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On May 26, 2000, at 2100 central daylight time (CDT), a Bellanca 17-30A, N136EL, owned and piloted by a non-instrument rated private pilot, was destroyed on impact with a soybean field during a visual approach to Taylor-Haerr Field (K04), Taylor, Missouri. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated from the Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB), Orlando, Florida, at 1000 eastern daylight time (EDT), en route to K04.
According to the fixed base operations manager at SFB, the pilot "didn't fly that much" and when he did, it would be locally on clear days. At 0630 EDT, the pilot requested that his airplane be taken out of the hanger at SFB where the airplane was based. Fuel in the amount of 3.3 gallons was added to top off the fuel aboard the airplane at approximately 0750. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of departure from SFB. The airplane was en route to the West Georgia Regional O.V. Gray Field Airport, (CTJ), Carrollton, Georgia.
Witnesses reported that the airplane arrived at CTJ at 1330 where fuel records indicate that the airplane was fueled with 42.4 gallons of fuel and one quart of oil. The airplane departed, at time unknown, en route to the Mc Kellar-Sipes Regional Airport (MKL), Jackson, Tennessee.
A witness at the next stop along the route, Mayfield Graves County Airport (M25), Mayfield, Kentucky, reported that the pilot talked with him about the stop at MKL. The pilot said he had to fly part of the route between MKL and M25 at 1200 feet because of weather. The witness talked with the pilot for approximately an hour about terrain, towers in the area, and the exact time of sunset. The pilot stated that he could leave as late as 1830 CDT and still make it to his destination before dark.
The manager of the fixed base operation at M25 reported that the airplane arrived at M25 about 1630 CDT, and that the aircraft was not fueled during his stop. He stated that the weather was "pretty bad" when the aircraft arrived. After the passage of a storm, the manager could see sunlight to the west, and was "pretty sure" that it was VFR when 136EL departed M25.
The airport manager at Taylor-Haerr Field (K04), Taylor, Missouri stated that the pilot called at 1800 CDT to say that he was en route to K04. The manager thought the weather was bad at the time the pilot called. He stated that the pilot sounded panicked when he called on the radio and said, "I don't know where the airport is and I need help finding the airport; the area is covered with fog." The manager replied that the ground visibility was about 1/2 a mile. He stated that the pilot was "very emotional". The manager contacted flight service that told him to have the pilot contact air traffic control to declare a mayday.
The aircraft was found approximately 3 sm on a 323 magnetic degree heading from K04.
The pilot was 40 years old and held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. He did not hold an instrument rating. He received a third class medical certificate with no limitations on March 3, 1997. Logbook records indicate that he accumulated a total flight time of 192.9 hours, of which 130.4 hours were in the accident airplane as of December 26, 1999.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicate the pilot scored a 73 on the private pilot knowledge test. Fifteen subject codes were missed, of which 6 were weather based and 6 were airspace, flight operations, and navigation based. The records also show that the pilot failed his initial private pilot practical test. The reason given on the notice of disapproval was "emphasis on VOR (very high frequency omni-directional range) navigation & orientation. Applicant became disoriented twice 10 NM (Nautical Miles) from airport."
FAA records of a notice of proposed civil penalty indicates, that on or about August 11, 1998, the pilot landed an airplane approximately 4 miles east of the SFB due to an engine failure. In their investigation, the FAA discovered that the pilot was flying in violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's). The FAR's cited were the following: Section 61.87 (a), operating a solo flight without meeting requirements of this section, Section 61.87 (c)(1), operating a solo flight without having received and logged training for the maneuvers and procedures appropriate to the make and model of aircraft; Section 61.87 (d)(1) through (d)(15), did not received and log the flight training in the specific maneuvers and procedures described in this section, 61.87 (1)(2), operated an aircraft in solo flight when, within the 90-day period preceding the flight, an endorsement from a qualified flight instructor authorizing you to conduct a solo flight, Section 61.87 (m)(3), operated an aircraft in solo flight at night when, within the 90-day period preceding the flight, an endorsement from an authorized instructor authorizing a night flight, Section 91.13 (a), operated an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another. The FAA proposed levying a civil penalty of $14,000 against the accident pilot.
The aircraft was a Bellanca Viking BL17-30A, N136EL, serial number 30434 was powered by a Continental IO-520 engine.
A weather reporting station, located at the Quincy Regional, Baldwin Field, 17 miles from the accident site on a 122 degree magnetic heading, reported the following:
Observation Time: 2050 CDT Wind: 110 degrees at 11 knots Visibility: 1 sm light drizzle and mist Sky Condition: Broken 0 feet, overcast 200 feet Temperature: 16 degrees C Dew Point Temperature: 15 degrees C Pressure: 29.70 inches of mercury
Observation Time: 2152 CDT Wind: 110 degrees at 12 knots Visibility: 1 sm with mist, light drizzle and thunderstorms Sky Condition: Broken 0 feet, Overcast 200 feet Temperature: 16 degrees C Dew Point Temperature: 16 degrees C Pressure: 29.69 inches of mercury
AIDS TO NAVIGATION
A portable global positioning system (GPS) receiver was found in the cockpit.
K04 was an uncontrolled visual flight rules airstrip served by runway 15-33 (2,865 feet by 110 feet, turf). According to the Airport Facility Directory, the runway has non-standard low intensity runway lights, the threshold lights are green, the runway lights are incorrectly spaced, there are no edge lights for the first 600 feet of runway 15-33 with lights on the southwest side only and trees are located at the approach end of runway 15.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft was found inverted in a soybean field. The main wreckage was approximately 285 feet southeast of a tree line bordering the northern edge of the soybean field. Sections of the airplane's right aileron and right wing tip were found along the tree line at the northern perimeter of the soybean field. There were broken tree branches at the tops of the trees near the right wing sections and right aileron. The trees were estimated to be 50 feet in height.
The propeller was found separated from the engine at the flange, which displayed a granular 45-degree fracture.
Flight control continuity was established to the flight controls. The trailing edge flaps were in the retracted position.
The engine was rotated at the flange and air was expelled from each cylinder. Mechanical continuity of the engine and electrical continuity of both magnetos was also established through the harness.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
A plot of radar data included in this report shows a curvilinear path of an airplane with a transponder code of 1200 approximately 4.5 miles south extending to 2.5 miles east of the airport with an altitude range of 1,900 - 2,600 msl. The radar data also shows a 360-degree turn approximately 4 miles southwest of K04 along the path.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was conducted by the Boone/Callaway County Medical Examiner's Office on May 29, 2000.
FAA toxicological test results were negative for all substances tested.
The FAA was a party to the investigation.
The wreckage was released to the Missouri State Highway Patrol on May 27, 2000.