On November 13, 1997, approximately 2125 central standard time, a Cessna 180 airplane, N20MF, owned and operated by the pilot, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with terrain near Johnson City, Texas. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area, and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The non-instrument rated private pilot, sole occupant of the aircraft, was fatally injured. The cross country flight originated from the Coulter Airport, Bryan, Texas, about 2000, and was reportedly en route to Van Horn, Texas, a distance of 435.5 nautical miles.

Approximately 2000, a witness observed the aircraft takeoff from runway 14 and turn towards the west. Houston Center's radar initially acquired N20MF at 1959:41, as it was leaving the airport. The aircraft headed southwest on an approximate 244 degree magnetic heading. The aircraft proceeded to the vicinity of the Kitty Hill Airport (77T) which is located about 7 nautical miles west southwest of Georgetown, Texas. Radar data shows the aircraft turning right 270 degrees and then turning left to a northeast heading. Houston Center's last radar hit was at 2059:53, southwest of the Kitty Hill Airport (latitude 30 degrees 36 minutes 13 seconds north and longitude 097 degrees 50 minutes 30 seconds west).

The aircraft was reported missing when it failed to arrive at Van Horn. On December 13, 1997, the aircraft was located by a deer hunter in a remote area about 7 miles west northwest of Johnson City. The accident site is about 40 nautical miles southwest of Houston Center's last radar hit. There were no reported witnesses to the accident.


The 62 year old pilot's flight logbook was not located, therefore, instrument, and total flight time could not be determined. His last biennial flight review also could not be determined. FAA records showed that the pilot reported having accrued 1,500 total flight hours on his last application for a class three medical examination, dated January 7, 1993. The pilot was issued a private pilot certificate on November 11, 1982.


The 1953 Cessna 180 was a single engine, four-place airplane. The airplane was equipped with a constant speed propeller and a Continental O-470-A engine, which produces 225 horsepower. The aircraft's fuel system had a capacity of 55 gallons of useable fuel. The two main fuel tanks hold 30 gallons each.

An estimate of the weight of the airplane at the time of the accident placed it within weight and balance limits. The airplane's airframe and engine logbooks were not located.


The following is a summation of the enclosed Meteorological Factual Report.

The Area Forecast (FA) issued at 1345, from the NWS Aviation Weather Center (AWC) located in Kansas City, Missouri, provided the following information:

The forecast for southern Texas (valid until 0200 November 14) called for broken ceilings at 1,500 feet with tops to 15,000 feet MSL with a second higher broken cirrus cloud layer above, with widely scattered light rain showers. From 1800 to 2000, sky conditions scattered at 1,500 feet. At 2400, ceilings broken at 1,500 feet, visibility between 3 and 5 miles in mist. The outlook from 0200 to 0800, November 14, called for ceilings less than 1,000 feet and visibility less than 3 miles.

The forecast for southwestern Texas east of the Pecos River was for ceilings 1,500 feet with tops to 10,000 feet MSL over the extreme eastern portion, with scattered clouds at 6,000 feet over the remainder of the area including the destination area of Van Horn, Texas. The outlook from 0200 to 0800 was for visual flight rules (VFR) conditions.

At 1740, the area forecast was amended; however, there were no changes to the south central or southwest Texas forecasts.

Johnson City, Texas does not have weather reporting facilities; therefore, the closest stations around the accident site were documented to determine the conditions at the time of the accident.

At 2053, Burnet, Texas (KBMQ), located 31 miles north northwest of the accident site reported the following weather conditions: winds from 160 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, broken ceiling at 2,100 feet, overcast at 9,500 feet, temperature 9 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 8 degrees C, altimeter 29.71 inches mercury (Hg). At 2100, KBMQ reported winds from 150 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 2,100 feet, ceiling broken at 9,500 feet, temperature 9 degrees C, dew point 8 degrees C, altimeter 29.71 inches Hg.

At 2053, Austin, Texas (KAUS), located 43 miles east of the accident site reported the following weather conditions: winds calm, visibility 10 miles, overcast ceiling at 1,300 feet, temperature 12 degrees C, dew point 11 degrees C, altimeter 29.72 inches Hg.

At 2056, San Antonio, Texas (KSAT), located 43 miles to the south of the accident site reported the following weather conditions: winds from 230 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 9 miles, sky clear, temperature 12 degrees C, dew point 11 degrees C, altimeter 29,72 inches Hg.

Astronomical data showed that there was nearly a full moon; however, operating under the ceiling would be without any illumination from the moon. See the enclosed Meteorological Report for the astronomical details.


The aircraft wreckage was located west northwest of Johnson City, Texas, at latitude 30 degrees 17 minutes 48 seconds north and longitude 098 degrees 30 minutes 46 seconds west. The wreckage distribution path was through a densely wooded area on a centerline of 320 degrees magnetic. The aircraft impacted the ground about 88 feet from the initial impact with the trees. The initial impact point, a tree, had bark missing about 12 feet above the ground (AGL), and portion of fuel bladder and 2-foot section of left wing were found at the base of the tree. About 11 feet along the distribution path a tree was found with a slash mark about 12 feet AGL. Both propeller tips were found at 27 feet and 30.5 feet respectfully. The right wing, empennage, tail, and both doors were found about 5 feet prior to the initial ground scar. The right wing was found folded back along the empennage and tail section. The flaps were found in the up position. An emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was not found in the wreckage; however, the cabin and cockpit were destroyed by a postimpact fire. See the enclosed wreckage diagram for wreckage distribution details.

The engine was found with the propeller and carburetor separated. The crankshaft was rotated and continuity was confirmed to all cylinders and to the rear of the engine. Finger compression was noted on all cylinders and both magnetos sparked when rotated by hand. The vacuum pump was intact and rotated freely and suction was noted at the inlet. The vacuum pump was disassembled and no internal damage was noted.

The propeller was found separated aft of the attachment flange. One blade was found separated from the hub and it had the outboard 12 inches separated. The other blade remained attached to the hub with the outboard 4 inches separated. The inboard section was bent aft and the outboard section was curled forward. Both propeller blades exhibited leading edge dents.

Examination of the airplane wreckage did not disclose any pre-impact structural or mechanical anomalies. Due to the extent of damage, flight control continuity could not be established.


An autopsy was performed by Elizabeth Peacock, M.D., of the Medical Examiner's Office of Travis County. There was no evidence found of any preexisting disease that could have contributed to the accident.

Toxicological findings were positive for ethanol and acetaldehyde. According to Dr. Canfield, Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), the 193.000 (mg/dl, mg/hg) ethanol detected in kidney, 238.000 (mg/dl, mg/hg) ethanol detected in muscle, 25.000 (mg/dl, mg/hg) acetaldehyde detected in muscle and 29.000 (mg/dl, mg/hg) acetaldehyde detected in kidney, is possibly from postmortem ethanol production.


No evidence of pre-impact fire was found during the investigation.


The airplane wreckage was release to the owner's representative.

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