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On January 17, 2004, about 1426 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-30, N8735Y, and a Cessna 150H, N6622S, both registered to private individuals, collided in-flight while in the traffic pattern at Clearwater Air Park, Clearwater, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight of the Piper airplane from Winter Haven's Gilbert Airport, Winter Haven, Florida, to Clearwater Air Park, Clearwater, Florida. No flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 local, personal flight of the Cessna airplane from Clearwater Air Park, Clearwater, Florida. The Piper airplane was substantially damaged and there were no injuries to the airline transport-rated pilot or private pilot-rated passenger. The Cessna airplane was destroyed and the private-rated pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The Piper flight originated approximately 1400, from Winter Haven's Gilbert Airport. The Cessna flight originated from the Clearwater Air Park at an undetermined time.
According to a transcription of communications with the Tampa International Airport (KTPA) Air traffic Control Tower (ATCT), at 1403:05, the pilot-in-command (PIC) of the Piper airplane established contact with the facility and requested his IFR clearance. The controller provided the flight with a discrete transponder code, established radar contact, and provided the IFR clearance to the Clearwater Air Park. The controller advised the pilot to fly over runway 9/27 at KTPA; ATC communications were then transferred to another sector at the KTPA ATCT. The PIC established contact with that sector, and requested to descend at 1420:05. The controller approved the flight to descend to 2,600 feet, and at 1420:17, the controller stated, "november three five yankee you can go direct clearwater park", which was acknowledged. The controller then advised the pilot to maintain 1,600 feet and to report the destination airport insight, to which he reported, "one point six ahh three five yankee and we'll report we would like to go over and come back up" with the rest of the comment unintelligible. The flight continued and at 1423:05, the PIC advised the controller "tampa ahh three five yankee we've got clearwater" to which the controller cleared the flight for a visual approach to the airport. At 1423:16, the PIC advised "okay we'll go ahead and cancel right now three five yankee." The controller responded at 1423:22, "three five yankee roger IFR cancellation is received I am showing traffic about a mile mile and a half north of the airport slow moving southbound squawking VFR." The PIC responded "three five yankee appreciate it we'll look for him." The controller advised the flight that frequency change was approved which the PIC responded by stating "good day."
The pilot of the Piper airplane reported that after cancelling his IFR clearance the controller warned him, "...that there had been numerous traffic in the vicinity of CLW. I acknowledged and I changed my radio to 123.0 and began to monitor for traffic. I crossed the center of the airport from east to west at 1,500 feet. Once on the west side of CLW, I made a left turn and started my descent to traffic pattern altitude, at which time I announced my intentions to enter a left crosswind for runway 16." The flight turned onto the downwind leg and he announced that on the radio. He also reported that "up to this point, no traffic had been observed." He continued on the downwind leg and slowed the airplane, and was looking for traffic. When the flight was approximately two thirds down the downwind leg, the passenger began to shout "look out, look out, look out." He looked to the right and saw an airplane coming at us, which was so close he did not have time to react before the collision. He lost control of the airplane momentarily and then saw a glimpse of the aircraft to his left. He noted that the airplane was "... going down, maybe in a spin." He proceeded to KCLW and landed without further incident.
The pilot-rated passenger who was seated in the right front seat of the Piper airplane reported that while on the downwind leg flying straight and level between 900 and 1,000 feet, he looked to the left, then when he looked to the right out the door, he saw a wheel and the bottom of the fuselage which was blue or white in color, and also saw part of the registration number of the Cessna airplane. The number he saw was either a 6 or 9. He reported that the right wheel of the Cessna airplane hit the right wing of the airplane he was in. He felt the airplane shake two times, pitch straight down, and roll to the left. He thought the closure angle was between 30 and 45 degrees. He reported that at the time of the collision, the visibility was between 15 and 20 miles, there was no rain, and there were no restrictions to visibility.
An individual on the ground at KCLW reported hearing the pilot of the Piper airplane make repetitive radio calls on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) while in the traffic pattern, announcing the intention of landing on runway 16. The same individual who personally knows the pilot of the Cessna airplane, reported hearing him report crossing midfield at KCLW; the Cessna pilot did not report altitude or intention. The individual did not hear any other radio calls from the Cessna pilot.
A witness who was located east of the crash site reported seeing a Cessna airplane fly over his location south-southeast bound, then bank to the right towards a north-northwesterly direction. He observed the Piper airplane flying briefly in a southeasterly direction, then bank to the left towards a north-northwesterly direction. The flight paths converged and it appeared to him that just before the collision, the pilot of the Cessna airplane attempted to maneuver to avoid the collision. The witness further reported that the Cessna pitched up violently for 50-100 feet, then stalled and spun about 3 times before he lost sight of the airplane behind trees. At that point, he observed "...several large pieces floating down from the impact area. One piece appeared to be dark in color and floated slowly down, long after the planes had disappeared."
The NTSB Air Traffic Control Radar Data report (NTSB Radar Report) contains radar data of both aircraft. The NTSB Radar Report indicates the 1200 codes associated with the Piper airplane were reliable and were traced back to the discrete transponder code assigned while the aircraft was operating under an IFR clearance. The 1200 codes associated with the Cessna airplane are presumed to be correct based on witness statements and known facts about the collision. The radar data indicates that the Piper airplane proceeded in a westerly direction just north of the approach end of runway 16 at KCLW, and made a left 180-degree turn that was completed south-southwest from the departure end of runway 16. At that time the airplane was at 900 feet mean sea level (msl). The Cessna airplane was noted flying in an easterly direction approximately 1.3 nautical miles north of the approach end of runway 16, and proceeded east of runway 16/34. The Cessna airplane turned right flying in a southerly direction until approximately 1.3 nautical miles east-northeast from the departure end of runway 16, then began a right turn and proceeded to an approximately 45 degree angle to runway 16/34, flying at 900 feet msl. The Piper airplane flew in a northeasterly direction east of the extended runway centerline for runway 16/34, and turned to the left flying on a northerly heading, while the Cessna airplane turned right also flying on a northerly heading; both flight paths converged. The last radar target associated with the Cessna airplane occurred at 1426:14, the mode C transponder return indicated the airplane was at 900 feet msl. After the collision, the radar plot indicated the Piper airplane flew downwind, base, then onto final approach to runway 16. The Cessna crash site was located in close proximity to the last radar target. The NTSB Radar Report also indicates erratic mode C reports for the Cessna airplane.
The PIC of the Piper airplane who was seated in the left seat, is the holder of an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and sea, and airplane multi-engine land and sea ratings. He also holds a certified flight instructor certificate with airplane single engine, airplane multi-engine, and instrument airplane ratings. He was last issued a second class medical certificate on June 1, 2003, with no limitations. He reported on the NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report form a total time of 1,834 hours. Of the 1,834 logged hours, 500 were in the accident airplane. He logged a total time of 1,774 hours as pilot-in-command (PIC), of which 500 hours were in the accident airplane. He also logged a total of 72 and approximately 100 hours of actual and simulated instrument flight time, respectively. The right seat occupant in the Piper airplane is the holder of a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land rating. He was last issued a third class medical certificate with no limitations on October 7, 2003.
The pilot of the Cessna airplane was a holder of a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land rating. He was last issued a third class medical certificate on December 5, 2002, with the limitation, Holder shall wear corrective lenses." Review of the Cessna pilot's pilot logbook that contained entries from March 10, 2003, to January 4, 2004, revealed he logged a total time of approximately 1,461 hours. Of the 1,461 logged hours, 1,393 hours were logged as pilot-in-command. During the last 90 and 30 days, he logged as PIC in the accident airplane, 11.4 and 3.8 hours respectively.
The Piper airplane was manufactured in 1969 by Piper Aircraft Company, Inc., as model PA-30, and was designated serial number 30-1889. The airplane was last inspected in accordance with an annual inspection on May 4, 2003; the airplane had accumulated approximately 95 hours since then at the time of the accident. The Piper airplane is white with red and blue stripes along the fuselage, engine cowling, and leading edge of the vertical stabilizer.
The Cessna airplane was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft Company, in 1968, as model 150H, and was designated serial number 15067422. The airplane was last inspected in accordance with an annual inspection on May 21, 2003; the airplane had accumulated approximately 31 hours since then at the time of the accident. The Cessna airplane is white with blue and red stripes along the fuselage, and the top section of the vertical stabilizer.
A METAR weather observation taken at Saint Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (KPIE) at 1453, or approximately 27 minutes after the accident, indicates the wind was from 180 degrees at 13 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles, clear skies existed. The temperature and dew point were 73 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 29.96 inHg. The accident site was located approximately 328 degrees and 5.2 nautical miles from the center of KPIE.
The pilot of the Piper airplane was last in contact with KTPA ATCT; there was no reported communication difficulties. There was no record of communications from the pilot of the Cessna airplane with any FAA Air Traffic Control facility.
The Common Traffic Advisory Traffic (CTAF) frequency at the Clearwater Air Park is 123.00 mHz, and is not recorded. The KCLW airport has one runway designated 16/34, which is 3,300 feet long by 75 feet wide. The depicted traffic pattern direction for runway 16 is left hand and the traffic pattern altitude is 1,071 feet mean sea level (msl).
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The main wreckage of the Cessna airplane came to rest adjacent to a parking located at 27 degrees 58.856 minutes North latitude and 082 degrees 44.690 minutes West longitude, or approximately, 4,650 feet and 075 magnetic degrees from the center of KCLW. The Piper airplane was examined at KCLW.
Examination of the accident site location of the Cessna airplane revealed all components necessary to sustain flight were attached to the airplane or in close proximity to the wreckage. The wreckage came to rest inverted on a magnetic heading of 234 degrees, adjacent to a tree. Examination of the Cessna revealed flight control continuity was confirmed for roll, pitch, and the left rudder cable. The right rudder control cable was fractured approximately 4 feet aft of the rudder bar; no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction was noted for the fractured cable. An approximate 25-inch long gouge with red paint transfer was noted beginning on the left side of the fuselage moving towards the centerline of the fuselage. The gouge began approximately 10 inches aft of the main landing gear attach point. The lower skin of the right wing and aileron exhibited spanwise red, blue, and white paint transfer. Four raised corregations on the lower surface of the right aileron exhibited small radius dents approximately 3/16 inch in diameter. Red and white paint transfer was noted inside the right wingtip on the upper side. White paint transfer was noted on the outboard 17 inches of the leading edge of the right wing. The remaining section of the leading edge of the right wing was flattened and the main spar was rotated aft. The flaps were retracted. Impact damage associated with tree contact was noted to the vertical stabilizer and rudder. Both elevators and horizontal stabilizers remained attached to the airplane. Examination of the cockpit revealed the oil temperature needle was in the green arc, the vertical speed indicator was indicating 1,400 feet-per-minute descent, and the clock was indicating 1427:11. Examination of the radio fuse revealed the glass was cracked but the fuse was not in an "open" condition. The communication cable was connected to the antenna; the cable was cut in the cockpit area. The airplane was equipped with 1 communication transceiver which was retained for further examination.
Examination of the Cessna's engine was performed by the engine manufacturer representative with NTSB oversight. The examination revealed crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity when the crankshaft was rotated through approximately 270 degrees; impact damage prevented 360-degree rotation. The left magneto was noted to spark at all towers during hand rotation while impact damage to the right magneto precluded operational testing. Examination of the carburetor revealed the fuel fitting was separated; impact damage was noted to the fuel screen housing area. Disassembly of the carburetor revealed debris in the bowl. No other abnormalities were observed.
Examination of the Piper airplane revealed the No. 1 communication transceiver was set to 123.00 mHz; the communication selector was set to Comm. No. 1. An approximate 14 inch span of the leading edge of the right wingtip was pushed up and aft. Between the second and third ribs inboard from the right wingtip an approximate 40 degree scratch on the upper wing skin was noted; white paint transfer was noted at the leading edge location. Compression wrinkles were noted on the upper wing skin of the right wing from the wingtip inboard approximately 79 inches. Red paint transfer was noted on the upper and lower surfaces of the right fiberglass wingtip. A scratch on the leading edge of the right aileron measured approximately 4.7 inches in length and is associated with aileron to wing contact while in the trailing edge up position. The leading edge of the vertical stabilizer and dorsal fin were displaced to the left; compression wrinkles were noted on the left side of the vertical stabilizer. The damage to the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer was located approximately 21 inches from the top, and extended down approximately 28 inches. A scrape with mostly white paint transfer was noted on the aft fuselage beginning approximately 62 inches forward of the leading edge of the right horizontal stabilator to approximately 10 inches forward of the right stabilator leading edge. Scratches located on the upper surface of the left horizontal stabilator were oriented at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the airplane, and began approximately 12 inches outboard of the stabilator root. Post accident testing of the Piper airplane's rotating beacon and No. 1 communication transceiver set to 123.00 mHz revealed both operationally tested satisfactory.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examination of the pilot in the Cessna airplane was performed by District 6 Medical Examiner's Office. The cause of death was listed as "multiple blunt trauma."
Toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot of the Cessna airplane were performed by FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory (CAMI), located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and District 6 Medical Examiner's Office (Medical Examiner's Office). The results of analysis by CAMI was negative for ethanol; testing for carbon monoxide, and cyanide was not performed. An unquantified amount of doxylamine, metoprolol, and quinine were each detected in the liver and urine specimens. The results of analysis by the Medical Examiner's Office was negative for ethanol in the liver specimen; less than 10 percent saturation carbon monoxide was detected in the blood specimen. Unquantified amounts of caffeine, diclofenac sodium, doxylamine, metoprolol, metoprolol metabolites, and diclofenac sodium metabolites were detected in the urine specimen. The immunoassay screen testing performed of the urine specimen was negative.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Examination of the Cessna airplane's COMM/NAV Transceiver was performed with NTSB oversight at an Federal Aviation Administration Certified Repair Station (FAA CRS) which revealed the active communication frequency was 123.00 mHz, and the standby communication frequency was 122.80 mHz. The audio interface board was displaced forward, and impact damage was noted to the display board (audio controls). Functional testing of the voice transmission capability of the transceiver revealed it momentarily operationally tested good; however, impact damage precluded continued testing.
Review of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) which contains information pertaining to airport traffic pattern procedures indicates to enter the traffic pattern abeam the midpoint of the runway at traffic pattern altitude. The depiction indicates the entry is made at a 45-degree angle to the runway.
The airplane minus the retained transceiver was released to Steven Homenda, senior surveyor, of CTC Services Aviation (LAD Inc.), on June 20, 2005. The retained transceiver was also released to Steven Homenda on June 22, 2005.