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On August 22, 2001, at 1849 central daylight time, a Piper PA-18-150, N4329Z, piloted by a commercial pilot, sustained substantial damage during an in-flight collision with the terrain near Alice, North Dakota. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight's departure location and time are unconfirmed.
A witness to the accident stated he saw the accident airplane "do 3 or 4 turns going down after a stall." The witness reported the airplane descended below a tree line, impacting the ground.
Another witness reported the accident airplane was performing "spins" and "barrel rolls" prior to the accident.
According to the local law enforcement incident commander, witnesses reported the airplane had been performing "aerobatic" maneuvers prior to the accident. The incident commander stated the North Dakota Highway Patrol obtained witness statements and photo-documented the accident scene. The incident commander reported there were several beer cans around the accident site and in the accident airplane.
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, glider, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot also held an expired certified flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine, airplane multiengine, and glider instructor ratings. FAA records show the pilot's last medical examination was completed on June 13, 2000, and the pilot was issued a second-class medical certificate with the restriction, "Must have available glasses for near vision."
At the last medical examination the pilot reported his total flight time as 21,400 hours, with 150 hours being flown during the previous 6 months.
The airplane was a Piper PA-18-150, serial number 18-8649. The PA-18-150 is a production built, dual strutted high-wing airplane. The PA-18-150 is constructed of a fabric covered steel-tube fuselage, wing, and empennage. The PA-18-150 is equipped with a fixed-conventional landing gear and is powered by a 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320-A2A engine. The accident airplane was configured to seat a pilot and passenger in a tandem seating arrangement.
The airplane was issued a standard-restricted airworthiness certificate on March 26, 1968. The airplane was approved for aerial advertising and agricultural/pest control operations. The aircraft maintenance logbooks were not recovered during the investigation.
A weather observation station, located at the Hector International Airport (FAR), about 35 nautical miles (nm) northeast of the accident site, recorded the weather around the time of the accident as:
Observation Time: 1853 cdt
Wind: 050 degrees magnetic at 4 knots
Visibility: 10 statute miles
Sky Condition: Sky Clear
Temperature: 29 degrees centigrade
Dew Point: 23 degrees centigrade
Pressure: 29.93 inches of mercury
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
An inspector with the FAA Fargo Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) conducted the on-scene portion of the investigation.
The wreckage was located in a harvested wheat field. The aircraft came to rest in an inverted position, resting on the upper fuselage, vertical stabilizer and rudder. All structural components of the accident airplane were found at the accident site. All flight controls remained attached to their respective airframe attachment points. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the individual flight control surfaces to the cockpit. No anomalies were found with the airplane that could be associated to any pre-impact condition.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Heartland Hospital, Fargo, North Dakota, on August 23, 2001.
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The toxicology results for the pilot were:
* No Carbon Monoxide detected in Blood
* No Cyanide detected in Blood
* 55 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Blood (0.055% blood alcohol level)
* 78 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Urine
* 71 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Vitreous
* 41 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Muscle
* 57 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Brain
* 1 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde detected in Blood
* 1.672 (ug/mL, ug/g) Sertraline detected in Blood
* 2.983 (ug/mL, ug/g) Desmethylsertraline detected in Blood
* Sertraline present in Liver
* Desmethylsertraline present in Liver
* Sertraline detected in Urine
* Desmethylsertraline detected in Urine
Sertraline (trade name Zoloft) is a prescription antidepressant, also used in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder. Desmethylsertraline is a metabolite of sertraline. The pilot did not report the use of any medication at his last FAA medical examination, completed on June 13, 2000.
Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 91.17 "Alcohol or drugs" states no person may act, or attempt to act, as a crewmember of a civil aircraft within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage, while under the influence of alcohol, while using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety, or while having 0.04 percent by weight or more alcohol in the blood.
The FAA Fargo FSDO was a party to the investigation.