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On May 17, 2002, approximately 0238 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 170A, N1211D, piloted by a non-instrument rated private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain 15 nautical miles west-northwest of the Natrona County International Airport (CPR), Casper, Wyoming. Night visual meteorological conditions with observed dense fog prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal, cross-country flight was being conducted on a visual flight rules flight plan from CPR to Thermopolis, Wyoming, under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The flight originated at 0228.
The pilot's wife said that the pilot took off from Watkins, Colorado, for Thermopolis, on May 16, 2002, about 1900. She said she told him that they were experiencing bad weather but it was moving rapidly to the east. The pilot's wife said she next spoke to the pilot about 2230. He told her that he was at Casper, Wyoming. He told her that he diverted around stormy weather and was going to wait until it cleared. The pilot's wife said he called her again at 0030 and told her the weather was still down and that he would be spending the night at Casper. He told her that he was going to stop at the Flight Service Station and see what they had to say. He told her that he would then sleep in the airplane until sunrise and not to expect him.
The pilot's wife said she received a call about 0400 from Flight Service asking if the pilot had gotten home and forgot to close his flight plan. She told them that he wasn't there , but would go up to the Thermopolis Airport to see if he was there. She said that Flight Service told her that the pilot waited at their office until 0230 when the weather began to clear up. He left after that.
At 0600, the pilot's wife said she spoke with Flight Service and informed them that there was no sign of her husband. Search and rescue was initiated. The airplane was located by Civil Air Patrol personnel and Natrona County Sheriff's deputies approximately 0730.
The pilot was an airframe and powerplant mechanic employed by a fixed base operator in Denver, Colorado. The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single engine and multi-engine land airplanes. The pilot's multi-engine land rating was restricted to centerline thrust.
According to the pilot's logbook, as of May 14, 2002, the pilot had 1,698.3 total flying hours, 1,642.3 hours in single engine land airplanes, and 1,572.7 hours as pilot-in-command. In the previous 30 days, the pilot logged 14.4 total flying hours, all of which was in N1211D. Of the 14.4 hours logged in the previous 30 days, 3.6 hours was at night.
The pilot successfully completed a flight review on May 21, 2001, in N1211D.
The pilot held a second class medical certificate dated November 5, 2001. The certificate showed the following limitation: "Holder shall wear corrective lenses.
The airplane, serial number 20112, was manufactured in 1951. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot and used for transportation to his job in Denver, Colorado, and for pleasure.
According to the airframe logbooks, the airplane underwent an annual inspection on January 1, 2002. The tachometer time recorded at the annual inspection was 2,541.5 hours. The tachometer time recorded at the accident scene was 2,587.7 hours.
The airplane was powered by a Continental O-300-A, carbureted engine rated at 145 horsepower at 2,700 rpm. The engine, serial number 6783-D-2-2, time since major overhaul was 1,627.3 hours.
At 0203, the Aviation Routine Weather Report at CPR was scattered clouds at 1,100 feet, ceiling 2,000 feet overcast, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 43 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 39 degrees F, winds 360 degrees at 6 knots, and an altimeter setting of 30.20 inches of Mercury (Hg).
Civil Air Patrol personnel and Natrona County Sheriff's deputies, reported dense fog in the Casper area during the early morning hours.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The NTSB on scene investigation began on May 17, 2002, at 1900.
The accident site was located in a pasture 2 miles south of U. S. Highway 20, and 15 miles west-northwest of the Natrona County International Airport. The site extended south along a 168-degree magnetic heading for approximately 373 feet.
The accident site began with a 29-foot long, 10-inch wide, and 3-inch deep scrape in the ground running along a 172-degree heading. At the beginning of the scrape were pieces of red glass; blue and white paint chips, and a wing tip light frame. Along the scrape were numerous paint chips, pieces of clear Plexiglas, and pieces from the airplane's left wing.
At the end of the scrape was an impact crater. The crater was 11 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 28 inches at its deepest point near the center. Within the crater were pieces of broken Plexiglas, white paint chips, and a crushed cabin air vent. The ground at the south edge of the crater was pushed upward. A spray of dirt extended outward from the south edge of the crater for approximately 23 feet. Within the spray of dirt were broken pieces from the airplane's cowling and right wing. Additionally, there were broken pieces of Plexiglas, paint chips, and parts from the engine exhaust manifold.
The airplane's propeller was located 62 feet from the initial ground contact point. The propeller was broken torsionally from the crankshaft just behind the flange. The propeller blades showed torsional bending, tip curling, and chordwise and diagonal-running scratches. There were several nicks in the leading edges of both blades.
A debris field, beginning at the propeller, extended south along a 168-degree heading for approximately 143 feet. The debris field was approximately 70 feet at its widest point. Within the debris field were the outboard portion of the right aileron, the left wing fuel tank, the left wing strut, left main landing gear strut, a part of the rudder pedal torque tube, pieces of the cabin's interior walls, pieces of cabin insulation, the right cabin door, several flight and engine instruments, pieces of broken clear Plexiglas, the right side upper cowling door, and numerous charts, manual pages, and personal effects.
A piece of the left doorframe was located 85 feet from the initial ground contact point. It was broken outward and crushed aft.
A piece of the instrument panel with the starter switch was located 90 feet from the initial ground contact point. The panel piece was broken and twisted. The switch was broken off.
The outboard section of the right aileron was located 123 feet from the initial ground contact point. It was broken off at the hinges, and was bent upward and twisted aft.
The left wing fuel tank was located 130 feet from the initial ground contact point. The tank was broken open, and bent and crushed inward. The smell of aviation fuel was prevalent on the ground south of the fuel tank. The upper right cowling door was located at 137 feet. It was broken longitudinally along the hinges and was bent outward.
A 9-foot, 6-inch section of the airplane's left wing forward spar, the left wing strut, and the left main landing gear strut, were located 162 feet from the initial ground contact point. The spar section was broken out, twisted, and bent aft. The left strut was intact and remained attached by the mounting bolts to the wing strut and a piece of the bottom fuselage and left main landing gear strut. The left main landing gear strut was intact. The wheel, brake, and brake line was broken off. The fuselage piece with the landing gear strut was broken out, crushed and twisted. The smell of aviation fuel was prevalent on the spar section and on the ground around the spar and strut.
A second impact scar was located at 179 feet from the initial ground contact point. The scar was approximately 2 feet long, 18 inches wide, and 8 inches at its deepest point. Just south of the hole were pieces of engine crankcase and a bent push rod. A spray of oil began 9 feet south of the second impact scar and ran along the ground on a 172 degree heading for 38 feet.
The right main cabin door was located 188 feet from the initial ground contact point. The door was broken at the hinges and crushed aft along the front edge of the door. The door window was broken out and fragmented.
The airplane's main wreckage was located 208 feet from the initial ground contact point. The wreckage consisted of the airplane's cabin, outboard portion of the left wing and aileron, the aft portion of the right wing, the right main landing gear, the aft fuselage, and the empennage.
Immediately before the main wreckage were broken pieces of the instrument panel, glareshield, several flight and engine instruments, and personal effects.
The airplane's forward cabin was broken open at the instrument panel and right front seat. The cabin front floor was broken open and crushed upward. The top of the front cabin was crushed downward and bent aft. The aft cabin floor was bent downward. The top of the aft cabin was buckled upward and crushed aft. The right aft cabin window was broken out and fragmented. The left aft cabin wall was broken open and crushed aft. The right main landing gear strut and wheel was broken forward and twisted at the front of the broken forward cabin section. The brake line was broken. The wheel and tire was intact.
The outboard section of the left wing and left aileron were crushed aft, bent upward, and twisted aft at mid-span. The left wing strut was intact and remained attached at the wing and fuselage mounting bolts. The left wing tip was broken aft longitudinally. The outboard wing at the wing tip rivet line was broken open and crushed aft. The bottom of the left inboard wing was crushed downward and bent aft. The left flap remained attached to the inboard wing section. It was found in the retracted position. The flap was bent downward at mid-span. Flight control continuity to the left aileron was confirmed.
The remaining right wing was bent aft and twisted forward at the wing root. The bottom aft wing skin, aft spar, and right flap were broken and twisted aft. The inboard portion of the right aileron was crushed aft. Flight control continuity to the right aileron was confirmed.
The airplane's aft fuselage was bent downward and twisted 45 degrees clockwise, aft of the rear cabin.
The airplane's empennage was bent right approximately 40 degrees just forward of the leading edge of the right horizontal stabilizer. The vertical stabilizer was bent left approximately 30 degrees beginning at the base. The top forward part of the vertical stabilizer was bent left 75 degrees. The airplane's rudder was broken free of the vertical stabilizer at the top and bottom hinges. The front edge of the rudder was crushed aft. The top 16 inches of the rudder was bent left and downward 45 degrees. The bottom of the rudder was crushed upward and aft. The tail wheel, tail wheel strut, and fuselage mount were undamaged. The fin leading to the vertical stabilizer was bent left and aft approximately 100 degrees.
The left horizontal stabilizer was crushed aft and bent downward along its entire span. The outer 12 inches of the left elevator was bent upward and crushed aft. The elevator trim tab was deflected upward approximately 5 degrees.
The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were intact. The outboard 8 inches of the forward leading edge of the right horizontal stabilizer was crushed aft approximately 6 inches. The tip of the right elevator was bent downward. Flight control continuity to the elevator and rudder were confirmed.
A second debris field began at the south side of the airplane main wreckage and extended outward from the wreckage along a 168-degree magnetic heading for approximately 90 feet. The second debris field approximately 45 feet at its widest point. Within the debris field were seat belts, charts, tools, personal effects, wheel chocks, airport directory pages, a portable oxygen bottle, a fire extinguisher, engine parts, and engine instruments.
The airplane's left cabin door was located 258 feet south of the initial ground contact point. The top portion of the door, window frame, and window were broken off. The remainder of the door was broken and crushed aft. The cabin window frame was located at 281 feet. A venturi system filter marked the end of the debris field. It was located 302 feet from the initial ground contact point.
The airplane's engine marked the end of the accident site. It was located 374 feet from the initial ground contact point. The engine was broken free at the mounts. The front crankcase was broken open. The crankshaft was broken torsionally just outside the front of the crankcase.
The airplane's left tire rested 363 feet from the main airplane wreckage on a 128-degree heading. The tire and brake were intact. The inner edge of the wheel rim was bent inward.
Readings observed on recovered flight instruments revealed the following:
Altimeter - 3,650 feet mean sea level
Kolsman window - 30.31 inches Hg
Artificial horizon - wings level, 35 degree dive
Suction gage - 1.0 inches Hg
Readings observed on recovered engine instruments revealed the following:
Tachometer - 3,000 rpm
Tachometer time - 2,587.7 hours
An examination of the engine and other airplane systems revealed no anomalies.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An examination of the pilot was conducted by the Natrona County, Wyoming, Coroner at Casper, Wyoming, on May 18, 2002.
The results of FAA toxicology testing of specimens from the pilot were negative for all tests conducted.
Parties to the investigation were the FAA Flight Standards District Office, Casper, Wyoming, and the Cessna Aircraft Company.
The wreckage was released to the insurance company's representative on September 30, 2002.