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On Sunday, July 18, 1993, at 1515 eastern daylight time, a Taylorcraft BC12, N34009, owned and operated by the pilot, collided with trees after turning onto the downwind leg of the Danbury Airport runway 26 traffic pattern. The pilot was fatally injured. The passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The local personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to the official transcription of the Danbury Air Traffic Control tapes, the pilot stated that he was going to remain in the airport traffic pattern for the flight. The tapes revealed that the pilot was cleared for takeoff from runway 26 and was to report when he was on the downwind leg of the pattern. The local air traffic controller received no transmissions from the pilot after takeoff, and stated that he saw the airplane turn onto the crosswind leg of the pattern at about 1,200 feet mean sea level. The local controller stated that when the pilot did not report that he had turned onto the downwind leg, he queried the pilot on the airplane's location. There were no transmissions received from the pilot.
The airplane wreckage was located in mountainous terrain below the traffic pattern where an airplane might turn from the crosswind leg to the downwind leg of the pattern. The airplane struck trees and came to rest on the left side of the engine on sloping, wooded terrain, at an elevation of about 1,200 feet mean sea level.
According to the Danbury Airport Manager, Mr. P. Estefan, the airport's traffic pattern was 1,700 feet mean sea level. Mr. Estefan stated that when the airplane is turned from the crosswind leg to the downwind leg in a standard left hand pattern for runway 26, the airplane's altitude at that location is about 400 feet above the terrain.
The passenger stated that he does not remember the accident, but does remember the flight. He stated that he did not hear anything "unusual" and was looking out the right window for most of the flight. (See attached Record of Interviews for more details.)
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 41 degrees 21.1 minutes North latitude and 73 degrees 29.7 minutes West longitude.
The pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration airline transport pilot certificate. According to the pilot's log book and a family member, at the time of the accident, the pilot had accumulated about 3,557 total flight hours, of which about 10 were in a Taylorcraft.
The pilot purchased N34009 on June 9, 1993. According to the previous owner, the pilot and he had flown N34009 on December 6, 1992, for about one and one half hours. The previous owner stated that the flight was local (Milford, Michigan) and "...no performance maneuvers/stalls were performed."
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on July 19, 1993. The examination of the airframe and engine did not disclose any anomalies.
The airplane came to rest on the left side of the airplane's engine on sloping, wooded terrain, about 10 feet beyond two broken trees. One tree top was separated from the tree and had gash marks of similar size and shapes down its side.
The left wing was bent up 90 degrees from its horizontal position. The wood left wing spar and metal lift attachment were broken at the wing root and the wing strut attachment truss was separated at the fuselage. Metallurgical analysis of the wing strut attachment truss and the wing spar lift attachment was accomplished at the National Transportation Safety Board's Materials Laboratory. Examination of the fracture surfaces with the aid of a bench binocular microscope disclosed only overstress features. (See attached Metallurgist's Factual Report for details.)
The right wing was attached to the fuselage and the wing strut was bent up into the wing. The right wing leading edge had crush marks. Tree bark and green marks were found in the crushed areas. Aileron control continuity was verified throughout the aileron system.
The rudder was in the full nose left position and had traveled beyond the rudder stop. The rudder control cable on the right side was broken at the connector fitting. Microscopic examination of the fractured surface disclosed only overstress features.
The wooden propeller blades were splintered and pieces of the propeller blades were around the accident site.
The engine was examined and continuity was verified. The number four cylinder was cracked and compression in that cylinder could not be verified. The right magneto had a bent armature shaft. No other anomalies were noted.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The autopsy was performed by Dr. Kanfer at the Office of the Medical Examiner, State of Connecticut, located in Farmington, Connecticut. The autopsy revealed no evidence of physical incapacitation or impairment.
The toxicology was performed by Dr. Canfield at the Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Negative results were reported for all screened volatiles. The drugs fluoxetine and norfluoxetine were detected in the urine and blood. (See attached National Transportation Safety Board Memorandum for toxicology interpretation.)
An excerpt from the 45th Edition 1991 Physicians' Desk Reference states, "Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride) is indicated for the treatment of depression. A major depressive episode implies a prominent and relatively persistent depressed or dysphoric mood that usually interferes with daily functioning. Some general precautions listed for this drug are anxiety, insomnia, altered appetite and weight, activation of mania/hypomania, seizures, and suicide."
Federal Aviation Administration records indicated the pilot was issued a first class medical certificate on January 25, 1993. Review of the pilot's last application for an airmen medical certificate, dated January 25, 1993, showed that he did not disclose the fact that he was being treated, and taking medication, for any disorder. The pilot's personal medical records disclosed that he was first prescribed the drug Prozac on November 12, 1992.
The airplane was released to Trudi Bresner of Waccabuc, New York, on September 13, 1993.