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On November 21, 1998, about 1515 hours Pacific standard time, a Cessna T210L, N9222T, was destroyed during a collision with a high school building in a residential area of Oakland, California. The private pilot received serious injuries and the passenger was fatally injured. The personal flight was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight had originated at Watsonville, California, and was destined for Little River, California.
Due to fog and low stratus cloud conditions at Little River, the pilot diverted to Petaluma, California, for lunch and to call the Little River Airport for a weather update. The airport manager did not expect the weather to clear up that day. The pilot decided to cancel the trip to Little River and return to Watsonville. He stated "we got back into the plane, and after a normal run-up headed back home." At the time of the accident the flight was returning to Watsonville.
The pilot stated that en route his passenger had gotten into the right rear seat while in-flight to photograph the University of California at Berkeley, California, sports coliseum football game in progress. The last thing the pilot recalled was asking his passenger if she could see the scoreboard. When asked how high he was flying, he stated 5,500 feet msl.
An aircraft was identified by Bay Terminal Radar Approach Control (Tracon) as an Oakland International Airport Class "C" airspace intruder. They reported that the unidentified aircraft had circled the coliseum 9 miles north-northeast of Oakland International Airport (OAK). The coliseum/stadium is located in sector "H" of the San Francisco Class "B" airspace. Mode "C" transponder usage is mandatory in all Class "B" airspace. The transponder was observed to go offline 5 miles north while passing the Mormon Temple (a local area position reporting point). They continued to track the airplane as a primary radar target into the OAK Class "C" airspace. Subsequently, the accident aircraft collided with the Castlemont High School about 2.25 miles northeast of the Oakland International Airport.
Two witness statements were obtained from persons at the Castlemont School. One reported hearing the engine cutting on and off as he watched it collide with the building. The other witness heard no engine sound and also watched it collide with the building.
A commercial pilot witness attending the football game at the coliseum witnessed a Cessna 210 overfly the coliseum. He said that there were many banner towing airplanes orbiting the stadium about 1,000 feet agl. Somewhere after 1500, he observed the Cessna 210 fly directly over the stadium, entering from the north and exiting southwest. He said that the airplane's altitude was considerably less than the banner towing airplanes, and he estimated it to be 500 to 700 feet agl. He said the lighting was poor and the registration of the airplane was not clearly visible.
An ATP pilot also attending the game witnessed a Cessna 210 approach the stadium from the town of Albany, California, north-northwest of the stadium. He reported the airplane as flying low along the East Bay hills, remaining below a solid overcast of coastal stratus clouds. The airplane passed almost directly over the east side of the stadium. He said the flight path and altitude were consistent with that of an airplane being operated VFR approaching OAK for landing.
The private pilot held ratings in airplane multiengine, single engine, and instrument and gliders. He reported a total of 1,392 total flight hours with 89 hours in a Cessna T210 airplane. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate dated March 2, 1998.
According to the pilot's written report, the last annual inspection of the airplane was accomplished and it was returned to service on August 1, 1998, 22 hours before the accident.
In the pilot's written report on the morning of the accident, while taxiing to the runway, he observed the fuel gauges go from full to zero. He then noted that the electrical system had gone off-line and found the 60-amp alternator circuit breaker had popped. He parked the aircraft and contacted his maintenance person.
The pilot was advised that the starter solenoid had stuck during startup, the only time during operation that this solenoid is used. He was told that the high electrical drain had popped the circuit breaker. He was shown the solenoid location and given a small hammer to take with him to tap on the solenoid if it were to happen again on his trip. The maintenance person provided an auxiliary battery jump-start of the engine for the pilot.
According to refueling records, the airplane was last fueled on November 13, 1998. The logbook indicates that the flight was 2.5 tachometer hours, ending at 872.4 and 3.0 clock hours for 34.87 gallons of fuel use. The tachometer at the accident site indicated 875.4 for 3.0 tachometer hours for the accident flight. A mechanical recording tachometer is only accurate at a designed rpm; in this installation it is 2,500 rpm.
The Cessna owner's manual states that the airplane has 89 gallons of useable fuel and at 75 percent power and full fuel at 10,000 feet, no reserve, the airplane can fly for 5.4 hours. Maximum range full fuel at 10,000 feet, no reserve, the airplane can fly for 9.0 hours.
According to the Cessna Pilot Safety and Warning Supplements: Fuel Management, Poor Techniques, "Flying low during day cross-country, or moderately low at night can be hazardous if a fuel tank runs dry. By the time it is realized what caused the engine stoppage and an attempt is made to correct the fuel selector position, the airplane has lost too much altitude and contacts the ground."
The same supplement also warns of Flight Coordination vs. Fuel Flow. "It is important to observe the uncoordinated flight or side-slip limitations listed in the respective operating handbook. As a general rule, limit uncoordinated flight or side-slip to 30 seconds in duration when the fuel level in the selected tank is 1/4 full or less."
At 1524, the Oakland weather was reported as: wind 100 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 15 statute miles; few clouds at 1,800 feet agl; broken clouds at 4,100 feel agl; temperature 62 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 52 degrees Fahrenheit; and the altimeter was 30.11 inHg.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was first viewed on scene at the Castlemont High School. The first point of contact found was with the east wall of a two-story classroom building. Three black rubber transfers and a building trim color of turquoise were observed on the building wall.
About 25 feet north of the initial point of contact the airplane was found imbedded into the vertical glass wall of a high ceiling single story cafeteria building. The engine was found imbedded at the roofline with half of the engine above the roof with two relatively undamaged propeller blades. The roof is estimated to be about 30 feet agl. One damaged propeller blade was imbedded into the roof structure. The propeller spinner was undamaged.
The fuselage with some attachment to the engine was hanging vertically with the rudder touching the ground. The right wing was severed at midspan with the outer panel on the roof and the inboard wing section still attached to the fuselage center section. The left wing was still attached to the spar carry through structure with heavy leading edge damage and commingling with a chain link fence gate.
According to on scene emergency service personnel, there was fuel venting or running from the airplane in a steady stream. The local fire department foamed the accident area.
TESTS AND RESEARCH INFORMATION
The aircraft radios were taken to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved avionics repair station for examination of selected frequencies using electrical power.
1) King KX-155 communication: 122.7 (Unicom) standby frequency 135.5 Navigation: 113.9 (OSI VOR) standby 117.3 (SNS VOR)
2) King KX-155 communication: 122.8 (Unicom) standby frequency 127.8 Navigation: 113.7 (SFO atis) standby frequency 113.9 (OSI VOR)
3) King KN-64 DME (distance measuring equipment) (OSI VOR)
The King KT-76 transponder was found in the off position during the initial on-scene examination.
During the postaccident examination, the airplane's 24-volt battery voltage was measured to be near fully charged. The engine starter motor was functional tested successfully by motorizing.
A preliminary examination of the engine and fuel system occurred on-scene and at the recovery yard. The engine was shipped to Teledyne Continental Motors, Mobile, Alabama, for a detailed examination. The results of the FAA witnessed examination are included in this report.
On September 14, 1999, the wreckage was released to the pilot's insurance company representative.
According to the Alameda County medical examiner, the passenger was not wearing a seat belt or a shoulder harness. During the initial on scene investigation, the pilot's shoulder harness was found stowed in the overhead belt/harness holder.