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On September 18, 2002, at 1300 eastern daylight time, a Mikoyan Gurevich MIG-15 fighter airplane, registered to and operated by the pilot, collided with the ground near Whiteville, North Carolina. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, however, witnesses in the vicinity of the accident reported thunderstorm activity at the approximate time of the accident. The airplane was destroyed and the commercial pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on September 18, 2002 at 1245.
After departing North Myrtle Beach, the pilot established radio contact with Washington Center for flight following to Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The flight was assigned a cruise altitude of 17,500 feet and was given a squawk code. The pilot had begun to read back the squawk code when radio communication with the airplane was lost. Attempts to re-establish communications failed, and the remaining circumstances of the flight are not known. When the airplane failed to reach the destination airport, a search was initiated.
The airplane wreckage was located several hours later in a wooded area near Whiteville, North Carolina. The flight was enroute from North Myrtle Beach to NAS Oceana for an air show.
Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane on April 28, 1998. Records also revealed that the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with a rating for multi-engine land, and a type rating for the DC-B26/private pilot.
Review of information on file with the FAA aero medical records, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on October 30, 2001 with the restriction "must have available glasses for near vision". The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated 2,200 total flight hours. The pilot's flight logbook was not recovered for examination. Associates of the pilot estimated that he had flown about 50 hours in the accident airplane.
Airplane maintenance records were not recovered for examination. According to friends of the pilot, all maintenance logs were onboard the airplane at the time of the accident. The personnel who performed the last maintenance on the airplane did not have copies of the work performed. However, it was learned that the last scheduled inspection was an annual inspection, performed in August of 2001. The aircraft maintenance logbooks were not recovered for examination, and the total airframe hours were not determined.
The nearest weather reporting facilities at the time of the accident were Wilmington, North Carolina, approximately 20 miles to the east of the accident site, and Whiteville, North Carolina, approximately 20 miles to the west of the accident site. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
The 1253 eastern daylight time weather observation from Wilmington was: 2,800 scattered, 3,500 overcast, visibility 8 miles, temperature 79 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 69 degrees Fahrenheit, wind 100 degrees at 8 knots, and altimeter 30.03.
The 1243 eastern daylight time weather observation from Whiteville was: 2,800 scattered, 3,400 and 9,000 overcast, visibility 5 miles with haze, temperature 79 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 71 degrees Fahrenheit, wind 050 degrees at 4 knots, and altimeter 30.02.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The downed airplane was located approximately 20 miles west of Wilmington, North Carolina. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the airplane rested in a relatively flat attitude in an upright position. The airplane was in a crater 4 feet deep and about 8 feet wide. There was also a post-crash fire and the airframe was fire damaged. The wreckage was confined to a small area in and around the crater.
The forward and center sections of the fuselage were extensively fire damage and were found in the crater. The empennage was separated from the fuselage. However, the separated empennage was mostly intact. The front section, or compressor section, of the engine was attached to the fuselage center section. The aft engine section remained attached to the empennage.
The left wing was found resting on the ground in its approximate pre-crash position. The inboard leading edge was impact damaged, and the wing tip was broken off and buried in the ground. The fuel drop tank sustained crush and fire damage and was found in a crater at the accident site. The main spar was protruding up through the top of the wing surface nearly the entire length of the wing.
The outboard 8-foot section of the left wing assembly was bent down and followed the contour of the ground. The left aileron and flap were found attached, and the wing flap was in the retracted position. The right wing was found resting on the ground in its approximate pre-crash position. The inboard leading edge struck a 6-inch thick tree trunk. The tree trunk was embedded 18 inches into the inboard leading edge.
The Klimkov VK-1 turbojet engine was transported to Griffin, Georgia for further examination by the Powerplants Group, National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, DC. Exterior examination of the engine revealed that it was crushed on the bottom and was broken into several pieces. The rear of the engine was canted 20 degrees to the left.
The compressor case was burned on the right side and bottom. A quadrant of compressor impeller blades were bent towards the direction of rotor rotation, however, there was another quadrant of compressor impeller vanes, as well as all of the turbine blades that were bent opposite the direction of rotor rotation. The turbine wheel was separated from the turbine shaft and several of the disk-to-shaft bolts were bent in the direction of rotor rotation. Soot was found on the interior surfaces of the combustion chambers.
The inlet screens, although separated from the inlets, did not have any holes in the mesh or non-metallic material on the mesh. The turbine vanes, turbine blades, and exhaust case struts did not have any spray material on the airfoils or struts. The canopy and forward windshield frames of the airplane were in tact and in the locked position. No evidence of a pre-accident, component malfunction, failure, or fire was found during the post-accident examination of the wreckage.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A post mortem examination was performed on the pilot by the Office of the Medical Examiner of Orange County, Chapel Hill, North Carolina on September 20, 2002. The examination revealed the cause of death was "multiple blunt force trauma". Toxicological testing, performed by the FAA's Civil Aero medical Institute of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed that no drugs or alcohol was detected.