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On January 11, 2003, about 1600 mountain standard time, a Cessna 182H, N8567S, collided with a Grumman F6F-5, N4994V, in midair about 1 mile east of Parker, Arizona. Both airplanes were operated by the pilots under 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot and passenger in the Cessna sustained fatal injuries. The airline transport pilot in the Grumman was not injured. The Cessna was destroyed; the Grumman received substantial damage to the left wing tip and performed an uneventful landing at the Parker (uncontrolled) Airport. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the personal flights, and no flight plan had been filed for either airplane. Both airplanes departed the Parker airport prior to the collision.
On the day of the accident, Parker Airport, also known as Avi Suquilla, was hosting an "Air Expo" and there were over 4,000 people in attendance. The Air Expo was to provide a static display of the airplanes for the attendees. Aircraft operators performed aerial formation flights, flybys, and parachuting demonstrations. The event was sponsored by the Blue Water Casino; the airport and casino are enterprises of the Colorado River Indian Tribe (CRIT). The Grumman airplane was participating in the event with other "Warbirds" owned by private individuals and organizations.
There were no Notices to Airman (NOTAM), nor notifications made to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airman Information Manual (AIM), or to the FAA Flight Service Stations.
According to witnesses, the transient Cessna was departing on runway 19 with a left climbing turnout northbound on the downwind leg, destined for Lake Havasu City. The Grumman was returning to Parker Airport to land after a local photo shoot with another airplane. The collision occurred about midfield on the left downwind leg for runway 19. The Grumman pilot stated that he was not aware of the Cessna's departure or position, and observed it just before the collision.
Thereafter, the airport manager dispatched the attending fire department equipment and a police helicopter to the scene. The manager assisted in the parking and securing of the Grumman away from the attending crowd.
The Grumman F6F pilot submitted a written statement. The Grumman pilot said he was monitoring the Unicom frequency and reported several miles inbound for the overhead approach to runway 19. He overheard other aircraft in the pattern and decided to follow an F-86 warbird that was turning base to final for an overhead approach. He flew over the runway centerline about 600 feet above ground level. Near the departure end of the runway he looked left to see if there was any traffic on the downwind leg. No traffic was observed so he announced that he was in the left break for downwind and turned left to the downwind leg and climbed to the pattern altitude. At pattern altitude he was abeam the departure end of the runway. He located his reported traffic in the pattern; one was on final, one on base, and the F-86 was on his right on a wide downwind and ahead of him. He chose to follow the F-86. About midfield, while straight and level on the downwind leg, the pilot started the Before Landing Check List. During that procedure he checked his position relative the the runway. At that instant, another aircraft came into view from below and ahead of him and the collision occurred. He transmitted the collision information and subsequently landed with substantial damage to the left wing.
Cessna Pilot Information
The Cessna pilot held a private pilot certificate and was rated for airplane single engine land. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued July 26, 2001. At the time of the medical certificate examination, the pilot reported a total flight time of 1,000 hours with 22 hours in the past 6 months. No additional pilot information was obtained.
Grumman Pilot Information
The Grumman pilot held an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and was type rated in numerous airplanes. He holds a flight instructor's certificate for airplane single and multiengine land and instrument airplane. At the time of the accident, the pilot's most recent first-class flight physical occurred on October 15, 2002. The pilot filed a National Transportation Safety Board accident report form in which he reported a total flight time of 12,700 flight hours, with 35 hours in the accident make and model airplane.
Cessna Airplane Information
The 1965 Cessna 182H, airplane is a single engine hi-wing four-place with a fixed tri-cycle landing gear. The most recent documented annual inspection occurred on August 19, 2002, at 3,362 total flight hours.
Grumman Airplane Information
The vintage Grumman F6F-5, airplane is a single engine, single seat, low wing airplane with retractable conventional landing gear. The airplane has a special airworthiness certificate in the Experimental/Exhibition category. The operator is required to conform to the restrictions, limitations, and requirements established by the FAA for this airplane dated May 1, 1980.
The most recent required maintenance, a Condition Inspection, occurred on March 2, 2002. At that inspection, it was determined to have a total of 2,075.3 flight hours with 10 hours since that inspection.
The airport routinely provides an aeronautical advisory station (Unicom) on 122.725 MHz, and provides wind and preferred runway information. Under normal procedures, the Unicom operator would log the call sign of aircraft using the airport. On the day of the accident, due to the volume of traffic, the log was not used. The Unicom operator did not recall hearing the Cessna on frequency. Preliminary visual examination of the Cessna's two damaged communication radios revealed the top radio was indicating 122.7, and the other was 121.902 MHz. The Grumman airplane had one Gables head VHF radio with 25 kc frequency spacing. The older VHF radios did have the ability to receive 50 and 75 kc transmissions by way of "bleed over." The pilot used a handheld VHF radio for transmissions on 75 kc spacing as for the Parker 122.725.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage path was measured over about 747 feet. From the Cessna location the main wreckage path was about 353 degrees. At the start of the wreckage path was located a plastic dorsal fin from the vertical stabilizer, about 246 feet south of the main wreckage.
Examination of the Grumman's left wing revealed a leading edge impact 13 inches inboard from the wing outboard rib. Imbedded in the Grumman wing were components of the Cessna's vertical stabilizer and rudder. Impact signatures on the components indicated an initial strike to the rudder 10 inches up from the bottom trailing edge. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were severed from the Cessna and located 342 feet beyond the main Cessna wreckage. At 60 feet abeam and east of the vertical stabilizer and rudder was the wing tip cover for the Grumman. The lower portion of the rudder below the severed line was located an additional 113 feet, with the Cessna tail cone found an additional 46 feet.
The Safety Board did not take possession of either aircraft.