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On April 29, 1996, at 1636 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172RG, N9678B, struck the ground after takeoff from the Duanesburg Airport, Duanesburg, New York. The airplane was destroyed, and the private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the flight which was operated under 14 CFR Part 91.
The flight originated at the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport, Robbinsville, New Jersey, on April 27, 1996. According to a witness, the airplane arrived at Duanesburg, between 1400 and 1500. On April 28, the pilot went to the airport to give some rides.
After starting the engine, he noticed an unusual sound and shut the engine off. The pilot was then unable to restart the engine. A mechanic was summoned on April 29, and he changed out the starter, after which the pilot was able to start the engine.
The pilot received two weather briefings on April 29, the first at 1000, and the second at 1329. He then filed an IFR Flight plan at 1532, and called Burlington AFSS at 1621 for his clearance. Along with his clearance, he was given a void time of 1635. There were no further contacts by the pilot with FAA.
The pilot and passenger who were destined for the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport, then boarded the airplane for departure. Several witnesses observed the departure. One witness said the engine seemed to be operating above normal RPM, while another witness said he thought the engine did not appear to be running at full power. Two witnesses commented that the airplane used more runway than they expected. The weather at the time was described as moderate rain, gusty winds from the northwest, and standing water on the runway.
Witnesses also reported that once airborne, the airplane did not climb as expected. Several witnesses then saw the airplane roll to the right and descend into the trees. Two witnesses reported hearing a change in engine noise about the time the airplane descended into the trees which they said was similar to a power loss.
A witness who observed the airplane descend into the trees, proceeded to the accident site where he found the two occupants in the front seats, and a dog in the back seat, all deceased.
A check of FAA records revealed that the pilot had not contacted the FAA, or opened his flight plan when the accident occurred.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at location 42 degrees, 45 minutes, 40 seconds North and 74 degrees, 8 minutes, 46 seconds West.
The pilot was the holder of a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings. In addition, he held a Third Class FAA Airman Medical Certificate issued on January 12, 1995. According to the pilot's log book, which was current through April 25, 1996, he had a total time of 1169 hours with 1108 hours as pilot in command and 257 hours in the Cessna 172RG. In addition, the pilot's log book contained an endorsement for a biennial flight review which was conducted on December 27, 1995. The pilot had owned the airplane for 2 1/2 years.
The airplane was a 1982 Cessna 172RG. The last recorded maintenance was conducted on August 20, 1995, and consisted of an annual inspection. The last known maintenance occurred on April 29, 1996, when the starter was changed.
A review of the maintenance log books failed to find any reference to any work conducted on the propeller governor or its adjustment.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was examined at the accident site on April 30, 1996, and then removed to a hanger at Schenectady Airport for further examination.
The airplane was found about 3/4 of a mile from the departure end of runway 28, on a heading of 290 degrees. The terrain at the impact sight was the top of a ridge line with scattered trees which were about 50 feet high.
The airplane had impacted on its nose and right wing. The outboard portion of the right wing was curled up. The left wing was bent forward from the its fuselage attach point. Fuel was found in both fuel tanks. The fuel lines in the fuselage side wall posts were ruptured, and there was smell of fuel in the vicinity of the airplane. An unmeasured quantity of fuel remained in both fuel tanks. The fuel had a blue tint, and was clear. No evidence of contamination was visible, and when tested for water, the results were negative.
Fuel was found in the lines leading to the carburetor and inside the carburetor. The fuel line leading to the carburetor was broken off at the carburetor.
The nose and right main landing gear were retracted. The left main landing gear was extended, however, it had not engaged its down lock. (NOTE: the landing gear was held up by hydraulic pressure).
Flight control continuity was verified to the rudder and elevator. There was a break in the aileron cable with frayed ends. Continuity to the ailerons was verified. The elevator trim was found extended 1.3 inches which according to a representative from Cessna Aircraft corresponded to a tab position of 2 degrees down.
One propeller blade was visible while the other blade was bent under the engine. Chordwise scratches were found on the leading edge of both blades. There were no impact marks on the leading edge of the blades; however, the impact terrain was soft dirt.
The fuel selector in the cockpit was broken off and later determined to be in the "BOTH" position. The flap selector was in the 10 degree position; however, a check of the wing flap jack screw revealed it was in the flaps up position. The magneto switch was found in the both position and the key was broken off. The throttle, mixture and propeller control were found full forward, and the carburetor heat was in the cold position.
The engine was rotated and compression was found in all cylinders. Spark was obtained from both magnetos. Magneto timing was found to be 29 degrees on the right and 28 degrees on the left.
When the engine was separated from the airframe, the propeller control was cut. At the time it was cut, the propeller control was not full forward. There was an additional 0.29 inch movement of the propeller control to the forward position left on the propeller cable.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsies were conducted on the occupants by Dr. Thomas Oram, Medical Examiner for Schenectady County, State of New York, on April 30, 1996.
Toxicological testing conducted by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The tachometer was test at BFGoodrich Avionics, Systems, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Between 2300 and 2800 RPM, the unit tested with less than a 50 RPM difference between the calibrated source and RPM displayed.
The propeller governor was found to be adjusted with the control arm 0.21 inches (measured between the stop bar and set screw) short of the full RPM position when the propeller control was placed full forward. The governor was forwarded to McCauley Propellers in Vandailia, Ohio for testing. A check of the governor found that it operated within limits except for the pressure relief valve which was 10 PSI low. A test of a exemplar governor with the control arm moved 0.21 inches from the maximum RPM position obtained a propeller RPM of 2473.
A deceased dog which was restrained by a harness was found in the back seat of the airplane. The Animal Control Officer for Duanesburg reported that when she examined the dog, she found no evidence of injury; however, she did find a gold chain and bag of jewelry in the dog's throat. Further examination of the dog by a veterinarian found that the dog had swallowed a one gallon ziploc type bag filled with bits of meat. The report stated, "...The dogs entire pharyngeal area was obstructed with the bag and it would appear that the dog ate into the bag and accidentally ingested the bag also, choking to death as a result...."
A family member described the dog as being a close companion of the female passenger. The harness used by the dog was especially made so the it could travel with her in the airplane.
According to available records, the pilot weighed about 200 pounds, and the passenger weighed about 300 pounds.
The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. John Cooley, the insurance adjuster on May 1, 1996.