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On September 9, 2001, at 0915 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 182J, N3056F, registered to Carter Flygare Inc., and operated by a private pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with trees while approaching Half Moon Bar Lodge airstrip located about 28 miles northeast of Gold Beach, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was substantially damaged. The private pilot received minor injuries. The one passenger was fatally injured. The flight departed from Fort Jones, California, about one hour and 15 minutes prior to the accident.
The pilot reported during a telephone interview and subsequent written statement that he and his passenger, also a private pilot, had reviewed the night before the accident, an article in the Fall 2001 edition of the Pilot Getaways magazine (see attached article) that described the Half Moon Bar Lodge approach and landing procedures. The pilot reported that he had never been into this airstrip before, however, his passenger had the week before. The pilot stated that on the day of the accident, the flight departed from Trinity Center, California, to Fort Jones, California, where a stop was made for fuel. After refueling, the pilot accomplished four touch-and-go landings to "perfect my landings for the 1300 ft. strip." The flight then proceeded to Half Moon Bar Lodge. The pilot stated that he crossed over the airstrip at 4,500 feet, and then began the descent around the mountain to the left through the canyon to the "blind approach." The pilot stated that at the point to make the right turn for final approach, he had the aircraft slowed to around 63 MPH, with 30 degrees of flaps extended at approximately 350 feet above ground level. The pilot opted to make the right turn for final approach. The pilot stated that during the right turn, the left wing was on the tree line, and he felt that it was "really tight" as he descended through the trees. The pilot reported that "We were short final below the tree line when we knew we were in trouble." The pilot banked the aircraft more to the right to avoid the trees on the left side (southwest), which now put the aircraft on a collision course with the trees on the right side (northeast). The pilot tried to bank back to the left, however, the aircraft felt "sluggish." The pilot applied power and pitched up for an emergency climb when the stall horn sounded. The pilot stated that he knew that at this point that they were going to crash and lowered the nose, leveled the wings and reduced power for the collision with the trees on the northeast side of the airstrip. The pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions with the aircraft at the time of the accident.
The pilot holds a private pilot certificate for single-engine and multi-engine land aircraft. The pilot reported a total flight time of 327 hours, with 259 hours as pilot-in-command. A total of eight hours was reported in the make and model aircraft involved in the accident. During the telephone interview, the pilot reported that he did have some mountain flying experience.
The passenger held a private pilot certificate for single-engine land aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration medical records data indicated that the passenger received a third class medical certificate dated January 2, 2001. At this time, the passenger reported a total flight time of 380 hours, with 100 hours in the previous six months.
The Half Moon Bar Lodge is reported as ranking a 39 on a difficulty scale of 1 to 50, based on Galen Hanselman's Relative Hazard Index rating, and is reported as a "challenging approach." The Pilot Getaways Magazine article reported that landing at this airstrip "requires advanced mountain flying skills and adequate aircraft performance..." along with, "You should obtain instruction from an experienced mountain flying instructor before landing here the first time."
Landings at this airstrip are made on runway 32, and takeoffs on runway 14. The normal approach circles a 1,614 foot conical peak just south of the airstrip. The approach is started by flying through a 980 foot saddle northwest of the peak. Once clear of the saddle, the turn is southbound to follow a canyon, descending to and following the Rogue River, circling the conical peak counter-clockwise. The canyon narrows to about 250 feet wide at 100 feet AGL and narrows to 100 feet wide at river level. The first sight of the threshold to the airstrip is about 1,500 feet away and clearly seen about 900 feet away. The article further stated that "if the approach is stable when you see the runway, you can turn onto final. Once you're on final, you're committed to land, as it's unlikely you'll be able to go around due to tall trees at the end of the runway. You will need to carefully line up to pass through the notch in the trees on touchdown; the threshold is at the base of the trees, where the gap is narrower. There is adequate room if you've set up your approach correctly. The opening in the trees measures about 100 feet wide, but it looks narrower through an airplane windshield."
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Documentation of the accident site located on the northeast side of the airstrip revealed that the right wing outboard section contacted a tree about 50 feet up from the base and separated from the inboard section. The remainder of the aircraft traveled through the trees on a magnetic heading of 340 degrees and came to rest about 92 feet from the initial impact of the first tree. Fragments of the aircraft were located along this path. The main section of the wreckage included the fuselage which was torn open at the cabin area and separated from both the forward half of the aircraft and the tail section. The forward section included the engine/propeller and the instrument panel. The tail cone was breached at the aft cabin bulkhead and mid-section of the fuselage. The tail was attached to the forward section only by the control cables running from the cockpit area aft to the empennage. The leading edge of both the left and right wings and the left side horizontal stabilizer indicated impact signatures consistent with tree and tree-limb contact. The left wing outboard section also separated from the inboard section just outboard of the flap. Control cable continuity was established from the control yoke in the cockpit to each aerodynamic control surface. No shoulder harnesses were installed in the aircraft. The first responders to the accident site cut the seatbelt from around the pilot. The passenger was thrown from the aircraft. The passengers seatbelt was found unbuckled.