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On December 8, 1996, at about 1225 mountain standard time, a Beech B36TC, N3000R, registered to and operated by the pilot, collided with a 10,741 foot peak located approximately 11 miles southeast of Jackson, Wyoming. Visual and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane had departed from Aspen, Colorado, about two hours and 25 minutes before the accident.
Shortly after the pilot's last transmission with Salt Lake City, Utah, Air Traffic Control Center, an emergency locator transmitter was detected in the Jackson area. A search and rescue mission began and the airplane was located at 0845 on December 9, 1996. The Teton County Sheriff's Department responded to the accident site and reported that it appeared that the airplane collided with a 10,741 foot peak approximately 200 feet below the top on the southeast side. The collision created an avalanche and the airplane slid down another 300 feet before coming to rest partially buried in the snow.
At the time of the accident, the pilot held a private pilot certificate and was rated in single-engine land airplanes and for instrument flight. The pilot's flight logbook was not located, however, during the pilot's last FAA medical evaluation on December 15, 1995, the pilot indicated a total flight time of 950 hours.
Flight Safety International, Wichita, Kansas, records indicate that the pilot satisfactorily completed the Bonanza Pilot Initial Training program on November 1, 1996. At this time the pilot was signed off for a flight review, recent flight experience, and an instrument competency check. The program consisted of training for the powerplant, fuel system, electrical system, weight and balance, performance, pitot-static system, pneumatics, ice and rain protection systems, environmental and air conditioning systems, oxygen system, flight control, landing gear and brakes, and general aircraft information. Both simulator and flight training are part of the course.
Federal Aviation Administration aircraft registration records indicate that the aircraft was registered to the pilot on February 23, 1996. Aircraft maintenance records indicate that the pilot accumulated a total flight time of approximately 220 hours since the date of purchase.
At 1011, the pilot contacted Denver Flight watch and reported that he had just departed from Aspen, Colorado, and was en route to Jackson, Wyoming. The pilot requested the Jackson weather. The controller reported that the current weather en route was clear below 12,000 feet and the visibility was unrestricted until Jackson. Jackson was reporting visibility of one mile and the ceiling was 200 feet and overcast. The temperature was zero, and the wind was from 240 degrees at 12 knots. The forecast indicated occasional moderate turbulence up to 18,000 feet. Sigmets forecast moderate or greater turbulence through 16,000 feet and western Wyoming was forecasting occasional moderate mixed icing below 20,000 feet. Mountain obscurement was forecast for the Tetons and west into Jackson. The controller informed the pilot that a Kingair reported a trace of icing during descent into Jackson and stated that visual flight rules (VFR) flight was not recommended over northwestern Wyoming.
The controller asked the pilot if he wanted a forecast, and the pilot responded that he did. The controller informed the pilot of mountain obscurement, scattered layers of clouds, and widely scattered snow showers. The terminal forecast for Jackson at the pilot's time of arrival at about 1200, indicated that the wind was forecast from 230 degrees at 14 knots and gusting to 22 knots. Scattered and broken ceilings were forecast with a 40 percent chance of visibility of four miles and light rain showers. The controller told the pilot to expect a head wind from 270 degrees at 43 to 57 knots. at 12,500 feet. At 10,000 feet, the wind was forecast from 260 through 280 degrees at 35 to 40 knots.
The controller asked the pilot if he was flying VFR or IFR. The pilot responded that he was VFR. The controller again informed the pilot that VFR flight was not recommended due to mountain obscurement. The pilot acknowledged the information.
At 1054, the pilot contacted Denver Flight Watch and gave the controller a pilot report. The pilot stated that at 12,500 feet, the weather was clear and unlimited visibility. There was no turbulence and the temperature was six degrees. The wind was from 299 degrees at 39 knots. The controller asked the pilot for his location, and the pilot reported that he was 170 miles southeast of Jackson.
The controller informed the pilot that Jackson's previous special report indicated clear skies, however, the weather was varying quite rapidly, with some snow showers and icing conditions reported. The controller reported that Jackson was currently IFR with a 200 foot overcast ceiling.
The pilot thanked the controller and there were no further communications with Denver Flight Watch.
At 1138, the pilot contacted Salt Lake City, Utah, Air Route Traffic Control Center, and requested a VOR/DME clearance for runway 36 at Jackson. The pilot reported that he was currently 18 miles south of the Big Piney VOR at 11,500 feet.
The controller instructed the pilot to squawk a discrete transponder code and asked the pilot his requested altitude. The pilot stated that the he was heading "for this fix ah jay one eight sixteen which is eleven thousand five hundred and I can go up to eleven." The controller responded by asking the pilot if he could go up to 13,000 feet. The pilot responded that he could.
At 1143, the controller informed the pilot that he was in radar contact 76 miles south of Jackson, and asked the pilot if he could climb to 14,000 feet. The pilot responded that he could. The controller then cleared the pilot to the Jackson airport via victor 238, and to climb and maintain 14,000 feet.
At 1157, the controller asked the pilot if he had the current weather at Jackson. The pilot responded that he got the current weather 15 minutes ago. The controller responded that that was the current weather and informed the pilot that the last aircraft into Jackson reported a trace of icing during the descent, and reported that the weather was breaking up a little. The pilot responded that the last time he checked, it was clear.
At 1159, the controller contacted the pilot and informed him that he was ten or 15 degrees right of course for the airway. The pilot responded that his VOR was "kind of in and out."
At 1201, the controller advised the pilot of a notam for thin loose snow on the runway and poor braking action. Personnel and equipment were working on the runway. The pilot responded that the transmission was breaking up and the controller repeated the information.
During the period of 1205 to 1209 there were some garbled transmissions. The pilot eventually got through to the controller and reported that he was picking up "moderate rime ice." The controller then asked the pilot what approach he was planning and the pilot responded that he wanted the VOR/DME approach for runway 36. The controller acknowledged and cleared the pilot for the approach.
At 1213, the controller instructed the pilot to change to the advisory frequency and to report his cancellation or arrival time on the controllers frequency. The controller requested the pilot to advise of the flight conditions and runway conditions once he was on the ground. The pilot did not respond to this transmission.
There were no further communications by the pilot and the flight dropped from radar contact at 1212 as the flight descended below 12,400 feet.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located at the base of Jackson Peak on the southeast side. The top of Jackson Peak is 10,741 feet. The wreckage was located at 10,400 feet. Search and rescue personnel who located the wreckage the day after the accident, reported that the aircraft initially impacted the mountain near the peak. The collision started an avalanche and the airplane and snow slide down the side of the mountain. The wreckage was partially buried in the snow at this time.
Due to adverse weather conditions and avalanche potential, the on site investigation was conducted in July after the snow had melted. During the on-site investigation, it was noted that the main wreckage was positioned on slightly sloping rocky terrain. The nose of the airplane was pointed to 180 degrees. The terrain rose gradually to the west for about 300 feet from the wreckage, then rose sharply to near vertical up the mountain. The engine with propeller attached was located at this point. The engine had separated from the fuselage at the firewall.
The fuselage was found intact. The front windshield was broken out and the top of the fuselage was crushed downward and to the right. The nose of the fuselage was crushed upward and rearward.
The left wing remained attached by the control cables. The wing was positioned inverted. Leading edge rearward crushing was noted along the length of the wing. Both the aileron and the flap remained attached. The fuel cell was ruptured and the left main landing gear was retracted.
The right wing remained attached at the root. The leading edge of the wing was crushed rearward along the entire length. The tip of the wing was missing, and was later found uphill from the wreckage. Both the aileron and flap remained attached.
The empennage remained intact. The vertical stabilizer with the rudder attached at its hinges, and the horizontal stabilizer with the elevators attached at their hinges remained attached to the empennage.
Control continuity was established from the empennage forward to the cockpit area and from both wings inboard to the cockpit area.
The floor boards in the cockpit area was crushed upward and rearward. The engine controls were found in the midrange position. The instrument panel was intact, however, vandals removed the radios and instruments prior to the arrival of the investigative team.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Dr. Robert Luke, Pathologist, Jackson, Wyoming, determined that the pilot's cause of death was due to multiple fractures with associated cutaneous and visceral lacerations.
Toxicological samples were sent to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for analysis. The results of testing for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles and drugs were negative.
TEST AND RESEARCH
Radar data provided by the Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center indicates that the flight was inbound to Jackson from the Big Piney VOR and was paralleling Victor airway 328 approximately five nautical miles northeast of the airway centerline. The first radar target at 1158, identifies the flight 43 nautical miles southeast of Jackson at 14,000 feet. The flight maintains a steady course heading and altitude until 1211, when the flight had descended to 13,500 feet approximately 16 miles from Jackson. The flight continues to parallel the airway until the last identified radar target approximately 14 miles southeast of the Jackson Airport at 1212 and 12,400 feet. The accident site is located approximately four miles west of the last radar target, and approximately ten miles southeast of the Jackson airport.
The accident site is located approximately nine miles east of the 006 degree localizer course inbound to runway 36.
The VOR/DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) or GPS Runway 36 approach plate indicates that inbound flights on Victor 328 are to intercept the 16 DME arc at or above 12,700 feet. After passing radial 165, the flight can descend to 11,500 feet to intercept the 006 degree localizer inbound to the airport. The flight can continue the descent to no lower than 10,600 feet to the 13 DME outer marker. After passing the 13 DME outer marker at no lower than 10,600 feet, the flight can descend to no lower than 9,100 feet at the 8 DME final approach fix. After passing the final approach fix at no lower than 9,100 feet, the flight can descend to no lower than 7,840 feet at the 4.5 DME inner marker. After passing the inner marker at no lower than 7,840 feet, the flight is to continue the descent to the 2 DME minimum descent altitude at 1,000 feet. If the pilot has the runway in sight, the descent is continued to touchdown. If the pilot does not have the runway in site at this point, then missed approach procedures are to be followed.
The wreckage was recovered and transported from the accident site by personnel from Beegles Aircraft Service, Greeley, Colorado. The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on August 21, 1997.
Due to the adverse weather conditions and the avalanche potential at the time of the accident, the on-site investigation was not conducted until July 29, 1997. Prior to the investigative team arriving at the accident site, both radios and associated navigational equipment were taken from the wreckage by unknown person(s). To this date, the stolen equipment has not been recovered.
On August 13, 1997, the engine was examined at Beegles Aircraft Service, Greeley, Colorado. During the examination it was found that the oil pan was crushed. Numbers one and five rocker covers were crushed and the exhaust and induction manifolds were damaged. The starter was broken from its mount. The throttle body was broken from the carburetor. The butterfly valve was intact and jammed shut.
The crankshaft was rotated and compression was noted to all cylinders. Both magnetos were rotated by hand and a spark was produced from all leads. All spark plugs displayed normal wear signatures.
The fuel manifold valve diaphragm was found intact and the screen was clear of contaminants. The fuel sump shaft was intact. The fuel sump screen was clean and fuel was present.
The vacuum pump was disassembled and the vanes were found intact.
The propeller hub with the blades attached were removed from the crankshaft. The spinner displayed side crushing between blades B and C.
Blade A displayed leading edge nicks and chordwise scratches on the face. The blade was loose in the hub and bowed forward.
Blade B displayed lengthwise deep scratches along the entire length of the blade, with leading and trailing edge nicks. The blade was bent in an "S" deformation.
Blade C displayed chordwise scratches at the tip and was bowed aft, then slightly forward at the tip.
Fuel records obtained from Jackson Hole Aviation indicated that the pilot had been flying into Jackson about once a month in this airplane since February 1996.