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On October 11, 2002, about 2038 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 182S, N100TY, was destroyed when it collided with mountainous terrain near Brownville Junction, Maine. The certificated airline transport pilot was fatally injured. No flight plan was filed for the cross country flight that originated at Caribou Municipal Airport (CAR), Caribou, Maine, about 1957, destined for Central Maine Airport of Norridgewock (OWK), Norridgewock, Maine. Night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to the pilot's wife, her husband was returning to their home in Norridgewock when the accident occurred. Her husband, who was also a certificated flight instructor, had completed an instrument cross country training flight from Dillant-Hopkins Airport (EEN), Keene, New Hampshire, to Caribou, with one of his flight students, a private pilot applicant. After the flight, the student pilot and his fiancée remained in Caribou for the holiday weekend.
In a telephone conversation, the student pilot said that he and his fiancée met the pilot in Keene, about 1600. The pilot had just flown the airplane back from Portland, Maine, where it had undergone an annual inspection. The weather conditions at Keene were instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).
In preparation for the flight to Caribou, the pilot obtained weather information, and filed an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan with an automated flight service station (AFSS). The student pilot conducted a preflight examination of the airplane, and filled the tanks with fuel. They departed Keene about 1630.
The student pilot said the autopilot was engaged for the majority of the flight, and they used the panel mounted global positioning system (GPS) to navigate. While en route to Caribou, they were instructed by air traffic control (ATC) to proceed direct to Presque Isle, Maine, at an altitude of 7,000 feet. The weather improved north of Millinocket, Maine, and the weather near Presque Isle was "marginal". The pilot requested, and was cleared for the non-precision GPS-A approach at Caribou.
According to the student pilot, the runway lights at Caribou were reported inoperative, but the pilot elected to land there anyway. After two attempts, the pilot landed the airplane about 1930, taxied to the terminal, and parked the airplane. The student pilot described the environmental conditions at Caribou as dark, with some residual light, clear skies, and about 10 miles visibility to the north.
At the terminal, the student pilot purchased 20 gallons of 100 LL fuel. He completely filled the right wing tank, and placed the remaining amount of fuel in the left wing tank, which filled it to just below the tabs.
The student pilot then conducted a "quick walk-around" of the airplane, during which, he saw the pilot in the terminal building on his cell phone. When the pilot returned to the airplane, the student pilot asked him if he was tired and if he wanted to spend the night, then get an early start in the morning. The pilot declined the offer, and said that he was not tired.
The student pilot was concerned about the marginal weather conditions, and told the pilot to watch out for Mt. Katahdin, a 5,268-foot mountain located along the route of flight. The student pilot was also concerned because he knew the pilot liked to fly at "lower" altitudes, between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. The pilot then departed about 2000, and the student pilot last observed the airplane at an altitude of about 2,000 feet, headed south.
A review of air traffic control communications revealed that the pilot contacted the Bangor AFSS after he departed Caribou, and requested the radio frequency for Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). However, the pilot never contacted Boston ARTCC.
An examination of radar data revealed a target emitting a visual flight rules (VFR) transponder beacon code departing the Caribou Municipal Airport area, about 1958. The target climbed and maintained an altitude of 3,100 feet. The target proceeded on a southwesterly track until the data ended at 2029, about 15 nautical miles northeast of the accident site. At 2036:37, the target reappeared at an altitude of 3,100 feet, which it maintained for just over 1 minute. During the next 1 minute and 12 seconds, the target momentarily climbed to 3,200 feet, then descended to 2,700 feet before the data ended. The last radar target was recorded at 2038:49, about 1.6 miles from the accident site.
The accident occurred during the hours of darkness, approximately 45 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude, and 69 degrees, 7 minutes west longitude.
The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He also held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and rotorcraft-helicopter. Additionally, he was a certified flight instructor with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane.
His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class medical was issued on February 28, 2002.
According to the last entry found in the pilot's logbook, on August 11, 2001, he had accrued a total of 3,288 hours of flight time.
Examination of the aircraft logbooks revealed that an annual inspection of the airplane was completed on the day of the accident, at a total aircraft time of 362.2 hours.
When asked how the airplane operated during the flight from Keene to Caribou, the student pilot said: "The airplane flew just like it was supposed to...no sputters, everything worked fine...all gauges were in the green...there were no problems whatsoever."
The Boston Area Forecast, which included the state of Maine, was issued on October 11, 2002, at 1345. Clouds and weather data were valid until the following day at 0200, and the outlook was valid until 0800. The forecast included scattered to broken clouds from 1,500 to 2,500 feet, broken clouds at 4,000 feet, and tops at 10,000 feet. By 1600, overcast clouds were expected at 4,000 feet. The outlook included a VFR ceiling, becoming an IFR ceiling with mist by 0600.
A review of possible in-flight weather advisories along the route of flight revealed that AIRMET Sierra, which reported IFR conditions and mountain obscuration within the state of Maine, was issued, and updated at 1915. The amendment updated the areas associated with the IFR portion of the AIRMET, and included the pilot's route of flight. It was valid until 2200.
Weather at Caribou Municipal Airport, at 1954, included winds from 140 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, overcast clouds at 1,900 feet, temperature 43 degrees F, dewpoint 42 degrees F, and a barometric pressure of 30.40 inches Hg.
Weather at Millinocket Municipal Airport, about 20 nautical miles northeast of the accident site, at 2058, included calm winds, visibility 10 statute miles, scattered clouds 3,200 feet, overcast clouds at 4,300 feet, temperature 54 degrees F, dewpoint 46 degrees F, and a barometric pressure of 30.49 inches Hg.
The wreckage was examined at the accident site on October 14, 2002. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The airplane impacted heavily wooded terrain, on an upslope of approximately 40 degrees, and came to rest at an elevation of approximately 2,575 feet mean sea level (msl). The top of the ridge line was approximately 2,630 feet msl. The wreckage path was oriented on a heading of 183 degrees magnetic, and was approximately 270 feet long.
The point of initial impact appeared to be along a line of several trees that ran perpendicular to the wreckage path. The trunks of these trees were severed at the same approximate height. At the point of initial contact, the width of the swath appeared to be the same approximate dimension as the wing span of the airplane, and narrowed in the direction of the main wreckage. Trunks were severed, and impact marks were evident at points progressively closer to the ground along the wreckage path.
The outboard section of the left wing, including a majority of the aileron, was lodged in a tree at the initial impact point. The leading edge of the wing was perpendicular to the tree. The right wing tip was lodged in another tree about 30 feet to the right of where the outboard section of left wing was located.
Scattered along the wreckage path were the left wing tip, outboard sections of the right wing (including the aileron), both wing struts, the inboard section of the left wing, all three landing gear, top portion of the rudder, left horizontal stabilizer, left elevator, and both cabin doors.
Also found along the wreckage path were two, cut tree branches. Examination of the tree branches revealed flat, smooth cuts at approximately 25-degree angles.
Impact and fire damage was also noted to the base of a standing tree located about 30 feet prior to the main wreckage. The impact marks were vertical to the tree's trunk. One of the marks, an elliptically shaped slice, was the same approximate dimension as a propeller blade. The surface area of the mark was smooth, and exhibited black paint transfers. Just below the impact mark, was a circular-shaped impact mark, similar in size to the dimension of a propeller piston dome. The scar also exhibited black paint transfers. Below that impact mark was an area of gouge marks and sheared tree bark.
The main wreckage consisted of the engine, fuselage area, empennage, the remaining components of the tail control surfaces, and the inboard section of the right wing. The airplane was oriented approximately 350 degrees magnetic.
The cockpit area, the majority of the instrument panel, and the cabin area were consumed by fire.
The engine came to rest facing the tail of the aircraft, the inboard section of the right wing was upside down, and the empennage was on its left side.
The altimeter was fire-damaged, and the altimeter setting in the Kollsman window was 30.44 inches Hg.
The throttle, mixture, and propeller controls were all found in the full forward position.
Flight control continuity was established for the rudder, elevator, elevator trim, and autopilot, to the cockpit area.
Flight control continuity was traced for the right aileron, right flap, and left flap. The control cables were broken, and the ends exhibited broomstrawed fractures.
An examination of the flap actuator revealed a retracted flap setting.
The three-bladed propeller assembly remained attached to the engine. One blade was completely separated from the hub, and the pitch return spring was exposed. Three-quarters of the second blade was consumed by fire. The third blade was intact, and exhibited s-bending.
The engine was intact, but sustained fire and impact damage. The oil sump was melted away, and the accessory gears were fused together by melted metal. The engine could not be rotated.
The top spark plugs were removed and examined. The electrodes were intact, and appeared light gray in color.
Internal examination of each cylinder was conducted using a lighted borescope. Examination of each cylinder revealed no abnormalities to the bottom spark plugs, valves, top surface of each piston, or the cylinder walls.
The fuel manifold valve was intact, and all six fuel nozzles were securely attached to each cylinder. The fuel manifold valve cover was removed, and the rubber diaphragm, valve, and spring were intact.
The fuel pump, fuel servo, and both magnetos sustained fire and impact damage, and could not be examined.
The vacuum pump remained attached to the engine, but the external drive coupling was melted away. The pump was removed from the engine and disassembled. Examination of the internal components revealed that the vanes and rotor drum were intact.
A leather-bound Jeppesen manual, which included instrument approach charts, and folded IFR en route low altitude charts, was found near the main wreckage. According to the student pilot, current sectional aeronautical charts were also onboard the airplane.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on October 15, 2002 , by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner State of Maine.
Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Paroxetine, an antidepressant commonly known as Paxil, was detected in the pilot's heart and liver.
The airplane wreckage was released on October 15, 2002, to a representative of the owner's insurance company.