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On November 16, 2001, at about 0154 central standard time, a Cessna 152, N89645, registered to an individual, collided with trees and crashed on the north bank of the Wolf River, near Poplarville, Mississippi, while on a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to Brookhaven, Mississippi. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed and the private-rated pilot received fatal injuries. The flight originated from Ocean Springs, on November 16, 2001, about 0104.
A friend of the accident pilot reported that he and the accident pilot were involved in a musical show in Biloxi, Mississippi. They each flew their airplanes (his was a Cessna 172, N739LV) from their homes to Biloxi for the show. On the evening of November 15, 2001, he and the accident pilot flew to Biloxi, and parked their airplanes at the Ocean Springs Airport, in Ocean Springs. After the performance, he and the accident pilot visited with the cast and crew. The accident pilot may have had some beer and wine, he is not sure, but, he did not seem impaired. During the drive back to the airport, to fly home, they stopped at a convenience store so the accident pilot could buy cigarettes. He does not know if the accident pilot bought beer or anything else.
At the airport, they each did a preflight inspection of their airplanes, and departed one after the other around 0100. The accident pilot departed first. The accident pilot flew a northerly course for a time. He flew a 300 degree course toward his destination of McComb, Mississippi. He, the friend of the accident pilot, had his ATC transponder set to 1200 with altitude reporting on. He was talking with the accident pilot via the radio. It was a clear, cold night, with no clouds. Visibility was greater than 50 miles. He could see the lights of the accident airplane and saw it was further north than he would expect and at a lower altitude than he thought it should be at. The accident pilot indicated he had been having a sticky altimeter. The accident pilot turned toward him and came in a mile behind him. He was at 4,500 feet and the accident airplane appeared to be at the same altitude. A short time later the accident pilot turned on course to his destination of Brookhaven, Mississippi. The friend lost sight of the airplane, but continued to talk to the accident pilot via radio.
A short time later, the friend of the pilot had an alternator over-voltage indication. He reported this to the accident pilot, and the accident pilot indicated he would turn and follow him to McComb, which was about 30 minutes away. As he approached to land at McComb, the accident pilot reported he was behind him, although he could not see him. When he was on a one-mile final approach, he told the accident pilot this. The accident pilot told him to call him when he was on the ground. About two minutes later he called to tell the accident pilot he was on the ground. He did not get a response from the accident pilot. When the accident pilot failed to show up for the musical show in Ocean Springs on the evening of November 16, 2001, the friend reported him missing to an FAA Flight Service Station. Search and rescue operations were initiated and the accident pilot and airplane were located on November 30, 2001, about 1630. (See Statement from Friend of the Pilot).
The FAA Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZHU), Memphis ARTCC (ZME), and New Orleans Approach Control (MSY) supplied radar data to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, in support of Search and Rescue (SAR) activities. Radar data from these facilities, and from the Air Force 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron (RADES), at Hill Air Force Base, Ogden, Utah, was used in SAR activities and reconstruction of the flight path.
N89645 departed Ocean Springs Airport (5R2) at approximately 0104, and proceeded in a northwesterly direction of approximately 295 degrees. The course from 5R2 to MCB is 295 degrees. About one minute later, a Cessna 172N, N739LV, piloted by the accident pilot's friend, departed 5R2 and followed a similar course. At about 0112, N739LV passed N89645 at 3,600 feet, 4 miles north of Biloxi, MS. No transponder returns were received from N89645. Altitude values were obtained from the RADES data extractions. Both airplanes flew a similar course until 0118:45 when N89645 turned to a course of approximately 320 degrees, at an altitude of 4,000 feet. The course from this point to Brookhaven is approximately 320 degrees. At 0124:02, N739LV began a series of turns corresponding with the pilot's statement that he was distracted by an alternator problem.
At 0127:38, N89645 turned left to a course of about 270 degrees. The airplane was about 10 miles east of Poplarville, Mississippi airport (MS03) at 3,600 feet. N739LV was 3 miles southeast of MS03 at 4,200 feet. At 0129:35, N739LV passed over MS03 at 4,100 feet. The course from MS03 to MCB is 290 degrees; N739LV flew directly to MCB and landed at about 0158.
At 0132:02, N89645 passed two miles southeast of MS03 at 3,600 feet on a course of approximately 220 degrees. For the next 20 minutes, N89645 descended and described numerous turns within 10 miles of MS03, in an area south and southwest of the airport. The last radar return was received at 0153:14, eight miles southeast of MS03. (See NTSB Air Traffic Control Group Chairman Factual Report).
The pilot of N89645 held an FAA private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating, issued on June 1, 2000. The pilot held an FAA third class medical certificate issued on May 18, 2001, with the limitation that the pilot must have available glasses for near vision.
The pilot's logbook records showed that as of August 25, 2001, he had accumulated 484.7 total flight hours and 463.6 total flight hours as pilot in command. All most all of his pilot time was in Cessna 152, N89645. No entries were made in the pilot logbook after August 25, 2001.(See Pilot Logbook Records).
The airplane was a Cessna Aircraft Company model 152, serial number 15282813, registration number N89645. The airplane was manufactured in November 1978. The recording tachometer in the airplane indicated the airplane had accumulated 5,895 total flight hours at the time of the accident. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming model O-235-L2C, 110 horsepower engine. The engine was installed on N89645 on June 6, 1990, after a major overhaul. At the time of the accident the engine had accumulated 2,665 flight hours since overhaul. Logbook records show the airplane was last inspected on August 15, 2000, at airplane total time 5815.2, when it received an annual inspection. FAA regulations require that an airplane receive an annual inspection every 12 calendar months. The airplanes static system and altimeter was last tested on November 9, 1995. The airplanes transponder was last tested on July 12, 1999.(See Aircraft Logbook Records).
The Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport, 0153 surface weather observation was wind light and variable, visibility 10 miles, skies clear, temperature 8 degrees C, dew point temperature 7 degrees C, altimeter setting 30.16 inches Hg. Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport is located 30 nautical miles southeast of the accident site. Moon rise information indicated that at the time of the accident there was no visible moon. (See Moon Information).
Wreckage and Impact Information
Examination of the crash site showed the airplane collided with a 100-foot tree at about the 75-foot level, while flying on a northerly heading. The right wing outboard of the wing flap, the right horizontal stabilizer and elevator, and the right main landing gear wheel separated from the airplane at this point. The airplane continued to the north about 100 feet, crossed the Wolf River, and impacted on the north shore of the Wolf River, where it came to rest parallel to the shore, on an easterly heading. The main wreckage was located at North Latitude 30 degrees 44 minutes 13.4 seconds and West Longitude 89 degree 22 minutes 5.8 seconds. The pilot was located outside the airplane, on the river shore, to the west of the main wreckage.
Examination of the airplane wreckage showed that all components of the airplane which are necessary for flight were located at the crash site. Continuity of the flight control system was established. All separation points in the flight control system were indicative of overstress separation. Examination of the airframe fuel system showed that each wing fuel tank had been breached by impact damage. All fuel and vent lines were found unobstructed and uncontaminated aviation fuel was found in the lines and fuel selector valve. The fuel selector valve was found in the off position and it had received impact damage. The left pilot seat was found locked in the 6th locking hole aft. The left and right seat belt and shoulder harness were found unbuckled. The left wing tip navigation light bulb filament was found stretched. No other intact light bulbs were found in the wreckage. The main electrical supply battery produced about 13 volts. The electrical system is a 24-volt system. Impact damage caused a short in the electrical system behind the instrument panel. The engine-driven alternator produced voltage when a field current was applied and it was rotated by hand.
The airspeed indicator showed 170 knots after the accident. The altimeter had impact damage and the needles were missing. The altimeter setting was found set to 30.10 inches Hg. The decal on the altimeter indicated it was last tested on October 9, 1995. The vertical speed indicator showed 2,000 feet per minute down. The directional gyro showed a 360 degree heading. The vacuum driven attitude indicator was found showing a 45-degree left bank and a 10 degree nose-down attitude. The electric driven turn and bank indicator showed a full left wing down and full right ball indication when found.
Examination of the engine showed that the engine rotated and each cylinder produced compression. Continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives was confirmed. The engine contained oil and the oil filter and suction screen had no contamination in it. Each magneto produced spark at each post when rotated by hand. The magneto switch in the cockpit was found in the left magneto position and had received impact damage to the point the key was broken off. The magneto switch operated normally when tested. The spark plugs were new, having been installed the day before the accident according to a friend of the pilot. Each spark plug had light gray deposits, consistent with normal engine operation. The carburetor had no contamination in the fuel bowl and the inlet screen was clean. All passages in the carburetor were unobstructed and the needle valve and float operated normally. The muffler was opened and showed no evidence of leakage. The propeller had "S" bending damage and chord wise scratching on the face of the blades. The propeller spinner had rotational crushing damage consistent with rotation under power at the time of the accident.
Examination of the vacuum pump showed it rotated normally. The drive coupling was intact. Disassembly of the pump showed no evidence of failure or malfunction. Disassembly of the directional gyro showed the case had not received impact damage and the gyro rotor had no damage or rotational scars. Disassembly of the attitude indicator showed the case had no impact damage and gyro rotor had no damage or rotational scars. The electric gyro rotor showed rotational scars.
Examination of the emergency locator transmitter showed it had activated and the battery had 11.1 volts when examined. The battery expiration date was May 2001. The antenna was broken off the top of the airplane. A friend of the pilot reported the pilot accidentally broke this off in October 2000, and had never repaired it.
Medical and Pathological Information
Postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Steven T. Hayne, M.D., Deputy Coroner, Rankin County, Mississippi. The cause of death was reported to be massive craniocerebral trauma. No findings which could be considered causal to the accident were reported. Postmortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the pilot were performed by Dennis V. Canfield, Ph.D., Manager, FAA Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The specimens were identified as having putrefaction. The tests were positive for 174 mg/dl ethanol in kidney, 180 mg/dl ethanol in muscle, 9 mg/dl acetaldehyde in kidney, 4 mg/dl acetaldehyde in muscle, 2 mg/dl n-butanol in muscle, 7 mg/dl n-propanol in kidney, and 6 mg/dl n-propanol in muscle. The tests were negative for drugs. (See the toxicology report, which is an attachment to this report).
A friend of the accident pilot stated that after the performance in Biloxi on the night of November 15, 2001, he and the accident pilot visited with the cast and crew. The accident pilot may have had some beer and wine, he is not sure, but, he did not seem impaired. During the drive back to the airport, to fly home, they stopped at a convenience store so the accident pilot could buy cigarettes. He does not know if the accident pilot bought beer or anything else. Two grocery bags from the EZSERVE convenience store were found in the cabin part of the airplane wreckage along with the rings for two six-packs of beer. Five of possible 12 beer cans were recovered in the wreckage.
The airplane wreckage was released by NTSB on December 10, 2001, to Gerry Mosley, Brookhaven, Mississippi, who represented the pilot's family.