On May 27, 2002, about 1450 eastern daylight time, a Taylorcraft BC-12D N36322, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while in cruise flight near Roxbury, New York. The certificated private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that departed Bloomsburg Municipal Airport (N13), Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, destined for Freehold Airport (1I5), Freehold, New York. No flight plan was filed, and the flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, earlier in the day, he and his passenger departed Freehold, New York, and flew to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. After landing, the airplane remained at Bloomsburg for about 1 hour. It was serviced with fuel, and the pilot rechecked weather. The pilot was advised that the winds aloft for the return trip to Freehold were forecasted to be approximately 6 knots at 3,000 feet msl, and that thunderstorms were forecasted to develop after 1700.

The pilot and passenger reboarded the airplane. The engine started on the first attempt, and the pilot taxied the airplane short of runway 26 where he completed the engine run up checks. No engine anomalies were identified, and the pilot taxied the airplane onto the runway for departure. Once airborne, the pilot turned the airplane to the northeast, and climbed to an initial altitude of 2,000 feet msl. Because the airplane was not equipped with an electrical system, or a handheld GPS, the pilot used a combination of dead reckoning and pilotage to navigate back to Freehold. As the flight progressed toward higher terrain, the pilot continued to climb in order to maintain 700 to 1,000 feet agl.

About 2 hours into the flight and approximately 15 minutes from the pilot's planned destination, the airplane encountered a downdraft. At the time of the encounter, indicated air speed (IAS) was between 85 and 95 mph, altitude was approximately 3,700 feet msl, and the airplane was approaching a 3,100-foot ridge at a 30-degree angle. Upon entering the downdraft, the airplane developed a high rate of descent. The pilot applied full throttle, and slowed the airplane to its best rate-of-climb airspeed, which was 60 mph. With the engine operating at full power, the pilot was unable to arrest the descent. The airplane continued to descend until the right wing struck a tree. It then rolled inverted, and impacted the ground.

The pilot added that he did not encounter any downdrafts prior to the one associated with the accident, nor did he encounter any turbulence. When asked if there was any convective activity in the vicinity of the accident site, the pilot responded "no," but that he did see a possible thunderstorm about 20 miles to the northwest of the accident site just prior to the accident. In addition, the pilot stated that visibility en route varied between 5 to 8 miles, and sometimes was greater than 20 miles, and that the ceiling was broken between 5,000 feet agl to 8,000 feet agl.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating. His last third-class medical certificate was dated November 30, 2000, and contained no waivers or restrictions. The pilot had a total flight experience of approximately 90 hours; with 40 hours of that being in the accident airplane make and model. In addition, the pilot had approximately 10 hours of mountain flying experience.

A weather observation was taken about 1 minute after the accident at the Albany International Airport (ALB), Albany, New York, which was located 48 miles to the northeast of the accident site, and approximately 2,700 feet lower in elevation. According to the observation, the wind was 090 degrees at 5 knots, visibility was 8 miles, sky was clear, temperature was 79 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point was 61 degrees Fahrenheit, and the altimeter setting was 30.13 inches of mercury.

Another weather observation was taken about 5 minutes after the accident at the Sullivan County International Airport (MSV), Monticello, New York, which was located 44 miles to the southwest of the accident site, and approximately 1,600 feet lower in elevation. According to the observation, the wind was 190 degrees at 6 knots, visibility was 10 miles, a few clouds at 800 feet, temperature was 72 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point was 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and the altimeter setting was 30.18 inches of mercury. In addition, the remark section of the observation noted lighting distant to the southwest, and that thunderstorm activity began at 1456.

An upper atmosphere sounding was taken at 5,000 feet pressure altitude about 5 hours before the accident over ALB. According to the sounding, the wind was approximately 200 degrees true at 5 knots, temperature was 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and dew point was 48 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, all the sounding within approximately 300 miles to the west of the accident site recorded wind speeds of 10 knots or less.

According to the pilot, he weighed approximately 175 pounds, the passenger weighed approximately 125 pounds, baggage totaled approximately 5 pounds, and fuel remaining was approximately 24 pounds, which made the operating weight at the time of the accident about 1,030 pounds. The maximum gross weight for the airplane was 1,200 pounds.

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