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On June 21, 2001, at 1154 central daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N20WR, was destroyed when it impacted into trees and a creek bed 4.8 miles northeast of the Columbia Regional Airport (COU), Columbia, Missouri, following a loss of engine power. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted on an instrument flight rules plan under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The pilot succumbed to fatal injuries shortly after the accident occurred. The cross-country flight originated at Columbia, Missouri, at 1143, and was en route to Menominee, Michigan.
At 1149:52, the pilot reported to Mizzu Approach Control (ATC), "Uh departure this is Mooney two zero whiskey romeo just lost power uh currently uh nine miles to the north of uh Columbia turning back around." ATC gave the pilot a vector back to COU. When ATC asked the pilot if he wanted emergency equipment standing by at the airport, the pilot said, "... negative, we got a little power ..." ATC radar at 1149:45 showed the airplane in a right turn, 9 miles northeast of COU at 4,000 feet mean sea level (msl).
At 1151:34, ATC asked the pilot if he could maintain 3,000 msl. The pilot said, "Negative on three thousand ... were still going down we're just windmilling now." ATC radar showed the airplane at 2,200 feet msl.
At 1152:14, ATC asked the pilot, "... are you still losing power?" The pilot responded, "Ah, we've got no power." ATC told the pilot, "No power at all roger, I'm put you on a vector that'll put you right at the airport sir, right at the airport and you're about six miles out, you gonna be able to make it?" The pilot responded, "Uh, probably not."
At 1152:48, the pilot reported, "Uh we just picked up the power again yeah I'm going to see if I can climb back up a bit here."
At 1152:59, ATC radar showed the airplane on a southwesterly heading at 1,500 feet msl.
At 1153:34, the pilot told ATC that he seemed to be able "... to maintain fifteen hundred". ATC told the pilot to continue inbound and to let him know when the pilot had the airport in sight. There was no further radio contact with the pilot.
At 1153:41, ATC radar showed the airplane in a descent passing through 1,300 feet. At 1154:50, radar contact with the airplane was lost. The airplane was 4.8 miles northeast of COU at 900 feet msl.
At 1155:19, a Cessna aircraft in the area reported to ATC that he was receiving a strong Emergency Locator Transmitter signal.
At 1154, the weather conditions at COU were few clouds at 900 feet above ground level (agl), an overcast ceiling of 1,600 feet agl, visibility 10 miles with light rain, temperature 66 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 62 degrees F, winds 310 degrees at 10 knots, and altimeter 30.09 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the airplane at the accident site. The airplane was located in a wooded area behind a residence, approximately 1/4 mile south of a dead-end road. The airplane was standing upright on the front portion of the cabin with the remaining cabin, aft fuselage, and empennage propped up by surrounding trees. The engine, propeller, cowling, forward fuselage, and cabin aft to behind the instrument panel, were crushed upward. The spinner was crushed aft. The three propeller blades were bent aft. The left wing was broken aft, inboard of mid-span. The remaining left inboard wing section was crushed aft. The right wing was bent upward, twisted aft at mid-span and crushed. Numerous broken tree branches were located around and beneath the right wing. The aft fuselage was bent and wrinkled. The empennage showed minor damage. Flight control continuity was confirmed at the accident site. The fuel selector had the right tank selected. An examination of the right locking fuel tank cap showed the locking mechanism behind the key insertion missing. An examination of the engine and engine controls revealed no anomalies. A visual inspection of fuel taken from the airplane's fuel tanks showed light blue color with no water or particulates. The dual magneto and fuel injector servo were retained for further examination. There was light visible through the locking mechanism for the right fuel tank. There was rain the previous day.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the Boone County Medical Examiner, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, on June 22, 2001.
The results of FAA toxicology testing of samples from the pilot revealed the following volatile concentrations:
ATROPINE detected in blood.
ATROPINE detected in kidney.
ATROPINE is resuscitative drug used in emergency medicine to constrict arterioles and veins and to restore a normal heart beat.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The NTSB conducted examinations of the magneto and fuel injector servo at Addison, Illinois, on September 18, 2001. A functional test of the magneto was conducted on a test bench. The magneto functioned normally and showed no anomalies. A flow test of the fuel injector servo revealed no anomalies. An internal examination of the fuel filter and housing showed a large amount of reddish-brown colored flakes and powdered material. A piece of solid reddish-brown material approximately 1/4 inch long was taken from the filter housing. The material was consistent with corroded metal. Plugs at both ends of the filter housing showed corrosion. Corrosion was observed on the housing threads, the fuel filter, and the fuel filter spring.
Parties to the investigation were the FAA and Textron Lycoming. All airplane components were released and returned to Air Wrecks, Incorporated, Chicago, Illinois.