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On December 29, 2001, at 1410 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20C, N6953V, owned and operated by the private pilot, collided with trees and subsequently the ground and burst into flames following a loss of engine power while on approach to the Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville, Georgia. The flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed. The pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by impact and the post-crash fire. The flight originated from Ormond Beach Municipal Airport in Ormond Beach, Florida, on December 29, 2001 at 1120.
According to the Gainesville Unicom operator, the pilot reported that he had a loss of engine power and was landing on runway 11. Shortly after the radio transmission, the Unicom operator observed smoke in the distance and contacted 911 emergency. A witness in the local area observed the airplane rocking its wings and then nose down in a spin impacting into trees and the ground and burst into flames. The witness stated that he did not recall hearing any engine noise.
The private pilot held a rating in single engine land airplane. The pilot's third class medical certificate was issued on April 28, 2000, with no restrictions or limitations. The pilot reported on his medical certificate application that his total civilian flight hours was 176. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination.
The Mooney M20C, S/N 20-1186, was a four seat, single engine airplane. The most recent maintenance inspection was an annual inspection completed on August 7, 2001. The airplane had a total time of 7745 hours at the time of that inspection. According to the maintenance records, on July 19, 2000, 32 hours prior to the last annual inspection, both left and right fuel tanks were resealed with "ProSeal", leak checked and signed off as OK.
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Weather conditions at Gilmer Memorial Airport at 1353, were sky condition few at 5,000 feet, visibility 10 statute miles, wind 260 degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 20 knots, temperature 13 Celsius, dewpoint 2 Celsius, and altimeter 29.89 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
On-scene examination of the wreckage found that the airplane had impacted trees and the ground in a nose down attitude and was found inverted with the cabin and inboard wing sections consumed by the post-crash fire.
Examination of the fuel system revealed that the fuel boost pump was heavily damaged by fire, the fuel lines were destroyed. The boost pump was recovered and the drive end to the motor was inspected. The drive end of the pump appeared normal and would rotate. The fuel selector/gascolator assembly was recovered and was also heavily fire damaged. The fuel lines were destroyed. The selector valve was found to be selected to the left tank. The gascolator, main fuel strainer was opened for inspection and the main fuel screen was found clean. Further examination of the fuel system revealed an obstruction in the right wing fuel tank supply line to the engine.
Both fuel tank interiors were examined. The interior walls of the fuel tanks exhibited a very heavy application of fuel tank sealing compound material (Pro Seal). The left tank fuel screen assembly was removed for examination and appeared to be in a normal configuration. However, ash and unidentified debris was found within the fuel line. Examination of the right tank fuel screen assembly found it to be an unapproved parts configuration. The screen material appeared to be hand fabricated to fit the supply line. Additionally, an obstruction was located in the end of the right wing fuel tank supply line. The obstruction was removed and appeared to be a metal sleeve of unknown origin. The metal sleeve was lodged sideways within the end of the fuel line.
A review of the airplane's maintenance records disclosed that the fuel tanks had undergone previous repair. The maintenance log entry dated 7/19/00 item 2 reads. "Resealed both left and right fuel tanks with ProSeal in accordance with Mooney Maintenance Manual chapter 4-14 and figure 4-1. Leak checked OK"
Examination of the propeller assembly found it damaged. One blade was bent aft, while the opposite blade was nearly straight, with slight forward bending noted. The propeller governor was secure on the case, but had incurred fire damage. The control arm was in high pitch/low rpm position, impact damage to the control cable was noted. The unit was removed for examination. The drive coupling was intact. The gasket screen was clean, The unit turned by hand and pumping action was noted.
Examination of the engine found the number 2I and number 4E valves to be partially open. The engine was rotated and continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives was established. Each cylinder produced compression while the engine was rotated. Examination of the engine lubrication system, induction system, ignition system, including magnetos, leads, harness and spark plugs were accomplished with no anomalies noted.
The carburetor assembly was also damaged. The mount flange was fractured, the throttle was full open, and the mixture control was full rich. The carberator heat valve was in the heat on position, the airbox was partially crushed and the heat control cable was broken. The induction air filter element was intact and impacted with soil. The air duct retained original shape. The carburetor was removed for inspection. No fuel was found remaining in the lines or float bowl. The gauge line fitting appeared cross-threaded on the aluminum elbow. The line was removed and contained ash and debris. All of the fuel lines and hoses were fire damaged. The carburetor fuel inlet screen was found to contain a small amount of unidentified debris. The carberator was opened for examination. The white plastic float was melted. The needle valve was removed, and appeared normal. The main nozzle and internal passages were not obstructed. The engine fuel pump was secured to the case and removed for inspection. The pump was opened and the rubber diaphragms were heat damaged, the steel components of the pump remained intact.
Cockpit instrument and control readings were unobtainable. Examination of the airplanes flight controls found no pre-impact anomalies. The wing flaps and landing gear systems were found in the up position.
Examination of the engine revealed no pre-impact mechanical failure or malfunction which would have prevented the engine from developing power prior to the accident. The airframe and engine logbooks were not recovered for examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiners Office, Atlanta, Georgia. The autopsy report has been requested but not received at the time of this report. On March 20, 2002, a Toxicology examination of the pilot was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Research Laboratory. The examination revealed no Carbon Monoxide or Cyanide were detected in the blood, and no ethanol or drugs were detected in the urine.
The wreckage was released to the owners representative at Atlanta Air Salvage, Griffin, Georgia, 30223.