On May 7, 2004, about 1400 eastern daylight time, a Cessna T-50 (Bobcat) floatplane, N45P, was substantially damaged during an in flight collision with trees, while on approach to Massapoag Lake, Sharon, Massachusetts. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed South Dartmouth, Massachusetts; destined for Lake Gardner Seaplane Base (6MA0), Amesbury, Massachusetts. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The airplane was manufactured in 1943, and equipped with two Jacobs L4 radial engines. According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, EDO model YD-6470 seaplane floats were installed on the airplane in 1991, and the change was noted on an FAA Form 337. The pilot purchased the airplane in October 2003. The pilot was also a certificated inspector airworthiness (IA), and performed his own maintenance on the airplane. Several days prior to the accident, the airplane was lifted by crane, and set on Apponagansett Bay, near South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
The certificated maximum gross takeoff weight for the airplane was 5,700 lbs. The crane operator stated that the airplane was de-fueled before the lift, and the lift weight was 5,790 lbs. The operator added that his equipment was new, and the weight was accurate to within 100 pounds.
The day prior to the accident, a witness was seated in the right seat of the accident airplane during high-speed taxis. The witness reported that the pilot was experiencing difficulty with one of the airplane's engines. Specifically, one of the engines was only producing partial power. The witness thought the difficulty was with the left engine, but he could not be certain. The pilot then brought the spark plugs to a local facility where he cleaned and gapped them. The owner of the facility stated that he recalled the pilot mentioning a problem with the left engine, but could not be certain it was the left engine. Later that evening, the pilot was able to complete a short flight in the airplane, in ground effect over the water. At that time, the engines seemed to be operating normally. The witness added that the pilot had been planning to fly the airplane that day to Gardner Seaplane Base, and have it restored there.
On the day of the accident, another witness was watching the accident airplane from the shore. The witness stated that the airplane completed two high-speed taxis or takeoff attempts, but did not become airborne. On the third attempt, the airplane traveled 3,000 to 4,000 feet on the water, before becoming airborne, and "barely" cleared a 20-foot-tall building by about 10 feet.
Witnesses near the accident site reported hearing "banging," "sputtering," "engine misfire," and a "pop," before the airplane impacted trees near Massapoag Lake. The airplane came to rest in a swampy area prior to the lake. Examination of the wreckage by an FAA inspector revealed that the left propeller was in the feathered position, and the right propeller blades were bent aft, with little to no rotational damage exhibited. However, the left mixture, propeller control, and throttle control were in the full forward position. The right throttle control was about 3/4 closed, the right propeller control was in the feather position, and the right mixture was full forward. The FAA inspector also noted adequate fuel in both fuel tanks.
The pilot and aircraft logbooks were not recovered, and the date of the last annual inspection was unknown. In addition, the date of the last successful flight, prior to the pilot having the airplane set on the bay, was unknown.
The wind reported at an airport about 7 miles north of the accident site, at 1353, was from 300 degrees at 13 knots, gusting to 20 knots.