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On August 21, 1993, approximately 1130 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N75644, was destroyed when it collided with mountainous terrain approximately six miles east of Lake Fork, Idaho. The student pilot, whose medical had expired, was the sole occupant of the aircraft and was fatally injured. There was no flight plan filed and no destination known for the aircraft, which departed the Cascade, Idaho, airport at 1100. The aircraft was destroyed. There was no fire.
The aircraft was reported missing by the flying club authorities the previous day, and was reported stolen at 1134 on the day of the accident. The aircraft had been missing from the club hangar since August 16. It was seen at Gleneden, Oregon, August 17, where it remained until either the evening of August 20, or the morning of August 21. The manager of a local flying business stated that he had seen the aircraft August 17, and had spoken with the pilot, who asked him about repairing the right wing tip, which had sustained damage. He stated that the pilot acted strangely, which caused him to believe the aircraft may have been stolen, and he notified the McMinnville, Oregon, FAA Flight Service Station. He said that the aircraft had remained at Gleneden, in poor weather conditions, and he had noted it gone when he arrived at the field at 0800 Pacific daylight time on the morning of August 21.
According to line service personnel at Arnold Aviation, in Cascade, Idaho, the pilot arrived about 1050 mountain daylight time and requested fuel. The pilot stated that he had flown the aircraft to Oregon and Iowa. The line serviceman noted that the right wingtip had a large lump of foam material, and he asked the Arnold Aviation mechanic about the "repair." The mechanic looked at the wingtip, and asked the pilot who he was. The pilot gave his correct name. The mechanic was aware that the Aero Club aircraft was reported missing the previous day, so he asked the pilot if he was a member of the club. The pilot acknowledged when asked. The mechanic then suggested that the pilot should call the club to let them know that he had the airplane. The pilot then went into the office, paid for his fuel, then hurriedly returned to the aircraft, started the engine, taxied out to the runway and made an intersection takeoff.
Arnold Aviation personnel noted that the aircraft climbed slowly and disappeared from sight while heading north. They also observed that clouds were obscuring the mountaintops north of Cascade, toward McCall, Idaho. Personnel at McCall Air Taxi also noted that the mountains were obscured at the time of the accident.
The ELT functioned, and was reported at 1400. The aircraft was sighted from the air at 2100. Rescue personnel were unable to reach the scene that night, and arrived on the scene of the accident next day.
The student pilot was issued a class II medical certificate and student pilot certificate on June 17, 1991. At that time, he stated that he had 640 hours total time, none in the previous six months, and that he had 285 hours of military flying time. That certificate was issued with no limitations. He had previously been issued a student pilot certificate on October 16, 1980, which was revoked by the FAA for refusal to provide requested medical information. He was issued another certificate on August 9, 1986, when he indicated that he had 170 hours. He was issued another certificate on August 31, 1988, when he indicated that he had 490 hours total time, 35 hours in the last six months, and 280 hours military flight time.
Witnesses who observed the pilot's departure from Cascade, Idaho, noted that the mountaintops in the vicinity of the crash site were obscured. This observation was confirmed by pilots in McCall, Idaho, who noted that the mountaintops had been obscured in the vicinity about the presumed time of the accident.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located about six miles east of Lake Fork, Idaho in mountainous terrain, near Jug Meadows road, on an approximate 30 degree slope. The wreckage was a few yards above a drainage with a southeast northwest orientation (with northwest being downstream), and below a primitive jeep trail which was used for access. The terrain was densely wooded with mature trees, estimated to vary from 50 to 100 feet tall.
The tops of the trees in the vicinity of the crash had multiple impacts, with several having been topped. The outboard right wing panel was on the ground, about 100 feet from the main wreckage. The leading edge of the wing panel showed evidence of crushing, and separation through tearing of the skin and spars. The right navigation bulb remained in its housing, and there was a lump of expanded foam material, with evidence of trimming or shaving, adhering to the outboard foot of the wing.
Rescue personnel indicated the position of the body where they had found it, which is indicated on the attached crash site sketch.
The vertical fin, rudder, and elevators were essentially undamaged; the horizontal stabilizer showed leading edge impact damage. The tailcone was extensively wrinkled. The fuselage was twisted and wrinkled. The engine, cowling, firewall, nose landing gear, engine mount, instrument panel, and fuselage structure forward of the fuselage strut carry through structure were effectively separated from the rest of the fuselage.
Control cable continuity was established from the control surfaces to the cabin area. The right front shoulder harness strap was draped over the wreckage. The left front shoulder harness was stowed in the Royalite molding. The left seatbelt was found unclasped, and the belt was wedged between the vertical and horizontal cushions of the seat and seatback.
The left wing panel was crushed aft to the main spar, about two feet outboard of the root. The left wing was folded downward and aft, at the flap/aileron juncture.
One propeller blade had a gentle bend forward; the other was embedded at the site and was not observed.
The cabin, tailcone, and area surrounding the wreckage were littered with personal effects. Three empty vodka bottles were found at the scene. Valley County Sheriff personnel found and inventoried numerous bottles of prescription medicine, including Clorazepate DK, Naproxen, Alprasolam, Roxicet, as well as ascorbic acid and therapeutic multivitamins.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Local authorities conducted toxicological testing which indicated positive at .08 percent blood alcohol level. Additional testing was conducted by the FAA, which determined 68 mg/dl ethanol in the blood, 89 mg/dl ethanol in vitreous fluid, 115 mg/dl ethanol in urine. Additionally, .147 ug/ml Alprasolam was detected in blood, and alpha-hydroxyalprazolam was detected in urine.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The engine was partially disassembled and inspected by Russ Graves, of Boise FAA, on October 14, 1993, with no anomalies noted.
The wreckage was released to the owners at Nampa, Idaho, on October 27, 1993.