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On June 13, 1996, at 1930 eastern daylight time, a Beech V35, N2011W, was destroyed during an uncontrolled descent and collision with terrain about 1,500 feet southwest of the Cross Keys Airport, Williamstown, New Jersey. The certificated flight instructor, private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional flight that originated at the Cross Keys Airport (N17), about 1927. No flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
Witnesses reported that the private pilot/owner had flown with the flight instructor the previous day and had intended to practice commercial pilot maneuvers the day of the accident. The pilot occupied the front left seat, and the flight instructor occupied the front right seat. The airplane's single throw over yoke was installed for the left seat pilot.
A witness at the airport stated:
"...The takeoff was normal except...at lift off he flew to about 30 to 40 feet off the runway and stayed level with runway for most of its length, rotated off to a 25 degree to 30 degree pitch, and made a slow turn to the southwest...I did not observe the accident.
The witness further stated:
"...I did observe this aircraft with two occupants perform on Wednesday [June 12]...a simulated emergency, by turning 90 degrees to the south, cut power to the engine, and do a power off 270 degree turn [right] back to the airport. The airplane was approximately 1,200 feet AGL at the time. The airplane did approximately 45 minutes of pattern work that day..."
A witness about 1 mile beyond the departure end of the runway stated:
"...I heard a small plane in the distance. I looked up at the tree line at the back of the golf course and saw a small white and gold plane vertical (nose-diving) into the heavily wooded area...Just prior to crashing, the planes motor sounded like it was dull, humming, and winding down..."
In the police report, another witness stated:
"...he saw the plane come over the tree line and heard the plane sputtering. The engine died, and [the airplane] made a hard left turn into almost a completed circle before doing a nose dive into the trees..."
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at about 39 degrees, 42 minutes north latitude, and 75 degrees, 2 minutes west longitude.
The flight instructor, Mr. Joseph R. Sorelle, held a Commercial Pilot Certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a Flight Instructor Certificate for airplane single and multi engine land, and instrument airplane.
His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Second Class Medical Certificate was issued on May 19, 1995.
Mr. Sorelle's pilot log book was not located. His total flight time was estimated to be about 1,000 hours.
Mr. Robert B. Maier, held a Private Pilot Certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane.
His most recent FAA Third Class Medical Certificate was issued on August 23, 1995.
A review of Mr. Maier's pilot log book revealed that he had accumulated about 729 hours of total flight experience, of which approximately 85 hours were in make and model. Mr. Maier's last bi-annual flight review was conducted on January 19, 1993. He received his FAA instrument rating on January 23, 1993.
The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on June 14 and 15, 1996. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene, and that the airplane came to rest in a wooded area on an approximate magnetic heading of 260 degrees.
Directly overhead of the wreckage, impact scars were observed on trees branches. A tree limb, about 2 feet 5 inches long, was located on the ground about 10 feet north of the right wing tip. One end of the limb was about 4 inches in diameter, while the other oval shaped end was about 4 inches by 6 inches in diameter. Both ends of the limb were cut off cleanly at 45 degree angles. A 1-inch-diameter tree, about 1 foot north of the engine, was cut off cleanly about 1 foot above ground. The cut was also horizontal to the ground.
The main fuselage was laying on its left side. The forward cockpit area of the fuselage was crushed. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage and was laying flat on the ground. The left wing had folded upward at the fuselage attaching point. The right wing was separated from the fuselage and was laying flat on the ground, directly below the point on the fuselage where it had been attached. The foliage near the accident site had turned brown by June 15, similar to a chemical burn.
The landing gear and the flaps were retracted. The fuel tanks were ruptured, and the fuel selector was selecting the left tank. When the fuel selector was disassembled, a nylon grommet was found stretched and dislodged, which prevented the fuel selector from shutting the fuel completely off. The fuel selector screen was observed to be absent of debris. Control cable continuity was established from the pilot's controls to the ruddervator and the left aileron. The right aileron cable remained attached to the pilot's controls and had pulled out from the wing.
The stabilizers, ruddervators and ruddervator control horns were intact and remained attached to the fuselage. They received minor damage and remained functional. The ruddervator trim was set to about 9 degrees nose up.
The single throw over yoke was set for the left seat position, and was separated from the column. The throttle and mixture controls were extended out about 1 inch from the full in position, and the propeller control was extended out about 1/2 inch. The cabin contained about 35 pounds of miscellaneous oil containers and cleaning material.
The propeller hub and blades were separated from the engine. The hub and one blade were imbedded in the ground while the second blade was extended above the ground. The propeller blade above ground displayed some chord wise twisting and scratches. The blade imbedded in the ground was curved aft with chord wise twisting and numerous scratches. Most of the black paint was scratched off, and the leading edge of the blade had several nicks and indentations.
The engine was removed and examined in a hangar at the Cross Keys Airport, on June15, 1996. The engine was rotated by hand with a drive ratchet, and valve train continuity was observed on all cylinders. Thumb compression was obtained on all cylinders; however, compression was less on the number three cylinder.
The left magneto remained attached to the engine and the right was separated. Both magnetos were rotated by hand and produced spark. All spark plugs were light gray in color. The number one cylinder spark plugs were of the massive type electrode, while the remaining spark plugs were of the fine wire type.
Fuel was observed in the fuel manifold, and the fuel control unit screen was absent of debris. The fuel pump flange was broken at the base. The fuel pump shaft was intact, and contained impact marks, but rotated freely. The oil filter was cut open and found to be absent of debris.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsies were performed on Mr. Joseph R. Sorelle and Mr. Robert B. Maier, on June 14, 1996, by Dr. James Lewis, Office of the Medical Examiner, County of Gloucester, New Jersey.
The toxicological testing report from the FAA toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol for Mr. Joseph R. Sorelle.
The toxicological testing report for Mr. Robert B. Maier was negative for alcohol and positive for drugs. The report stated:
***0.003 ug/ml Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) was detected in Kidney Fluid. ***0.004 ug/ml Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) was detected in Kidney Fluid. ***0.006 ug/ml Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) was detected in Liver Fluid.
In the Code of Federal Regulations, 14 CFR 91.17, it stated, "No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft...While using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety..."
The co-owner of the airplane stated that the airplane was usually kept fully fueled. On June 9, 1996, the airplane was refueled with 22.6 gallons of fuel, and the tanks were filled. On June 10, the airplane was fueled with another 14.6 gallons, and the airplane was flown for 1.4 hours on June 11, 1996. The estimated takeoff weight of the airplane was 3,050 pounds.
The Beechcraft Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) provided a systems description of the control column. The POH also stated, "The option dual control column is required for flight instruction."
The Code of Federal Regulations, 14 CFR 91.109 stated, "No person may operate a civil aircraft...that is being used for flight instruction unless that aircraft has fully functioning dual controls..."
A review of the pilot's log book revealed that the last entry was for a flight in N2011W on June 11, 1996. In the remarks section of that line, the entries included eight's on a pylon and "engine out emergency." The flight was listed as 1.4 hours of dual instruction received, and was signed by the flight instructor of the accident flight.
The airplane wreckage was released on June 15, 1996 to John Cooley, a representative of the owners insurance company.