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On August 13, 1999, about 1007 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 210, N4827C, was destroyed when it impacted the side of a hill near Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological condition prevailed, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed, but not activated. The personal flight departed Manassas Regional Airport, Manassas, Virginia, destined for Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport, Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, and was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to communication tapes, the pilot contacted the Washington Automated Flight Service Station about 0530, on the day of the accident to request a weather briefing. He advised the briefer he would be departing Manassas at 0900, on a VFR flight to Mount Pocono at 6,500 feet msl. When asked his estimated time en route, the pilot replied, "a little more than a hour." The briefer advised the pilot of a flight precaution for instrument flight rule conditions due to early morning fog. The pilot then requested information for Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Allentown, Pennsylvania. The briefer advised him that Lancaster's visibility was currently 2 1/2 miles, but before the briefer could finish, the pilot stated that conditions would improve. The briefer replied that Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was calling for fog until 0900. After 0900, the forecast was for 5 miles of visibility in haze, and a 13,000-foot broken cloud layer, with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. The pilot acknowledged the information, and requested the forecast for his return flight, then ended the call.
The pilot contacted Washington Flight Watch about 0930, via the Lancaster VOR, and requested the current weather for Mount Pocono. The briefer advised the pilot that there were no flight precautions, except for widely scattered IFR conditions "along and to the east." The briefer added that visibility around Lancaster and Reading, Pennsylvania was 1 1/2 to 2 miles. He also added that visibility would be improving to 4 miles or better, but that VFR flight was "generally" still not recommended. The briefer then advised the pilot that Wilkes-Barre's visibility was currently 7 miles, and clear below 12,000 feet, adding that the forecast called for unrestricted visibility, and a scattered to broken cloud layer at 8,000 feet. The pilot ended the transmission stating he was at 5,500 feet and "in the clear."
When the pilot was approximately 16 miles to the northwest of Allentown, he requested radar traffic advisories from Allentown Approach Control, and was assigned a transponder code of 5565. Radar services were provided, and a few minutes later the airplane was handed off to Wilkes-Barre Approach Control.
The pilot checked in with Wilkes-Barre, and was advised to report Mount Pocono in sight, which the pilot acknowledged. Approximately 2 minute later approach control asked the pilot if he had Mount Pocono in sight. The pilot responded, "No, I'm in the soup right now." The controller suggested the pilot maintain VFR, and advised him he was 1 1/2 miles north of the airport. The controller then suggested a heading of 220. The pilot responded "I'm in the soup" and requested the ceiling at Mount Pocono. The controller advised the pilot he did not have it, but that Mount Pocono was equipped with an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS). He then gave the pilot the AWOS frequency, and the pilot responded. This was the last recorded transmission from the accident airplane.
Witnesses in the vicinity of the accident site reported hearing an airplane circling, but not being able to see it because of fog. They added that as the airplane circled, the noise became louder. One witness reported that he knew by the sound of the airplane, it was "extremely low." Another witness, that felt the ground shake from the impact of the airplane, stated that the engine made a "whining sound" prior to impact.
The accident happened during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located 41 degrees, 11.115 minutes north latitude, 75 degrees, 20.814 minutes west longitude, and about 2,140 feet elevation.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating, and an instrument airplane rating. His last third class medical was dated December 12, 1997. The pilot's logbook was presumed destroyed in the post-crash fire. In a previous logbook from 1983, the pilot logged 962.0 hour of total flight experience. His last application for medical showed a total of 1,600 hours, and insurance records indicated he had about 1,695 hours of total flight experience with 745 hours in the accident airplane's make and model.
Approximately 11 minutes before the accident, an AWOS located approximately 3 miles southwest and 220 feet lower in elevation than the accident site, recorded winds as variable at 5 knots, visibility 1/4 mile in fog, ceiling 100 feet overcast, temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.01 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The debris path was oriented on a 009 degrees magnetic bearing, and composed of three areas, pre-main wreckage, main wreckage, and post-main wreckage. The total length of the debris path was approximately 600 feet. The start of the pre-main wreckage area was marked by some freshly broken tree branches atop a 60 foot tree, approximately 500 feet to the south of the main wreckage. Approximately 200 feet beyond the broken tree branches was the right wing-tip laying on the right side of the debris path. In a tree approximately 35 feet above the right wing-tip were two fresh scrape marks. The higher of the two marks was approximately 4 feet long and oriented vertically. The lower mark was about 3.5 feet long, also oriented vertically. After the right wing-tip and scrape marks, the debris path changed. Right wing debris was then found on the left side of the debris path, and left wing debris was found on the right side of the debris path. Also, sections of cut wood were found in the pre-main wreckage area. One piece, measured 2.6 inches in diameter, and was cut on a 45 degree angle that measured 4.4 inches long.
Past the cut wood, and approximately 150 feet south of the main wreckage, was a crater approximately 8 feet in diameter and 2.5 feet deep. The angle from the first observed tree strike to the crater was approximately 10 degrees down. The ground in the area of the crater was comprised of numerous rocks, ranging from approximately 5 to 30 pounds in weight. At the bottom of the crater was plexiglas, and one of the three propeller blades. The propeller blade had separated from the propeller hub, and displayed "S" bending, chordwise scratching, and leading edge gouging.
The main wreckage was comprised of the left wing, right wing, fuselage, and empennage. Approximately 80 percent of the main wreckage was consumed in the post-crash fire. Spreading out from the main wreckage was an area of burned dirt, rocks and trees that covered approximately 10,000 square feet. Leaves on the tops of trees in this area were wilted and covered with a black soot. The odor of burned fuel was also present at the site.
The airplane's main landing gear was in the up position, but when the wreckage was lifted it moved towards the down position. The main gear actuator rod was extended 1.37 inches, consistent with a gear down position. The flap jackscrew thread extension measured approximately 4.5 inches, consistent with flaps up. An elevator trim tab actuating rod extensions measured 1.85, which equates to approximately 10 degrees tab up, nose down trim. The right aileron control cables had separated approximately 2 feet outboard of the fuselage. Both fractures were broom-strawed and consistent with overload. The two outboard cables were attached to the right aileron bellcrank, and the two inboard cables were attached to the fuselage bellcrank. The left aileron control cables were intact, and attached to both the aileron and fuselage bellcranks. Because of fire damage, aileron control continuity could not be verified from the fuselage bellcrank to the cockpit. The elevator control cables were connected to the elevator, and continuity was verified to the cockpit. The rudder control cables were also connected, and continuity was verified to the cockpit. Elevator trim was approximately neutral.
To the north of the main wreckage, approximately half of the number 2 propeller blade was located. It had separated from the propeller hub and displayed chordwise scratching, leading gouging, and trailing gouging. Where the outboard section of the propeller had separated the chordwise scratches were approximately 1/4 of an inch deep, and the blade was bent opposite the direction of rotation. The number 3 propeller blade was found about 50 feet to the west of the number 2 blade. It also was separated from the propeller hub, and exhibited "S" bending, chordwise scratching and leading edge gouging. A section of the spinner-cap was found attached to the number 3 blade. This section was scratched and deformed opposite the direction of rotation.
The airplane was equipped with four individual seats, and a two-place bench seat, all facing forward. The seats and frames were damaged by fire, and the upholstery was burned off. The seat belt webbing was destroyed by fire. Four unlatched lap belt buckles were found. The lap belt latch portions were not recovered. The front seat lap belt attaching hardware and structure was intact. No shoulder harnesses or metal attaching hardware were observed.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGIAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was preformed on both the pilot and passenger, on August 14, 1999, at the Medical Examiners Office in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
A toxicological test was performed on the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administrations Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to the test, 0.156 (ug/ml, ug/g) Diphenhydramine was detected in liver, 0.040 (ug/ml, ug/g) Diphenhydramine was detected in Kidney, 0.100 (ug/ml, ug/g) Temazepam was detected in urine, 0.169 (ug/ml, ug/g) Oxazepam was detected in urine, Nordiazepam was detected in urine, Nordiazepam was detected in liver, and Quinine was detected in liver. Blood samples were not available for examination.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The engine was examined on August 14, 1999, at the accident site. Impact damage and the post-crash fire had completely separated the engine from the fuselage. The sparkplugs were removed and examined. Their electrodes were free of debris and grayish in color. Both magnetos were destroyed, and the accessory gear section was severely damaged. All six engine cylinders showed signs of impact damage, and the engine's crankshaft was bent. The propeller governor was destroyed. The throttle arm on the fuel servo was broken consistent with overload. The throttle plate was intact, and rotated freely by hand. The mixture control was attached, and the filter was clean and wet with fuel. The fuel spider was separated from the engine and the fractures were consistent with overload. Engine control continuity could not be verified because of fire damage. The vacuum pump had separated from the engine, and was not recovered. Its mounting surface showed signs consistent with impact.
The airplane's attitude indicator was recovered from the wreckage, and examined on August 14, 1999, at the accident site. No information could be obtained from the instrument's display. The instrument was opened, and the roll axis gyro housing was removed. The gyro's drive shaft rotated freely by hand, and no scraping or binding was felt. The gyro housing was then opened, and the gyro removed. The inside of the gyro housing displayed a rotational scar approximately 1 inch long. In the scar was some blue paint. The surface of gyro was then examined, and numbers using a similar paint were observed.
Examination of radar data revealed a target on a constant course to the northeast at 1,500 feet agl, located approximately 9 miles to the southwest of the accident site. The target continued to the northeast and passed approximately 3/4 of a mile to the west of Mount Pocono, while indicating approximately 1,000 feet agl. Approximately 2 miles to the north of Mount Pocono, the target's course changed to a more easterly heading. The next return was to the north, and the following return was to the north-northeast. The subsequent and final return was to the east of the last return, and indicating approximately 1,400 feet agl. The airplane came to rest approximately 1 mile to the south of the last radar return.