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On September 21, 1993, at 2030 hours mountain daylight time, a Cessna 185A, N4176Y, collided with the terrain while maneuvering near an airstrip in De Borgia, Montana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The airplane was destroyed by a post crash fire and the certificated airline transport pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The flight had originated from Kent, Washington, on September 21, 1993, and was en route to De Borgia.
A witness to the accident reported that the pilot owned the property on which the dirt airstrip was located. The witness stated that it was normal for the pilot to fly at altitude around the area to alert people on the ground when landing at the strip after dark. These people would then drive their vehicles out to the airstrip to shine the cars' headlights on the airstrip for landing references.
On the night of the accident, the witness stated that she heard the airplane overhead. Just prior to getting her vehicle positioned on the approach end of the airstrip, the airplane made a low pass over the airstrip at an altitude of less than 100 feet above ground level. The witness thought that the airplane was landing, but then realized it wasn't because the airspeed was too fast. The witness observed the airplane travel north down the airstrip. At the end or just beyond, the airplane suddenly pulled up and made a sharp left turn and descended. The airplane travelled behind a small hill where, shortly thereafter, flames from the collision were seen.
The witness stated that the pilot had never performed this kind of a maneuver before for a night landing.
At the time of the accident, the pilot held certificates for Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Engineer for multi-engine airplanes, a Commercial certificate for single engine land airplanes, and a rotorcraft certificate.
The pilot held a current Class I Medical certificate dated 6/7/93. At the time of the medical, the pilot indicated a total flight time of 33,700 hours. The pilot's flight logbook was not made available for review.
A family member reported that she thought that the aircraft logbooks were in the airplane at the time of the accident. An Annual inspection was reported to have been performed in April 1993, however, this person did not know the mechanic.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located in a valley surrounded by mountainous terrain, one-half mile north of the private airstrip. The area immediately around the wreckage was hard ground covered by short dry grass. Power lines were visible one-and-a-half miles northeast running east/west.
The wreckage was inverted with the nose of the airplane positioned on a 40 degree magnetic bearing. The cockpit and fuselage had been consumed by a post crash fire. The left wing was laying in place next to the fuselage. The wing strut remained attached at the wing. Both the aileron and the flap remained attached to their respective hinges. Control continuity was established to the cockpit. The leading edge of the wing from the wing strut outboard to the wing tip, was crushed rearward. The wing tip had separated and was found near a long narrow ground scar measuring 13 feet long near the front of the wreckage.
The right wing was found positioned upright and 90 degrees from its original position. The empennage was laying on top of the wing. Both the flap and aileron remained attached to their respective hinges. Control continuity was established to the cockpit area.
The empennage was positioned on its right side, directly over the right wing. The horizontal and vertical stabilizer, with the rudder and elevators attached were intact. Control continuity was established to the cockpit area.
The engine was positioned inverted and remained attached to the firewall. A deep crater was found near the nose of the engine. The engine underwent severe impact damage and heat distress. Both propeller blades were in place in the hubs, however, both were loose. Both propeller blades were bent rearward and displayed deep leading edge gouges and tearing. Melting of the rocker covers and the accessories were noted. Both magnetos were broken from their mounts and severely burned.
The cockpit was completely destroyed by the post crash fire. Evidence of luggage and household supplies such as paint cans and building hardware were found among the debris. The fire did not spread beyond the cockpit, fuselage and the left wing fuel tank.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The State of Montana Department of Justice Forensic Science Division determined that the cause of death was due to multiple blunt force injuries. Toxicological examinations were negative.
The wreckage was released to the owner's family on September 22, 1993. The family reported that the wreckage would be moved to the barn near the airstrip.