On December 14, 1993, at 2101 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA- 32R-300, N999VP, was destroyed when it collided with terrain during an ILS instrument approach to Spokane International Airport, Spokane, Washington. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant of the aircraft, was fatally injured. The flight, conducted under 14CFR135, carrying bank documents and cancelled checks under contract to Pony Express, had initiated at Pasco, Washington, at about 2015, and was on an instrument flight plan. There was no fire. The ELT functioned and aided in locating the crash site.

The pilot had performed a missed approach to runway 03, after following United and Northwest 727s, which satisfactorily completed their approaches. The pilot was then vectored for a second ILS 03 approach. United 525 completed an ILS 03 approach after N999VP's missed approach. Between 2049 and 2053, approach advised Horizon flight 343 that information Juliet was current, advising partial obscuration, 300 foot overcast, one mile visibility, fog, temperature 34, dew point 33, winds at 360 at five knots, altimeter 29.91, runway 3 RVR 3000. At 2053:30, approach advised all aircraft that information Kilo was current. N999VP was advised that runway visual range was 3000 feet prior to being handed off from the approach controller to the local controller, at the time it was vectored onto the final approach course. Radar data indicates that the pilot flew the second instrument approach, tracking the localizer centerline until approximately two miles from the touchdown end of the runway.

The wreckage was located about 3500 feet west of the touchdown end of runway 03, and about 1/4 mile northwest of the localizer centerline, approximately abeam the middle marker. Impact scar orientation was about 310 degrees.


The pilot had 1256 hours total flight experience, with eight hours in this make and model of aircraft, including the accident flight. He had 25 hours of actual instrument flight experience, with 85 hours simulated instrument time. In the last 24 hours, he had accumulated 3.5 hours flight time. On May 28, 1993, he successfully accomplished a VFR 14CFR135 checkride with the company check airman, in a Cessna 172RG, when he had 1000 hours of total flight experience. Between that date and the date of the accident, he flew approximately 200 hours of 14CFR135 flights. On November 6, 1993, he successfully completed an IFR 14CFR135 checkride with the company check airman, with 1200 hours total flight experience. Between May 28 and November 6, he logged 10.2 hours of actual IFR, and 6 hours of simulated IFR while on 14CFR135 flights, which were recorded in his log book as "Pony Express" flights. During that period, he logged 12 ILS approaches into Pasco, Yakima, and Spokane, as well as several non-precision approaches.

Company personnel observed that the pilot had retired from the US Air Force as a navigator, and noted that this experience had made him familiar with the Air Traffic Control system and instrument procedures.


Meteorological information is attached separately.


During the investigation, the local control who was on duty stated that the runway approach lighting system and runway lights for runway 03 were at step five and the runway lights and REIL (runway end identification lights) for runway 07 were at step three at the time of the accident. He noted that he had not changed the runway 07 lighting step during his tour of duty, but noted that he had stepped the runway lights and approach lights to runway 03 to step five during his shift. The local controller who relieved the local controller immediately after the accident noted that the runway 03 lights were at step five, and the runway 07 lights were at step three at the time he relieved the local controller. The northernmost of the REIL lights for runway 07 was functioning; the slave unit, or southernmost, had been noted as not functioning.


The aircraft collided with open terrain, leaving ground scars for approximately 75 yards from the first indication of ground contact to the nose of the aircraft. The first few yards of the ground scar was at approximately 310 degrees, with the rest of the ground scar measured as 304 degrees magnetic. A tree of about six inches diameter was felled by impact, about half way to the aircraft from the first scars. The left wing was separated from the fuselage, and showed evidence of leading edge impact damage. The right wing tip was folded upward, about two feet from the tip. The right wing and the fuselage, after of the windshield post, and the empennage remained intact. A heading of 100 degrees, from tail to nose, through the longitudinal axis of the fuselage, was noted. The instrument panel remained intact, without significant impact damage, but separated from the fuselage, along with the nose and engine. The propeller and nose of the aircraft were separated from the engine mount and cowling, and were collocated with the nose section. Some fuel was found in each wing.

The right flap was in a full down position, and the landing gear was extended. The cargo was still at the scene of the accident, where it was found on the ground, outside of the opened left-aft entrance door and swing-up cargo door. Pony Express records indicated that the total cargo weight was 491 pounds.


The two King KX-170B nav-comms and their associated VOR/LOC and VOR/LOC/GS heads, and the glideslope receiver, were tested at Felts Field Aviation avionics facilities in Spokane. The communications portions of the radios were not tested. The #1 navigation receiver, with its KI-209 head tested normally, within tolerances. The #2 navigation receiver, with its associated head also tested normally. The King KN-75 glide slope receiver tested normally.

The engine was inspected at Spokane Airways facilities. Valve train continuity, engine rotation, and compression were tested with no anomalies noted. Strong ignition spark was noted during rotation. The vacuum pump was disassembled and its rotor and vanes were inspected with no anomalies noted.

Washington State Toxicological Laboratory conducted toxicologic testing, with blood alcohol negative, blood carbon monoxide less than 5%, urine drug screen negative for drugs of abuse, and vitreous ETOH negative.


The wreckage was released to the co-owner at the Spokane Airways facility on December 17, 1993.

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