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HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On September 14, 2001, about 2137 eastern daylight time, a Cessna T-210F, N6740R, registered to a private owner, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed on Pinnacle Mountain in the vicinity of Hendersonville, North Carolina, while being vectored for an ILS approach to Asheville, North Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed, and the private pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated from Booneville, Arkansas, at about 1622. The wreckage was located on September 16, 2001, at 1250 eastern daylight time.
Review of communications between Asheville Air Traffic Control Tower, Local Control (LC) and N6740R revealed that N6740R contacted LC at 9,000 feet at 01:25:23 (21:25:23 EDT.) N6740R was instructed to fly heading 140-degrees for a vector to ILS runway 34 at Asheville Regional Airport, Asheville, North Carolina. At 01:28:10, N6740R was instructed to descend to 6,000 feet. N6740R stated, "four zero romeo out of niner thousand for six thousand- - - a little bumpy up here holding as steady as I can it's uh go got some uh precip and clouds." N6740R informed LC at 01:32:02 that he was level at 6,000 feet. At 01:33:13, N6740R was instructed to descend and maintain 5,100 feet and was subsequently instructed to turn left to a heading of 090-degrees, which was acknowledged. At 01:35:20, LC informed N6740R at 01:35:20, "Cessna four zero romeo check your altitude uh show at four thousand seven hundred." N6740R replied at 01:35:28, " zero romeo uh I'm confirming that now (unintelligible) is really choppy here * (trying) to get it up here." At 01:35:42, LC replied, "four zero romeo looks like you're heading south bound too ah need to head east bound ninety degrees." There was no other recorded communication from N6740R. At 01:35:52, LC stated, "Cessna four zero romeo asheville you need to climb immediately sir ah you're four thousand ah seven hundred is below the m v a there you need to maintain five thousand one hundred."
Review of radar data at 01:35:57 indicates that N6740R was at 5,193 feet, heading 023-degrees at 126 knots. The pilot had been previously instructed by approach control to fly heading 140-degrees and to descend to 5,100 feet. At 01:35:12, N6740R continued in the right turn and descended below the minimum vectoring altitude to 4,593 feet with an increase in airspeed to 137 knots. At 01:35:21, N6740R continued the right turn to 159-degrees, and his airspeed increased to 167 knots. At 01:35:30, N6740R heading was 196-degrees, altitude 4,693 feet, and airspeed increased to 170 knots. At 01:35:50, N6740R was heading 280-degrees, altitude 4,393 feet, and his airspeed had decreased to 84 knots. At 01:35:54, N6740R was heading 355-degrees, altitude 4,693 feet, and his airspeed was 113 knots. The airplane continued in a right turn with a decrease in altitude to 4,193 feet and a decrease in airspeed to 84 knots. At 01:36:18, N6740R was heading 154-degrees, altitude 4,693 feet, at 15 knots. The airplane began a left turn to 076-degrees, altitude 4,693 feet, airspeed 33 knots at 01:36:23. The last recorded radar hit was at 01:36:27. N6740R was heading 063-degrees, altitude 4,693 feet and the airspeed was 33 knots.
A witness stated she and her husband were in their house at about 2130 eastern daylight time when they heard an airplane flying really low towards the south-southeast. They heard a noticeable change in engine rpm going from high to low rpm. The airplane turned and came back over their home and turned back towards the south-southeast. They went outside on their deck and looked for the airplane but could not see it. It was very dark with no visible lighting in the immediate area. They heard the airplane collide with trees followed by a thud sound as the airplane collided with the terrain. They went inside and immediately called 911 to report the aircraft accident. A short time later, emergency vehicles arrived in the area, and the witness could see the emergency lights as they reflected off fog, which was located below along Pinnacle Mountain.
Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate on July 29, 1999, with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. The records indicated the pilot was involved in a general aviation accident in 1984 in a Cessna 172M. The pilot had descended out of the clouds and collided with trees. Low clouds, rain and fog were located in the area. Review of records on file with the FAA aero medical records revealed the pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on September 9, 1999 with no restrictions. The pilot indicated on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated 1,475 total flight hours. The pilot's logbook was not located.
Review of maintenance records revealed that the engine was installed on N6740R by Custom Airmotive Inc., Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 3, 1983. The total time and tach time was 3030.0. The last recorded annual inspection was conducted on June 8, 2001, by Tom's Aircraft Enterprises, Lakeport, California, and the total time and tach time was 4070.24. The tach time at the crash site was unreliable due to the tachometer sustaining impact damage. The altimeter system, static pressure system, and transponder were inspected on December 18, 2000. Refueling records on file at Booneville Municipal Airport, Booneville, Arkansas, revealed N6740R was refueled on September 11, 2001, with 56 gallons of fuel.
The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was Asheville, North Carolina. The 2154 surface weather observation was: 2,000 overcast, visibility 8 miles, temperature 61 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 57 degrees Fahrenheit, wind 100-degrees at 5 knots, and altimeter 30.15. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. According to the law enforcement pilots for Hendersonville Sheriff Department and ground search teams, the visibility in the vicinity of the crash scene was very low, it was very dark, and they could not see the top of the mountain that was at 3,343 feet. Airliners that were making instrument approaches to the airport were breaking out of instrument flight conditions about 3,600 feet.
Review of sun and moon data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Application Department for Asheville, North Carolina, on September 14, 2001, revealed the sunset at 1939, end of civil twilight was at 2104 and its phase was awaiting crescent with only 13 percent illumination.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage of N6740R was located on the northeast side of Pinnacle Mountain in a wooded area adjacent to a private residence located about 13.3 nautical miles south southwest of Asheville Regional Airport.
Examination of the crash site revealed the airplane collided with trees in a descending, right-wing low attitude. The airplane pitched nose-down and descended through dense vegetation and collided with the terrain at 35:12:671 N, 82:32:834 W, and came to rest on a heading of 330-degrees magnetic. Browning of vegetation and a faint smell of fuel were present at the crash site. The engine assembly had separated from the firewall and was buried about 4 feet below the ground. The engine assembly was transported to Griffin, Georgia, for further examination. The propeller had separated from the propeller flange, and the propeller blades had separated from the propeller hub. All three propeller blades exhibited evidence of torsional twisting, "s" bending, and chord wise scarring. The forward fuselage assembly was bent upward from the firewall to the front door post assembly and separated from the aft cabin at the fuel selector valve. Both header fuel tanks were ruptured. The cabin roof sustained accordion crush from the windshield aft to the rear center window. The left and right wing struts separated at the wing and attachment fittings. The left wing was separated from the airplane at the wing root with the front door post spar. The leading edge of the left wing sustained accordion crushing from the wing root extending outboard to the wing tip. The left wing separated 6 feet 6 inches and 10 feet 7 inches outboard of the wing root. The left main fuel tank was ruptured. The right wing separated at the wing attachment fitting. The leading edge of the right wing was separated from the wing root extending outboard to the wing tip. The right wing separated 4 feet 8 inches, 8 feet, and 11 feet 7 inches outboard of the wing root. The right main fuel tank was ruptured. The flap jackscrew measured .3 inches equating to both flaps being in the retracted position. The landing gear was in the retracted position. The tail cone sustained accordion crushing from the baggage bulkhead aft to the leading edge of the left and right horizontal stabilizers. The right horizontal stabilizer was folded up and aft.
Examination of the engine assembly and accessories revealed no evidence of a pre-crash mechanical failure or malfunction. Continuity of the valve train and engine crankshaft was confirmed. Both magnetos were destroyed.
Examination of the Garwin vacuum pump revealed the shaft would rotate when turned by hand. The pump body was undamaged, and the internal rotor and vanes were intact.
The airspeed indicator, vertical speed indicator, and altimeter were not recovered.
Examination of attitude gyro revealed no evidence of a pre-crash mechanical failure or malfunction. The case and bezel sustained impact damage. The bezel glass was broken. The attitude indicator indicated a 45-degree right bank. A factory seal was not recovered, and the data plate was recovered. Disassembly of the attitude gyro revealed the yoke assembly was broken, and scoring was present on the gyro and gyro case.
Examination of the turn and bank indicator revealed no evidence of a pre-crash mechanical failure or malfunction. The case sustained impact damage, the data plate was recovered, and the factory seal was not recovered. The bezel was destroyed, and the bezel glass was broken. Disassembly of the turn and bank coordinator revealed the pivot point had separated from the rotor assembly, and scoring was present on the rotor.
Examination of the directional gyro revealed no evidence of a pre-crash mechanical failure or malfunction. The case sustained impact damage and the factory seal was installed. The heading and push knobs were destroyed. The bezel sustained impact damage and the bezel glass was broken. Disassembly of the directional gyro revealed the pivot point had separated from the rotor assembly and the yoke assembly was broken. Scoring was present on the rotor.
The Garmin 295 Global Positioning System (GPS) was forwarded to the Kansas City Flight Standards District Office for further analysis by Garmin International Inc. Due to the high extent of damage, it was not possible to extract any information from the memory of this GPS unit. (For additional information see Garmin International, Inc, letter dated October 23, 2001.)
Examination of the airframe and flight controls revealed no evidence of a pre-crash mechanical failure or malfunction. All components necessary for flight were present at the crash site. Continuity of the flight control system was confirmed for pitch, roll, and yaw.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Dr. Kenneth S. Snell, Prosector, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Office, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, conducted postmortem examination of the pilot on September 17, 2001. The cause of death was massive blunt force injury. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. Carbon monoxide and cyanide testing was not performed. Ethanol detected in specimens was from postmortem ethanol formation and not from the ingestion of ethanol.
United States Government Flight Information Publication, U.S. Terminal Procedures Southeast (SE) volume 2 of 4 was located in the cockpit of the airplane wreckage. The approach plates expired on May 20, 1999.
The wreckage of N6740R was released to Christopher C. Cartwright, General Manager, Atlanta Air Salvage on September 19, 2001. The aircraft logbooks were returned to Mrs. Laurel Davis, daughter of the deceased pilot on September 30, 2001. Components retained for further testing was released to Mr. Cartwright on November 2, 2001.