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On August 16, 1993, a Cessna 182L, N3106R, registered to and being flown by James O. Davis, a certificated private pilot, failed to arrive at the Eliza Island Airport, after departing the Bellingham International Airport, Bellingham, Washington. The aircraft had departed Bellingham and was en route to Eliza Island, 10 miles to the south, with one passenger, Brian L. Hoyt, and was carrying a load of construction tools and equipment. Variable meteorological and dark night environmental conditions existed, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight, which was personal in nature, was to have been operated in accordance with the requirements set forth in 14CFR91.
At approximately 1551 hours, an individual identifying himself as the pilot of N3106R contacted the Seattle Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) via telephone and received a weather briefing for a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Bellingham, Washington. The briefer stated that "VFR flight was not recommended" and the briefing was terminated at approximately 1558 hours (refer to Attachment WB-I).
At approximately 2015 hours Bellingham Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) received a radio call from N3106R reporting "700 over Eliza Island with Yankee", and at approximately 2020 hours the aircraft was cleared to land at Bellingham.
At approximately 2042 hours N3106R again contacted Bellingham ATCT and reported "ready for takeoff", and the aircraft was given takeoff clearance immediately thereafter.
At approximately 2058 hours Bellingham ATCT received a radio call from N3106R reporting "off Eliza at 800 inbound with yankee", and at approximately 2100 hours the aircraft was cleared to land at Bellingham.
At approximately 2128 hours N3106R again contacted Bellingham ATCT and reported "ready for departure", and the aircraft was given takeoff clearance immediately thereafter.
The last radio communication between Bellingham ATCT and N3106R occurred at approximately 2129 when the tower called southbound traffic to the aircraft and N3106R responded "we've got him in site" (refer to Attachment CT-I).
Several witnesses on Eliza Island reported seeing the lights of an aircraft at approximately 2149 hours Pacific daylight time (PDT) as it turned southbound approaching the north/south unlighted, grass runway. They reported observing the lights descend rapidly and then disappear (refer to statements of witnesses Garrigus, Radi, and Tolsma).
According to Whatcom County Sheriff's Office Report Number 93A14943, several pieces of material associated with the aircraft were recovered in the waters adjacent to Eliza Island. These items were identified as 1) a pitot tube cover, 2) miscellaneous papers, 3) a calculator, and 4) a rubber headphone ear pad. No other significant wreckage identifying the aircraft has been located. The aircraft is presumed to have crashed in the vicinity of Eliza Island and the two occupants aboard are presumed to have suffered fatal injuries. An unsuccessful sonar search of the area was conducted.
Pilot Davis's flight log indicated that he began flight training on March 21, 1990, and received his private pilot certificate on March 5, 1991. His total flight time of 185 hours, including 9 hours of night time, was based upon entries within his logbook between March 21, 1990, through July 8, 1993. Pilot Davis did not possess an instrument rating.
Roger Hoyt, one of the individuals assisting in the construction of the cabin on Eliza island and brother of the passenger, reported that the aircraft piloted by Davis, as well as a second aircraft, were transporting building supplies from Bellingham to Eliza Island. Mr. Hoyt reported that the aircraft's rear seat may have been removed and that the following items were most likely aboard at the time of the accident:
1.5 horsepower air compressor 10 inch Sears Craftsman table saw 3 Skill saws (7.25, 8.25, third type unknown) 1 large heavy duty plastic toolbox (pickup truck type) 1 small plastic tool box 1 route miscellaneous assorted carpenter's tools
The amount of fuel on board the aircraft at the time of the accident was unknown.
Aviation surface weather observations for selected sites near Eliza Island were as follows: (refer to CHART I)
Bellingham (BLI): 2155PST 1500 foot scattered, estimated 4000 foot overcast, visibility 7 miles
2205PST estimated 1500 foot broken, 4000 foot overcast, visibility 7 miles
Vancouver (YVR): 2200PST measured 3200 foot broken, 5000 foot overcast, visibility 15 miles
Victoria (YYJ): 2200PST 4000 foot scattered, 13000 foot scattered, visibility 25 miles
Oak Harbor (76S): 2152PST estimated 1100 foot broken, 3000 foot overcast, visibility 7 miles
NAS Whidbey(NUW): 2155PST 500 foot scattered, estimated 1400 foot broken, 8000 foot overcast, visibility 7 miles
Airplane damage and injury classifications are presumed.