warwick Police Department. The engine was released on April 10, 1996, at the completion of the engine run. Although a representative of the owners insurance company, Mr. Kevin Olsen, removed and stored the wreckage, he would not sign the wreckage release form. A copy of the wreckage release was also sent to Mr. Coyman for his signature, but not returned.