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On December 26, 1998, at 1422 central standard time, a Cessna 182P airplane, N182FE, owned and operated by the pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during final approach for landing at Midland International Airport near Midland, Texas. The instrument rated private pilot and his two passengers sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 local personal flight, which originated at 1330.
A witness, who was a passenger in a car travelling eastbound on Highway 80, saw the airplane approximately "100-200 feet above the ground coming in to land." The witness stated that she saw the nose of the airplane "go up and then back down and the wings started to rock back and forth some." Subsequently, the airplane pitched "downward at about 70 degree angle" and impacted the ground. She added that during the impact, the plane "snapped in the middle and the tail flipped over."
During telephone interviews conducted by the investigator-in-charge (IIC), two other witnesses, located in the airport terminal, stated that they saw the airplane's wings "teeter slightly" then the airplane pitched approximately "70 degrees nose down" and impacted the ground. The witnesses added that subsequently, the "tail," aft of the baggage compartment, "separated as the airplane nosed over."
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating and a third class medical, which was issued on June 8, 1998. According to Crash/Fire Rescue personnel, the pilot was located in the front right seat. According to the pilot's logbook, the pilot completed a biennial flight review on December 3, 1998. Examination of the pilot's logbooks revealed that the pilot had recorded 783 total flight hours, of which 468 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.
The front left seat passenger was the son of the pilot. He held a student pilot certificate issued to him on November 31, 1996; however, according to his brother, he had not taken any flying lessons. The passenger seated in the right rear seat was the pilot's grandson. No records of a student pilot certificate or flight training could be located.
According to the maintenance records, the 4-seat, single engine, fixed landing gear airplane received its last annual inspection on March 4, 1998. During the annual inspection, a factory rebuilt O-470-SIB engine, serial number 269451-R, was installed along with a new McCauley propeller, serial number 971523. At the time of that inspection, the airframe had accumulated 3,277.0 hours since its date of manufacture on May 21, 1976.
The maintenance records revealed that a Horton STOL-KIT (Short Takeoff and Landing Kit) was installed in accordance with the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) #SA950CE. According to the maintenance records, the aircraft was test flown following the installation of the STOL-KIT and the stall warning horn was "checked."
On March 19, 1999, a S-TEC autopilot and a S-TEC automatic trim system were installed in accordance with STC #SA5263SW-D. The aircraft was test flown and signed off as airworthy.
Review of the maintenance records by the NTSB investigator-in-charge did not reveal evidence of any uncorrected maintenance discrepancies.
Weight and balance calculations indicated that the airplane was within the weight and balance limitations both at takeoff and at the time of the accident.
A weather observation taken at the Midland International Airport at 1356 indicated the wind was from 220 degrees at 18 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, skies clear, temperature 17 degrees C (63 degrees F), dewpoint minus 10 degrees C (14 degrees F), altimeter setting 30.02 inches of Hg.
Midland International Airport's weather observation at 1443 was wind from 230 degrees at 18 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, skies clear, temperature 17 degrees C (63 degrees F), dewpoint minus 10 degrees C (14 degrees F), altimeter setting 30.00 inches of Hg.
According to a written statement provided by the control tower operator, N182FE was cleared to land on runway 22. The controller made visual contact with the aircraft on "short final." The controller then made a visual scan of runway 22 and the remainder of the airport. As the controller was looking for N182FE on runway 22, ground control received a call advising them that the aircraft had crashed. No other traffic was being worked at the time of the accident.
Midland International Airport is under Class C airspace and is operated by approach/departure, tower, and ground controllers. Runway 22 at the Midland International Airport is 4,605 feet long, and 75 feet wide, and composed of asphalt. Its elevation is at 2,850 feet and there are no obstructions at the approach end of the runway.
WRECKAGE IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest along the extended centerline of runway 22, approximately 473 feet from the threshold of the runway. The fuselage was inverted on a resting heading of 45 degrees magnetic. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage and were crushed aft along their entire span. The empennage was separated and folded forward on the bottom side of the fuselage. The nose landing gear was separated from the airplane. There was a single ground scar approximately four feet in length which terminated at the resting place of the wreckage.
Flight control continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit controls. The flaps were found in the fully extended position. The elevator trim position could not be determined at the accident site; however, after viewing the Crash, Fire and Rescue (CFR) photographs and counting the chain links on both sides of the trim gear wheel, the trim tab's position was estimated at 7 degrees up (nose down force) at the time of impact (see enclosed report from S-TEC Corporation for additional information).
The engine and accessories were intact and pushed aft into the firewall. It was noted that the exhaust pipes were crushed and all engine mounts were broken. One of the propeller blades was bent back over the right side of the engine cowling near the root of the blade. The other blade had minimal damage. Both of the blades showed light chord-wise scratches. The engine was taken to Air Salvage of Dallas for further examination (see test and research section of this report).
Fuel was found in the line between the gascolator and the engine. Both wing fuel tanks contained fuel, and the total fuel on board the aircraft at the time of the accident was estimated by the IIC to be approximately 60 gallons.
The instrument panel was displaced aft and imposing on the cockpit occupiable space. The top of the fuselage was crushed inward. Both of the front seats separated from the seat tracks.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Lubbock County Medical Examiner. The examination showed evidence of pre-existing cardiovascular disease. Toxicological tests detected Metoprolol in the blood and urine. Metoprolol is a prescription medication for hypertension and/or angina. According to a doctor at the Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), there is no indication that the medication found in the blood and urine would have affected the pilot's decision making skills.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
A test run of the airplane's engine, a Continental O-470-SIB, S/N 269451-R, was conducted under the supervision of the NTSB on February 3, 1999, at Air Salvage of Dallas in Lancaster, Texas. An FAA representative and a Continental Motors representative were also present at the examination. The following items were replaced or removed prior to the engine test run:
1. The prop governor was replaced. 2. Two intake tubes were replaced. 3. The balance tube was replaced. 4. The engine mounts and legs were replaced. 5. Two rocker arm covers (#1 and #2) were replaced. 6. The #3 cylinder bottom ignition lead was repaired. 7. The alternator was removed. 8. The oil filter was replaced. 9. The oil sump was patched. (It was never removed) 10. The carburetor bowl was patched. 11. Approximately 7 quarts of oil was added to the engine.
The engine was test run for 20 minutes through various power settings. No anomalies were noted during the test run. The left magneto to engine timing was at 24 degrees before top dead center and the right magneto was at 22 degrees before top dead center. The magneto hold down nut slip marks were still intact and unmoved. See the enclosed engine test run results for more information.
The autopilot and electronic trim system was taken to the S-Tec Corporation facility and tested on March 5, 1999 under the supervision of the NTSB IIC. The following items were inspected and tested: 1. RFGC-Roll Flight Guidance Computer (S/N 2327) 2. PFGC-Pitch Flight Guidance Computer (S/N 3135) 3. Turn Coordinator (S/N 6154E) 4. Programmer (S/N 1125F) 5. Pitch Servo (S/N 6101A) 6. Trim Servo (S/N 7206A) 7. Trim Switch (Command) 8. Disconnect Switch 9. Electronic Trim on/off switch
All components appeared to have no or minimal impact damage, except for the turn coordinator. The turn coordinator's case was dented in the rear and top left side of the case. The case was removed for internal inspection of the gyro and electronic circuit boards. The bearing for the gyro had slid aft allowing the gyro to contact the circuit board. The gyro displayed circumferential scarring indicating that it was rotating at the time of impact. Under the supervision of the NTSB, the gyro's bearing was pushed back into place separating the gyro from the circuit board. Power was then applied to the turn coordinator allowing the gyro to rotate freely to full speed as indicated by the programmer that was installed in the accident aircraft.
All other autopilot and trim system components were tested and found to contain no anomalies that would have prevented their normal operation prior to the accident. For additional information on the inspection and testing of the trim and autopilot systems, see the enclosed wreckage examination report by S-Tec Corporation.
The aircraft was released to the owner's representative on March 17,1999.