HISTORY OF FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On August 19, 2001, at about 1443 eastern daylight time, a Beech A-23, N8869M, registered to a private individual, crashed in a wooded area behind a house shortly after takeoff from the Blairsville Airport, Blairsville, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and the private-rated pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The flight originated about 3 minutes earlier from the Blairsville Airport.
According to the individual who refueled the airplane before the flight departed, both fuel tanks were filled. The individual also reported that he heard the engine start but did not witness the takeoff. There were no witnesses to the takeoff. According to a witness whose property the airplane crashed on, he observed the airplane bank to the left while flying at a low altitude. He reported that the engine sounded like it was operating at a low power setting and was running rough. He thought the airplane was going to crash into his house, but heard a sound he associated with a "bush hog." He then heard the impact and called 911. The airplane came to rest inverted in a wooded area behind the witnesses house; there was no post crash fire.
The pilot was the holder of a private-pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating which was issued on May 8, 1981. He was the holder of a third class medical certificate issued on March 1, 2001, with the limitation, "Holder shall wear lenses that correct for distant vision and posses glasses that correct for near vision while exercising privileges of his airman's certificate."
Review of his pilot logbook revealed that he had logged approximately 101 total flight hours, approximately 13 hours of which were in the accident make and model airplane. He logged a total of 15 flights lasting a total of approximately 16 hours between October 21, 2000, and July 27, 2001. A copy of the pilot logbook is an attachment to this report.
The aircraft permanent maintenance records were not located. An "Inspection Report" obtained by the FAA inspector-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the airplane was last inspected in accordance with an annual inspection on July 14, 2001. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated approximately 3 hours since the inspection. A copy of the inspection report is an attachment to this report.
A METAR weather observation taken from the Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport (KGVL), Gainesville, Georgia, at 1453 local, indicates that the wind was from 260 degrees at 9 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles, few clouds existed at 3,500 feet, the temperature and dew point were 29 and 20 degrees Celsius respectively, and the altimeter setting was 29.98 inHg. The accident airport was located approximately 36 nautical miles and 341 degrees magnetic from KGVL. The density altitude was calculated to be 3,966 feet mean sea level based on the temperature and altimeter setting at the KGVL Airport, and the field elevation at the accident airport.
According to the person who fueled the airplane, he noted the wind was from the west when he was notified of the airplane accident by law enforcement. A copy of his statement is an attachment to this report.
The airport is equipped with one asphalt runway designated 7/25, which is 3,800 feet long and 75 feet wide. The airport elevation is 1,911 feet mean sea level. Review of the "Georgia Airport Directory" dated 2001-2002, revealed, "CAUTION: Runway slopes downhill 1.5% to the east." A copy of the airport depiction plate is an attachment to this report.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane crashed in a wooded area behind a private residence. There was no swath through the trees, indicating a gradual descent. The main wreckage was located at 34 degrees 51.039 minutes North latitude and 084 degrees 00.684 minutes West longitude. That location when plotted was .60 nautical mile and 255 degrees magnetic from the departure end of runway 25 at the Blairsville Airport. Examination of the accident site revealed an approximate 10-inch diameter tree was uprooted; the outboard section of the left wing containing the pitot tube and landing light was found at the base of the tree. Examination of the uprooted tree revealed two cuts; the first cut was located approximately 40 feet 8 inches above ground level; the cut depth was approximately 1.25 inches. The second cut was located 24 inches beneath the first and was approximately 7.5 inches in width and approximately 4 inches in depth. Black paint transfer was noted on the second cut surface.
The main wreckage which was inverted, was located approximately 48 feet and 214 degrees magnetic from the base of the uprooted tree; all components necessary to sustain flight were found in the immediate vicinity of the accident site. The fuselage was oriented on a magnetic heading of 280 degrees; the left wing was in its relative position but a 2-inch gap was noted at the wing root area. Damage to the leading edge of the left wing spanned 45 inches in length. The right wing consisted of 3 sections; the major section of the wing consisting of an approximate 105-inch span from the wing root, outboard. That section was rotated 180 degrees from its normal installed position but was still connected to the airframe by the aileron control cable. The remaining separated pieces of the right wing were found in the immediate vicinity of the accident site. The propeller with attached segment of the propeller flange was separated from the engine but was found in the immediate vicinity behind the left wing. The empennage was noted to be displaced to the right, and the right side of the right horizontal stabilator was separated. A semi-circular indentation was noted on the leading edge of the right side of the horizontal stabilator near the fuselage. Examination of the aileron, rudder, and elevator flight control cables revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. No obstructions were noted from either fuel tank forward in the system to the inlet of the engine-driven fuel pump or in either fuel vent system. The engine was removed from the airplane for further examination at the manufacturer's facility.
Examination of the engine at the manufacturer's facility with FAA oversight revealed that the crankshaft was fractured aft of the propeller flange. The fracture was consistent with overstress separation and there was no evidence of preexisting cracks. The remainder of the crankshaft, camshaft and valve train continuity was confirmed. Examination of the ignition system components revealed that impact damage to the right magneto precluded bench testing. Bench testing of the left magneto revealed it operated and produced spark to all ignition leads of the slave ignition harness. Bench testing of the engine fuel delivery system components consisting of the engine driven fuel pump, manifold valve with fuel injector lines and nozzles, and throttle/metering valve, revealed no evidence of preimpact failure (see the engine examination report from Teledyne Continental which is an attachment to this report).
Examination of the propeller which was painted black on the aft portion of the blade revealed that one blade exhibited a very slight forward bend and the leading edge was twisted towards low pitch. The other propeller blade exhibited a forward bend of the blade tip and leading edge twisting towards low pitch. The blade was also bent aft approximately 30 degrees and slight chordwise abrasions were noted from the blade tip inboard about 21 inches.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examinations of the pilot and right front seat passenger were performed by Kris Sperry, Chief Medical Examiner, Division of Forensic Sciences, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). The cause of death for the pilot was listed as multiple head and chest injuries. Pertaining to the pilot, no findings which could be considered causal to the accident were reported. The cause of death for the right front seat passenger was listed as multiple injuries. No postmortem examination was performed on the right rear seat occupant.
Toxicological analysis of specimens of the pilot was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory (CAMI); the results of analysis was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs. Toxicological analysis of specimens of the right front seat passenger was performed by GBI. The results were negative for alcohol and the drug screen. Copies of the toxicology reports from CAMI and GBI are an attachment to this report.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The airplane was fueled from an above ground fuel tank that had a water absorbing filter installed in the system. There were no reports of fuel contamination from other airplanes refueled from the same source. Additionally, testing by the distributor of a fuel sample taken after the accident revealed the sample met specification. A copy of the fuel analysis report is an attachment to this report.
The takeoff performance chart for the airplane was examined using the temperature (84.2 degrees Fahrenheit) and the pressure altitude (calculated to be 1,857 feet mean sea level) based on the altimeter setting from an airport located approximately 36 nautical miles south-southeast from the accident airport. The performance chart indicates that the total distance to clear a 50-foot obstacle was 2,616 feet. The associated conditions of the performance chart indicate in part "Runway Level Dry Paved Surface." The performance chart does not indicate how the performance would be affected when using an up-sloping runway. A copy of the performance chart is an attachment to this report.
A certified flight instructor (CFI) who flew a Beech C23 airplane with a student pilot on board into the Blairsville Airport the afternoon of the accident reported that at the time of takeoff from Blairsville, the airplane was about 150-200 pounds under gross weight. The student pilot was flying the airplane and departed from runway 25 which is an up sloping runway. The student had all available runway and the airplane cleared trees located past the departure end of the runway by 50-100 feet. The CFI also reported it, "was tight." He vocalized this to his student and later reported that he probably wouldn't fly into Blairsville with another person on-board in that airplane due to the up sloping runway, and the tree clearance problem. A record of conversation with and a statement from the CFI are an attachment to this report.
The airplane minus the retained engine was released to Chris Cartwright, General Manager for Atlanta Air Salvage, on August 22, 2001. The retained engine was released to Les Sychak, senior claims representative for AIG Aviation, on February 15, 2002.