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On August 14, 1997, at 1930 hours Pacific daylight time, a Taylorcraft BC12-D, N96294, collided with power transmission cables about 8 miles northwest of Corcoran, California. The airplane was destroyed in the impact sequence, and the certificated private pilot received fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a personal flight by the pilot when the accident occurred. The flight originated in Hanford, California, about 1900. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and there no flight plan was filed.
According to a witness, the airplane was flying north over a freshly "disked" field that paralleled the north south Lone Oak Canal. The witnesses attention was first drawn to the airplane by the noise of the engine and then by the airplane's low altitude. The witness stated he could see the pilot's white visor and that the aircraft was at the same level as the height of the wires. The witness indicated after he was sure the airplane was going to pass behind him, he turned and resumed working on an irrigation valve. He then heard the airplane hit the wires. He turned in time to see the airplane descend, collide with the ground in a nose down attitude, and flip over. The witness stated the noise of the engine and the airplane's altitude above the ground was constant until the impact with the wires.
According to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the airplane struck three number 4 ASCR conductors (6 strands aluminum and 1 strand steel) strung about 30 feet above the ground. Two 40-foot-high poles located about 256 feet apart supported the span of the wires. The wires spanned the Lone Oak Canal diagonally in a general east-west direction. The wires were not marked.
A personal associate of the pilot stated that while the pilot enjoyed flying "low and slow," he usually respected the distance requirements regarding aircraft to property separation.
Review of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airman Record files disclosed that the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating on June 4, 1969. A review of the pilot logbook revealed that the pilot had accumulated a total flight time of about 363 hours, all of which were accrued in the Taylorcraft BC12-D model airplane. The pilot had recorded approximately 23 hours of flight time at night. The pilot had completed a biannual flight review on March 2, 1995, in the accident aircraft. Included in the instructor sign off section of the pilot log with the biannual flight review was the comment, "next BFR due 31 Mar. 97." No other records were found to indicate a more recent biannual flight review.
According to the airman's FAA Medical Records file, a third-class medical certificate was issued to the pilot on March 13, 1995, and contained the limitation that correcting lenses be available.
The pilot acquired the aircraft on July 16, 1997. The most recent annual inspection was performed on February 1, 1997, with a tachometer time noted of 526.7 hours. The airplane operated under an FAA approved standard airworthiness certificate. The airplane's maximum speed is approximately 90 mph. The airplane had been approved to operate using 80 minimum grade aviation gasoline.
The accident site geographical coordinates were plotted into the Sun and Moon data for the date of the accident using the U.S. Navy Astronomical Applications Department program. Sunset was calculated to be at 1949 on the date of the accident, and the end of the civil twilight was calculated to be at 2016. According to the program computations, the sun's disk was on a magnetic bearing of 271 degrees from the accident site and it was 3.7 degrees above the horizon.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft came to rest inverted in a field approximately 1/2 mile west of 12th Avenue in Corcoran, California. There were downed Pacific Gas and Electric power lines on both sides of a canal, east and west of the downed aircraft. The three wires that were struck and cut by the aircraft were #4 ASCR conductor wires which were strung on 40-foot poles. The wire was approximately 30 feet above ground level. The distance between the poles was approximately 256 feet. The field was freshly plowed and was comprised of loose soil. The rest of the adjacent area was similar in nature, although one distant field had crops planted it.
The nose of the aircraft pointed back toward the downed wires and the tail was oriented on a magnetic bearing of 342 degrees.
The aircraft exhibited extensive buckling of the lower cowling and the main landing gear was separated from the airframe during the crash sequence. Strands of the conductor line were found wrapped around the spinner assembly.
Both wings exhibited symmetrical aft crushing and wrinkling of the skin. The tachometer read 0544.46 hours at the crash site.
The majority of the skin covering the spar and rib structure of the fuselage was torn away during the crash sequence. The tail wheel and tail of the airplane remained fairly intact.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy on the pilot was performed by the Office of the Sheriff-Coroner Kings County, with tissue and fluid samples retained for toxicological examination. The samples were submitted to the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Kings County Coroners office conducted separate toxicological studies.
According to the Manager, Toxicology and Accident Research in Oklahoma City, the samples from the pilot were negative for all screened drug substances or volatiles. The second toxicological examination was performed in Clovis, California, and was negative for all screened drug substances.
All examinations on the wreckage were completed at the accident site and the Safety Board did not take custody of the wreckage.