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On December 3, 1993, at about 2045 eastern standard time, a Cessna 150J, N60517, registered to Pink Cloud Leasing Services, operated by Kemper Aviation Inc., as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with the ocean near Delray Beach, Florida, while maneuvering. The airplane was destroyed. The commercial pilot was seriously injured and the passenger drowned. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Boca Raton, Florida, about 20 minutes before the accident.
The pilot stated, he departed Lantana Airport at about 20:18, and flew direct to the Boca Raton Airport. He made a touch-and-go landing to runway 5, and climbed to 1,000 feet agl eastbound over the ocean. The pilot described the weather conditions as very dark, with no natural horizon. Visibility to the east was nothing. The only visible light was to the west along the coast. He reversed his course to the west and climbed to 2,000 feet agl, where he demonstrated medium and shallow turns to his passenger. He then spiraled down to 1,000 feet agl over the city, and flew back towards the coast. Upon reaching the coastline, he turned northbound while descending to 500 feet agl. As he was leveling out it started to get a little bumpy, his passenger stated, "look how beautiful it is over there." The pilot looked at the shoreline and felt something was wrong. The buildings looked closer than they should have been. He looked at the altimeter and noticed the airplane was descending through 200 feet. He pulled back on the control yoke and initiated a left turn. The airplane did not appear to climb, he saw the shoreline, turned back to the right and back to the left. The next thing he remembered was being under the water, and having difficulty getting to the surface.
A witness stated he and his wife arrived home near the Boca Raton Airport, between 2038 and 2040. As they exited their vehicle, they heard the sound of a small airplane. They looked in the direction of the sound and observed a light colored, single engine, high wing airplane, flying straight and level in a westerly direction at about 500 feet agl. Suddenly the engine noise stopped, the nose of the airplane pitched down and the airplane started to spiral down turning about three or four turns before the airplane was observed to recover from the spiral, and fly in an easterly direction towards the coast. Another witness observered the airplane at about 2045 as he was walking with his wife and child southbound on Ocean Boulevard in Delray Beach, Florida. They heard and observed an airplane flying northbound parallel to the coastline between 20 to 25 feet agl. The airplane made a turn estimated at about a 60-degree angle of bank, rolled out, and made another turn estimated at about a 90-degree angle of bank while descending. The witness saw both wings and the bottom of the airplane in the turn. The airplane disappeared from view behind a house and collided with the ocean.
Information pertaining to the pilot-in-command, Christopher S. Chapman, is contained in NTSB Form 6120.1/2, and NTSB Form 6120.4, First Pilot Information.
Information pertaining to aircraft information is contained in NTSB Form 6120.4.
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. There were no recorded gusts or turbulence at the time of the accident at the crash site. Witnesses stated the weather at the time of the accident was very dark and very cloudy. For additional information, see Weather Information, NTSB Form 6120.4.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage of N60517 was examined on December 6, 1993, after the airplane had been recovered.
The propeller, engine assembly, engine cowling, and nosewheel separated from the airplane. Torsional twisting and chordwise scarring was present on one propeller blade. The remaining propeller blade was not damaged. The nose from the forward door post to the firewall was bent up about 45 degrees, and twisted to the left. The leading edge of the left wing was compressed aft and up, and the leading edge of the right wing was not damaged. The left and right fuel tank were not ruptured. The fuselage was twisted to the left behind the cabin area.
Examination of the airframe, flight control system, engine assembly and accessories revealed no evidence to indicate any preimpact failure or malfunction.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The pilot, Christopher S. Chapman, sustained multiple traumatic injuries diagnosed by the attending physician as moderate displaced mandibular left symphysis fracture, moderately displaced bilateral subcondylar fractures, and complex through- and-through laceration of the chin and anterior mandibular vestibule. Toxicology studies on specimens from the pilot were performed by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Crime Laboratory, West Palm Beach, Florida. These studies were negative for drugs and alcohol.
TEST AND RESEARCH
A review of radar data was conducted by Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center, and Palm Beach Air Traffic Control Tower. There was no radar or voice recorded transmissions that could be directly attributed to the accident airplane.
Advisory Circular 60-4A states, "The attitude of an aircraft is generally determined by reference to the natural horizon or other visual references with the surface. If neither horizon nor surface reference exist, the attitude of the aircraft must be determined by artificial means from the flight instruments. Sight supported by other senses, allow the pilot to maintain orientation....Spatial disorientation to a pilot means simply the inability to tell which way is "up."...Surface references and the natural horizon may at times become obscured, although visibility may be above visual flight rule minimums. Lack of natural horizon or surface reference is common on overwater flight, at night....The disoriented pilot may place the aircraft in a dangerous attitude."
The airplane was released to Mr. Steve Smalley, President of Air and Sea Recovery Salvage, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 6, 1993.