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On December 25, 1998, at 1350 eastern standard time (EST), a Cessna 172R, N989CP, owned and operated by the Civil Air Patrol, Incorporated (CAP), was destroyed on impact with an agricultural field near Angola, Indiana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 proficiency and training flight was not operating on a flight plan. The private pilot was fatally injured. The local flight originated at Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA), near Fort Wayne, Indiana, at 1325 EST.
The pilot, age 62, was a member of the CAP Indiana Wing. He held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine rating and instrument airplane rating. He received a third class medical certificate on December 8, 1997, with a limitation "must wear corrective lenses". The pilot had reported a total flight time of 2,320 hours in a Civil Air Patrol's Pilot Data Summary on May 23, 1998.
The aircraft was used by the CAP for search and rescue and training. The aircraft had a 100-hour inspection performed on November 11,1998. The airframe time at the inspection was 407.5 hours. The aircraft's tachometer, at the time of the accident, showed 458.0 hours.
The FWA automated surface observing system recorded, at 1354, winds from 200 degrees at 14 knots.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft was lying on a magnetic heading of 299 degrees in an agricultural field with north-south rows. The aircraft was located at latitude 041 degrees 37' 28.7"N longitude 085 degrees 09'13.2" W at an elevation of 1,052 feet msl. There was a 5-degree upslope in terrain forward of the aircraft. A house belonging to the pilot's relative was located at a bearing of 300 degrees and 732 feet from the aircraft. A ground scar with a magnetic heading of 328 degrees, 163 feet in length, and 10 feet in width preceded the aircraft. Two ground scars located left and right of 163 foot by 10 foot ground scar each contained red paint chips. The left ground scar preceded the right ground scar, both of which were oriented diagonally relative to the 163 foot by 10 foot ground scar. The outboard sections of the aircraft's wings were painted red. Both wings were bent downwards approximately 20 degrees. Both wings exhibited rearward crushing and upwards twisting extending approximately 4 feet from their wing tips. The fuselage was folded over and onto the engine and was buckled at the rear cabin location. The aircraft's tail section was bent and twisted approximately 10 degrees to the left. Approximately 12 gallons of blue liquid was recovered from the aircraft's fuels tanks.
Aileron, rudder, and elevator flight control continuity was established. The left and right wing trailing edge flap actuators were extended 5 inches which equates to a 30 degree flap extension.
The propeller was separated through a 45 degree fracture at its flange. There was chordwise scratching on both propeller blades. The propeller spinner was crushed inward.
The engine was rotated, air was expelled from all cylinders and engine continuity was established. A spark form each magneto lead was obtained when the magnetos were rotated.
Inspection of the cockpit found the magnetos and the fuel selector to be in the "BOTH" position. The master switch was in the "ON" position.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed by the Steuben County Coroner on December 26, 1999.
Toxicological tests performed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were negative for all substances tested.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
A family member of the pilot stated that on previous flights, the pilot would do "flybys" by the houses of people he knew. The family member also stated that they had rented a high wing airplane from the Angola Airport to go and perform "flybys". The family member described the "flyby" as a circling maneuver at an altitude of approximately 3-4 times the height of the trees. The family member stated that he would hear a buzzer during the maneuver.
Radar data the showed that the accident aircraft departed FWA airspace to the northeast at 3,400 feet and tracked east-northeast towards De Kalb County Airport, Auburn, Indiana where the aircraft descended. It then proceeded northbound to the Tri-State Steuben County Airport, Angola, Indiana, where there were three descents. The aircraft then proceeded towards the west and then turned towards the east at an altitude of 1,700 feet msl. The last radar return was at 1445:12 at 1,700 feet mean sea level.
The engine tachometer was removed and submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board's Material's Laboratory. Examination of the tachometer revealed that white material was embedded into the pebble grain surface of the dial face. The dial needle was painted white but was not removed from the tachometer face. When the needle was rotated over the white marks, it coincided with a position slightly more than 2,200 rpm.
The FAA, CAP, Cessna Aircraft Company and Textron Lycoming were parties to the investigation.
All wreckage was released and returned to the CAP.