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On December 22, 1999, approximately 1330 central standard time, a Beech D95A Travel Air twin-engine airplane, N456E, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Boyd, Texas. The airplane was owned and operated by Delta Qualiflight of Fort Worth, Texas. The certified flight instructor and the private pilot receiving instruction received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The local flight originated from the Fort Worth Meacham International Airport approximately 1230.
According to the operator, the purpose of the flight was to practice commercial, multi-engine maneuvers. Witnesses located approximately 1.5 miles from the accident site stated that they observed an airplane "spiraling downward" until it disappeared behind trees. Since many airplanes practice aerobatic maneuvers in the same area, the witnesses did not report their observations to local authorities. Another witness reported observing an airplane "falling from the sky at about a 45 degree angle with the wings fluttering from side to side. The aircraft was in a tight spin and fluttering back and forth." The witness did not see the aircraft impact the ground since the airplane disappeared behind trees. Personnel at the flight school thought that the pilots elected to conduct a cross-country flight instead of the scheduled local flight, and therefore, did not call the local authorities when the airplane was overdue. At 0110, on December 23, 1999, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) initiated an aerial search for the airplane after air traffic controllers heard an emergency locator transmitter signal. The CAP located the signal area and initiated a ground search at daybreak. The airplane was located at 0700, on December 23, 1999.
The flight instructor was issued a multi-engine instructor rating on August 28, 1999. According to the instructor's logbook, he had accumulated a total of 1,259.0 flight hours, of which 162.0 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. The instructor had given 134.0 hours of multi-engine instruction, all of which were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. He was issued a first class medical certificate on July 1, 1999, with the limitation, "holder shall wear corrective lenses."
The pilot, who was receiving instruction at the time of the accident, received his private pilot certificate, with an airplane single engine land rating, on July 22, 1999. He received his instrument airplane rating on October 21, 1999. According to the private pilot's last logbook entry (dated December 18, 1999), he had accumulated 252.1 total flight hours, of which 14.0 hours were multi-engine instruction received in the same make and model as the accident airplane. The last two entries in the pilot's logbook indicated that he was receiving instruction in the Beech D95A in the following areas, "steep turns, power-on & off stalls, basic attitude instrument flying, Vmc, emergency procedures & descents." The private pilot was issued a second class medical certificate on March 2, 1999, with no limitations.
The 4-seat, 1966-model, twin-engine Travel Air was powered by two Textron Lycoming 180-horsepower IO-360-B1B engines (serial number left engine L-7525-51A, serial number right engine L-7524-51A), and two, 2-bladed Hartzell constant speed propellers. The aircraft's flight controls were operated through push/pull rods and closed-circuit cable systems that terminated at bell cranks. The landing gear and flap system were electrically operated. The cockpit contained dual flight controls, which included two control yokes mounted on a T-bar, which was attached to a center control yoke shaft that extended through the cockpit's center control panel. There were no shoulder harnesses installed in the airplane, nor were they required to be installed at the time of manufacture in 1966.
Examination of the aircraft's maintenance records revealed that the airplane underwent its last annual inspection on August 26, 1999, at an aircraft total time of 5,941.5 hours. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 6,167.0 total flight hours. The last 100-hour inspection on the aircraft and its two engines was completed on December 12, 1999, at an aircraft total time of 6,141.1 hours. At the time of the last 100-hour inspection, the right and left engines had accumulated 602.2 hours and 2,549.3 hours, respectively, since their last overhaul. No evidence of uncorrected maintenance discrepancies was noted in the records.
At 1253, the weather reporting facility at the Fort Worth Meacham International Airport (located 20 miles southeast of the accident site), reported the wind as variable at 3 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, sky clear, temperature 48 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 18 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.38 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest in an open field intact in an upright position on a magnetic heading of 080 degrees. There were no ground scars in the field except for one directly below the tail tie down ring, and another located 1-foot aft of the left wingtip. The bottom side of the fuselage was crushed up into the cockpit/cabin area, and the nose was crushed up and aft. Neither of the wing leading edges displayed chordwise impact damage. The landing gear handle in the cockpit was in the extended position, and the main and nose landing gears were found extended and collapsed under the wings and fuselage respectively. The flap actuators were measured and found to be in the fully extended position. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to each flight control surface. A dent was noted on the lower side of the control column, where it enters the instrument panel, approximately 6.625 inches forward of the control column retainer assembly. Alignment of the dent on the control column with the hangar assembly on the instrument panel equates to an approximate elevator position of 23 degrees up elevator (full travel is 30 degrees up elevator).
The two throttle controls in the cockpit were found in the idle position, and the mixture and propeller controls were in the full rich and high rpm settings respectively. Engine control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the engines. There was approximately 12 gallons of fuel found in each of the main fuel tanks, and 28 gallons of fuel in the right auxiliary fuel tank. The left auxiliary fuel tank was found empty. The fuel selectors were found selected to the main fuel tanks.
The left and right engines remained in place, and the propellers remained attached to the engines. Each engine sustained damage to its engine mount and crushing in an upward direction. Both the left and right propeller spinner domes sustained impact crushing upward. One of the right propeller blades exhibited polishing along its leading edge, chordwise scratches at its tip, and was bent aft approximately 10 degrees at its midpoint. The other right propeller blade did not display any rotational scarring or leading edge damage. One of the left propeller blades exhibited polishing along its leading edge, chordwise scratches, and was deflected approximately 45 degrees aft at its midpoint. The other left propeller blade did not display any rotational scarring or leading edge damage.
Following the on-scene examination, the aircraft wreckage was moved to Air Salvage of Dallas, Lancaster, Texas, for further examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the instructor pilot at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office. Results of that autopsy revealed that the instructor's cause of death was "blunt force trauma of [the] head due to light aircraft crash." Toxicology tests were conducted on both the instructor pilot and the pilot receiving instruction for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs. Toxicology results for the instructor revealed none of the aforementioned items. Toxicology results for the pilot receiving instruction were positive for dextrorphan detected in the blood and urine; phenylpropanolamine detected in the blood and urine; pseudoephedrine detected in the blood and urine; dextromethorphan detected in the urine; and 78.46 ug/ml of acetaminophen detected in the urine.
Pseudoephedrine is a common decongestant with a trade name Sudafed that is found in many over-the-counter cold and allergy preparations. Phenylpropanolamine is an over-the-counter decongestant, also marketed as a weight loss product. It is also a metabolite of pseudoephedrine. Dextromethorphan is an over-the-counter cough suppressant, available in many multi-symptom cold relievers. Dextrorphan is a metabolite of dextromethorphan. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter painkiller/fever reducer often known by the trade name Tylenol.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The aircraft wreckage was reexamined at Air Salvage of Dallas on January 19, 2000, by the NTSB investigator-in-charge and representatives from the aircraft and engine manufacturers. The right and left engine propeller flanges were rotated manually and valve action, continuity to the accessory gears, and thumb compression on all 8 cylinders were confirmed. The magnetos produced a spark through the spark plug leads through all of the spark plugs on both engines when their crankshafts were rotated. Both bottom mounted fuel injector servos were crushed up into the oil sump of their respective engines and were separated at their mounts. The engine driven fuel pump for each engine operated when it was pumped manually. The fuel flow dividers were disassembled, examined, and their diaphragms were found intact. The oil filters were cut open and were found clean.
No pre-existing anomalies were noted with the aircraft and engines.
According to the operator's Beech Travel Air Maneuver and Systems Reference book, the only maneuvers that are performed with the landing gear extended and the flaps fully extended are Slow Flight-Dirty and Approach to Landing Stall-Dirty. The instructor pilot made a lesson plan guide that was obtained from a family member. The instructor's lesson plan guide included the following maneuvers with the landing gear extended and flaps fully extended: Emergency Descents, Stalls (Power-Off), Slow Flight.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative.