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On March 15, 1998, at 0940 eastern standard time, a Cessna 152, N67893, was destroyed when it descended and collided with terrain while turning from downwind to the base leg at the Allegheny County Airport, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. The student pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The local, solo, instructional flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to recorded radio transmissions between the pilot and Air Traffic Control, the pilot radioed Air Traffic Control (ATC) and requested to taxi to the active runway. ATC cleared the pilot to taxi to runway 31. The pilot acknowledged the transmission, and requested directions to the runway. ATC provided progressive taxi directions to the pilot.
The pilot was cleared for takeoff, and he completed one touch and go landing. The airplane was on the downwind leg, when the controller lost radar and radio communication with the airplane. The controller radioed the pilot several times, but there were no further radio transmissions with the accident airplane. The controller requested another airplane in the traffic pattern to look for the airplane. The other airplane in the traffic pattern located the accident airplane at the point where the airplane would turn onto the base leg.
There were several witnesses who observed the airplane overfly at a low altitude. A witness on a pistol range reported that he saw a small airplane flying slow and low, then banking left, and disappearing out of sight. He said it reminded him of a "blimp", and that the engine was not running. He said he did not have his ear protection on at the time he saw the airplane.
Another witness driving home near the accident site, said he saw a small airplane in a "straight down dive". He said he watched it for about 2 seconds hoping that it would pull up. The airplane impacted the ground in a near vertical position, and came to rest within the dimensions of the airplane.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 40 degrees, 19 minutes north latitude, and 79 degrees, 55 minutes west longitude.
The pilot held a student pilot certificate. According to his log book, he had accumulated over 82 hours of total flight experience, all in make and model. He had over 9 hours of pilot in command time, and his last recorded solo flight was on March 1, 1998.
The 0945 surface weather observation for Allegheny County Airport, about 1 1/2 miles south of the accident site was as follows:
Ceiling 3,000 broken; visibility, 10 miles; temperature, 30 degrees Fahrenheit (F); dew point, 20F; wind condition, 360 degrees at 10 knots; and altimeter, 30.33 inches Hg.
The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on March 15, 1998. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene, and that the airplane came to rest inverted, on an approximate magnetic heading of 230 degrees.
The examination revealed green glass at the initial impact point (IIP). The green glass was similar in color to the position light on the right wing tip. There were ground scars along the wreckage path near the IIP. These scars matched the right wing leading edge. The engine impacted the ground, 10 feet from the IIP, and the airplane wreckage came to rest inverted 20 feet from the IIP.
The elevator penetrated the right wing. Both wings exhibited forward to rear crushing on the leading edges. The screw jack for the wing flap was retracted. According to the Cessna Investigator this corresponded to a flaps up position.
All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the site, and control continuity was established to the ailerons, elevator and rudder.
The propeller remained attached to the engine. Both blades exhibited chord wise twisting and numerous scratches.
The engine was removed and examined in a hangar at the Rostraver Airport, on March 17, 1998. The examination was conducted by an NTSB investigator. Maintenance personnel from Rostraver assisted the investigator.
The engine was generally intact. All the accessories were separated. The cylinders were attached and secured to the crankcase. There was no evidence of uncontained internal engine components.
The propeller was manually rotated which resulted in the operation of the cylinder valves. Thumb compression was obtained on all cylinders. The right magneto was destroyed. The left magneto was rotated by hand and its sparking capability was confirmed on one lead.
The carburetor separated from the engine during the impact sequence. The finger screen in the carburetor was clean. The flight instruments were destroyed.
Examination of the airplane did not disclose any evidence of mechanical malfunction.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was conducted on the pilot, on March 16, 1998, by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office, 542 Fourth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Toxicological testing was conducted on the pilot by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 9, 1998. The toxicological report was negative for alcohol and positive for drugs. The report stated:
Diphenhydramine detected in Urine 0.015 (ug/ml, ug/g) Diphenhydramine detected in Blood Doxylamine detected in Urine 0.012 (ug/ml, ug/g) Doxylamine detected in Blood Trimethoprim detected in Urine Trimethoprim detected in Blood Pseudoephedrine detected in Urine Pseudoephedrine detected in Blood Phenylpropanolamine detected in Urine Phenylpropanolamine detected in Blood
In the Code of Federal Regulations, 14 CFR 91.17, it stated, "No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft...While using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety... ."
The airplane wreckage was released on March 16, 1998, to Al Fiedler, a representative of the owner's insurance company.