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On September 19, 1999, about 1327 eastern daylight time, a Beech BE-35-J35, N648T, collided with trees following a loss of engine power in Bartow, Florida. The airplane was operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The pilot and passenger received fatal injuries during the post crash fire and the airplane was destroyed. The flight had originated from Brooksville, Florida, about 1315.
Several minutes into the flight, the airplane was observed by eyewitnesses flying low from east of SR 471. Eyewitnesses said the airplane banked hard to the left and struck some pine trees. The airplane then nosed down into the ground and burst into flames. The exact purpose and circumstances of the flight were not determined.
The pilot held private pilot certificate No. 296542214 with airplane single-engine land rating. His total flying time was 268 hours, approximately 74 hours of which were in the BE-35-J35. He had flown 22 hours within 90 days prior to the accident. He held a current third class medical certificate, dated September 29, 1998, with the limitation that he wears corrective lenses while flying.
The BE-35-J35, N648T was owned and operated by the pilot. It was a low-wing single engine aircraft powered by a 260 horsepower continental 4-cylynder fuel injection engine. According to the plane's maintenance records, the last annual inspection was done on September 3, 1999, and the tachometer reading was 1002.3. The airframe total time at the time of inspection was 3131 hours. The airplane was painted white with a blue stripe and a red stripe.
The weather conditions at St. Petersburg, located 40 nautical miles southwest from the accident site, at 1333 eastern daylight time was, visual meteorological conditions with scattered at 3000 feet and broken-scattered at 10,000 feet with 10-mile visibility. Winds were from 240 magnetic heading at 6 knots. The altimeter setting was 29.95 "Hg.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft wreckage was scattered over an area of 90 feet in length and 60 feet width. The aircraft initially collided with pine trees on the west side of SR 471, which runs north and south. The direction of flight at the time of the collision was approximately 157 degrees and the orientation of the wreckage at rest was 130 degrees.
The landing gear was found fully extended. The aircraft came to a rest on the two extended main landing gear. The nose wheel was sheered off and was lying approximately 6 feet of its wheel well. The wheels were twisted approximately 90 degrees.
Examination of the wreckage found that the right main, right auxiliary, and right tip tank had burned during the post crash fire. The left auxiliary, and left tip tank also burned, however, the left main fuel tank was not damaged and contained 52 ounces of fuel. In addition, the fuel selector valve was found positioned on the left main tank. The exact amount of fuel onboard the airplane at the time of the accident was not determined. A Witness to the accident who assisted in the rescue of the passenger reported that the intense fire prevented the rescue of the pilot.
The empennage had extensive damage on both sides with evidence of striking with trees. The nose cone and upper instrument panel was found about 6 feet north of the main wreckage. The cockpit received extensive damage due to post crash fire.
The two-blade propeller was separated from the engine and was found on the left side of the forward fuselage. One blade was bent aft with some span-wise scratches and gouging and the other blade showed no signs of impact damage.
Examination of the airframe and the engine assembly failed to disclose a mechanical malfunction or component failure.
MEDICAL AND PATHELOGICAL INFORMATION
The toxicological examination of the pilot detected 0.283 (ug/mL, ug/g) of PAROXETINE in blood and urine. PAROXETINE is a prescription drug taken as an anti-depressant and for panic attacks. Traces of PSUEDOEPHEDRIN, which is a stimulant, were also detected in blood and urine. Additionally traces of EPHEDRINE and PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE were present in urine.
There was no evidence of in-flight fire.
According to sources close to the pilot, this was the first flight by the owner since the annual inspection was completed. The only fuel added to the airplane was 15 gallons added to each tip tank. According to fuel records for the airplane at the Fixed Base Operator, and the pilot's flight log book, fuel was never added to the left main fuel tank subsequent to the annual inspection. The total time flown by the pilot since the airplane was last topped off accounts for all but seven gallons of fuel in the left main fuel tank. Both the main and auxiliary fuel quantity gauge selector switches were found set to the right auxiliary fuel tanks. Examination of the fuel management panel disclosed that fuel quantity indications were for the right tanks and they showed near full tank indications. Examination of the fuel selectors showed that the left main fuel tank was selected.
Reportedly, the pilot usually topped the airplane off with fuel after each flight. The exact amount of test flight time or maintenance ground run performed during the last annual inspection was not determined.
The wreckage was released to Mr. William J. Blankinship, insurance adjuster, with Sample International Aviation, Inc., of Ormond Beach Florida.