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On June 3, 2001, at 1000 hours Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 150L, N10531, was substantially damaged when it crashed into a farm equipment yard shortly after takeoff from Mefford Field (TLR), Tulare, California. The student pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by Anthony P. Sario, and rented by the student for the local solo practice flight, under 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane departed Visalia, California, approximately 0945 for the 10-mile flight to Mefford Field. The student was going to practice takeoffs and landings. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed.
A witness was at the Farm Exposition grounds, located adjacent to, and at the departure end, of runway 31 at Mefford Field. He was participating in remote control (R.C.) airplane flying at a runway located on the grounds. He witnessed the airplane as it was climbing from a departure on runway 31. He noticed that the wing flaps were extended to what he believed was the full down position. He saw the airplane climb straight out until it reached what he estimated to be 200 to 250 feet above the ground. He then noticed the airplane begin a turn to the left, in a westerly direction, and saw the nose come up to a higher attitude. He remarked to a friend that the airplane was going to stall. Shortly thereafter, the witness saw the airplane snap to the left, make one complete rotation to the left, with the left wing slightly lower than the right, and disappear behind some buildings.
A second witness, who is a certificated pilot, was conversing with the first witness. He also noted that the flaps were full down. He turned around to speak to the first witness, who then remarked, "It's going to stall." When he turned back to look, the airplane had disappeared behind the buildings.
A review of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the pilot held a third-class medical certificate and student pilot certificate number FF-0041212, issued October 9, 2000, with no limitations. The student pilot certificate had been endorsed for solo flight in a Cessna 150 on February 17, 2001. The student had a total flight time of 48 hours, all of which were in the accident airplane. She had accomplished her first solo flight on February 17, 2001, and had subsequently logged 5.4 hours of solo flight time prior to the accident. The flight just prior to the accident had been on May 29, 2001, and was a dual lesson from the Visalia Airport to Mefford Field and return to Visalia. The student had a logbook endorsement from a flight instructor certifying proficiency in takeoffs and landings at Visalia and Mefford Field dated March 24, 2001.
The airplane was a 1974 Cessna 150L, serial number 15074904. A review of the airplane maintenance logbooks revealed an annual inspection had been performed on May 15, 2001. The airplane had a Teledyne Continental Motors O-200-A engine, serial number 254216. The total time on the engine as of the last annual was 376.6 hours since major overhaul. The total time of the airframe as of the accident date was 7,001.8 hours. The airplane had flown approximately 20 hours since the last recorded annual inspection to the date of the accident.
The closest weather observation available was from the Visalia airport Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS), located 10 nautical miles from the accident site on a magnetic bearing of 327 degrees. The Visalia AWOS indicated clear skies and a visibility of 10 miles or greater at the time of the accident. The winds were generally from 320 degrees at 8 knots. The runway heading on which the accident airplane departed was 310 degrees.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFROMATION
The wreckage was found in a farm equipment yard approximately .19 miles from the end of runway 31 at Mefford Field, on a magnetic bearing of 300 degrees. The airplane was resting on an asphalt surface, and the fuselage was pointed on a magnetic heading of approximately 240 degrees. Several large vehicles were parked behind, to the right, and in front of the wreckage. There was a large commercial building 30 feet from the wreckage on a magnetic bearing of 260 degrees. A large tractor with a piece of farm equipment approximately 12 feet in height was 12 feet behind the cabin on a magnetic bearing of 080 degrees. The vehicles had been parked there prior to the accident. The equipment yard was closed and secured when rescue equipment arrived. A lock had to be cut by fire department personnel in order to gain entry to the crash site.
There were no impact marks around the wreckage. No equipment had been disturbed and the buildings and vehicles directly surrounding the wreckage were not damaged. Only one impact mark was seen, directly under the engine. The engine cowling was crushed flat, with crush lines running 80 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the fuselage. The right wing was standing up on the leading edge and tilted aft approximately 20 degrees from vertical. The leading edge was crushed flat against the surface. The right aileron was in the full up position. The aft fuselage was bent down to an angle of approximately 20 degrees to the surface. Fold lines were observed directly aft of the cabin on the left side and were at an 80-degree angle to the longitudinal axis. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers were completely undamaged. The entire aft fuselage was bent to the left at approximately 20 degrees. The left wing was also resting on the leading edge in a vertical attitude, tilted aft approximately 20 degrees. The left wing had slightly more leading edge crush damage than the right, especially at the wing tip. The left aileron was also in the full up position. The entire roof assembly was tilted forward above the seats and was at the same angle as the wings. The engine case was cracked and the forward portion of the camshaft was visible through a large hole. The spinner was crushed flat against propeller and back plate. One propeller blade was bent forward 90 degrees and exhibited torsional bending with deep chordwise striations at the last third of its span. The other blade was bent forward along the full span, tapering outward to approximately 30 degrees at the tip.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Tulare County Sheriff/Coroner's office performed a post mortem examination of the pilot. Toxicological examinations of the pilot were conducted by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Negative results for all screened drugs were reported. A copy of the toxicology information is attached to this report.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The airplane was recovered to a secure hangar facility and a post crash wreckage examination was completed. Representatives from Teledyne Continental Motors and Cessna Aircraft Company were present. The engine was examined. The crankshaft was bent at the prop flange and fractured, making it impossible to turn the engine. One propeller blade was twisted aft and inward nearly 180 degrees at the last third of its span. The other blade was bent forward approximately 10 degrees from the root to the tip. The spark plugs were removed and examined, and exhibited a light gray color with no other anomalies noted. According to the Champion Spark Plug chart, they indicated normal engine operation. The number 3 and 4 cylinders were removed and inspected. The inside of the cylinder head exhibited a light brown powdery appearance. The walls of each cylinder were smooth. There was no scoring noted. The number 3 and 4 pistons and rings were examined. The piston heads exhibited the same light brown powdery appearance as the cylinders. The piston rings were intact. The forward portion of the cam shaft was observed to be clean and showed no evidence of corrosion or deformation of the cam shaft lobes.
The flight controls were examined. Control continuity was established for the both ailerons from the chain and sprocket, down through the floor, and up the aft door post to the point where the cables were cut. The corresponding cables were located at the wing root of each wing. Continuity was established through the wings to the aileron bell cranks. The elevator and the rudder cables were traced from the control column and rudder pedals, under the floor, and aft through the tail cone to the corresponding actuation control horns and torque tubes. The elevator trim cable was traced from the elevator trim wheel to the trim tab. The elevator trim tab was measured, and found to be, in the neutral position. The flap jackscrew actuator was measured. It was extended 5.9 inches, which indicated a flap position of 40 degrees down. The cockpit flap switch was operated, and the switch locked in the up position when activated. The flap fuse was removed and tested. It was shown that the fuse had continuity. Power was applied to the wing flap motor using a 12-volt battery and electrical leads. The motor ran and moved the wing flap jackscrew throughout its range of motion in both directions.
The stall warning system was tested by applying vacuum to the stall warning indicator aperture on the leading edge of the left wing. The warning sounded when vacuum was applied. The airspeed indicator was tested by applying pressure to the pitot tube pressure line at the back of the airspeed indicator case. The airspeed indicator showed positive indications when pressure was applied, and the needle returned to zero when pressure was removed.
The pilot's seat and seat tracks were examined. It was found that the seat-locking pin was engaged and locked into the seat rail; however, the seat had pulled off of the rail and was resting just above it. The seat could not be moved. The pilot's seat was removed and inspected. The locking seat pin was fully extended and not bent. The seat pin housing assembly was bent aft approximately 10 degrees. The seat frame on which the seat locking pin was attached was buckled inward on the aft side of the pin housing. The seat rail and positioning holes were clean and the holes were slightly elongated and distorted. Several of the seat positioning holes were fractured on either side of the seat rail. The seat rails appeared to be compressed along the length of the rail. The pilot's seat back adjustment rod, which is on the underside of the seat, running fore and aft, was bent. The seat belts were attached to their attach points and were not broken. The shoulder harness was still attached to the roof mounted attach point. It was observed that the seat belt webbing material was slightly frayed.
The pilot and passenger side doors were examined. The door handles were activated and the locking bolts retracted and extended without difficulty. The gear mechanism on the doorpost was undamaged on both doors.
Approximately 8 gallons of fuel was removed from the wing tanks. It was estimated that several gallons had leaked out of the wing tanks at the accident site. A containment berm was built with dirt and sand to contain the fuel and prevent it from flowing under the equipment parked in the yard.
The airplane wreckage was released to the owner on June 13, 2001.
The flight instructor who had completed all of the pilot's training was interviewed by an inspector from the FAA Fresno Flight Standards District Office. It was revealed that the instructor had verbally restricted the student pilot to make full stop landings only, for this particular flight. The instructor did not include this restriction on the solo endorsement. It was not determined if the student had done a full stop, touch-and-go, or go-around.