ANC04LA022
ANC04LA022

On February 14, 2004, about 1130 Eastern standard time, a wheel-equipped experimental/homebuilt, Bertrand/Warner Thorp T-18 airplane, N98WB, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with water, about 1 mile southeast of Crescent City, Florida. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The solo private certificated pilot received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the airplane's point of departure, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, about 1100, and was en route to the Pomona Landing Airport, Pomona Park, Florida.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge on February 14, a friend of the pilot said that the accident pilot was en route to the Pomona Landing Airport to attend a fly-in for homebuilt aircraft owners/builders. He said that the accident pilot had attempted the same flight earlier in the day, but was unable to reach the airport due to low clouds and fog.

Several residents of Crescent City reported low clouds, fog, and reduced visibility in the area at the time of the accident. According to a responding Florida Highway Patrol Officer, witnesses reported hearing what sounded like a low flying airplane to the east of Crescent City, and over Crescent Lake. The witnesses said that as the airplane's engine sound increased, they heard a sudden impact, and the engine noise stopped abruptly. The witnesses consistently reported that they were not able to see the airplane due to very low visibility in mist and fog, and that the accident airplane's engine appeared to be producing full power prior to striking the water.

Search and rescue personnel conducted an extensive search of Crescent Lake for survivors. About 1300, divers located the submerged airplane wreckage, and discovered the pilot's body inside, still restrained within the pilot's seat.

The closest official weather observation station is located in Saint Augustine, Florida, about 30 miles northeast of the accident site. On February 14, at 1135, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) for Saint Augustine stated in part: Wind, 010 degrees (true) at 5 knots; visibility, 1/2 statute miles with mist; clouds, 100 feet overcast; temperature, 55 degrees F; dew point, 55 degrees F; altimeter, 30.00 inHg.






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