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On November 14, 1998, at 1115 central standard time, a Cessna 182F, N3240U, piloted by a commercial rated aero tow pilot, received substantial damage on impact with terrain while towing a glider on initial climb out from Runway 17R (approximately, 2,640 feet by 100 feet, grass) at a private airstrip called, The Wichita Gliderport, which is located approximately 2-1/2 miles northeast of Jabara Airport, near Wichita, Kansas. The Schweizer SGS 2-33 glider received no damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. The tow-plane pilot was fatally injured. The glider pilot and passenger reported no injuries. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.
The glider pilot reported that the tow plane pilot taxied to and from an overhead fuel tank to refuel the aircraft. The glider pilot stated that 30-40 minutes elapsed prior to the tow-plane pilot's starting the engine of the tow plane for departure. The glider pilot reported that the takeoff was normal and that the tow-plane was well past the wind sock when it began experiencing trouble. The glider pilot stated that when the tow-plane reached an altitude of 100-150 feet, there was an audible drop in engine noise after which the tow-plane appeared to be in a slight left bank of approximately 5-10 degrees. The glider pilot and passenger reported that the tow rope had been released when the tow-plane began experiencing engine trouble. The glider pilot stated that his refueling procedure for the Cessna 182F had been to taxi the aircraft to the overhead tank, sump the gascolator on the overhead tank and then pump a gallon of fuel out of the overhead tank and then refuel the aircraft. He added that five minutes would elapse prior to draining fuel from the aircraft's sump after which he would taxi the tow plane. He stated that he had tried to open a valve at the bottom of the overhead tank but found it difficult to turn and attempted to drain from it only once. The glider pilot also stated that it seemed that the aircraft's right tank would be favored by tow-plane pilots for refueling.
The passenger of the glider was seated in the front seat of the glider during the flight. He stated that the airspeed of the glider was indicating 60 mph when the tow rope was released. The passenger also stated that the tow rope was released prior to his knowing that anything was wrong with the tow plane. He also reported that he had seen the tow plane dip to the right and then to the left; the left wing clipped the trees. He estimated the height of the tow plane to be 75-100 feet above ground level at the time of any noticeable trouble.
The pilot was 55 years old and the holder of a airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multiengine land rating. He also held commercial pilot ratings for single engine land airplane and glider aero tow. His commercial flight instructor certificate included airplane single engine, multiengine and instrument airplane ratings. He also held an advanced ground instructor certificate. He was issued a second class medical certificate on June 24, 1997 with a restriction to wear corrective lenses. A total flight time of 4,000 hours was reported at the issuance of his medical certificate. No pilot logbooks were found with the aircraft wreckage or submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The 1963 Cessna 182F, serial number 18254640, was a four-place complex airplane that had accumulated a total airframe time of 2,145 hours. An aircraft annual inspection was completed on September 26, 1998 at a total airframe time and tachometer time of 2,124 hours. The aircraft fuel tanks were comprised of two 32.5 gallon bladder tanks located in the left and right wings with sump drains at the aft root end of each tank. The left fuel tank bladder was replaced on September 27, 1995 at a tachometer time of 2,055 hours. The right fuel tank bladder was replaced during the aircraft's last annual inspection.
The Teledyne Continental O-470-R, serial number 84235-3-R, was a six-cylinder, horizontally-opposed normally-aspirated engine rated at 230 hp at 2,600 rpm, which had accumulated a total time of 2,145 hours and 741 hours since a major overhaul which was completed on April 13, 1999 at an engine total time of 1,414 hours.
Climatological data shows that for a period from November 1, 1998 to November 15, 1998, a total of 2.55 inches of precipitation was recorded for Wichita, Kansas. The departure from normal was 1.71 inches of precipitation. There was no precipitation from November 9, 1998 to the date of the accident.
Surface observations from the Jabara Airport indicate mist or fog was present with a temperature and dewpoint spread of zero to one degrees Celsius from a period beginning November 13, 1998 at 2154 to November 14, 1998 at 1014.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airframe was resting on a magnetic heading of 002 degrees approximately 3/4 down the runway's eastern edge. Trees, which exhibited scarring on branches which were approximately 3 inches in diameter, along with the aircraft's left wingtip, were noted to be 36 feet northeast of the main wreckage. The left wing had a 4 inch wide impression on its leading edge located 4 feet outboard from its wing root. There were two ground scars along a direction from the trees to the main wreckage along which the aircraft's landing gear nose wheel and left cabin door were lying. The ground scars, one two feet four inches in length and the second 6 feet in length, were separated from one another by a distance of 5 feet and 4 inches The aircraft's fuselage was separated at the fuselage's aft door and was folded forward under itself.
The empennage was attached to the airframe of the aircraft. The elevator was deflected to the left and the elevator was deflected downward. Inspection of the elevator and rudder revealed that they were attached at all of their respective hinge locations and that their stops did not exhibit any deformation or gouging. Elevator and rudder flight control continuity was established. The left and right wings were attached to their wing surfaces through all of their respective attach points. The aileron balance weights were also intact. Aileron flight control continuity to the wing root was established. Both wing flaps were in 10 degree down position.
A total of approximately 15 gallons of a blue liquid was drained from the left and right aircraft fuel tanks, of which 10 gallons was from the right fuel tank. From the 15 gallons of liquid that was drained, approximately 4 oz of water from the left wing tank and 21-1/2 oz of water from the right wing tank was noted. The water was similar in color to the water that was drained from the above ground fuel tank at the airstrip. The left and right fuel screens were unobstructed. The fuel selector was in the "BOTH" position.
The propeller was attached to the engine, which was found inverted and attached to its engine mounts. The propeller was rotated and air was expelled from each cylinder. Both magnetos were spun and a spark from each lead was noted. There was a white coloration on the internal wall of both exhaust headers. The carburetor bowl was inspected and approximately 4-1/2 oz of water similar in coloration to the water that was drained from the above ground fuel tank at the airstrip was found. There was no blue liquid within the carburetor bowl.
Visual inspection of the tow rope attach points showed no deformation.
The engine tachometer indicated 2,144.76 hours, and the Hobbs meter indicated a time of 1,902.1 hours.
Samples taken from a gravity-fed 500-gallon above-ground fuel storage tank located at the airstrip showed the presence of water when the tank sump, fuel line sump and fuel hose were drained. Internal inspection of the fuel storage tank showed the presence of a liquid to be at a level which was estimated to be 1/4 full. The internal wall of the tank was rough and brown in color. Six one-gallon glass containers, which contained liquid ranging in color from brown to opaque, were located at the base of the above ground fuel tank.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Toxicological Tests tested positive for Acetaminophen and Salicylate.
An autopsy was conducted by the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Center on November 15, 1998 at 1330.
An aircraft flight log recovered from the wreckage indicates that the pilot of the tow-plane had obtained 15 gallons of fuel on November 14, 1999 at an engine tachometer time of 2,144.66 hours and a Hobbs time of 1,902.0 hours.
The Wichita Skylarks Soaring Association was reported to own a single place German Grob Astir and a Romanian IS-32 Lark which are based at the Wichita Gliderport. The tow-plane pilot was reported to have been the President of the organization. The tow-plane was owned by a member of the Wichita Skylarks Soaring Association.
Parties to the investigation were the FAA, Cessna Aircraft Company and Teledyne Continental Motors.
The wreckage was released to the registered owner on November 15, 1998.