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On October 8, 1996, about 1930 eastern daylight time, a Beech F33A, N2154L, was destroyed when it collided with mountainous terrain, near Doylesburg, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that departed Allegheny County Airport (AGC), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, about 1835, destined for Capital City Airport (CXY), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
The pilot was on an extended cross country flight which originated in California, for the purpose of attending an annual automobile show in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Prior to departing AGC, the pilot obtained a weather briefing by telephone, from the Federal Aviation Administration, Flight Service Station (FSS), Altoona, Pennsylvania. A review of the recorded briefing revealed that the pilot was advised, in part, of marginal visual meteorological conditions en route, and that a VFR (visual flight rules) flight was not recommended.
During the briefing, the FSS specialist advised the pilot of a SIGMET (Significant Meteorological Information) for occasional moderate to severe turbulence below 12,000 feet, and the pilot stated, ". . . We're certainly not going to get up in anything, we're, we'd be staying uh low." The pilot then asked if there was anything that would preclude VFR flight, at which time he was advised of low ceilings obscuring mountainous terrain along his route of flight, precluding VFR flight. The specialist stated that VFR flight would not be recommended due to many low clouds, between 500 and 1,000 feet, across the mountain ridges in Pennsylvania, including Altoona. The pilot was also advised of cloud layers at the bases of the mountain ridges.
The airplane was reported missing the night of the accident, and the wreckage was located on October 10, 1996.
Residence of the area reported to local authorities that it was rainy and foggy the night of the accident.
The accident occurred during the hours of darkness, at approximately 77 degrees, 40 minutes west longitude, and 40 degrees, 15 minutes north latitude, at 2,000 feet elevation.
National Weather Service records, for the Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) and Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) were reviewed for the pilot's intended route of flight.
The METAR's for airport's along the intended flight were as follows:
AGC, at 1850, winds from 100 degrees at 7 knots; visibility15 miles; ceiling 4,000 feet broken; temperature 59 degrees Fahrenheit; dewpoint 52 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.68" Hg.
Latrobe, Pennsylvania, at 1845, winds from 060 degrees at 10 knots; visibility 20 miles; ceiling 3,000 feet broken; 15,000 feet overcast; temperature 61 degrees Fahrenheit; dewpoint 45 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.70" Hg.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, at 1850, winds from 050 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 5 miles with light rain and mist; ceiling 1,800 feet broken; 8,500 feet overcast; temperature 50 degrees Fahrenheit; dewpoint 48 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.68" Hg.
Johnstown, at 1950, winds from 060 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 5 miles with light rain and mist; scattered layer of clouds at 700 feet; ceiling 6,000 feet overcast; temperature 48 degrees Fahrenheit; dewpoint 48 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.69" Hg.
Altoona, Pennsylvania, at 1850, winds from 360 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 7 miles; scattered layer of clouds at 900 feet; ceiling 2,000 feet overcast; temperature 54 degrees Fahrenheit; dewpoint 52 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.70" Hg.
Altoona, at 1950, winds from 360 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 7 miles; ceiling 1,600 feet overcast; temperature 54 degrees Fahrenheit; dewpoint 50 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.70" Hg.
CXY, at 1850, winds from 350 degrees at 10 knots; visibility 7 miles with light rain; scattered layer of clouds at 1,500 feet; ceiling 3,000 feet broken; 6,000 feet overcast; temperature 54 degrees Fahrenheit; dewpoint 54 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.62" Hg.
The TAF for Altoona, (AOO), located about midway along the intended direct course, and on an approximate 30 mile, 290 magnetic course from the accident site, at an elevation of 1,504 feet, was as follows:
Altoona (AOO) TAF, issued at 1607, valid through 2100, called for 4 miles visibility with light rain and mist, scattered layer of clouds at 800 feet, and ceiling 1,500 feet overcast. Temporarily, between 1600 and 2000, the AOO TAF called for 2 miles visibility with mist, and ceiling 800 feet overcast.
According to the Detroit Sectional Aeronautical Chart, there was a maximum elevation figure of 2,700 feet for the vicinity of the accident, located approximately 40 miles, on a 290 degree magnetic heading from CXY. The METAR available and provided to the pilot for CXY, the destination airport, elevation 347 feet, reported a 4 mile visibility with light rain and mist, and a ceiling of 1,500 feet broken and 2,000 feet overcast.
The airplane came to rest along an approximate direct course between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The wreckage was examined on October 11, 1996, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident scene.
Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted near the top of a 2,100 foot mountain, at an approximate elevation of 2,000 feet above mean sea level. Initial tree scars were horizontal, and the swath path was on an approximate magnetic course of 145 degrees. Wreckage was strewn along the swath path for about 900 feet.
The wings, tail, and engine were separated from the main fuselage; however, the right inboard wing remained attached by its respective control cable. The top of the fuselage was separated and in between the initial tree scars and main wreckage. The engine was located about 25 feet beyond the main wreckage. All three propeller blades displayed chord wise scratches and S bending. Continuity of the control cables for the elevator and rudder systems were confirmed; separation of the wings precluded the determination of control continuity for the ailerons. The landing gear was in the retracted position. Examination of the wreckage did not disclose evidence of mechanical malfunctions.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single and multi engine land; he had a total flight experience of approximately 4,000 hours, of which 280 were night hours.
The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration Third class medical certificate was issued, September 11, 1996.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by Dr. Isidore Mihalakis of the Lehigh Valley Hospital Associates, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Toxicological testing performed by the Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol.
The wreckage was released to a representative of the salvage company, on October 11, 1996.