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On December 9, 2001, at 1051 central standard time, a Cessna T210-M airplane, N317RG, registered to and operated by the pilot was destroyed when it impacted a highway construction vehicle and the ground during a forced landing after a loss of engine power near Monticello, Arkansas. The private pilot and his passenger sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The cross-country flight originated at 0900 from the Terrell Municipal Airport, Terrell, Texas, and was en route to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Radar information provided by ATC showed that the airplane was level at 9,500 feet MSL when the pilot reported that he was having engine problems. Subsequently, the radar showed that the aircraft descended at an average rate of about 1,090 feet per minute over the next 4 minutes. During the descent, the aircraft turned from its original northeasterly heading to a southeasterly heading. The last radar contact occurred as the aircraft descended below 5,800 MSL, about 6.3 nautical miles northwest of the accident site.
A witness, who was driving westbound on LA HWY 278, observed the airplane approaching from the south at "tree top level" apparently attempting to land on the highway. As the airplane approached the highway, it struck an asphalt compactor and "burst into flames", coming to rest on the highway.
The pilot held private pilot certificate and a valid third class medical certificate. Information provided by the FAA showed that the pilot had accumulated 260 hours of flight time as annotated on his last medical certificate dated October 10, 2000. The pilot's logbook was found in the wreckage severely damaged by fire and no recent information could be derived.
The 1977 model airplane S/N 21062186 was initially purchased on September 9, 1977, with a registration number of N761DZ, and was equipped with a Continental TSIO-520 engine, S/N 512449. On February 14, 1981, the aircraft was issued a registration number of N112YM. Records provided by the FAA indicated that the pilot purchased the aircraft in January of 1996, and was then issued its current registration number of N317RG on September 21, 1998. An FAA damage history report for all three registration numbers used by the aircraft provided an incident record dated June 6, 1995. The record indicated that the aircraft landed long and nosed over after departing the runway, with a CFI and student pilot onboard.
The airframe, engine and propeller logbooks were found in the wreckage severely damaged by fire. The last entry that was discernable in the airframe logbook was for an annual inspection. The entry was dated December 1, 2001, and showed an aircraft total time of 2,001 hours. An entry in the engine logbook, at a total time of 1,745 with an undetermined date, showed that the engine had been rebuilt. The annual inspection entry in the engine logbook had the number "269" with what appeared to be the letters "SMOH" next to it. An entry in the engine logbook dated October 3, 1999, showed a total time of 1,806 hours. The propeller logbook showed that a new propeller had been installed on March 20, 1998.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident site was along an two-lane highway which was oriented east-west and ran through a heavily wooded area with 60-70 foot tree tops. The site was located about 5.5 nautical miles west of the Monticello, Airport. Two asphalt compactors were parked along the shoulder of the highway, with one equipped with a steel canopy. Tire tracks, corresponding to all three landing gear on the aircraft were found on the compactor with the canopy. The orientation of the tire tracks was about 346 degrees magnetic. Some wreckage debris was found along the side of the shoulder adjacent to the compactor. The main wreckage was came to rest on the highway, about 20 feet north of the compactor.
The fuselage, from the engine firewall to the front of the horizontal stabilizer was consumed by fire. The largest piece of fuselage was a portion of the cabin floor which was connected to the left side of the fuselage, including the left rear doorpost. A section of the left wing root and part of the left doorframe were found on the canopy post of the compactor. The landing gear were extended and movable by hand and both main landing gear actuators were open. The flap jackscrew position showed that the flaps were retracted. Both wings were consumed by fire. Control cable continuity for the tail section was confirmed, however, fire damage precluded control cable continuity from the cockpit aft to the tail.
Examination of the engine revealed two holes in the top of the case. A portion of a rod cap end was found laying on the highway, about 20 from the main wreckage. Parts of both rod end nuts were found and one rod end bolt was found. No further examination of the engine was performed at the accident site pending shipment to the manufacturer's facility for further examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL
Toxicological tests and an autopsy was not performed.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The engine was examined at the manufacturer's facility on February 19, 2002, under the supervision of the NTSB. During the teardown examination, the #2 connecting rod was found separated from the crankshaft. The rod straps were separated from the shaft and the rod shaft fractured surfaces were found damaged due to continued engine operation after separation. The rod cap rod cap bolt that were found at the accident site were matched to the residual components of the #2 connecting rod. One rod cap journal contained 1/2 of a rod bolt, and the other journal was missing its bolt. Further examination of debris within the case revealed one of the separated rod straps, which contained 1/2 of a rod bolt. Another complete nut was found within the case debris. A portion of a nut, consistent with a rod bolt nut, was found embedded into the case half forward of the #2 main boss. All of the fractured components of the connecting rod were examined and all exhibited evidence of overload failure. It was determined that the two rod bolts halves were from the same bolt and one complete bolt was not found. The #1 connecting rod was removed from the crankshaft as an exemplar to examine the bearings and journal. The bearings were intact and coated with lubrication. The rod bolts were measured and found to be in limits of stretch and torque. No anomalies were noted on the fractured components other than overload, and there was no evidence of thermal distress within the disassembled engine.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative.