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On January 7, 1998, at 1447 central standard time (cst), a Cessna P210N, N6669P, impacted the terrain two miles northeast of the Decatur Airport, Decatur, Illinois. The airplane was destroyed during impact with the terrain. The instrument rated private pilot sustained fatal injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and an IFR flight plan was filed. The personal 14 CFR Part 91 flight departed the Decatur Airport, Decatur, Illinois, at 1445 cst, with an intended destination of Wichita, Kansas.
N6669P had reportedly departed Erie, Pennsylvania, at approximately 1200 est on the day of the accident. Upon landing at Decatur, the airplane was refueled with 54 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. At 1420 cst, the pilot of N6669P called the St. Louis Automated Flight Service Station and obtained a weather briefing for an IFR flight from Decatur, Illinois, to Wichita, Kansas. The pilot also filed an IFR flight plan at the same time. At 1444 cst, N6669P was cleared for takeoff on Runway 36.
N6669P is instructed to make a left turn after takeoff. At 1446 cst, the pilot of N6669P contacted Champaign Approach Control, radar contact was established and N6669P was instructed to climb and maintain 6,000 feet and to proceed on course to Wichita. The pilot of N6669P acknowledged this transmission. At 1447 cst, the Champaign Approach Controller asked the pilot of N6669P to verify that Wichita was his destination. The pilot made a transmission of which only the last portion "six nine papa" is legible. The approach controller noted that N6669P was turning right, not left as instructed. The controller attempted to contact N6669P regarding the turn. This transmission was not acknowledged and radar contact with N6669P was lost.
One witness reported seeing the airplane "...come out of the clouds heading straight down to a nose dive." Another witness reported hearing the engine "wide open". This witness reported seeing the airplane go "...straight up, went over in a horseshoe pattern and went straight into the ground." A third witness reported seeing the airplane make a right turn at an altitude of about 20 feet above the trees. He stated the airplane was quiet until the airplane leveled out and the engine revved prior to the airplane impacted the ground.
The pilot was born on May 25, 1947. He held a private pilot certificate with single engine land and instrument ratings. He also held a third class medical issued on March 7, 1996, with a limitation for corrective lenses. A review of the pilot's last logbook revealed his most current biennial flight review was on February 25, 1997. The pilot's last logbook entry was dated January 4, 1998. The logbook shows he had accumulated a total of 1,192.7 hours of flight time, 22.3 hours of which were in the Cessna P210 airplanes, specifically N6669C. The logbook shows the pilot had a total actual instrument time of 40.5 hours, of which 4 hours were in N6669C. The logbook showed a total of 22.5 hours of simulated instrument flight time.
N6669P, was a Cessna P210, serial number P21000196. The last annual inspection of the airplane was conducted on December 11, 1997. At that time the airplane had accumulated a total of 2,742.9 hours and the engine had 1,009.6 hours of total time. The pilot had purchased the airplane on December 11, 1997.
A weather observation was taken at the Decatur Airport at 1450 cst. The observation showed a 500 foot overcast ceiling, visibility 7 miles, the wind was from 010 at 20 knots gusting to 25 knots, temperature and dewpoint were both 38 degrees F, and the altimeter was 29.76.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The NTSB on-scene investigation began at 0800 cst on January 8, 1998. The airplane impacted the terrain approximately 1 1/4 mile northeast of the Decatur Airport, near the intersection of Old Sangamon Road and Bender Road. The airplane impacted in a field.
Pieces of the right wing were located near the initial impact ground scar. The forward section of the airplane, including the engine, was located approximately 35 feet from the initial scar on a heading of 240 degrees. The main portion of the wreckage was located approximately 90 feet away from the engine section. Inspection of the airframe and flight controls failed to reveal any failure/malfunction which would have resulted in the accident. Flight control cable continuity was established to all the flight controls. The elevator cable was separated at the bob-weight. All flight control surfaces were present. The left elevator and rudder counterweights were not located.
The engine was buried approximately 3 feet into the terrain. It had sustained heavy impact damage to the lower front portion of the engine case and sump. Impact damage was visible on all the cylinders. The #3 and #5 cylinders were partially pulled away from the case. The left magneto was located and it produced a spark when rotated. The right magneto was destroyed. The fuel pump coupling was intact and the pump rotated. The fuel manifold screen was clean and fuel was present. The airplane had dual vacuum pumps. Both vacuum pump drive shafts were intact. The inside cases of the vacuum and electric gyro instruments showed scoring.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted on January 8, 1998, at Memorial Medical Center, Springfield, Illinois.
A toxicological examination was conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test results showed 27 mg/dl of ethanol was detected in the heart fluid and 111 mg/dl of ethanol was detected in the lung. The toxicological report states, "The ethanol found in this case may be a result of postmortem ethanol production."
Parties to the investigation were the Federal Aviation Administration, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Teledyne Continental Motors.
The wreckage was released to a representative of Howe Associates, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri.