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On November 10, 2002, at 0748 Pacific standard time, a Beech A36, N69DG, collided with a power line during the initial climb of an instrument departure from the Chino Airport, Chino, California. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The commercial pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries; the other passenger was uninjured. The airplane was destroyed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. The personal cross-country flight originated at 0746, with a planned destination of Granbury, Texas.
In a written statement, the pilot reported that prior to departure he received a weather briefing from a Flight Service Station (FSS). The briefing indicated that localized ground fog engulfed the Chino Airport, and it was expected to burn off by 0800. After arriving at the airport and performing a pre-flight examination of the airplane, the pilot listened to the Automatic Terminal Information System (ATIS), which confirmed the low visibility conditions. He contact ground control and stated his intentions of making an IFR to VFR (visual flight rules)-on-top departure.
The pilot further stated that after taxiing to 26R, the ground controller read to him the departure clearance. He copied and read back part of the clearance, which included the airplane identification, altitude assignments, radar vectors, and the transponder code. He noted that the Departure/Approach frequency was omitted in the clearance, which he thought was attributed to the control tower handling the departures due to the localized fog bank and low tops. After being cleared, he departed the runway and subsequently retracted the landing gear, establishing a medium climb rate. He started a climbing left turn, while making slight trim adjustments to the pitch attitude. While in the turn, the controller directed him to contact Departure/Approach. Not knowing the frequency, he requested that the tower advise him as to what frequency to change to; the tower replied with the appropriate frequency.
The pilot glanced at his radios and noted that the active and standby frequencies were not tuned into the frequency the tower had prescribed. He reached over and input the frequency that corresponded with the tower's assignment. After tuning in the correct frequency, he looked back at the instrument panel and then outside the cockpit. He noticed that wires were directly in his flight path, with a building close behind them. He attempted to configure the airplane in a steep right climb, but the left wing impacted a power line. The airplane crashed in a parking lot and bounced several times, colliding with numerous objects. A post impact fire consumed the airplane.
During an interview with a Safety Board investigator, a Sheriff's Deputy that responded to the accident stated that he talked to the pilot shortly after the accident. The pilot told him that he was on top [of the fog], looked down at his instruments, and then looked up and saw the power lines. The airplane came to rest in a pasture approximately 1 1/2 miles southwest of the airport.
A Safety Board investigator reviewed the transcripts of communications between the pilot and control tower personnel. The examination revealed that at 1541:52 a Chino Air Traffic Control Tower (Local Control South) controller issued a clearance to the pilot which included, "after departure departure control frequency will be one three five point four squawk five two zero five." At 1542:29 the pilot read back most of the clearance, omitting several items including the departure frequency. Excerpts of the transcripts are included in the public docket for this accident.
In the pilot's written statement, he indicated that he had over 2,000 hours total time, of which 1,500 of those hours where accumulated in the same make and model airplane. He reported over 6 hours of flight time in the last 30 days, 2 of which were in instrument conditions. The pilot further reported that on October 27, 2002, he was given a biennial flight review; he noted no discrepancies on the competency or flight check. A review of the Federal Aviation Administration Airman Certification records disclosed that the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single-and multi-engine land and instruments. The most recent third-class medical was issued on June 30, 2002.
At 0653, the weather observation facility at Chino Airport reported calm wind; fog; runway visual range (RVR) less than 1/4 statute miles visibility; broken cloud layer at 100 feet; and overcast at 900 feet. At 0753 the facility reported calm wind; fog; runway visual range (RVR) less than 1/4 statute miles visibility; vertical visibility 100 feet; temperature 12 degrees Celsius; dew point 12 degrees Celsius; and an altimeter setting of 30.13 inches of mercury. At 0818 the facility reported the same weather conditions as 0753, with the exception of the RVR changing to 1/4 statute mile visibility. At 0853, more than an hour after the accident, the facility reported 3/4 statute mile visibility; mist; broken cloud layer at 800 feet and 1,500 feet.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The wreckage was recovered and transported to the facilities of Aircraft Recovery Service, Pear Blossom, California. On November 14, 2002, investigators examined the wreckage under the supervision of a Safety Board investigator.
The engine logbooks were in the airplane during the accident and consumed by fire. The engine and accessories were fire damaged. A partial teardown examination was performed during which all cylinders, pistons, and accessories were inspected.
The engines' internal mechanical continuity was established during rotation of the crankshaft and upon attainment of thumb compression in all cylinders. The spark plugs exhibited coloration consistent with their manufacturer's guide for normal operation and wear, according to the Continental engine participant.
Investigators found no evidence of pre impact mechanical malfunction or failure.
According to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) in section 4-4-3 "Pilot Responsibility upon Clearance Issuance" the pilot is not obligated to read back radio frequencies upon receiving a clearance.
The common departure frequency for Chino Airport is on both the airport diagram and approach plates.