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On November 16, 1998, about 1233 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182P, N6522M, impacted into Lake Marion, in North Santee, South Carolina. The airplane was operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules (VFR). Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan had been filed. The private pilot and sole occupant sustained fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed. The flight originated from Hilton Head, South Carolina about 1150 enroute to Charleston, West Virginia.
According to recorded information provided by the Federal Aviation Administrations' Anderson (AND) Automated Flight Service Station, the pilot of N6522M telephoned and requested a weather briefing for a VFR flight from Hilton Head, South Carolina, to Charleston, West Virginia, at 0748 EST. The pilot was given a standard weather briefing with VFR not recommended. At 1017, the pilot telephoned back and requested a weather update. He again was given a standard briefing and was told VFR not recommended. He stated he would keep checking. At 1037, the pilot telephoned and stated he was going to try to get to Charlottesville, Virginia, and wanted a weather briefing. The weather conditions were still below VFR minimums. At 1134, the pilot of N6522M, telephoned and requested another weather update from Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Charleston, West Virginia. The weather had not improved and he was advised that conditions were still below VFR minimums, and he would not be able to make the flight in any direction.
A witness, who was an acquiantance of the pilot's stated that he was at the airport on the morning of the accident flight. He stated that he spoke with the pilot prior to his taking off on an instrument flight plan at about 1150. He stated that he had briefed the accident pilot on the current weather conditions and recommended that he postpone his flight till the following day. The accident pilot stated that he was purchasing a crane later that day and had to be in Charleston, West Virginia to close the deal. The witness stated that he took off and within 23 miles of Hilton Head at 9000 feet he was in IMC conditions.
The pilot departed Hilton Head, South Carolina, about 1150 and was handed off from Beaufort Approach Control to the Charleston Approach Control at 1210. The pilot was given the altimeter and he responded with the information. At 1214, radar contact was lost with N6522M, three miles northwest of the Walterboro Airport. The pilot was told to remain on the current squawk, and acknowledged the information. During the next seven minutes, Charleston Approach attempted to contact N6522M, but there was no response from the pilot. At 1228, N7310Q was handed off from Beaufort Approach Control to the Charleston Approach Control. N7310Q was on an overflight flight plan level at 5000 feet. The pilot of N7310Q was asked if he could do Charleston Approach a favor and attempt to contact N6522M, on the same frequency. N7310Q agreed and contacted N6522M. N7310Q relayed a message from Charleston Approach to ask the pilot of N6522M, to say position off of either Charleston or VANCE. At 1229, the transmission relaying the message to N6522M apparently was cutout. N7310Q, asked N6522M again to say radial off of Savannah or VANCE. At 1232, N7310Q advised Charleston Approach that it seemed he had lost contact with N6522M. N7310Q reported that N6522M had mentioned Beaufort. Charleston Approach asked Beaufort Approach if they were talking to N6522M. Beaufort reported that they had talked to the pilot of N6522M earlier. At 1233, Charleston Approach asked N7310Q to relay another message to N6522M and have him contact Shaw Approach on 118.85. At 1234, N7310Q reported no response from N6522M.
According to ground witnesses, it was foggy and they could hear but not see the airplane and believed it was circling around the lake "very low". One witness who was fishing in the area said the airplane's engine was "screaming" and then became quiet. A short time later the witness was moving his boat to a different fishing spot, when he ran across debris floating in the lake and saw the tail of the airplane protruding out of the water. The witness then telephoned 911 and reported the accident.
The pilot was a newly certificated private pilot with a single engine land rating. The pilot reported having 35 hours civilian on his last medical examination. The pilot's most recent second class medical was issued on August 6, 1998. Additional pilot information may be obtained in this report on page 2 and 3 under the section titled "Owner/Operator and First Pilot Information."
The Cessna Skylane, 182P, was a four seat, single engine airplane, and was registered to the pilot. The aircraft was sold for the first time on March 25, 1975. According to FAA bill of sale records, the pilot had purchased the aircraft on November 18, 1997. A 100-hour inspection was accomplished on June 22, 1998 at a total time of 2514.4. The following day, June 23, 1998, an annual inspection was signed off. The last pitot/static check was accomplished on February 25, 1997. A new weight and balance was accomplished on February 20, 1998 due to the removal of the aircraft wheel fairings. At the time of the accident the aircraft had accumulated 2773.5 hours.
A factory rebuilt, zero-timed, engine was installed on the aircraft on May 13, 1985. The last 100-hour and annual inspections were dated June 22, 1998. At the time of the mishap the engine had accumulated 1123.3 hours.
Additionally, the aircraft had a Ryan Storm Scope, and Apollo Loran, and a S-Tec autopilot installed. The aircraft had been approved for the use of autogas under Peterson STC SA1970CE and SE199CE. Fiberglass "Supertips" had been installed using STC SH193WE.
The weather at Orangeburg, SC, (20 Nautical miles (NM) west of the accident site at 1216 was report as visibility of two statute miles (SM) with an overcast layer of 300 feet above ground level (AGL). Reported weather at Shaw AFB in Sumter, SC, (27 miles north of the accident site) was visibility of 3/4 mile with an overcast layer at 200 feet AGL at 1248. Weather at Columbia, SC,(46 NM northwest of the accident site), was reported as one SM visibility and broken cloud layers at 100' and 500' AGL with an overcast layer at 900' at 1248. Additional meteorological information may be obtained in this report on page four under the section titled Weather Information. Witnesses at the scene stated that visibility could be measured in yards and the fog was very low, if not all the way down to the surface of the lake.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted into the lake at Global Positioning System Coordinates 33.31.4 North and 80.26.8 West. The airplane sank into about 25 feet of water with only the vertical stabilizer showing. Recovery of the aircraft was done on November 17, 1998, from a barge equipped with a large crane.
All available parts of the airframe were examined. Examination found that the engine, fuselage, right flap, and a majority of the left wing were recovered. The airframe examination found no pre-impact discrepancies, and there was no evidence of pre- or post-impact fire. Control cable were found attached to the rudder and elevators. Damage to the wings and flaps prevented establishing control cable continuity to the ailerons. Both leading edges of the available sections of the wings showed signs of hydraulic deformation.
The pilot's seatbelt was found buckled and the inboard section had separated from the mount. The cabin floor was deformed in an accordion manner. The top of the cabin had separated from the remainder of the fuselage. No seats remained attached to their mounting points. All of the seat backs remained attached to their respective seat bases.
Examination of the engine and propeller found no pre-impact damage. The propeller was turned by hand and continuity was established to the valves and accessory housing. The spark plugs appeared serviceable based on a Champion Spark Plug Guide, though some had sand and mud in them. Examination of the engine did not reveal any mechanical anomalies. The propeller exhibited signs of "S" bending on one blade and the other blade was bent aft.
A fuel-like substance was noted floating on the surface of the water. No abnormalities were noted in the fuel system. According to the FAA, the FBO at the departure airport topped off the fuel tanks before the aircraft departed.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An Autopsy examination of the pilot was conducted by SE McConnell, MD, Forensic Fellow, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Department of Pathology Medical University of S.C. Charleston, South Carolina.
A Post-accident toxicological examination was performed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Civil Aeromedical Institute, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report was negative for Carbon Monoxide, Cyanide, Ethanol and Drugs.
The NTAP radar data provided by the FAA showed the airplane descending from 2700' feet mean sea level (MSL) over a time span of three minutes. The data showed the airplanes altitude between 600' MSL to 200' MSL for the next 18 minutes. During this time, the airplanes ground track was almost directly over Interstate 95. As the airplane passed over the western shore of Lake Marion, radar data showed it starting a climbing left hand turn. After completing approximately 360 degree of turn in approximately one minute, the ground speed was calculated to be 38 knots with a descent rate of 750 feet/minute. At this point the data showed the airplane moving due east and descending though 600 feet msl. Radar contact was lost at that point. (See Attachment CHS-ATCT-078 Report).