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On May 29, 2002, about 1738 eastern daylight time, a Beech F33A, N858KS, registered to a private individual, was lost from radio and radar contact and crashed in a wooded area near Conway, South Carolina. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight from the Grand Strand Airport, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Lincolnton County Regional Airport, Lincolnton, North Carolina. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and the private-rated pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The flight originated about 1730, from the Grand Strand Airport.
According to a transcription of communications with the Raleigh, North Carolina, Automated Flight Service Station (Raleigh AFSS), a person using the accident airplane's call sign contacted the facility on the day of the accident at 1705:37, and filed an IFR flight plan for the flight. During the phone call the briefing specialist asked the pilot if he needed "...weather, notams, or winds aloft", to which the pilot replied, "nah i got it just a little bit ago." The briefing specialist then asked the pilot if he had convective sigmet 47E, to which he replied, "yeah." The briefing specialist advised the pilot, "okay [thats] ah yeah thats right near your vicinity and do you have a few clouds ah areas of precipitation there also can i get you anything else" to which the pilot replied "thats it." The phone call was ended and there was no further contact by the pilot to the facility.
According to a transcription of communications with the Grand Strand Airport (KCRE) Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT), the pilot obtained his IFR clearance and was cleared to taxi to runway 05. The flight was cleared to takeoff flying runway heading at 1729:32, which was acknowledged by the pilot. At 1730:19, the KCRE ATCT controller advised the pilot to contact Myrtle Beach departure control. According to a transcription of communications with the Myrtle Beach Air Traffic Control Tower, the pilot established contact with that facility at 1731:12, and the controller then advised the pilot to climb and maintain 4,000 feet and to say the heading he was flying. The pilot responded by stating he was flying 330 degrees and, "...i'm doing a little bit of ah deviation to the right here around a little buildup here", to which the controller asked the pilot if he could fly heading 360 degrees. The pilot responded, "...negative not right now." At 1731:45, the controller advised the pilot to fly heading 210 degrees for vectors around traffic which the pilot acknowledged. At 1732:30, the controller then advised the pilot that when leaving 2,600 feet to resume own navigation and that deviation as necessary was approved, which the pilot acknowledged. The controller again advised the pilot resume own navigation and deviation as necessary was approved to which the pilot responded at 1733:19, "ah eight kilo sierra roger i'm deviating a little bit here to the south uh looks maybe about ah two or three miles and then i'll be able pick up my northwesterly heading." That transmission was acknowledged by the controller; there was no further recorded radio transmission from the pilot. At 1739:06, the controller broadcast on the frequency that radar contact was lost. A search for the airplane was initiated, it was located the following day at 1003 hours.
According to the NTSB Air Traffic Control Specialist's Factual Report, radar data revealed that at 1733:50, the airplane's mode C indicated 2,700 feet, and the heading changed from approximately 210 to 310 degrees while the airplane was climbing. The airplane leveled off at 4,000 feet mean sea level at 1735:57, and between 1736:49 and 1737:36 (last recorded radar target), the airplane descended from 4,000 to 800 feet while in a right turn. The average rate of descent between 1736:49 and 1737:36 was later calculated to be 4,085 feet-per-minute. The last recorded radar target was located at 33 degrees 52.515 minutes North latitude and 078 degrees 55.882 minutes West longitude.
There were no known witnesses to the accident. An individual near the accident site reported that the weather conditions about the time of the accident included heavy rain, there was no reported lightning.
The pilot was the holder of a private pilot certificate issued on November 19. 1983, with airplane single engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He was issued a third class medical certificate on February 7, 2001, with the limitation "Holder shall wear corrective lenses." The pilot listed on his application for the medical certificate having a total time of 9,200 hours.
No pilot records were located; therefore, no determination was made as to whether the pilot was instrument current.
The airplane was manufactured by Raytheon Aircraft Company in 1993, as a model F33A airplane, and was designated serial number CE-1727. It was equipped with a Teledyne Continental Motors IO-520-BB engine rated at 285 horsepower, and a constant speed propeller. The airplane was also equipped with a B.F. Goodrich stormscope, and a Eventide Argus 5000 moving map display with monochromatic weather depiction. The stormscope and moving map display were installed on December 16, 1994.
Review of the airplane maintenance records revealed the airplane was last inspected in accordance with an annual inspection on October 2, 2001, at an airplane total time of 1,401.2 hours. No determination was made as to the hours accumulated at the time of the accident since the inspection. The last recorded test of the altimeter and transponder system occurred on August 7, 2000.
According to a NTSB Meteorology Factual Report, a meteorological aerodrome report (METAR) taken at the Grand Strand Airport on the day of the accident at 1653 (approximately 12 minutes before the pilot phoned the Raleigh AFSS and 37 minutes before the flight departed) indicates in part few clouds existed at 8,000 feet, and the thunderstorm sensor was inoperative. A METAR taken from the same airport at 1753 (approximately 15 minutes after the accident) indicates in part few clouds existed at 2,600 feet, scattered clouds existed at 3,600 feet, a ceiling of broken clouds existed at 6,000 feet, and again the thunderstorm sensor was inoperative. The Grand Strand Airport is located approximately 11 miles east-southeast of the accident site. A radar summary chart issued for 1715 on the day of the accident (approximately 10 minutes after the pilot first contacted the Raleigh AFSS) revealed a large area of echoes over eastern South Carolina. An area of echoes (intense to extreme) identified as thunderstorms and rain showers was depicted over South Carolina in the immediate vicinity of the accident site, with an echo top to 45,000 feet. Cell motion was depicted to the southwest at 14 knots. The closest National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Surveillance Radar-1988, Doppler (WSR-88D) was located approximately 26 miles northeast of the accident site in Wilmington, North Carolina (KLTX). The 0.5 degree elevation scan from that facility at 1733:40 (approximately 4 minutes before the accident) which depicts the conditions between 662 and 3,282 feet, indicate a broken line of echoes with VIP Level 1 intensity near the airplane's plotted flight track line. The 1.3 degree elevation scan from that facility at 1735 (approximately 3 minutes before the accident) which depicts the conditions between 3,142 and 5,762 feet, indicate a large area of echoes with VIP Level 6 intensity located approximately 3 miles north of the airplane's plotted flight track line. The 1.3 degree elevation scan from that facility at 1740:30 (approximately 2 minutes after the accident), which depicts the conditions between 3,142 and 5,762 feet, indicates echoes in the range of VIP Level 5 (intense activity) over the airplane's plotted flight track line. The series of images indicate the growth and movement of the area of convective echoes to the west-southwest at approximately 10 knots. The report further states that the flight track of the airplane is into the leading edge of this area of echoes that reach VIP Level 5 which indicate intense activity or greater.
The report further indicates that Convective Sigmet 47E, which was issued on the day of the accident at 1655 (approximately 10 minutes before the pilot phoned the Raleigh AFSS) and in effect for the departure airport area, was issued for a line of embedded thunderstorms 35 miles wide and moving from 090 degrees at 20 knots. The sigmet indicated cumulonimbus cloud tops were observed and forecast to 43,000 feet. The advisory implied the potential for heavy rain, severe to extreme turbulence, severe icing, low level wind shear (gust fronts, downbursts, and microbursts) and locally IFR conditions.
There was no record that the pilot obtained a preflight weather briefing from any of the two DUAT vendors. A fixed base operator located on the departure airport did have computerized weather information; however, no printed record of a weather briefing was found in the wreckage.
The pilot was last in contact with the Myrtle Beach Air Traffic Control Tower at the time radio and radar contact were lost, there were no reported communication difficulties.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane crashed into a wooded area, located near Conway, South Carolina. The accident site was located at 33 degrees 52.82 minutes North latitude and 078 degrees 55.50 minutes West longitude, or 054 degrees and .44 nautical mile from the last radar target.
Examination of the accident site revealed no evidence of a gradual descent from the tree tops to the ground. The energy path and distance from the first damaged tree to the main wreckage was oriented on a magnetic heading of 046 degrees and approximately 138 feet, respectively. Parts of the airplane including the propeller were located along the energy path from the first contacted tree to the main wreckage which consisted of the fuselage. The top section of the fuselage was fractured at fuselage station (FS) 177, while the bottom section of the fuselage was fractured at FS 233. All major structural components necessary to sustain flight were located at the accident site. The left wing was separated at the wing root; however, the wing was wrapped around a tree near the main wreckage. The left flap actuator was found extended approximately 1 11/16 inches, which equates to being retracted. The right wing was fragmented but the outboard section containing the wingtip was found near the main wreckage. The right flap actuator was found extended approximately 2 inches which was nearly fully retracted. Both elevators were fragmented, but sections of both remained secured to both horizontal stabilizers which were attached to the airframe. The counterweight for the right elevator was located; however, the counterweight for the left elevator was not found. Impact damage to the leading edges of both horizontal stabilizers was noted. Examination of both elevator and rudder stops revealed no evidence of damage; they were not bent. Both elevator trim tab actuators measured 1.5 inches extended which equates to 8 degrees trailing edge tab down. The entire leading edge of the vertical stabilizer was crushed aft, with the top portion crushed down and to the left. The rudder assembly was fractured. The landing gear was retracted. Examination of the flight control cables for roll, pitch, and yaw revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. No computerized weather briefing papers were found in the wreckage; however, IFR charts were found in the wreckage. Examination of the cockpit revealed the propeller and mixture controls were full forward and full rich, respectively. The throttle control was separated from the panel. The engine alternate air control was in the "closed" or "off" position. The cabin door was fractured in 2 pieces, the door handle was found in the closed position. The upper hook latch of the cabin door was fractured. The engine was separated from the airframe and the propeller was separated from the engine. The airplane's attitude indicator was retained for further examination.
Examination of the engine revealed crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity; impact damage was noted to all cylinders. Both magnetos were separated from the engine; only a portion of one magneto was recovered. The fuel metering unit was separated and was not located, and the propeller governor was destroyed. The vacuum pump was separated from the engine but recovered; the drive coupling was not failed. The rear cover of the vacuum pump was only secured by 1 screw; crushing to the housing was noted. The vacuum pump rotor and rotor vanes were not located. The engine driven fuel pump was separated from the engine but recovered; the drive shaft was bent and fractured. Disassembly of the engine driven fuel pump revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. The fuel manifold valve screen was clean; the cover was only secured by 1 screw. The No. 2 cylinder was removed revealing no evidence of lack of lubrication. The oil pump assembly gears were intact; the drive gear spline was bent. The oil pressure relief valve was intact, the valve and seat were smooth with no evidence of contamination. All spark plugs exhibited normal to severe wear when checked using Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug chart.
Examination of the propeller revealed all three blades remained secured inside the propeller hub but all blades were free to rotate. All threads in the propeller hub mounting holes were stripped, and 1 alignment dowel from the propeller hub was missing. The leading edge of the No. 1 propeller blade was twisted towards low pitch approximately 4 inches from the blade tip, and the blade was bent aft approximately 90 degrees. Slight damage to the leading edge was noted near the blade tip. The No. 2 propeller blade exhibited "S" type bending, with heavy gouges noted on the leading edge of the blade. The No. 3 propeller blade was bent aft approximately 20 degrees, and deep gouges were noted on the blade face approximately 16 inches inboard from the blade tip.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by the Horry County Medical Examiner's Office. The cause of death was listed as massive trauma. The medical examiner's office did not provide specimens of the pilot to the Federal Aviation Administration for toxicological testing due to a reported, "No specimens available."
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Examination of the retained attitude indicator revealed the case was crushed, and the back plate was missing. The pitch reference pointer was missing, and the yoke was destroyed. Rotational scoring was noted on the rotor housing, and a deep rotational score line was noted in the bucket area of the rotor.
The airplane minus the retained maintenance records, and attitude indicator was released to Mark Thompson, of USAIG, on December 2, 2002. The retained maintenance records and the attitude indicator were released to Mark Thompson, on August 24, 2004.