CHI98LA059
CHI98LA059

On December 8, 1997, at 1530 central standard time, a Bellanca 17-30, N4854V, was destroyed on impact with a guy wire and the terrain about 5 miles northwest of Independence, Kansas. The airplane's right wing struck a guy wire of a 414-foot tower about 375 above the ground. A resident of the area, who heard the airplane, but could not see it, said that he estimated the ceiling at the time to be about 200 to 300 feet above ground level. The non-instrument rated private pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions. No flight plan was on file. The airplane departed Colonel James Jabara Airport near Wichita, Kansas, about 1430 with the stated destination of Harrison, Arkansas.

At 1321 an individual identifying himself as the pilot of N4854V, called the Federal Aviation Administration, Wichita (KS), Automated Flight Service Station, requesting weather between Wichita, Kansas, and Harrison, Arkansas. He said that he intended to depart Jabara Airport in about an hour. The briefer read the current and forecast weather for the proposed route which consisted of instrument meteorological conditions along the route of flight which existed at that time and was forecast to continue through the next day. A copy of the transcript of the complete conversation between the briefer and the pilot is attached to this report.

At 1535 a resident who lived near the accident site called the Montgomery County (KS) Sheriff's Department and reported hearing what he believed to be a "... plane with its motor running and then stopping and then a big thud...." The Sheriff's report, which is attached to this report, indicates that on receiving this call the Sheriff called local airports, but was unable to identify any missing aircraft. The next morning when he learned of a missing airplane en route to Arkansas from Wichita, he launched a search in the area of the residence of the previous telephone caller. At 1104 he located the accident airplane about one-quarter mile from the callers residence.

A six-foot outboard section of the right wing was found at the base of a 414-foot transmission tower, inside the fence surrounding the structure. Three guy wires supported the tower. One wire had some debris from the airplane about 30 feet from the upper attaching point of the wire to the tower. The guy wire attached to the tower 20 feet from the top of the structure. The debris trail of wreckage was spread out in a southeast direction for about one-quarter mile from the tower ending with the main fuselage at the far end of the trail.

An inspection of the airplane subsequent to the accident failed to reveal any pre-existing anomalies. The propeller blades displayed gouging to the leading edge. Continuity was established in the flight controls. The entire airplane was identified at the accident site. Fuel remained in one of the three fuel tanks in the airplane.

Coffeyville, Kansas, is located 17 miles southeast of the accident site. At 1448 the recorded weather for that location was, "... wind two zero zero degrees at five knots, visibility four miles, fog, ceiling five hundred overcast, temperature (Celsius) four, dew point three, altimeter two nine six nine, remark: ceiling variable between two hundred and nine hundred."

At the same location at 1552 the recorded weather was, "... wind one nine zero degrees at four knots, visibility one and one-quarter miles, fog, ceiling three hundred overcast, temperature (Celsius) three, dew point three, altimeter two nine six nine, remark: ceiling variable between two hundred and six hundred.

A post-mortem examination of the pilot failed to reveal any physiological or pathological defects, which could be associated with other than the trauma of the accident. A toxicological examination of specimens from the pilot was negative for those drugs screened.

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