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On January 17, 2004, about 1921 eastern standard time, a Cessna 150M, N63159, registered to a private individual, collided with trees then terrain near the Venice Municipal Airport, Venice, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91, local, instructional flight from the Charlotte County Airport, Punta Gorda, Florida. The airplane was destroyed and the certified flight instructor (CFI) and pilot-rated student were fatally injured. The flight originated about 1828, from Charlotte County Airport.
According to air traffic control (ATC) information, at approximately 1828 hours, an occupant of the airplane contacted the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT), and advised that the flight was at 800 feet inbound to Page Field Airport, Fort Myers, Florida. The airplane was radar identified and at that time the airplane was later determined to be located 189 degrees and 2.24 nautical miles from the departure airport. The flight remained in contact with RSW ATCT until 1838, when ATC communications were transferred to Page Field Airport (FMY) ATCT. An occupant of the airplane contacted that facility at approximately 1838, and advised that the flight was inbound to the airport for runway 23. At approximately 1843, an occupant of the airplane advised the FMY ATCT that the flight was on a right base to runway 23; the controller cleared the flight for a touch-and-go landing. At approximately 1849, the controller advised the flight to contact the RSW ATCT, which occurred at approximately 1850. The flight remained in contact with the RSW ATCT until approximately 1858, when radar services were terminated. At that time the airplane was located approximately 8 miles south-southeast of the Charlotte County Airport, Punta Gorda, Florida. There was no further recorded ATC communications with the accident flight.
According to a witness located near the Venice Municipal Airport, she was outside her house on the date and presumed time of the accident and reported hearing an airplane for a total time of between 30 seconds and 1 minute; the engine was sputtering the entire time she heard the airplane. She observed an airplane flying what was reported to be southbound, then observed the airplane bank to the right, and descend nose low. She felt the airplane had crashed and called 911 to report what she heard and talked with the Sarasota County Consolidated Communications Center (911 call center). The 911 call center operator referred her to the Air and Marine Operations Center of the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (formally known as DAICC), located in California. The 911 caller could not recall the phone number she was provided and called back to the Sarasota 911 call center. The 911 call center operator who took the second call attempted to communicate with the airport on four separate phone numbers that were listed in the phone book; none of the phone calls were answered. The second call operator established communications with a Sarasota County Aviation Unit deputy who was at the Venice Municipal Airport, and asked him if he had a report of an airplane in distress. The deputy reported the airplane in distress must have been the big airplane that just landed. The Sarasota County 911 call center did not establish communications with the Venice Police Department alerting them of the report of an airplane in distress near the Venice Municipal Airport as first reported in the 911 call.
The mother of one of the occupants was observed by a deputy with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office at the departure airport about 0040 the following morning, inquiring whether her son had returned. An alert notice (ALNOT) was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration Automated Flight Service Station, St. Petersburg, Florida, at 0044 hours on January 18, 2004. The Charlotte County Sheriff's Department contacted the Venice Police Department at 0115 hours on the 18th of January, advising them to Be On Look Out (BOLO), for the accident airplane. Personnel from Venice Police Department performed a search of the Venice Municipal Airport but did not located the airplane. A search for the airplane was initiated by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Department, with the assistance of the Civil Air Patrol. The wreckage was located in a wooded area at approximately 1408 hours on January 18, 2004; adverse weather was noted during the search.
Review of recorded radar data revealed that after the airplane was radar identified at approximately 1829, the flight proceeded in a southeasterly direction to Page Field, Fort Myers, Florida, where the airplane turned onto final approach for runway 23. As the voice communications indicate, the flight was cleared for a touch-and-go landing on runway 23, and after the touch-and-go landing was completed, ATC communications were transferred to RSW ATCT. The radar data further indicates that after the touch-and-go landing was performed, the flight proceeded to the northwest and flew over the intersection of runways 23 and 04 at the Venice Municipal Airport at approximately 1917:24, in a westerly direction. The airplane flew over the Gulf of Mexico, then turned to the northwest and performed a 180-degree turn flying in a southeasterly direction. A radar target associated with the accident airplane was located at 100 feet northwest of the approach end of runway 13, at 1919:10. The next recorded radar target associated with the accident airplane at 1920:28, was located near the departure end of runway 13; the radar target was at 200 feet. The radar data indicates that from then to the last radar target at 1921:01, the airplane climbed to a maximum altitude of 400 feet and flew east, then turned to the south, then turned to the east again, followed by a right turn flying on a south-southwesterly heading. The first contacted tree was located .19 nautical mile and 274 degrees from the last recorded radar target location.
The pilot in the left seat was the holder of a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land rating, which was issued on November 10, 1999. He was the holder of a third class medical certificate issued on March 3, 2003, with the limitation, "Holder must have corrective lenses available for near vision while exercising the privileges of his airman certificate." A review of the application for his last medical certificate revealed he indicated his total pilot time was 456 hours. He did not have any record of previous accidents/incidents, or enforcement actions.
The pilot in the right seat was the holder of a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane ratings, which was issued on August 11, 2003. He was also the holder of a certified flight instructor certificate with airplane single engine rating which was issued on June 13, 2003. He was the holder of a first class medical certificate issued on May 13, 2003, with no limitations. A review of the application for his last medical certificate revealed he indicated his total pilot time was 260 hours. He did not have any record of previous accidents/incidents, or enforcement actions.
The airplane was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft Company in 1975, as a 150M model, and designated serial number 15077146. It was equipped with a Continental O-200-A, 100-horsepower engine, and a fixed pitch McCauley 1A102/OCM 6948 propeller.
Review of the maintenance records revealed the airplane was last inspected in accordance with an annual inspection that was signed off on April 21, 2003. The airplane had accumulated 120.3 hours at the time of the accident since the inspection.
A METAR weather observation taken on the day of the accident at 1953, or approximately 26 minutes after the accident, from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, indicates the wind was from 140 degrees at 6 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles, clear skies existed, the temperature and dew point were 16 and 13 degrees Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 29.94 inHg.
The witness reported to the NTSB that on the date and time of the accident, it was a dark night. Calculations by the U.S. Naval Observatory indicate on the day of the accident, the phase of the moon was waning crescent with 23 pecent of the moon's visible disk illuminated.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane crashed into a wooded area located near the Venice Municipal Airport. The first observed tree contacted was located at 27 degrees 03.618 minutes North latitude and 082 degrees 26.274 minutes West longitude, or approximately 199 degrees and .39 nautical mile from the departure end of runway 13.
Examination of the accident site revealed a green colored lens was located approximately 15 feet to the right of the first contacted tree when looking from the contacted tree to the main wreckage. Damage to trees to the right of a centerline in decreasing heights in the area of the first contacted tree were noted; the angle was estimated to be between 25 and 30 degrees. Additionally, the emergency locator transmitter antenna was wrapped around the broken top of the first impacted tree. The airplane came to rest upright on a magnetic heading of 340 degrees, approximately 117 feet from the first contacted tree location. The fuselage was bent to the left and the left wing was wrapped around a palm tree; the right wing was elevated. Broken trees were noted on the ground between the first contacted tree and the location of the main wreckage, which was oriented on a magnetic heading of 310 degrees. Examination of the empennage revealed a portion of the first contacted tree was located inside the empennage at the dorsal fin area; the tree segment was approximately 3 feet in length. Fire department personnel used a wooden plug to stop a fuel leak from the right fuel tank. All components necessary to sustain flight were attached to the airplane or were located in close proximity to the main wreckage.
Examination of the airplane following recovery revealed impact damage was noted to the leading edges of both wings, the left horizontal stabilizer, and to the vertical stabilizer. The flap actuator was in the retracted position, and the elevator trim was positioned 5 degrees trailing edge tab up. Examination of the flight controls for roll revealed the left aileron and aileron balance control cables were cut approximately 3 feet inboard of the wing root. The right aileron control cable was cut approximately 65 inches inboard of the wing root area. Examination of the flight control cables for pitch revealed the up and down control cables were cut and exhibited tension overload, respectively, approximately 9 feet forward of the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. Examination of the rudder flight control cables revealed both were cut approximately 9 feet forward of the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. The primary vent line assembly was found plugged between the inlet opening and the drain hole. The coloration of the forward portion of the blockage was similar to the color of the soil near the accident site, while the aft portion was light tan and is consistent with an insect nest. The blockage was located approximately .73 inch aft of the undamaged inlet opening and extended to a point approximately .2 inch forward of the drain hole. The vent line assembly was free of obstructions from the drain hole into the fuel tank. No dirt was adhering to the leading edge of the lift strut or the tie down ring which are in the area of the inlet opening of the vent line assembly. The crossover vent line from the left to right fuel tank was crushed but no obstructions were noted, and both wing fuel tank vented fuel caps were free of obstructions of the air passage. No other obstructions of the fuel system lines or vent lines were noted. A sample of fuel drained from the right fuel tank was retained for testing.
Examination of the cockpit revealed the throttle control was out approximately 2 inches, the mixture control was full rich, the carburetor heat was off, and the primer was locked. The magneto switch was in the both position; the key was broken. There were no tripped/popped circuit breakers. The navigation and beacon light switches were in the on position, while the landing light and taxi light switches were in the off position. The fuel selector was in the on position; impact damage to the handle was noted. The airspeed indicator was indicating 0, and the attitude indicator was indicating approximately 95-100 degrees left bank, and 15 degrees nose down attitude. The clock was indicating 7:23:40.
Examination of the engine revealed impact damage to the oil tank, crankcase breather, vacuum pump, cooling fins of the No. 3 cylinder, exhaust pipes, mufflers, and induction system components. The vacuum pump and carburetor were separated from the engine. Crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was confirmed; suction and compression was noted at all cylinders. The magnetos were noted to produce spark at all ignition leads when rotated by hand. Examination of the spark plugs revealed all the plugs exhibited normal to worn-out wear when checked using the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug chart; the top spark plug from the impact damaged No. 3 cylinder exhibited the center electrode in contact with the ground electrode. Examination of the carburetor revealed the linkage from the throttle plate shaft to the accelerator pump was broken. Disassembly of the carburetor revealed no contaminants or fuel inside the carburetor bowl.
Examination of the fixed pitch propeller revealed one blade was bent aft approximately 45 degrees with the leading edge twisted towards low pitch; gouges were noted on the leading edge of the blade from the tip inboard to approximately 12 inches from the hub. The other blade was bent aft approximately 60 degrees; the leading edge was twisted towards low pitch and the trailing edge near the tip was rotated forward.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examinations of both occupants were performed by District 12 Medical Examiner's Office, located in Sarasota, Florida. The cause of death for both was listed as multiple blunt impact injuries.
Toxicological testing of specimens of both occupants were performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (CAMI). The results of analysis of the left seat occupant was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and for ethanol in vitreous fluid. Pseudoephedrine was detected in the submitted blood and urine specimens. Additionally, (0.28 pmol/nmol) serotonin metabolite ratio and glucose (169 mg/dl), were detected in the submitted urine specimen. An unquantified amount of glucose was detected in vitreous fluid, and 6.4 percent hemoglobin A1C was detected in the submitted blood specimen. Toxicological analysis of specimens of the right seat occupant was also performed by CAMI, and was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Testing of a fuel specimen taken from the right wing fuel tank from the sump drain revealed the API density and Lead Content test results were typical for 100 Low Lead (100LL) fuel; the properties met specification for 100LL fuel.
The airplane owner reported to the NTSB that earlier on the day of the accident, he personally overfilled both fuel tanks and after doing so, an individual who was with him (left seat occupant of the accident flight), pointed to fuel leaking from the fuel vent line at the 90-degree bend. He was advised by the individual of his attempt to clear the fuel vent opening after previously finding it blocked. The airplane owner reported inspecting the exterior of the fuel vent line noting it was corroded; he also looked inside the vent line but it did not appear to be plugged. The airplane "Service Manual" indicates that, "Any fuel vent found plugged or restricted must be corrected prior to returning aircraft to service. No maintenance was performed to the fuel vent line assembly between the time the owner was advised of the previous finding that the inlet was blocked (which occurred on the accident date), and the start of the accident flight. The airplane had been operated approximately 1 hour 13 minutes on two separate flights since the owner was alerted to the previous blockage, including one flight that lasted approximately 20 minutes with the owner on-board, and the accident flight. The owner did not report any discrepancies with the airplane during his 20-minute flight.
Review of the "Pilot's Operating Handbook" for the airplane revealed that the fuel tank vent opening is to the checked for stoppage; though the handbook does not indicate specific steps to assure that the vent line assembly is free of obstructions from the inlet opening into the fuel tank.
The airplane received type certification in accordance with Civil Aeronautics Manual (CAM) 3, on July 10, 1958. Review of CAM 3.445 titled "Fuel tank filler connection" revealed the fuel caps are permitted to have small openings for venting purposes.
The airplane minus the retained maintenance records and section of vent line assembly was released to the airplane owner on January 27, 2004. On that same date, the owner provided a document indicating he sold the wreckage to a business named Aviation Consultant Services. The retained maintenance records and section of vent line assembly were released to Kathryn Sharp of Aviation Consultant Services, on February 8, 2005.