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On July 28, 2001, at 1145 central daylight time, a Cessna 205 single-engine airplane, N8324Z, impacted terrain during an uncontrolled descent near De Queen, Arkansas. The airplane was destroyed by impact and fire damage. The airplane was registered to Skywagon Aviation LLC, of Piedmont, Oklahoma, and was operated by the pilot. The non-instrument rated private pilot and his three passengers sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The cross country flight originated from the Sundance Airpark Airport, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at 1000, and was destined for Eldorado, Arkansas.
At 0700:24, the pilot of the accident airplane contacted the McAlester Automated Flight Service Station (MLC AFSS) and requested a weather briefing for a visual flight rules (VFR) flight from Oklahoma City to Jackson, Mississippi. The briefer advised the pilot of an Airmet for instrument flight rules (IFR) weather conditions along the route of flight, valid until 0900. The briefer informed the pilot that the forecast indicated scattered clouds between three and five thousand feet, occasionally scattered to broken clouds between eight and ten thousand feet, and a 30% chance of thunderstorms and rain shower activity after 1300. The pilot requested and received the winds aloft for the three thousand and six thousand foot levels. The pilot then stated that if he departed at ten o'clock he "should be able to make it." The briefer then informed the pilot of possible "lingering pockets of IFR." The briefing ended at 0703:38.
According to the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center (FTW ARTCC), at 1028:27, the pilot contacted FTW ARTCC and began receiving VFR flight following to Eldorado. At 1118:18, the flight was approximately 40 miles north of the J Lynn Helms Sevier County Airport, De Queen, Arkansas, (DEQ) when the controller advised the pilot of the altimeter setting at the Texarkana Regional Airport, Texarkana, Arkansas, and requested that the pilot verify the airplane's altitude. The pilot responded that he "was at 7,500 feet, above the cloud tops." At 1136:15, 2.5 miles north of DEQ, the pilot advised the controller that he saw "holes in the cloud layer" and requested a descent to 5,500 feet. The controller responded that there was no traffic observed in the area and instructed the pilot to maintain VFR. At 1142:26, the controller noted that the pilot was descending through 3,000 feet msl and advised the pilot that the minimum en route altitude (MEA) in that airspace was 2,500 feet. The pilot acknowledged. There were no further communications and no distress calls received from the airplane.
According to radar data, at 1136:51, the airplane was at 7,200 feet msl and approximately 2.5 miles northwest of DEQ. The airplane began a descent and tracked a straight line path to the southeast, and passed to the east of DEQ. At 1138:47, the airplane was descending through 4,700 feet and completed a 90-degree right turn to a westerly heading. Between 1141:52 and 1148:05, the radar track revealed that the airplane was making multiple "S" patterns and the airplane's altitude varied between 3,400 and 2,600 feet. The final radar return occurred at 1148:05, approximately 15 miles southeast of DEQ.
Two witnesses reported that they did not see the airplane, but could hear it flying overhead. They stated that the engine rpm varied between high and low sounds. One witness reported that he observed the airplane enter the clouds, then exit the clouds, then enter the clouds again. Subsequently, when the airplane exited the clouds it "stalled turned down and spiraled into the ground." Another witness reported that the airplane was spiraling toward the ground, and the "engine was running all the way to the ground." Subsequently, the airplane passed out of the witnesses view, they heard the airplane impact the ground, and observed smoke coming from the area of the accident site.
On May 9, 1997, the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. He did not hold any additional ratings or flight certificates. On June 29, 2000, the pilot reported on an FAA medical application form that he had accumulated a total of 220 flight hours. According the co-owner of the accident airplane, who was also a friend of the pilot, the pilot had accumulated approximately 250 flight hours of which 10 were in the 90 days prior to the accident, and none were in the 30 days prior to the accident date. The pilot was not enrolled in an instrument training course and his flight logbook was not recovered.
On June 29, 2000, the pilot was issued a third class medical certificate with the following limitation: must wear corrective lenses.
The 1963-model, orange, high-wing airplane was equipped with a 260-horsepower Teledyne Continental IO-470-S engine and a 2-bladed, constant speed, McCauley propeller. On November 17, 2000, the airframe underwent its most recent annual inspection and the engine underwent its most recent 100-hour inspection. At the time of the inspection, the airframe had accumulated a total of 2,138.5 hours, and the engine had accumulated a total of 160.4 hours since major overhaul. A review of the airframe, engine and propeller logbooks revealed no evidence of uncorrected maintenance discrepancies.
The airplane was last fueled on July 7, 2001. At that time the fuel tanks were topped off with a total of 15 gallons of 100LL aviation grade fuel.
The airplane was equipped with an attitude indicator, vertical speed indicator, and a turn coordinator. Additionally, the airplane was equipped with a stand-by vacuum system.
At 1019, according to a pilot report (PIREP) from a Cessna 172 airplane over Hotsprings, Arkansas, (approximately 68 miles northeast of DEQ), the cloud cover was reported as scattered to broken layers with tops at 2,500 feet.
At 1153, the weather observation facility at DEQ reported wind variable at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, broken cloud layers at 2,000 feet, 2,800 feet and 3,500 feet, temperature 84 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.08 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest in a cow pasture 15 miles southeast of DEQ. According to a GPS receiver, the main wreckage was located at latitude 033 degrees 58.614 minutes North and longitude 094 degrees 14.489 West. The airplane came to rest at the initial impact location on a heading of 350 degrees magnetic. A green navigation lens, a door, a tire, and a section of the leading edge of the right wing came to rest east and south of the main wreckage. The main wreckage, including the propeller, engine, cockpit and cabin area, the right wing, a portion of the left wing, and the empennage were consumed by fire. The leading edge of each wing was compressed aft. The propeller and engine were embedded in the ground. No cockpit readings could be obtained due to the fire and impact damage.
Flight control continuity was verified for the aileron, elevator, elevator trim and rudder control systems. One aileron cable separation was noted; however, the separation point displayed tensile type overload signatures. The elevator trim tab actuating rod was extended 1.3 inches. According to Cessna, a 1.3-inch extension converts to a slightly tab up, or slightly nose down elevator trim. The flaps were found in the retracted position.
Prior to removing the engine from its crater, the only visible portion of the engine was the accessory section. The accessory section displayed sooting, thermal damage, and impact damage. The engine and propeller were extricated from the ground and moved to a local facility for an examination.
The propeller hub and governor remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade was separated from the propeller hub and was bent forward 15 degrees at mid-span, displayed face polishing, and no leading edge gouges or nicks. The second blade remained attached to the propeller hub and was bent aft 15 degrees, displayed face polishing, and leading edge gouges and nicks.
The engine remained intact. Both magnetos were disassembled and displayed internal thermal damage. The wet vacuum pump displayed external impact and thermal damage. The pump's drive coupling was seized, but intact. The alternator was destroyed by impact forces and fire. The back case of the oil pump was removed. The pump was lubricated and the gears were intact and did not display signatures consistent with wear. The fuel manifold displayed external impact and heat damage. The manifold was disassembled and its internal spring, diaphragm, and screen were in place, but melted. The fuel metering unit was damaged by impact forces. The fuel screen at the fuel metering unit contained debris which resembled dirt. The fuel pump was removed and opened. The pump's shaft and internal vanes displayed thermal damage and were seized. Crankshaft continuity could not be established due to impact damage.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The pilot underwent an autopsy at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Little Rock, Arkansas. A toxicology test performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute was negative for ethanol and drugs.
The airplane was released to the owner's representative on August 30, 2001.