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On January 15, 2004, approximately 1810 central standard time, a Beech B36TC single-engine airplane, N7252X, registered to and operated by a private individual, was destroyed when it impacted the ground while maneuvering near Willow Park, Texas. The instrument rated private pilot/owner, sole occupant of the airplane, was fatally injured. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight that departed William Hobby Airport (HOU), near Houston, Texas, about 1620, destined for Parker County Airport (WEA), near Weatherford, Texas. Night instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed for the personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
A witness, who was in his home located near the accident site, reported that he heard the sound of a loud, accelerating engine noise coming from the area directly north of his house, followed by the sound of an impact. He called 911, then left his home to search for the accident site.
A second witness, who was at his home near Parker County Airport, said it was raining at the time of the accident, and the fog was "so bad you couldn't see anything." He added that it was dark outside.
A review of air traffic control communications revealed that the flight had been cleared for the VOR/DME-A instrument approach into Parker County Airport at 1752. The pilot acknowledged and said, "I'm only gonna make one attempt and at that time...I want climb out instructions direct to [Odessa]."
At 1753, a controller provided the pilot with the most current weather at Mineral Wells Airport (MWL), near Mineral Wells, Texas, which was approximately 19 nautical miles west of Parker County Airport. The weather was reported as wind from 130 degrees at 4 knots, 1/2-nautical mile visibility, rain, a broken layer of clouds at 200 feet, and an overcast ceiling at 1,200 feet.
At 1806:52, the pilot reported he was unable to finish the approach and needed some climbing instructions direct to Odessa. Eight seconds later, he was cleared to make a left turn, proceed direct to Odessa, and maintain an altitude of 3,000 feet mean sea level (msl). At 1807:10, the pilot acknowledge the instructions, and asked the controller what heading he was supposed to turn to. The controller asked the pilot if he was unable to go direct to Odessa, and the pilot responded that he could "definitely go direct." At 1807:25, the controller asked him if he had the equipment to navigate direct, and the pilot responded, "affirmative."
At 1807:52, the controller instructed the pilot to climb and maintain six thousand feet, and the pilot acknowledged. There were no further communications with him.
A review of radar data revealed a target emitting an instrument flight rules (IFR) transponder beacon code approached the Parker County Airport from the west. The target tracked along the inbound course for the VOR/DME-A instrument approach. As it flew along the course, it descended from an altitude of 3,000 feet msl down to 1,700 feet msl, then climbed back up to 1,800 feet msl, before it initiated a left turn to the north-northeast. Examination of the last 1 minute and 32 seconds of radar data revealed that after the target turned toward the north-northeast, it maintained an altitude of 1,800 feet msl for approximately 25 seconds before it made a right turn toward the east, followed by a turn to the north-northwest before the data ended at 1808:24.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued on October 25, 2002, with the limitation of wearing corrective lenses.
The pilot accumulated a total of 997 flight hours, of which 700 were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. He accumulated a total of 161 flight hours in night conditions, and 130 total flight hours in actual instrument meteorological conditions.
Examination of the aircraft logbooks revealed that an annual inspection of the airplane was completed on September 8, 2003.
The airplane had accumulated a total of 2,403 flight hours prior to the accident.
The pilot obtained weather briefings for the destination airport, which reported instrument meteorological conditions, including rain, mist, low visibilities and ceilings.
The weather observation facility at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport (FTW), located 17 nautical miles east of the accident site, at 1753, reported the wind from 110 degrees at 10 knots, 1.5 statute mile visibility, rain, overcast at 500 feet, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.00 inches of Mercury. The temperature was 57 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dew point was 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
AIDS TO NAVIGATION
The published inbound course for the VOR/DME-A approach was 077 degrees magnetic, and the minimum descent altitude was 1,680 feet msl. The distance between PANTR NDB and the missed approach point, which was located to the west side of the airport, was 5 nautical miles. The airport elevation was 990 feet msl.
The Parker County Airport runway 17 was a 2,889-foot-long and 40-foot-wide asphalt runway, which was equipped with non-standard low intensity runway lighting (LIRL), two clear displaced threshold lights, and two red lights at the end of the runway.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on January 16-19, 2004. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The airplane came to rest in a ditch, which was a roughed out road for a future subdivision, at an elevation of approximately 840 feet mean sea level (msl), on a magnetic heading of 180 degrees. There was no post-impact fire.
The accident occurred during the hours of darkness approximately 032 degrees, 45 minutes north latitude, and 097 degrees, 40 minutes west longitude.
The cockpit area was crushed. Both the left and right wings exhibited leading edge impact damage, and remained attached to the airframe. The tail section remained intact, and the control surfaces exhibited impact damage.
Examination of the flap actuator revealed the flaps were extended 15-degrees. The landing gear was found in the extended position. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit to each flight control surface.
The engine remained attached to the fuselage, and was buried approximately two feet in the impact crater. The engine was intact, and exhibited impact damage. The engine was manually rotated, and compression and valve train continuity were established for each cylinder. The magnetos were found separated due to impact damage. The left magneto was bench tested, and produced spark from each ignition lead. The right magneto could not produce spark due to impact damage. The spark plugs were removed and examined. The electrodes were intact, and appeared light gray in color. The rear part of the vacuum pump was separated from the engine, and was destroyed.
The 3-bladed propeller assembly remained attached to the engine. The first blade was separated from the propeller hub, and exhibited leading edge damage with chordwise scratches. The second blade was separated from the propeller hub, and exhibited trailing edge damage with chordwise scratches and gouges. The tip of the blade was bent aft. The third blade remained attached to the propeller hub, but fit loose in the hub. The blade exhibited chordwise scratches, and a gouge in the tip of the blade.
Both the left and the right fuel tanks were breeched, and there was no evidence of fuel. The fuel selector handle was found selected to the "right" position.
Examination of the airplane and engine revealed no mechanical deficiencies.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on January 16, 2004, by the Medical Examiner at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences at Dallas. The cause of death was determined as massive blunt force trauma.
Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
A One-Touch glucose monitor, syringes, lancets, and human insulin were found in the wreckage. The bottle of insulin was approximately 3/4-full. According to the pilot's family, the pilot was a diabetic. However; examination of the pilot's FAA medical history, revealed he did not report this medical condition to the FAA. According to the FAR PART 67.313 section A, the standards for a third-class medical certificate are: "No established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus that requires insulin or any other hypoglycemic drug for control."
The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on January 19, 2004.