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On January 6, 2000, at 0340 central standard time (All times cst), a Beech D-95A Travelair, N5918S, operated by Superior Aviation, Inc., was destroyed when it impacted the ground near Dunbar, Wisconsin. The impact site was approximately eight miles south of Ford Airport (IMT), Iron Mountain, Michigan. The 14 CFR Part 91 positioning flight had departed Huntsville International Airport (HSV), Huntsville, Alabama, at 2339 on January 5, 2000, en route to Ford Airport. At 0337, the pilot reported the airplane was established on the final approach course on the ILS Rwy 01 approach to Ford Airport. At 0338, the pilot reported moderate rime icing at 3,200 feet mean sea level to Minneapolis Center. There were no further communications with the airplane. The airline transport pilot received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at IMT and an IFR flight plan had been filed.
The operator reported the pilot had returned from a flight on January 4, 2000, at approximately 1400 and went directly home. He did not return to the airport until his flight to HSV on January 5, 2000.
The operator reported that on January 5, 2000, the pilot was notified at approximately 1630 of a Part 135 flight for parts delivery from IMT to HSV. The operator reported the pilot obtained a weather briefing and filed a flight plan prior to leaving home. The operator reported the pilot departed for HSV in N5918S at approximately 1730.
The pilot contacted the Green Bay, Wisconsin, Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) at 1648 for a pre-flight briefing and filed an IFR flight plan from IMT to HSV. The takeoff time was listed as 1710 with 4 hours 15 minutes en route at 160 nautical miles per hours. The estimated time at arrival was 2125.
Minneapolis ARTCC reported N5918S departed IMT at 1732. HSV tower reported N5918S arrived at HSV at 2227.
A lineman and a mechanic from the fixed base operator at Huntsville, Alabama, reported N5918S arrived at approximately 2230. The airplane was topped off with 94 gallons of 100 LL/Avgas. The lineman reported that he brought the pilot something to eat from a local restaurant. The lineman and mechanic reported the pilot was cold, and that the pilot had informed them that the airplane's heater had not worked since shortly after takeoff. The mechanic reported that he and the pilot went out to the airplane. The mechanic drained about two spoonfuls of fuel out of the heater drain bowl. The mechanic reported the pilot operationally checked the heater and it "appeared to function normal for the couple of minutes that he let it run." The lineman reported that the pilot said he would "stop somewhere and spend the night" if the heater did not work on the return trip. They reported the pilot departed at approximately 2330.
The pilot contacted the Anniston, Alabama, AFSS at 2330 for a pre-flight briefing and filed an IFR flight plan from HSV to IMT. The takeoff time was listed as 2345 with 4 hours 15 minutes en route at 160 nautical miles per hour. The estimated time of arrival was 0400.
The HSV tower reported that N5918S departed HSV at 2339.
At 0257:29, N5918S contacted Minneapolis ARTCC and reported he was at 9,000 feet mean sea level (msl).
At 0257:50, N5918S reported he was, "... just starting to pick up a little bit of ice here in the tops. Do you have any reports up ahead of us down below at all?"
At 0258:24, ATC cleared N5918S to descend to 7,000 feet msl.
AT 0259:04, N5918S reported, "One Eight Sierra. We just came out on top again here at nine. Maybe we can stay up here for a bit longer."
At 0259:09, ATC responded, "November One Eight Sierra, maintain niner thousand."
At 0324:19, N5918S reported, "One Eight Sierra is going ten degrees left for the localizer."
At 0324:55, ATC reported, "November Five Nine One Eight Sierra, roger. You can report established on the localizer. Change to my frequency one two one point two five."
At 0325:03, N5918S reported, "We'll report that, and, ah, we're on one twenty one and a quarter, Five Nine One Eight Sierra.
At 0325:08, ATC reported, "November Five Nine One Eight Sierra descend at pilot's discretion. Maintain, ah, three thousand two hundred."
At 0325:14, N5928S reported, "Make that three point two, One Eight Sierra."
At 0334:34, the last radar contact with N5918S indicated the airplane was at 3,900 feet msl and on a heading toward IMT which was approximately 22 nautical miles to the north.
At 0336:37, ATC reported, "November Five Nine One Eight Sierra, radar contact is lost. Are you established on the localizer?"
At 0336:42, N5918S responded, "Yes, sir, we are and we're just getting some pretty good moderate ice here at thirty two hundred, One Eight Sierra."
At 0336:48, ATC reported, "November Five Nine One Eight Sierra, roger. Cleared for the ILS Runway One approach to the Iron Mountain airport. Before you leave my frequency, could you tell me what type of icing you're getting and the temperature?"
At 0336:59, N5918S responded, "It's rime, sir, and we're at about, ah, oh, it looks like about, ah, minus ten C."
At 0337:09, ATC reported, "November Five Nine One Eight Sierra, roger. Thank you sir. And November Five Nine One Eight Sierra, change to advisory frequency, approved cancellation or down time this frequency."
At 0337:18, N5918S reported, "Back with you for cancellation, One Eight Sierra."
There were no further transmissions from N5918S.
A search was initiated for N5918S and it was located in a wooded area with rolling hills. There were no witnesses to the accident.
The pilot was an airline transport rated pilot with single and multi-engine land ratings, and a commercial single engine sea rating. He was a Certified Flight Instructor in single and multi-engine land airplanes, and an instrument instructor. He held a Class 2 medical certificate. He had a total of about 10,000 hours of flight time. 4,600 hours were in multi-engine airplanes, with about 400 hours in make and model.
The pilot was hired by the operator on July 8, 1996. He was designated as Pilot in Command (PIC) in the Beech D-95A on July 12, 1996. He had also been designated as PIC in the following aircraft: C-402, C-404, C-310, C-208, and C-441. His last Part 135 check ride was on October 10, 1999, in the C-414.
The airplane was a twin engine Beech D-95A, Travel Air, serial number TD653. The airplane seated 4 and had a maximum gross weight of 4,200 pounds. The engines were 180 horsepower Lycoming IO-360-B1B engines. The last annual inspection was conducted on November 8, 1999. The airplane had flown about 26 hours since the last inspection and had a total time of about 8,924 hours.
N5918S was equipped with the following de-ice/anti-ice equipment: propeller anti-ice, windshield anti-ice, de-icing boots and heated pitot tube.
At 0254, the weather reported at IMT was: Ceiling 1,700 feet overcast; visibility 8 miles; temperature -5 degrees C; dew point -7 degrees C; winds 180 degrees at 11 knots; altimeter setting 29.83 inches of Hg.; snow ended 0207 began 0228 and ended 0241.
At 0315, the weather reported at IMT was: Ceiling 1,300 feet overcast; visibility 7 miles; temperature -5 degrees C; dew point -6 degrees C; winds 170 degrees at 8 knots; altimeter setting 29.83 inches of Hg.
At 0354, the weather reported at IMT was: Ceiling 1,100 feet overcast; visibility 6 miles, mist; temperature -4 degrees C; dew point -6 degrees C; winds 180 degrees at 8 knots; altimeter setting 29.81 inches of Hg.
The following AIRMETs were issued by the Aviation Weather Advisory Center (AWC) in Kansas City, Missouri on January 6, 2000 at 0245 and were valid until January 6, 2000 at 0900:
AIRMET Sierra Update 1 for IFR reported occasional ceilings/visibilities below 1,000 feet / 3 miles in clouds... precipitation and mist. Conditions moving eastward during the period...continuing beyond 0900 through 1500. The area encompassed by this AIRMET included the accident site.
AIRMET Tango Update 1 for Turbulence reported occasional moderate turbulence below 6,000 feet due to occasional strong and gusty low level flow across the area. Conditions continuing beyond 0900 through 1600. The area encompassed by this AIRMET included the accident site.
AIRMET Zulu Update 1 for Ice reported occasional moderate rime or mixed icing in cloud and in precipitation below 10,000 feet. Conditions continuing beyond 0900 through 1500. Freezing Level... Surface to 4,000 feet for an area that included the accident location. The area encompassed by this AIRMET included the accident site. (See Meteorological Factual Report)
AIDS TO NAVIGATION
The IMT ILS Rwy 1 instrument approach plate indicates that the Final Approach Fix (FAF) for the localizer approach is 5.0 nautical miles from the runway. The ILS glideslope intercept altitude is 2,900 feet msl. The altitude of the glideslope over the FAF is 2,804 feet msl. The inbound heading is 010 degrees. The IMT airport elevation is 1,182 feet msl.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The location of the main wreckage was about 7.8 nautical miles south of the IMT airport and at coordinates 45 degrees 41.5 minutes North, 88 degrees 8.2 minutes West. The fuselage and cockpit were destroyed by fire.
The wreckage path was on a heading of approximately 002 degrees. A tree about 60 feet in height and about 370 feet from the main wreckage had its top branches broken, and it appeared to be the initial tree impacted by the airplane.
A broken branch with a diagonal cut that exhibited a gray paint transfer was found under a tree about 60 feet from the initial impact.
The outboard left wing panel was separated outboard of the left engine nacelle and was found along the left side of the wreckage trail about 150 feet from the initial tree impact.
A fragment of the crushed nose cone that exhibited burn damage was found co-located with the left wing panel.
The crushed nosecone was found lodged about 25 feet up in a tree that was about 200 feet from the initial impact point. The fiberglass nosecone exhibited crushing, tearing, and traces of smoke and burn damage. The heater unit located just aft of the nosecone of the airplane was found in the main wreckage. The heater unit exhibited impact damage and traces of smoke and burn damage.
The left stabilizer and elevator were found about 220 feet from the initial impact point. They were separated from the empennage at a location near the inboard end of the elevator. The elevator trim tab was positioned beyond normal limits of travel. The actuator mount was separated from the stabilizer. The stabilizer exhibited crush damage along the leading edge.
The right outboard wing panel was found about 250 feet from the initial impact point. It was separated at a location near the inboard end of the aileron. The adjacent inboard four-foot section of the right wing panel was found about 350 feet from the initial impact point. The fuel filler cap was found secured within the fuel filler port.
The outboard three-quarters of the right elevator and stabilizer were located next to the inboard end of the right wing at the main wreckage site.
The main wreckage came to rest approximately 370 to 400 feet north of the initial impact. The wreckage included the fuselage, inboard wings, vertical stabilizer, and both engines. The fuselage was found inverted with both engines still attached to their respective engine mounts. The fuselage, cockpit, and cabin area were destroyed by fire.
The right propeller was still attached to the right engine crankshaft. The left propeller was separated from the left engine crankshaft at a location about two inches behind the propeller mount flange. The left propeller was found in the ground under the left engine.
The right landing gear was found in the extended position. The right main landing gear door was nicked along the front edge of the gear door. The left main landing gear door had two impact nicks along the front edge of the gear door. The nose landing gear assembly was found in the extended position.
The cockpit instruments, flight controls, engine controls and fuel tank selector controls were destroyed by fire.
The elevator control cables were found to be continuous from the cockpit aft to the elevator bellcrank. One of the two rudder cables was found separated with a broomstraw separation at a location about four feet aft of the aft wing spar. The other cable exhibited continuous continuity. The rudder trim tab and elevator trim tabs were continuous and were traced from the cockpit aft to a location adjacent to the horizontal stabilizers.
The inspection of the left engine revealed continuity. Thumb compression and suction were confirmed on all cylinders. The left and right magnetos exhibited internal fire damage and did not produce spark. The engine driven fuel pump arm was cycled but no suction or pressure was noted. The pump was opened and fuel was found in the unit.
The vacuum pump drive was damaged by impact and fire and would not rotate. The pump was opened and the rotor and vanes were found intact.
The inspection of the right engine revealed continuity. Thumb compression and suction were confirmed on all cylinders. Fuel was observed coming out of the engine driven fuel pump outlet port when the engine was rotated. Both the left and right magnetos produced spark.
The vacuum pump drive was rotated and suction and pressure was noted from the ports. The pump was opened and the rotor and vanes were found intact.
The left propeller assembly was separated from the left engine crankshaft. The crankshaft fracture surface exhibited a 45 degree lip along the circumference of the crankshaft. Both propeller blades were missing about 3 inches of their blade tips. Both blades exhibited twist and nicks along the leading edges.
The right engine propeller assembly remained attached to the right engine. It exhibited leading edge nicking and aft curling of both blade tips. The spinner on the right propeller exhibited about 45 degrees of torsional twisting.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Morasky-Messar Funeral Home, Wausauke, Wisconsin.
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute. The report indicated the following results:
Carbon monoxide: Not performed.
Cyanide: Not performed.
No ethanol detected in kidney.
No ethanol detected in muscle.
No drugs detected in kidney.
The operator reported that he had told the pilot that he had the option to remain overnight in Huntsville, Alabama, rather than return to Iron Mountain, Michigan. The operator reported the pilot said he would see how he felt when he arrived at HSV and would return to IMT if he felt okay.
The official Weather Service definition of moderate icing is: "The rate of accumulation is such that even short encounters become potentially hazardous and use of deicing/anti-icing equipment or diversion is necessary."
According to the Beechcraft Safety Communique, July 16, 1980, Travel Air D-95A's were CAR Part 3 type certificated airplanes which were approved for flight into light to moderate icing conditions. However, they were not approved for extended flight in moderate icing conditions or any flights in any severe icing condition.
Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, Raytheon Aircraft, Textron Lycoming, and Superior Aviation, Inc.
The aircraft wreckage was released to Superior Aviation, Inc.