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On July 31, 2001, about 0840 eastern daylight time, a Beech 95-B55, N727AF, operated by the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Aero Club, was substantially damaged when it impacted a cornfield near Xenia, Ohio. The certificated flight instructor and commercial pilot were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local instructional flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to radar data from the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane departed Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (FFO), Dayton, Ohio, about 0828. The pilots flew south toward a practice area, and climbed to about 6,000 feet msl. The flight then turned left toward northeast, and began to descend slowly and decelerate. It then continued left, and briefly accelerated while the altitude stabilized about 5,400 feet msl. Finally, the left turn stopped on a south-southwest heading and the flight decelerated again, about 0840.
About 0840, witnesses near the accident site reported hearing engines sputtering, and observed the airplane in a flat spin as it descended toward the cornfield.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight; located approximately 39 degrees, 38.81 minutes north latitude; and 83 degrees, 51.28 minutes west longitude.
The flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate and a flight instructor certificate; with ratings for single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second class medical certificate was issued on October 17, 2000. According to his logbook, the multiengine flight instructor had a total flight experience of approximately 3,000 hours; of which, approximately 105 hours were in multiengine airplanes.
The pilot receiving instruction held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on November 24, 1999. The commercial pilot had approximately 400 hours; of which, about 5 hours were in multiengine airplanes.
The most recent 100-hour inspection of the 1965 Beech 95-B55 was performed on February 18, 2001. In addition, a 50-hour inspection of the airplane was performed on April 27, 2001. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated about 85 hours of operation since the last 100-hour inspection. The airplane's total flight time was approximately 10,161 hours.
The reported weather at FFO, at 0855, was: wind variable at 1 knot; visibility 4 miles, mist; few clouds at 20,000 feet; temperature 75 degrees F, dew point 73 degrees F; altimeter 30.20 inches Hg.
The wreckage was examined on August 1 and 2, 2001, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage was intact, oriented about a 270-degree heading, and resting on top of collapsed cornstalks. The field elevation at the accident site was approximately 956 feet above sea level. There was no observed debris path, and the property damage was limited to the cornstalks in the immediate vicinity of the wreckage.
Little or no fuel was found in the four fuel tanks. However, all four tanks had ruptured, and fuel was found in the soil beneath the wreckage. Additionally, records from the aero club indicated that the airplane was fueled to capacity on July 27, 2001, and not flown until the accident flight. Samples were taken of the fuel remaining in the wings. They were clear, light blue in color, and contained some water. However, it was unknown how much water condensed during the first night the wreckage was in the field.
Flight control continuity was confirmed from all control surfaces to the control column. The rudder trim jackscrew corresponded to a beyond-limit left setting. The elevator trim jackscrew corresponded to a 25-degree nose-up setting. The aileron trim corresponded to a 22.5 degree left aileron down setting. All three settings were near or beyond design limits of the airplane, and were consistent with being subjected to impact forces. The landing gear was found in the extended position.
The right wing sustained little damage to the leading edge. There was some buckling on the top of the wing, and the bottom of the wing was crushed. The right flap was found extended, and detached from the jackscrew. The jackscrew measurement corresponded to a full flap extension. The right aileron was deflected upward.
The left wing also sustained minor damage to the leading edge. The top of the wing was buckled, and the underside was crushed. The left flap was extended, and the jackscrew position corresponded to an approximate 20-degree flap extension. However, the flap was crushed upward, consistent with impact damage. The left aileron was also deflected upward, but a representative from the airframe manufacturer could not confirm the position of either aileron due to impact forces on the control cables.
The fuselage and empennage were compressed and bulged to the left. The empennage was relatively undamaged. The rudder was deflected to the left, and the elevator was deflected upward.
The cockpit was intact. The left fuel selector was found in the "MAIN" position. The right fuel selector was damaged, and found near the "MAIN" position. Removal and examination of the fuel valves revealed that both selectors were in the "MAIN" position. The flap switch was found in the "DOWN" position, and the "FLAP DOWN" light bulb exhibited filament stretch. The left and right throttle levers were found in the idle position. The left mixture control was found in the lean position, and the right mixture was mid-range. The left propeller lever was found in the mid-range position, and the right lever was found just forward of the feather position.
The right propeller remained attached to the engine, and the blades exhibited little damage. The top spark plugs and valve covers were removed from the right engine. The spark plugs appeared light gray in color, and their electrodes were intact. The propeller was rotated by hand, and camshaft, crankshaft, and valve train continuity in the engine were confirmed. When the magnetos were removed and rotated by hand, they produced spark at all six top leads. The oil screen was examined, and some contamination was noted. The fuel screen and engine driven fuel pump were also removed. The fuel screen was absent of debris, and the fuel coupling was intact. Fuel was found in the fuel lines, fuel injector, fuel manifold, engine driven fuel pump, and selector valve.
The left propeller was found separated from the engine. One blade exhibited little damage, and the other blade exhibited minor "s"-bending and chordwise scratching. The top spark plugs and valve covers were removed from the left engine. The spark plugs were darker than the plugs from the right engine. Their electrodes were intact and absent of debris. The crankshaft was rotated by hand using an accessory gear drive in the rear of the engine. Crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity were confirmed. When the magnetos were removed and rotated by hand, they produced spark at all six top leads. The oil screen was removed for inspection, and was absent of debris. The fuel screen and engine driven fuel pump were also removed. The fuel screen was absent of debris, and the fuel coupling was intact. Fuel was found in the fuel lines, fuel injector, fuel manifold, engine driven fuel pump, and selector valve.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsies were performed on the pilots by the Montgomery County Coroner's Office. Toxicological testing was conducted at the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The radar data from the FAA was forwarded to an aerospace engineer at the Safety Board's Office of Research and Engineering. According to the engineer's Radar Data Study:
"...flew south and climbed to about 6,000 feet msl, then turned left on a northeast ground track and began to descend slowly and decelerate. A left turn towards the north was initiated as airspeed decreased below 90 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS), with airspeed reaching a minimum of about 84 KIAS while on a northerly ground track. The airplane then began to turn left and accelerate, with airspeed peaking at about 110 KIAS briefly and with altitude stabilizing at about 5,400 feet msl. The left turn stopped on a south-southwest ground track and the airplane began to decelerate again. A constant altitude of about 5,400 feet was maintained as the airplane decelerated to about 60 KIAS. The airplane then entered a rapid descent in a near-vertical flight path, with vertical speed peaking at about 8,000 feet per minute."
Review of a Beech B55 Airplane Flight Manual revealed that the minimum speed for direction controllability with one engine out was 78 KIAS. The flaps-up stall speed at 4,800 pound gross weight was approximately 77 KIAS.
Review of the aero club's training records revealed that the commercial pilot had completed "FLIGHT 1" through "FLIGHT 4" of the "Multiengine Additional Rating Course - 1" syllabus. Review of "FLIGHT 5" in the syllabus revealed:
During this lesson, the applicant will practice the review maneuvers and procedures to maintain or gain proficiency. The applicant will be introduced to engine-out procedures and will learn to identify the inoperative engine, initiate appropriate corrective procedures, and maneuver the airplane with one engine inoperative. The instructor will demonstrate engine inoperative loss of directional control and the recovery techniques so the applicant may learn the significance of this airspeed limitation.
Takeoff and Landings
Normal and Crosswind
Maneuvering at Critically Slow Airspeed
Emergency Operations (Engine-Out)
Flight Principles - Engine Inoperative
Identification of Inoperative Engine
Use of Controls to Counteract Yaw and Roll
Procedures for Shutdown and Feathering
Maneuvering with One Engine Inoperative
Turns in Both Directions
Climbs and Descents to Assigned Altitudes
Effects of Various airspeeds and Configurations During Engine Inoperative Performance
Instructor Demonstration of Engine Inoperative Loss of Directional Control (Vmca)
Use of Minimum Equipment List
At the completion of this lesson, the applicant will be able to identify the inoperative engine and use the correct control inputs to maintain straight flight. The applicant will have a complete an accurate knowledge of the cause, effect, and significance of engine-out minimum control speed (Vmca) and recognize the imminent loss of control. All engine inoperative loss of directional control demonstration must be completed no lower than 3,000 feet AGL"
Additionally, review of the flight instructor's daily planner for July 31, 2001, 8-10 am, revealed:
"Brothers (Hold, Stalls, Short TO/Landing)"
The wreckage was released to the United States Air Force on August 3, 2001.