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On September 29, 2002, about 1950 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172S, N514SP, registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with Mt. McLoughlin located 25 nautical miles northeast of Medford, Oregon. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at Rogue Valley International Airport, Medford, at the time. No flight plan had been filed for the flight which departed from Caldwell Industrial (EUL), Caldwell, Idaho, about 1800 mountain daylight time. The flight was en route to Medford. The aircraft's emergency locator transmitter was identified by Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at 2143 and the State of Oregon Aeronautics Emergency Response initiated a search. On October 1, 2002, about 1230, the aircraft was located at the 8,700 foot level of Mt. McLoughlin (9,495 foot summit). Both the commercial pilot and the airline transport rated passenger were fatally injured.
Due to the severity of the terrain and adverse weather conditions, the aircraft was not recovered from the accident site until October 5, 2002. The wreckage was then transported to Independence, Oregon.
The left seat pilot held a commercial certificate for single and multi-engine land aircraft with an instrument rating. The pilot's flight logbook indicated a total flight time in all aircraft of 962 hours, with 652 hours as pilot-in-command. Approximately 375 hours had been accumulated in the make and model aircraft involved in the accident. The logbook indicated the first flight in N514SP was on March 30, 2002. At the time of the accident, a total of approximately 135 hours had been accumulated in N514SP. Logbook entries identified two flights from Medford to Boise Air Terminal (BOI), Boise, Idaho. The first flight was in July 2002, and the second flight was in August 2002. No entries indicated a flight into Caldwell.
The commercial pilot held a Class 1 medical certificate dated May 30, 2001. The medical indicated a limitation to wear corrective lenses.
The pilot seated in the right seat held an airline transport pilot certificate for multi-engine aircraft and commercial certificates for single-engine aircraft and helicopter. A flight instructor certificate was held for single and multi-engine aircraft and instrument, as well as, advanced and instrument ground instructor. At the time of the last medical examination for a Class 1 medical certificate dated July 23, 2002, the pilot indicated a total flight time of 21,000 hours. The medical indicated a limitation to wear corrective lenses.
During the review of the commercial pilot's flight logbook, two entries dated July 27, 2002 and September 8, 2002, indicated that the airline transport pilot was on board the flights during "practice instrument approaches." These flights were in the accident aircraft in Medford and Redding Municipal (RDD), Redding, California.
The accident aircraft s/n: 17288871, was manufactured in 2001, and was equipped with a Lycoming Engines IO-360-L2A engine. Maintenance records indicated that the last annual inspection was accomplished on March 25, 2002, at a total airframe and engine time of 54.5 hours. On September 11, 2002, the numbers 2 and 4 cylinders rocker cover gaskets were replaced. The engine was run and leak checked. No leaks were noted. Approximately 12 hours had been accumulated on the aircraft after this last maintenance visit.
At 1956, Medford Rogue Valley International Airport, located 25 nautical miles southwest of the accident site at an elevation of 1,335 feet, reported the weather as few clouds at 7,000 feet. Visibility was 10 statute miles. The winds were from 360 degrees at six knots. The temperature was 13 degrees Celsius and the altimeter setting was 30.06" Hg.
At 1953, Klamath Falls International Airport, Klamath Falls, Oregon, located 31 nautical miles southeast of the accident site at an elevation of 4,095 feet, reported the weather as few clouds at 4,000 feet and scattered at 25,000 feet. Visibility was 7 statute miles. The winds were from 300 degrees at 10 knots, gusting to 18 knots. The temperature was 7 degrees Celsius and the altimeter setting was 30.03" Hg.
An AIRMET was in effect for the route of flight for mountain obscuration and occasional moderate turbulence below 18,000 feet.
At 1821 the flight contacted McMinnville radio reporting that they were VFR (Visual Flight Rules) to Medford at 7,500 feet and approaching the Juniper MOA (Military Operating Area) east of Lakeview, Oregon. The pilot wanted to know current Medford weather and if there was activity in the MOA. The controller reported that there was no activity in the MOA. The 1756 automated weather in Medford was reporting the wind from 290 at seven knots. Visibility was 10 miles. The clouds were scattered at 7,000 feet and the temperature was 17 degrees Celsius. The altimeter setting was 30.02" Hg. The controller gave the pilot a pilot report from an aircraft in the area and the Klamath Falls altimeter was 30.00" Hg.
The pilot acknowledged this information. The controller asked the pilot if he had the AIRMET for mountain obscuration along their route and occasional moderate turbulence below 18,000 feet. The pilot acknowledged that they were getting "very little turbulence here at 7,500. It's clear and the temperature is 3 degrees Celsius." The controller asked the pilot his location, and the pilot responded that he was 75.8 nautical miles from Lakeview VOR on the 46 degree radial.
At 1932 the flight again contacted McMinnville radio reporting that they were VFR just north of Klamath Falls at 8,000 feet and were requesting the weather in Medford. The controller reported that the 1856 observation indicated the wind from 320 at seven knots. Visibility was 10 miles. The ceiling was 7,000 feet broken. The temperature was 16 degrees Celsius and dew point was 02 degrees. The altimeter was 30.04" Hg. The forecast through 2100 was for winds from 290 at eight knots. Visibilities were greater than six miles, with broken clouds at 7,000 feet.
The pilot acknowledged this information. The controller responded with the current Klamath Falls altimeter of 30.01" Hg, and asked the pilot for a pilot report over the Cascades. The pilot responded that it had been smooth coming up on Klamath Lake, and that he would let him know the conditions when they go over the mountains. The controller responded asking if the pilot had the Airmets for mountain obscuration. The pilot responded "That's affirmative we can also see em."
There were no further communications with the accident aircraft after 1934.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located on the northeast face of Mt. McLoughlin at an altitude of approximately 8,700 feet. The accident coordinates were 42 degrees 26.87' North / 122 degrees 18.74' West. The site was described by search and rescue personnel as a sheer cliff of loose lava rock. Snow covered the wreckage and surrounding terrain. The peak of Mt. McLoughlin is 9,495 feet. Due to the severity of the terrain conditions, only experienced mountain rescue personnel were on site. One of the rescue team members reported that the point of impact appeared to be on a rock face located about 100 feet above the main wreckage. The aircraft then slid down to its final resting point. The propeller was found between the point of impact and the main wreckage.
Aerial and ground photographs of the wreckage indicated that the aircraft was generally intact with both wings still attached at the wing roots. The cockpit area was severely compromised. The empennage remained in place with the vertical and horizontal stabilizers in place.
The wreckage was recovered from the accident site on October 5, 2002.
On October 10, 2002, the National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-In-Charge and participants to the investigation from the Federal Aviation Administration, Cessna Aircraft Company and Lycoming Engines inspected the wreckage which had been transported from the accident site to HLM Air Services, Independence, Oregon.
During the wreckage examination, it was noted that both wings, wing lift struts and left side horizontal stabilizer had been removed by recovery personnel for transport.
Examination of the left wing noted that the entire length of the leading edge from root to tip was crushed rearward. The chord of the wing at the root was reduced to 4 feet 6 inches. At the flap/aileron split, the chord was reduced to 3 feet 9 inches. Approximately three feet inboard of the tip, the compression reduced the chord back to the leading edge of the aileron. Both the flap and aileron remained attached at their respective hinges. Flight control continuity was established for both the flap and aileron from the tip to the root. The fuel tank was compromised.
The right wing displayed similar leading edge rearward crush as the left wing. The chord at the root was reduced to 3 feet 6 inches. At the flap/aileron split, the chord was reduced to 3 feet 10 inches. At the tip, a severe impact indentation was noted at the bell crank. Flight control continuity was established from the tip to the root. Both the flap and aileron remained attached at their respective hinges. The flap motor located in the right wing was inspected. No threads were showing on the jack screw indicating that the flaps were fully retracted.
The horizontal and vertical stabilizers remained attached to the empennage and the flight control surfaces remained attached to their respective hinges. Flight control continuity was established from the aft attach points forward to the aft cabin area. Due to severe structure compression, continuity to the control yokes could not be established. The cabin area and instrument panel were destroyed. Some of the faces and internal mechanisms of the flight instruments were located within the wreckage, however, no readings were possible. The distance from the firewall to the main landing gear measured 2.5 feet compared to a normal distance of 5 feet for the area measured.
The engine sustained severe frontal impact damage. The front crankcase was fractured and both halves of the main bearing separated leaving the front thru-studs exposed. The camshaft was visible as well as the crankshaft. The crankshaft in the area of the front main bearing was bent approximately 20 degrees to the right. The front number one connecting rod was bent around the first cheek. The rear area of the case were also cracked. The cylinders were damaged. Most of the accessories had separated. Both vacuum pumps were disassembled and found fragmented internally. Both magneto shafts rotated freely. One sustained impact damage and would not produce a spark. The other magneto produced a spark at all towers. The engine driven fuel pump was destroyed.
The propeller assembly separated from the crankshaft at the flange. Both propeller blades displayed severe impact damage with gouging and impact damage noted along the leading edges and severe chordwise scoring along the blade back. Blade "A" was missing the outboard 13 inches of the blade tip that broke off. The separated section was severely twisted. Blade "B" displayed a
10 inch tear down the center of the blade from tip to hub.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsies were performed on both pilots by the Deputy State Medical Examiner, Central Point, Oregon. The Medical Examiner reported that the cause of death to both pilots was due to massive trauma.
Toxicological samples were sent to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for analysis. The results of the analysis for both pilots were negative.
During the search effort, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department was contacted by the wife of the pilot in the right front seat. The wife reported that she received a call from her husband at about 1930. Her husband stated that they were checking on the weather at Medford and that they were about 40 minutes out from landing.
Radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration Air Route Traffic Control Center and McChord Air Force Base, Washington, 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron first identified the aircraft by radar at 1814 mountain daylight time. The target was four miles south of Caldwell (EUL) at 4,400 feet. The flight tracking continued on a southwesterly heading until 1821 Pacific daylight time when the aircraft dropped from radar coverage while at 7,700 feet. (Approximate time and location of first contact with McMinnville radio). At 1908, the aircraft reentered radar coverage while at 7,400 feet elevation in the vicinity of Summer Lake (approximately 42 degrees 50' North / 120 degrees 45' West). The flight tracking continued the straight line southwesterly tracking. At 1940 the flight tracking was over the north end of Klamath Lake at an elevation of 8,000 feet. The flight altitude continued to climb to an elevation of 9,000 feet at 1948. From 1948:59 to 1949:59, the flight elevation was level at 8,900 feet. The last recorded data from the Federal Aviation Administration was at 1950:11. The elevation was 8,800 feet at 42 degrees 27' 00" North / 122 degrees 18' 25" West. McChord AFB last recorded data was at 1950. The elevation was 8,700 feet at 42 degrees 26' North / 122 degrees 18' West.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on October 21, 2002.