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On June 21, 1998, about 2200 Eastern Daylight Time, a Cessna 172M, N12912, was destroyed when it descended from cruise flight and collided with the terrain near Hebron, Connecticut. The certificated private pilot/co-owner was fatally injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from the Hartford-Brainard Airport (HFD), Hartford, Connecticut, at 2150.
A former flight instructor of the pilot stated that the pilot liked to utilize Windham Airport (IJD), 22 miles to the east of HFD, for his night currency flights.
The pilot radioed ground control at HFD, stated he had received the Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS) information, and requested clearance to taxi to runway 20. The pilot then radioed the HFD control tower and requested an eastbound departure, which was approved. There were no further communications with the airplane.
A review of the recorded radar data revealed the airplane departed to the south, and turned eastbound reaching a maximum altitude of 1,500 feet msl. The radar data depicted the transponder "squawking" 1200. The radar target tracked east/northeast, and was about 9 miles from the IJD when it initiated a right hand turn.
The target appeared to have completed two circles, with the radius of the second circle smaller than the first. The target's altitude readout fluctuated throughout the maneuver. At 2159:40, the target indicated an altitude of 1,400 feet. The last radar return was at 2159:50, when the target indicated an altitude of 1,000 feet.
A search was initiated the following morning, and the airplane wreckage was found fragmented in a heavily wooded area, on the evening of June 22.
The accident occurred during the hours of night at approximately 41 degrees, 42 minutes north latitude, and 72 degrees, 27 minutes west longitude.
The pilot held a private pilot's certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He was not instrument rated.
Review of the pilot's logbook revealed he had accumulated about 1,962 hours of total flight experience, of which, about 151 hours were logged as "night" flight time. The pilot had logged about 60 total hours, all in the accident airplane, since January 1998, of which, 3 hours were logged as "night" conditions. The pilot had also logged a total of 3.5 hours as "actual instrument," and 4.1 hours as "simulated instrument" flight time, respectively. Review of the airplane's usage log revealed the pilot had flown an additional 11.4 hours, in the accident airplane during June 1998.
The pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Third Class Medical Certificate, which was issued on July 12, 1997. The pilot had a statement of demonstrated ability attached to his medical certificate for "defective vision, right eye 20/200 uncorrected," with the limitation of: "must have available glasses for near vision."
Review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed it's most recent annual inspection was performed on August 14, 1997, at a tachometer time of 6232.0 hours. At the time of the accident, the tachometer indicated 6372.9 hours. Additionally, on April 27, 1998, a test of the airplane's automatic pressure reporting equipment was performed.
According to the FAA, there was no record that the pilot obtained a weather briefing for the flight.
The weather recorded at HFD, at 2153, was: Wind from 180 degrees at 5 knots; Visibility 7 miles; Sky clear; Temperature 68 degrees F; Dewpoint 64 degrees F; Altimeter 30.10 inches/hg.
The weather recorded at IJD, at 2152, was: Wind from 130 degrees at 5 knots; Visibility 5 miles in haze; Ceiling overcast at 700 feet; Altimeter 30.12 inches/hg.
A GOES-8 infrared satellite image taken at 2202, revealed low stratus clouds and fog present in the accident site area. Additionally, radiative temperatures over the accident site area were consistent with the conditions reported at IJD.
The wreckage was located in a wooded area, at an elevation of about 720 feet. The wreckage was oriented north to south, scattered over 250 feet, with all major components of the airplane accounted for in the debris field. Several large trees in the wreckage path displayed symmetrical diagonal slices on their trunks, which progressively lowered, until reaching the fuselage/engine components. Tree limbs, with fresh diagonal cuts, were found throughout the initial debris field.
In a southerly direction from the initial tree impact, the major components of the airplane were found in the following order: the outboard section of the right wing with the aileron attached at 60 feet; the empennage inverted, with the right main landing gear, front right passenger seat, and rear bench seat, at 120 feet; the fuselage with engine detached, left main landing gear, and the inboard section of the left wing at 150 feet; the inboard section of the right wing at 225 feet.
All flight control cables were located and their routing traced throughout the wreckage. Flight control continuity was verified through the fragmented sections of the airplane, by matching the broken ends, which were "mare's tailed" on both sides of the broken cable.
The engine was found separated from the airframe; however, the propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade was twisted along the chord line and bent aft 70 degrees, the other propeller blade was not twisted, but bent aft along the cord line, 90 degrees. When the engine crankshaft was rotated, valve train continuity and thumb compression was obtained on all cylinders. Additionally, both magnetos produced spark on all towers, when rotated by hand.
The airplane's vacuum pump was found separated from the engine and sustained impact damage. Internal examination of the vacuum pump revealed one of the six vanes was fractured.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An Autopsy was performed on pilot on June 23, 1998, by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Farmington, Connecticut.
The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.
The airplane wreckage was released on June 24, 1998, to representative of the owners insurance company.