LAX02FA019
LAX02FA019

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 31, 2001, about 1800 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 182S, N7270E, impacted trees and terrain 1.5 miles from Little River Airport (048), Little River, California. The pilot operated the rental airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane was destroyed in the post-impact fire. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. The personal cross-country flight departed Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County (PAO), Palo Alto, California, about 1700, en route to Little River. A combination of night visual and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no instrument flight rules (IFR) or visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed for the cross-country flight. The wreckage was at 39 degrees 16.31 minutes north latitude and 123 degrees 42.87 minutes west longitude.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, there is no record that the pilot requested or received a weather briefing for the flight.

A witness at the airport said that just before 1800 he heard an aircraft circling in the vicinity of the airport; however, he could not see it because of the low clouds and fog over the field. Using his hand-held radio on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) 122.7, the witness established contact with the pilot. The pilot said he was trying to land at the airport, and at one point could see the runway lights through the fog, but had lost sight of the runway. The witness then heard the aircraft continue to the east at what sounded like a reduced power setting. There was no further communications from the pilot.

A resident living near the crash site heard the sounds of an impact and reported the event to the sheriffs department. Search efforts were hampered by fog and low visibility conditions and the wreckage was not located until about 1000 on November 1st. The accident site is 1.5 miles north east of the airport at an elevation about 200 feet higher than the runway.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of FAA airman records revealed the pilot held a commercial certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument ratings. The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on August 30, 2001. It had the limitations that the pilot must wear corrective lenses and possess glasses for near and intermediate vision. According to the pilot's last medical certificate application on August 20, 2001; he had accrued 3,200 hours of total flight time, with 150 flight hours in the last 6 months. The pilot's logbook was not available for review.

Coast Flyers in Little River employed the pilot as a 14 CFR Part 135 day VFR operations pilot. The owner estimated the accident pilot's total flight time as: 3,000 total hours, 150 hours - night, and 150 hours - instrument.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) reviewed the airframe and engine logbooks. The airplane was a Cessna 182S, serial number 18280480. An annual inspection was completed on October 10, 2001, and no open discrepancies were noted. The tachometer read 399 at the last inspection.

A Textron Lycoming IO-540-AB1A5 engine, serial number L-26757-48A, powered the airplane. Total time on the engine at the last annual inspection was 399 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The closest official weather observation station was the Ukiah Municipal Airport (UKI), Ukiah, California, located 26 nautical miles southeast of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 625 feet mean sea level (msl). A routine aviation weather report (METAR) for UKI was issued at 1756. It stated: skies 5,000 feet overcast; visibility 10 miles; winds calm; temperature 50 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 43 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.99 InHg.

The airport manager at Little River estimated the weather conditions at the time of the accident: visibility about a 1-mile and a 300-foot ceiling.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Investigators from the Safety Board, the FAA, Cessna, and Textron Lycoming examined the airframe and engine on scene. The airplane came to rest in a grove of trees in a nose-down attitude. Portions of tree tops, measuring 3- to 5-inches in diameter, displayed angled smooth cuts and were located near the main wreckage. An energy path through the trees was on a easterly bearing. All three of the propeller blades showed evidence of S-bending and leading edge gouging. A post-impact fire consumed the airplane. The engine was buried about 3 feet in the ground.

The on scene examination of the airframe revealed that all of the flight control cables were present. Control continuity was established except for the right wing section. The flight cables were separated. The separations were broom strawed in appearance. The flaps were in the retracted position. The post-impact fire consumed the fuel system, and a fuel selector valve was not located in the debris. No discrepancies were noted with the airframe.

The engine was also examined on scene. The crankshaft would not rotate due to impact damage. The cylinders were examined with a borescope and no damage or foreign object ingestion was noted. They magnetos had been damaged and could not be functionally tested. The magnetos remained secure at their respective mounting pads. The spark plug electrodes were gray in color, which corresponded to normal operation according to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug AV-27 Chart. An unsuccessful attempt was made to manually rotate the vacuum pump. The vacuum pump was disassembled. The vanes were broken, which was attributed to impact damage. The fuel flow divider remained secure at the mounting bracket, and the fuel lines remained secure at each flow divider fitting. The fuel injection servo was displaced from the engine and remained partially attached to the mounting pad. The fuel injection servo and induction system components were free of obstruction. The servo fuel inlet screen was free of contaminants. The engine driven fuel pump was destroyed. There were no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded the engine from producing power prior to impact.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Mendocino County Coroner completed an autopsy; however, no specimens were gathered for a toxicological test.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The IIC released the wreckage to the owner's representative.

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