On September 19, 1997, at 1948 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 402C, N6879Y, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain during landing at the Nantucket Memorial Airport, Nantucket, Massachusetts. The certificated commercial pilot and pilot rated passenger were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the positioning flight that originated at Hyannis, Massachusetts, approximately 1920. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
In a telephone interview, the pilot stated the purpose of the flight was to transport passengers from Martha's Vineyard to Nantucket Memorial Airport. The pilot was accompanied by a commercial pilot rated passenger occupying the copilot's seat. The decision was made to divert to Hyannis and deplane the passengers because of low visibility at Nantucket. The visibility was low due to fog, and the Runway Visual Range reported was 500 feet. After deplaning the passengers and checking weather, the decision was made to continue to Nantucket.
The pilot said he could not complete the Instrument Landing System (ILS) Approach to runway 24 due to poor visibility. He performed the missed approach procedure and requested a second approach. The pilot stated:
"We flew a left downwind for 24 for the retry. Shot the ILS down to decision height of 248 feet. I saw the runway environment in sight. I went for the runway...[then] I went to go missed because something didn't feel right...Next thing I know, I'm [on the ground] pointing down [runway] 12."
The passenger said the second ILS approach to runway 24 attempted by the pilot was "...dead on." He said the pilot monitored the flight instruments while he searched for the runway lights. The passenger further stated:
"I saw the Rabbit [lights], then I got the runway end lights. [The pilot] said, 'I got the lights, I'm gonna go for it.' When we got closer, I couldn't see where we were exactly. I couldn't tell where we were in relation to the runway centerline. I think I got disoriented. When I got confused, I started to say, 'Go around! Go around! Go around!' Then he started to power up - then we hit."
The passenger said when he announced the go-around, the pilot added power. He said the pilot's control inputs were smooth and unhurried. The passenger said the airplane struck the ground in a flat attitude with the wings level. He said, "Everything was perfect until we hit the ground."
According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, the airplane came to rest approximately 2,000 feet beyond the approach end of runway 24, 90 feet left of the runway surface.
The passenger said neither he nor the pilot was in a hurry or under any pressure to return to Nantucket. When questioned about the airplane's performance, he responded, "The airplane was tip top." The pilot said that he was under no pressure to return to Nantucket. When questioned about the airplane's performance, The pilot stated:
"The airplane was fine, good power. No problems."
The accident occurred during the hours of darkness. A weather observation from Nantucket Memorial Airport taken 5 minutes after the accident reported: Measured ceiling 100 feet obscured, 1/4 statute miles visibility with fog. The temperature was 65 degrees and the dew point was 65 degrees. Winds were from 180 degrees at 6 knots.
In written statements, three firefighters described the visibility and its effect on rescue efforts. According to one firefighter:
"...the visibility was so low, that I could not see a Gulfstream III (Business Jet) located directly in front of me about 50 feet away. Getting to the downed aircraft with the visibility so low took about three times as long as it would have if the visibility were even just at minimums."
A second firefighter stated he requested help in the search for the wreckage due to poor visibility. He said:
"Visibility was about 15 to 25 feet from the firetruck."
A third firefighter stated:
"Visibility was very poor due to heavy, thick fog...We could only see 10-15 feet in front of the crash truck."
On September 20, 1997, the FAA performed a Flight Inspection of the ILS Runway 24 approach at the Nantucket Memorial Airport. According to the Inspection Report:
"Facility operation found satisfactory."