FTW97FA073
FTW97FA073



HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 25, 1996 at 1915 central standard time, a Cessna 210L airplane, N30891, was destroyed upon impact with terrain while in cruise flight near Brackettville, Texas. The non-instrument rated private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The airplane, owned and operated by private individuals, was being operated under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal night VFR cross country flight. The flight originated from Del Rio International Airport at 1900, with Austin, Texas, as its intended destination.

The pilot's father drove the pilot and his wife to the airport for the couple's return flight to Austin. The pilot's father observed the pilot complete a detailed preflight of the airplane, witnessed the airplane's takeoff and climb and observed the airplane established on a northeasterly heading towards Austin. The pilot had agreed to call his parents upon completing the 176 nautical mile flight. The concerned parents did not receive a phone call and notified the authorities the next morning after the pilot's business partner verified that the airplane had not arrived in Austin.

There were no reported eye witnesses to the accident.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The co-owner of the airplane was the pilot's flight instructor. In a telephone interview, the flight instructor reported that he had been doing a lot of flying with the pilot ever since he became part owner of the airplane. He reported that the pilot had gained a lot of instrument experience, to include flying in actual weather conditions. He further stated that the pilot knew the area well; however, this was only his third flight on the airplane without an instructor on board.

The flight instructor reported that he talked to the pilot on the afternoon of the accident, and after discussing the worsening weather conditions, encouraged the pilot to stay in Del Rio for the night. The flight instructor felt that the pilot, who was also a real estate broker, felt pressured to come home in the evening because he had a nine o'clock appointment in Austin to inspect a property he had sold.

The pilot's logbook was found in the wreckage. According to the logbook, the pilot had accumulated a total of 236.1 flight hours since he began flying in 1980, with 76.2 hours in the accident airplane. He was issued a private pilot certificate on March 13, 1982. He became part owner of the aircraft and began flying the Cessna 210 on April 10, 1996, completing the airplane checkout on June 23, 1996. His last BFR was accomplished in a Piper PA-32-260 on April 4, 1994.

The passenger was the pilot's wife. This was her third flight in the airplane. They were married in November 1996.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The other owner of the Austin based airplane reported that the airplane was fully functional and the only known discrepancy was that the installed auto pilot was not fully functional. The 1973 model airplane was equipped with a single vacuum pump. A review of the airframe and engine records did not reveal any anomalies or uncorrected maintenance defects prior to the flight.

A review of the maintenance records revealed that the last annual inspection was completed on March 28, 1996, at 3,001.5 aircraft hours, with the last altimeter calibration performed on March 25, 1996, at 3,002.3 aircraft hours. The last maintenance accomplished on the airplane was the installation of a new Hartzell 3-bladed propeller on August 28, 1996. The total time on the airframe was 3,089.6 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The weather in the south central portion of the state of Texas was influenced by low ceilings. According to the enclosed surface weather observations for the seven nearest closest weather reporting stations (DRT, DLF, HDO, SAT, AUS, JCT and SJT), the base of the prevailing ceiling in the area of the accident was estimated between 2,200 and 3,800 feet MSL. Most reporting stations reported prevailing visibility of 10 statute miles. The pilot was reported to have received a weather briefing from the San Angelo Flight Service Station at approximately 1830, prior to his departure from Del Rio.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The initial ground impact was located on a northwest facing slope of a ridge at an elevation of about 1,950 feet. The initial point of impact, resting place of the main wreckage, and the engine were aligned on a measured magnetic heading of 065 degrees. The top of the ridge was approximately 50 feet above the point of initial impact, with rising terrain to about 2,100 feet east of the site. Parts of green navigation lens were found to the right and forward of the initial point of impact, suggesting that the airplane was in level flight attitude at the time of impact with terrain.

The propeller hub remained attached to the propeller flange. The propeller spinner, which remained attached to the propeller hub, exhibited rotational scoring and was crushed inwards. Blade number one was found separated at the propeller shank, and several twisted blade parts were found at the initial point of impact. Blade number two, with its tip missing, was found loose on the hub and bent 90 degrees towards the non-cambered side with severe scoring and twisting. Blade number three was also found loose on the hub with the outer section missing. The blade was bent toward the non-cambered side and exhibited heavy scoring.

The engine separated from the engine mounts and was found on the far end of the debris path, across a wash, and approximately 30 feet below the elevation of the main wreckage, coming to rest 300 feet beyond the main wreckage.

The main wreckage consisted of the airframe and both wings. The cabin came to rest on a measured heading of 315 degrees, with the tail section under it. The cabin area was open and severely compromised. One mid row cabin seat was missing. The left wing section, with the aileron still attached, was separated from the airframe and resting near the front of the cabin. A section of the right wing was also broken off.

The flap actuator in the left wing was found extended 4.4 inches, which equates to the retracted configuration. The left main landing gear was extended; the right gear was broken off, and the nose gear was under the cabin area and not available for examination at the site. The main landing gear uplocks were in found in the retracted position.

The elevator trim was found in the neutral position. The fuel selector handle was found to be set in the left tank position. The autopilot function switch was found in the "off" position.

No evidence of pre-impact mechanical failure or malfunction was observed.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The autopsy was performed by the Bexar County Medical Examiner at San Antonio, Texas, on December 28, 1996. Toxicological tests were negative.

SURVIVAL ASPECTS

An air search was begun but was hampered by fog and low ceilings on the two mornings following the accident. At approximately 1030 on December 27, a unit of the Civil Air Patrol spotted the wreckage of the airplane in rugged rising terrain approximately 47 miles northeast of the point of departure. A Border Patrol helicopter was dispatched to the site to render assistance to any survivors and confirm the identity of the airplane.

The airplane was equipped with an electronic locator transmitter (ELT). The ELT was found mounted in a bracket in the tail cone. The battery was due for replacement on February 1998. No signal was received from the ELT.

TEST AND RESEARCH

The on board GPS was found separated from the wreckage and was retained by the IIC for further examination. Closer examination of the retained unit revealed that internal components of the Garmin GPS had separated from the module during impact and the unit could not be tested. The GPS was returned to the owner's representative.

ADDITIONAL DATA

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative.

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