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On April 15, 2000, at 0103 eastern daylight time, a Beech BE-58, N1072D, collided with terrain and trees during approach to landing on runway 09, at the Kay Larkin Municipal Airport, in Palatka, Florida. The airplane was operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the pleasure flight. The pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by impact and the subsequent post-crash fire. The airplane departed Palm Beach International Airport, West Palm Beach, Florida, about 2300 the previous day.
According to a witness, who was on his property at the airport, he heard an airplane making a low pass over his building. After the second pass he got up to see what was going on. He said he noticed that the airport lights were not on, so he grabbed his hand-held transceiver and went outside. He heard someone calling to Jacksonville Approach on 122.8. He radioed the airplane and informed him that he was on the wrong frequency. The pilot did not respond. He then asked if he was trying to land in Palatka. The pilot responded yes, and asked him what the conditions were on the ground. The witness said that at that time, he could see the end of each runway, and that there was a layer of fog that appeared to be at about 500 feet above the ground (AGL). Additionally, he told the pilot to key his mike and activate the runway lights. The pilot did and stated that he was going to shoot the NDB approach. His first approach was off to the north a quarter of a mile. He said he saw the airplane lights and then the airplane. The witness informed the pilot that he had a visual on him and he responded that he had the airport, but said he was long and was going to shoot the approach again. On the next approach, the airplane was over runway 09 moving from west to east. When the witness saw the airplane break out of the overcast it was in a 30 degree bank to the right and his sink rate was very high. The witness told the pilot to level his wings and "pull up, pull up". He said he heard the engines go to full power, and saw the nose of the airplane raise up but he never leveled the wings, and the airplanes sink rate never changed. He said he heard the crash and saw a large fire ball, and then called 911.
The pilot was certificated as a private pilot with single and multi-engine land ratings. The pilot reported having 1800 hours on his last medical examination. The pilot's most recent third class medical was issued on April 24, 1998, with no waivers or limitations. The pilot's log books were destroyed in the post-crash fire.
The 1996, Beechcraft Baron, BE-58, N1072D, was a six (6) seat, twin engine airplane, and was registered to the pilot. The airplane was powered by two continental IO-550C engines, rated at 300 horse power each. The airplanes most recent annual inspection was done on October 7, 1999, with no major discrepancies noted. The airplane's recorded total time as of March 29, 2000, was 655.1 hours.
The pilot requested and was given a formal weather briefing by the Miami Flight Service Station (FSS) at 2230 eastern daylight time, about 30 minutes prior to his departure from West Palm Beach, Florida. The weather briefer informed the pilot that instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) existed though out his route of flight. The pilot acknowledged the information and did not file a flight plan. The reported weather at St. Augustine, Florida (SGJ) at 0135, was wind calm, visibility 1 statute mile, overcast 100 feet. At Gainesville, Florida (GNV) the reported weather at 0112 was wind 340 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 2 statute miles, overcast 300 feet. At the accident site according to a witness, was overcast 500 feet, in fog, and haze. According to police officers who were the first to respond to the accident site, they stated that visibility was less than a quarter mile.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The initial point of impact was 90 feet from the final wreckage area, and to the right of runway 09, on a heading of 170 degrees. Ground scars indicated that the airplane struck with the right wing low and began contacting trees in a heavy wooded area, before reaching a 20 degree slope where the nose made final contact with a large tree. At this point a post-crash fire consumed the fuselage wreckage and surrounding foliage. Global Positioning System coordinates were; North 29 degrees, 40.16 and West 081 degrees, 41.97.
Examination of both engines found them separated from the wings. The left engine was located approximately 25 feet forward of the fuselage and the right engine was located to the right of the forward part of the cabin. Both engines sustained fire damage. The vacuum pumps on both engines were removed prior to engine rotation and the pump drive couplings were found intact. The left engine alternator, starter, and fuel control unit were found separated from the engine. The engine was rotated by hand and continuity was established through the accessory gear box, and finger compression and suction were observed. A fiber optic light was used to examine the pistons and cylinder walls, with no discrepancies noted.
The right engine was found with the right magneto, fuel control unit, and starter separated from the engine. The oil pan was crushed and the tops of number 1, 3, and 5 cylinders all had impact damage. There was some heat and fire damage noted to the rear of the engine. Due to the extent of the damage on the engine, it was not possible to rotate it throughout all of the cycles; however, movement of the crankshaft was sufficient to establish continuity to the gearbox. A fiber optic light was used to examine the pistons and cylinder walls, with no discrepancies noted.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A post-mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by the St. Johns Medical Examiner, District 23, in St. Augustine, Florida. On May 23, 2000, a toxicology examination of the pilot was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Research Laboratory. The examination revealed no carbon monoxide, or cyanide detected in the blood, and no drugs detected in the urine. However, 290 mg/dl ethanol was detected in the blood, 274 mg/dl ethanol was detected in vitreous, and 520 mg/dl ethanol was detected in the urine. Additionally, 2 mg/dl methanol was detected in the blood, 2 mg/dl methanol was detected in the vitreous, and 5 mg/dl methanol was detected in the urine. Also, 11 mg/dl acetaldehyde was detected in the blood, 1 mg/dl acetaldehyde was detected in the vitreous, and 1 mg/dl acetaldehyde was detected in the urine, and 1 mg/dl acetone was also detected in the urine. According to 14 CFR Part 91.17a(4) which states in part that no person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft-with .04 percent by weight or more alcohol in the blood.
The wreckage was released to the owner's insurance representative, Steve Homenda, Universal Loss Management Inc., PO Box 140125, Orlando, Florida 22814.