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On August 28, 1999, about 1345 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Cessna 182E, N2886Y, registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14CFR91 personal/pleasure flight, collided with mountainous terrain approximately 25 miles northwest of Ryegate, Montana. The aircraft was destroyed and the airline transport pilot and his three passengers were fatally injured. The flight originated from Billings, Montana, with a planned destination of Choteau, Montana, about 45 minutes prior to the accident. No flight plan was filed for the cross country flight. There was no pre or post-impact fire and ELT activation was reported.
According to family members, the pilot-accompanied by his wife-flew the accident aircraft from Choteau to Billings on the morning of the accident. The purpose of the fight was to pick up two family members, who flew to Billings commercially, and then return to the pilot's home in Choteau.
Personnel at the Billings airport reported that the pilot had the aircraft fueled just prior to departure. According to fuel records, the aircraft received a total of 32.1 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel.
At 1304 MDT, while still on the ground at Billings, the pilot of N2886Y contacted Billings Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) and advised that he was ready to taxi. The pilot also stated that he was planning a visual flight rules (VFR) departure to Choteau, Montana. Approximately four minutes later, at 1308, N2886Y was cleared for departure from runway 28 right, with instructions to fly runway heading. Six minutes later, at 1312, Billings ATCT instructed N2886Y to turn right on course and maintain VFR conditions at or below 6,500 feet mean sea level (MSL). The pilot stated he was going to level off at 4,500 feet MSL "until the visibility picks up a little bit more." The last communications between the accident aircraft and Billings ATCT were at 1316, when the pilot acknowledged the termination of radar services.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 46 degrees, 43 minutes north, 109 degrees, 19 minutes west.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft wreckage was located on the southern slope of Big Snowy Mountain, at an elevation of approximately 7,000 feet mean sea level (MSL). The terrain angle was approximately 30 degrees and covered with medium length conifer trees. The wreckage distribution path traveled uphill, and was approximately 340 feet in length, with a magnetic heading of 335 degrees (Refer to Wreckage Diagram #1).
The aircraft's initial impact point was near the top of a row of pine trees located at the southernmost point of the wreckage distribution path. The tops of multiple pine trees were sheared off and the fractures appeared to be recent. There were numerous tree fragments, and small pieces of the aircraft's structure scattered from the southernmost point of the wreckage distribution path to the area where the main wreckage was found.
The aircraft's left wing was found approximately 210 feet from the initial impact point, and 10 feet left of the wreckage track center line. Extensive leading edge damage, gouging and rearward crushing was noted to the wing. The wing flap and aileron were still attached to their respective hinges and control continuity was established from the flight controls to the wing root. A large quantity of blue fluid, identified as 100 low lead aviation fuel, was still present in the aircraft's left wing fuel tank.
Approximately 250 feet from the initial impact point, and 90 feet south of the main wreckage, a large ground impact scar was noted. The impact scar was oval in shape, measuring approximately 20 feet in length and approximately 10 feet wide. Numerous pieces of plastic and fiberglass, identified as pieces of the aircraft, were discovered in the area of the ground impact scar.
The aircraft's propeller was found approximately 270 feet from the initial impact point, and 10 feet right of the wreckage track center line. The propeller and propeller hub separated from the crankshaft flange as a unit and both propeller blades were still attached to the propeller hub. Blade A (Refer to Photograph #1), was bent aft at the propeller tip. Chordwise scratching and leading edge damage was noted to blade A. Blade B (Refer to Photograph #2), was bent aft at approximately mid-span. Severe leading edge damage, from mid-span to the propeller tip, was noted. Chordwise and longitudinal scratches were also noted to propeller blade B.
The main wreckage was found approximately 340 feet north of the initial impact point. The aircraft was found lying on its right side on a heading of approximately 020 magnetic. The aircraft's instrument panel, cockpit controls and cabin area were destroyed by impact forces (Refer to Photograph #3). The aircraft's left wing was separated from the fuselage at the wing root, and was found folded underneath the fuselage. Both the flap and aileron were attached to their respective hinges and the flap was observed to be in the up position. Leading edge damage and rearward crushing was noted to the wing. The outer four feet of the right wing and aileron were bent down at approximately a 30 degree angle and extensive damage was noted to the distal end of the wing and associated aileron.
The horizontal and vertical stabilizers were intact, with the rudder and elevator attached to their respective hinges. Rearward crushing and leading edge deformity was noted to the left stabilizer, left elevator, vertical stabilizer and rudder (Refer to photograph #4). The control cables were found attached to their receptive flight controls and continuity was established from the empennage to the remains of the cabin area.
The aircraft's engine was found with the main wreckage. The engine was separated from the aircraft's firewall and impact damage was noted to the front of the engine and to the accessory area of the engine case.
At the time of the accident, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate (ATP) with a date of issue of December 23, 1990. The certificate carried 7 type ratings and commercial pilot privileges for single engine land aircraft.
The pilot indicated on his last FAA medical certificate application, dated February 10, 1998, that he had accumulated a total of 27,650 flight hours. The pilot's flight logbook was recovered from the aircraft wreckage. The logbook indicated that the pilot had accumulated approximately 20 hours of flight time in the accident aircraft. The logbook also indicated that 8 hours of the 20 hours of flight time occurred in the 90 days preceding the accident. The logbook's first entry was dated March 7, 1994; the last entry was dated June 6, 1999.
Surface weather observations and radar data from Billings showed the accident aircraft departed the airport in light rain and low ceilings. Weather data showed that low ceilings and rain shower were prevalent throughout Central Montana at the time of the accident (Refer to Meteorological Factual Report, December 22, 1999.)
The 1256 METAR observation at Billings Logan International Airport (approximately 65 miles southeast of the accident site; elevation 3,649 feet above sea level) reported wind from 290 degrees at 10 knots; visibility 6 miles; light rain and mist; few clouds at 200 feet; broken clouds at 2,100 feet; overcast at 7,500 feet; temperature 17 degrees C; dew point 16 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.14 inches hg; remarks visibility higher south-southwest.
The 1255 METAR observation at Lewistown Municipal Airport (approximately 16 miles northwest of the accident site; elevation 4,167 feet above sea level) reported winds from 330 degrees at 3 knots; visibility 10 miles; few clouds at 1,500 feet; 3,500 feet scattered; 10,000 feet broken; temperature 18 degrees C; dew point 16 degrees C; altimeter 30.16 inches hg; remarks light rain.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was preformed by Yellow Stone Pathology Institute, Inc., on August 30, 1999. According to the autopsy report, the pilot's probable cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries subsequent to the accident.
Toxicology samples were sent to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for analysis. The results of the analysis were reported as negative for ethanol, cyanide, carbon monoxide and controlled substances.
The engine's crankshaft rotated and compression developed in each cylinder. Rocker arm, valve train and accessory gear continuity was established. All spark plugs displayed normal operating signatures and both magnetos produced spark by manually rotating the shaft. The carburetor was disassembled and no contaminants were noted in the screen or carburetor bowl. The vacuum pump remained intact and functioned normally when rotated by hand.
The wreckage was recovered by Air Transport, Incorporated, and transported to their facility in Phoenix, Arizona.
The wreckage was released to Claimtx, Corporation, Phoenix, Arizona, on January 03, 2000.