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On March 7, 2003, at 1500 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 172L, N19770, collided with terrain near Rosamond, California. Kern Charter Service operated the rental airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane was destroyed in the post impact fire. The renter pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The personal cross-country flight departed Bakersfield Municipal Airport (L45), Bakersfield, California, about 1400, with an en route stop at Skyotee Ranch Airport (CL74), Rosamond. The flight's destination was Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (IFP), Bullhead City, Arizona. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The primary wreckage was at 34 degrees 49.696 minutes north latitude and 118 degrees 24.364 minutes west longitude.
According to a witness in the area, he saw the airplane take off about 1500. The airplane was traveling in a westerly direction and was about 200 feet above the ground. The witness turned away to continue working, and when he looked back in the general direction, about 10 minutes later, he saw a crashed airplane. He stated that there were no abnormal noises coming form the airplane, nor did he notice anything unusual about the airplane after takeoff.
Another witness did not see the airplane takeoff or crash, but saw smoke coming from a nearby alfalfa field about 1500. He reported that he had heard it takeoff, but did not hear any abnormal noises coming from the airplane.
Witnesses attempted to assist the occupants after the crash; however, the airplane was on fire and they were unable to get near the airplane. The witnesses also reported that a crosswind existed (to the airstrip), and the winds were blowing between 15-35 miles an hour.
A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land.
The pilot held a special issuance of a third-class medical certificate issued on August 26, 2002. The Authorization for Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate (Authorization) AAM-313 was issued due to a history of diabetes mellitus that was controlled by oral hypoglycemic medication. The FAA indicated that he was ineligible for a third-class medical certificate; however, they determined that the pilot was eligible for the special issued third-class medical. In order to maintain the special issued third-class medical the pilot had to submit to a series of tests, and provide the results as well as a current report from the treating physician regarding his health status at 12-month intervals.
Kern Charter Service provided a copy of their most recent renter information. The pilot's third-class medical indicated that it expired on May 31, 2000; there were no limitations or waivers.
No personal flight records were located for the pilot and the aeronautical experience listed in this report was obtained from a review of the airmen FAA records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The pilot's last medical date was May 23, 2002, in which he listed his total flight time as 510 hours with no hours logged in the last 6 months.
The airplane was a 1972 Cessna 172L, serial number 17260738. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed a total airframe time of 3,605.6 hours at the last 50-hour annual inspection completed on February 14, 2003. A 100-hour inspection was completed on December 31, 2002, at a total time of 3,561.7 hours. An annual inspection was completed on April 1, 2002, at a total time of 3,112.5 hours.
A Textron Lycoming O-320-E2D engine, serial number L-31744-27A, was installed on the airplane. Total time on the engine at the last 50-hour annual inspection was 3,605.6 hours, and 1,839.7 hours since since major overhaul.
Fueling records at Kern Charter Service established that the airplane was last fueled on March 7, 2003, with the addition of 16.63 gallons of 100-octane Low Lead aviation fuel. Examination of the maintenance and flight department records revealed no unresolved maintenance discrepancies against the airplane prior to departure.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the FAA, and Cessna Aircraft Company examined the wreckage at the accident scene. Skyotee Ranch Airport is a private dirt strip oriented along a 260-degree magnetic heading, with power lines located about 100 feet from the departure end of the runway. The accident site was located 1/4 mile southwest from the departure end of the runway in an alfalfa field. The surrounding area was a farming community.
The first identified point of contact (FIPC) contained white lens fragments and a small piece of the right aileron. Adjacent to the aileron was green lens fragments. About 35 feet from the FIPC was a small divet in the ground with slice marks made in the dirt on either side of the divet, which were similar to that of propeller blade strikes. On the southern side of the divet was an impression in the ground similar in length to that of a wing. At the end of the impression were red lens fragments.
The airplane came to rest upright, about 140-feet from the FIPC, at an elevation of 2,600 feet mean sea level (msl). The debris path was oriented along a magnetic bearing of 175 degrees. The empennage came to rest on a northerly heading. The cockpit and engine came to rest on an easterly heading. The left wing came to rest next to the fuselage and engine. The right wing came to rest upside down near the tail.
The post impact fire consumed a majority of the airplane starting at the engine and ending at the horizontal stabilizers. The right horizontal stabilizer sustained burn damage; however, the left horizontal had no fire damage. Investigators noted no smoke streaking on any of the tail surfaces.
Investigators noted that the left wing came to rest in a vertical position with the leading edge touching the ground, and the trailing edge up in the air. The post impact fire consumed most of the left wing to the pitot tube, including a majority of the left flap; the left aileron remained intact. The remaining portions of the left wing showed leading to trailing edge crush damage past the spar starting at the wing strut attach point. The left cabin door separated and was lying in front of the main wreckage.
A majority of the right wing had been thermally consumed up to the aileron/flap split, the right flap was mostly consumed by fire, and the aileron showed evidence of fire damage but remained mostly complete and intact. The wing tip was folded up and curved back and over the top of the wing spanning 6 feet inboard from the wing tip. The wing showed symmetrical leading to trailing edge crush damage to the spar.
The Cessna manufacturer's representative established flight control continuity for the left and right aileron cables to the control yoke. The aileron interconnect cable and flap interconnect cables were separated, which the manufacturer's representative indicated was likely from fire damage. He established elevator control continuity from the forward bellcrank back to the elevator. He also established rudder control continuity from the rudder pedal bar to the rudder.
Investigators noted that the propeller blades remained partially attached to the crankshaft flange. One blade was partially melted at the tip, and the other blade displayed S-bending. Both propeller blades exhibited chordwise scratching.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Kern County Coroner completed an autopsy on the pilot on March 10, 2003. The coroner listed the cause of death as multiple traumatic injuries from blunt force trauma due to an airplane crash. The Kern Regional Criminalistics Laboratory performed a toxicological testing of specimens from the pilot. The results were positive for 0.04 mg/L of Cocaine and less than 3-percent of COHb Saturation.
The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, performed toxicological testing of specimens from the pilot. The results of analysis of the specimens were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and volatiles. The report contained the following positive results for tested drugs: 0.712 (ug/ml, ug/g) Benzoylecgonine detected in blood
40.194 (ug/ml, ug/g) Benzoylecgonine detected in urine
0.013 (ug/mL, ug/g) Cocaethylene detected in blood
0.243 (ug/mL, ug/g) Cocaethylene detected in urine
Cocaine detected in blood
0.17 (ug/ml, ug/g) Cocaine detected in urine
0.13 (ug/ml, ug/g) Lidocaine detected in blood
Lidocaine present in urine
TESTS AND RESEARCH
An engine teardown was conducted at Aircraft Recovery Services, Littlerock, California, on March 9, 2003. The post impact fire thermally damaged the engine, and destroyed the components and accessory sections of the engine. The right magneto separated from its mounting pad; the left remained attached at its mounting pad. Both magnetos were thermally destroyed in the fire. The top spark plugs were removed and showed evidence of heavy sooting. No discrepancies were noted during the teardown of the engine.
The engine manufacturer's representative indicated that there was no evidence of premishap mechanical discrepancies found during the engine inspection.