CHI96LA130
CHI96LA130

On April 12, 1996, at 0349 central daylight time (cdt), a Cessna 177B, N19884, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it collided with electrical power transmission lines and the water. The surviving passenger said the pilot was maneuvering the airplane to look at a dam. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. A third passenger received minor injuries. The flight departed Mexico, Missouri, exact time unknown.

According to the surviving passenger, the pilot came to his home about 2200 or 2300 cdt. He said the pilot and he had some beer before leaving his home. The passenger said that he and the pilot went to a local restaurant and lounge and remained there until about 0130 cdt. The passenger, pilot and two friends then went to the airport. One passenger brought a 12 pack of beer with them. The passenger said the friend who brought the beer to the airport was the only one drinking beer while flying around the area. He said they had been flying for about an hour before the accident.

The passenger said the pilot flew toward the Mark Twain Lake near Monroe, Missouri. As they neared the dam, he said the pilot descended to about 800 feet above the ground. He said the airplane approached the Clarence Cannon Dam (dam) on Mark Twain Lake and flew over it. The passenger said the pilot told him that he was going to get a closer look at the dam. The pilot circled and came back toward the dam, banking to the right and descending quickly. It was during the descent that the passenger heard the airplane hit something. He said he saw sparks outside the window and then the next thing he knew he was in the water. He said the cockpit lights were not illuminated during the flight.

According to a Missouri State Water Patrol (patrol) incident report N19884's wreckage was about 700 feet down stream from the dam. The passenger told a Patrol officer that he looked out the front window as the airplane approached the dam and had the impression the airplane was below the top of the dam.

During the recovery activity empty and partially empty beer cans, a beer can carton and brown paper bag were found in the airplane. Other beer cans surfaced during the recovery process.

The owner of the power lines said they were about 125 feet above the water. The on-scene investigation revealed that orange markers balls were on the wires. One marker ball was destroyed during the collision. Pieces of the ball were found on the lake's shore. The entire wing was separated from the fuselage. Its top and bottom skin was wrinkled.

Blue and white paint, similar to the colors on N19884 was found on the power lines. One power line was stretched during the collision and had contacted a phase line. An electrical power outage resulted from the wires touching each other. The right wing had indentations and scrapes whose appearance matches the electrical power lines structure. About 8 feet of the outboard section of the right wing was mangled, torn, and twisted aft. The left side of the stabilator had similar scrapes and marks that were found on the wing.

The Federal Aviation Administration's Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI) represented the NTSB on-scene. The PMI reported flight and engine control continuity during the inspection. The throttle, prop, and carburetor heat controls were found in the full forward position. The engine primer control was extended to the fully armed position. The magneto switch was positioned on the "Left" magneto. The instrument panel light control knob was in the "Off" position.

The magnetos were examined and the internal timing was determined to be within the manufacturer's specifications. Engine thumb compression was established for all four cylinders. The top and bottom spark plug electrodes were dull black in color.

The engine was test run at the manufacturer's facility. The engine performed to the manufacturer's specifications.

A copy of the pilot's logbook was sent to the NTSB by the pilot's father. The logbook shows a total flight time of 185.0 hours. Of this time 31.2 hours are shown as night flight experience. The pilot's last logged flight was in the Cessna 177, on July 20, 1994. His last logged night flight was on October 9, 1993, also in the Cessna 177. The pilot's father said the pilot flew N19884 about 38 hours since his last logbook entry.

An autopsy on the pilot was conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri, on April 22, 1996. The toxicology section of that report showed the pilot's blood sample contained 156 mg/dL of ethanol. The Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute Toxicology Laboratory report showed that 130.000 (mg/dl) of ethanol was detected in the blood, 135.000 (mg/dl) of ethanol was detected in vitreous fluid, and 179.000 mg/dl) of ethanol was detected in the urine.

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