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On November 8, 2002, at 1633 central standard time, a Cessna 152 single-engine airplane, N4835B, was destroyed upon collision with terrain following a loss of control during approach near Justin, Texas. The airplane was registered to and operated by Prop Holdings, Inc., Justin, Texas, under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airline transport rated pilot, who was the sole occupant, received fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The personal flight departed the Fort Worth Meacham International Airport (FTW), near Fort Worth, Texas, at 1617.
A witness, traveling west in a vehicle on County Road (CR) 1384, reported the airplane flying from the south, flew "low across CR 1384, then started go straight up very quickly, then curved and flew straight down." Another witness, traveling in a vehicle on CR 1384, observed the airplane "go straight up, just before it stalled out. It broke over nose down and spiraled." A witness, driving on a lease road west of the accident site, observed the airplane "go straight upward maybe 1/4-mile high and made a over the hill type move and then the airplane came straight down and made a slight turn clockwise." A witness, approximately 1/4 mile west of the accident site, observed an airplane flying south to north approximately 250-300 feet agl, and "all of a sudden the airplane started upwards straight as an arrow and then it just stalled kind of like and headed straight downwards and it turned 1/4 of the way around clockwise and it was coming down." A witness, approximately 1/2 mile west of the accident site, observed an airplane "go straight up about 1,000 to 2,000 feet," when "it flipped and headed straight down. It made 1/2 spiral." Witnesses called 911.
During personal interviews, conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), acquaintances reported, the original flight departed the pilot's private airstrip (GPS latitude 33 degrees 07.69 minutes North; longitude 097 degrees 21.64 minutes West) near Justin, Texas. The pilot was flying the airplane to FTW to pick up a battery.
The following information summarized the activity of the airplane on the day of the accident. At 1511, the pilot requested and was cleared by the local controller at the Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW), Fort Worth, Texas, for the flight to transition the AFW airspace from north to south. The controller issued the altimeter setting of 29.81 inches of Mercury to the pilot. At 1514, the pilot reported that the engine was failing, and he declared an emergency. The controller cleared the airplane for landing on runway 16R. Airport and ARFF personnel responded to the Alert II. At 1516, the airplane was on the ground at AFW without further incident. The pilot cancelled the emergency, at 1519. At 1522, the pilot requested and was cleared to shut down the engine.
The manager of AFW airport operations, who is a pilot, reported that the engine was running rough after the airplane landed. Subsequently, the engine stopped, and the pilot, who was in the right seat, exited the airplane. The pilot used a sampler cup and drained fuel from the fuel tank sumps and the fuel strainer. Subsequently, the pilot probed each fuel tank. The pilot then entered the right seat of the airplane and started the engine. At 1528, the pilot requested and was clear to taxi the airplane to the ramp.
On the AFW airport operations report, the pilot indicated 5 gallons of fuel on board at the time of the emergency. The pilot's description of the incident stated "primer became unlocked causing engine to surge from full power to cut-off - 3 miles west of Alliance headed straight for 16R and landed without incident-strained all fuel no water found engine ran fine."
The pilot requested that 5 gallons of 100 LL fuel be added to each wing fuel tank on the airplane. The operations specialists at the Fixed Base Operations (FBO), who fueled the airplane, observed "a very miniscule amount of fuel" in each fuel tank. On the day of the accident, the FBO fueling log indicated that 11 other airplanes had been fueled from the fuel truck and no discrepancies had been reported.
At 1547, the pilot requested and was issued a taxi clearance. At 1557, the airplane was cleared for takeoff on runway 16L, wind 160 degrees at 15 knots, and the altimeter setting 29.77 inches of Mercury. At 1600, the pilot requested and the controller approved a frequency change.
The airplane landed at FTW and taxied to parking at a south hangar. Subsequently, the pilot obtained a battery from the mechanic, who had serviced the battery. The mechanic observed the pilot load the battery in the baggage compartment from the left side of the airplane. The pilot boarded the right seat of the airplane and closed the door. Subsequently, the mechanic observed the left door open, and "a mouse hit the ground and ran off." The door was closed, the engine started, and the airplane was taxied from the hangar.
At 1620, the pilot requested and was cleared by the local controller at AFW for the flight to transition the airspace from south to north. The controller issued the altimeter setting of 29.67 inches of Mercury, and the pilot reported a flight altitude of 1,500 feet msl for the airplane. There were no further communications with N4385B.
The FAA records, reviewed by the NTSB IIC, showed that the airline transport rated pilot held type ratings in the Boeing 727, 757, 767, and DC-9 aircraft. The pilot held the following FAA certificates: commercial pilot certificate with the airplane single-engine land rating; flight engineer certificate with the jet rating; mechanic certificate with the airframe and power plant rating. The pilot held an expired FAA flight instructor certificate for the airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument rating. The pilot held an aerobatic competency rating for the Pitts S2B aircraft with an altitude limitation of 500 feet agl.
According to personnel at American Airlines, Inc., the pilot's accumulated flight time was 6,799.5 hours. The pilot was issued a first class medical certificate, without limitations, on November 4, 2002. On the medical application the pilot reported 13,000 hours total flight time and 300 hours in the previous 6 months.
To date, the NTSB IIC has not received the maintenance records showing the history of the aircraft. The FAA registration certificate was issued to the current owner on February 14, 2002. Acquaintances reported to the NTSB IIC that the aircraft maintenance was performed on the aircraft by the owner/pilot.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The Global Positioning System (GPS) location of the accident site was latitude 33 degrees 08.08 minutes north; longitude 097 degrees 21.66 minutes west, in a furrowed field with sparse vegetation. The main wreckage came to rest upright at an elevation of 731 feet on a measured magnetic heading of 095 degrees, approximately 2,000 feet northwest of the destination airport.
Ground scars and aircraft deformation was consistent with a right wing low, nose low impact. The airplane came to rest at the approximate pattern downwind to base position for the private grass airstrip (1,800 feet long by 90 feet wide). The wreckage distribution path was along a measured magnetic heading of 265 degrees for a distance of 29 feet from the initial impact point to the center of the fuselage. Portions of fiberglass from the outboard right wing tip were found in and adjacent to the initial ground scar. The initial ground scar measured approximately 16 feet, and the width of the ground scar was consistent with the right wing leading edge. At the west end of the initial ground scar, was a crater, approximately 6 1/2 feet by 5 1/2 feet. Portions of fiberglass and the nose landing gear were found in the crater. Extending outward from the crater were two ground scars approximately 6 feet long and the distance between the ground scars was consistent with the distance between the main landing gear of the airplane.
Initial examination of the aircraft, engine, and propeller was conducted at the accident site on November 9, 2002, under the supervision of the NTSB IIC. The airplane was recovered to a hangar at the Northwest Regional Airport (52F), Roanoke, Texas, for further examination under the supervision of the NTSB IIC.
The cockpit and instrument panel was compressed aft and twisted toward the left side. The mixture and throttle levers in the cockpit were found in the full forward position, respectively. The master switch was in the "ON" position and the magneto switch on the "BOTH" position. The altimeter read 1,250 feet with a Kollsman window (altimeter) setting of 29.76 inches Mercury. The attitude indicator read level attitude and a 30-degree right bank. The directional gyro read 130 degrees, and the vertical speed indicator read 775 feet per minute climb. The transponder squawk read 1200 and the unit was set on altitude (ALT). The hobbs meter read 4,135.2 hours. The tachometer read 5,473.5 hours. The circuit breakers were found destroyed. The cabin air and cabin heat were in the "OFF" position, respectively. The carburetor heat was in the "OFF" position. The flap indictor was in the retracted position, and the flap indicator handle was bent to the left. The FAA inspector, who responded to the accident site, reported the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) a Dorne & Margolin model DM 6.1, serial number 49251, was found in the "ON" position.
The front left seat (#1) was found separated from the seat track, and the seat legs were bent toward the left side of the cockpit. The right front seat (#2) base was compressed and the seat track was bent upward and to the left. The occupant restraint system (shoulder harnesses and lap belts) was found not fastened.
The McCauley propeller (model 1A013, serial number 770372) was found attached to the flange with the propeller spinner crushed, and the propeller flange bent aft approximately 10 degrees. Scoring was observed inside the spinner. One propeller blade was bent approximately 5 degrees forward, and a gouge (1 1/2 inch long; 3/4 inch deep) was observed approximately midspan of the blade. One propeller blade exhibited leading edge gouges, and approximately 15 inches of the outboard portion of the blade was twisted approximately 45 degrees.
Flight control continuity was confirmed. According to the manufacturer's representative, the "flap actuator indicated the flaps were in the retracted position." The stall warning indicator at the wing was removed and tested. According to the manufacturer's representative, the stall warning "functioned." Impact deformation precluded a determination for the rigging of the stall warning system
The fuel primer was found in the locked position. The fuel primer ferrule was found separated from the primer body. Both fuel caps were vented and the seals were intact. Approximately 2 1/2 gallons of fuel was drained from the right and left wing fuel tank, respectively. A fuel sample, from the right main fuel tank, was visually examined and the fuel was a "blue color" with no contaminants noted. The integrity of the fuel system was compromised, and the physical deformation of the separated lines was consistent with overload. The vented fuel caps were secure and there was no evidence of fuel leakage at the filler cap. During examination, air passed through the fuel vent line, fuel lines, tanks, and all portions of the fuel system to the fuel gascolator. No fuel was found in the gascolator. When air passed through the fuel lines to the fuel selector valve, fuel was expelled from the inlet line to the fuel gascolator. The gascolator filter screen contained foreign material (white powdery in appearance) over approximately 40 percent of the screen area. Foreign material, similar in appearance, was also noted on the aft fuel outlet fitting from the left fuel tank. Visual examination of the fuel tanks did not reveal foreign material in the fuel tanks, and the fuel screens were clear of debris.
Fuel samples from the refueling operator at AFW was tested by the manufacturer, and the fuel tested was within the manufacturer specifications for the aviation 100LL grade. A fuel sample (approximately 400 ml) from the right wing fuel tank was tested by Petroleum Specialist Lab, Floresville, Texas. The laboratory test results indicated that, the fuel "did not meet Aviation Gasoline Specifications D910." According to laboratory specialists, the "amount of fuel in the tank, the age of the fuel, and exposure of the fuel to the air and sunlight contributed to the fuel not meeting the specifications." Approximately 300 ml of the fuel sample was centrifuged, and the debris retained for examination at Material Analysis, Inc., Dallas, Texas.
The fuel gascolator, carburetor and aft fuel tank fitting were retained by the NTSB for further examination and testing. No anomalies were found that could have contributed to the accident.
The engine, a Lycoming L-235-L2C, serial/number L-15287-15, was found crushed against the firewall. The tachometer reading was 5,473.5 hours. The carburetor, a Facet MA3-SPA, serial number CR1-5315 was found separated from the engine crankcase at the oil sump. The air box, the throttle plate and arm, and a portion of the drain plug were found separated from the carburetor. No debris was found on the carburetor inlet fuel screen.
The continuity check was performed on the Lycoming engine by manually rotating the crankshaft. Continuity was confirmed from the crankshaft flange to the rear accessory case gears, and thumb compression was obtained on all the cylinders. The engine timing was found to be at 20 degrees BTC. The magnetos (left magneto, Slick model 4391, serial number 91050063; right magneto, Slick model 4381, serial number 92090045) were rotated by the crankshaft and sparks were produced at the respective engine lead and/or the magneto post.
The engine's oil filter was removed and opened, and the filter was free of debris.
The vacuum pump, Airborne, serial number 11 AL 4531, drive was rotated by hand, and the pump produced compression and suction.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The autopsy was conducted by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Tarrant County, Texas. The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute's (CAMI) Forensic Toxicological and Accident Research Center examined the pilot's specimens taken by the medical examiner. According to CAMI, the pilot's toxicology showed no indication of alcohol or performance-impairing drugs at the time of the accident.
The airplane wreckage was released to the Estate.