IAD04LA020
IAD04LA020

On May 8, 2004, about 1130 eastern daylight time, a Taylorcraft BC, N26644, was substantially damaged when it impacted power lines near Cumberland, Maryland. The certificated private pilot and the passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight, which departed Mexico Farms Airport (1W3), Cumberland, Maryland. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot took off and was heading easterly, toward Irons Mountain, when the airplane became entangled in power lines.

In lieu of making a statement to the FAA inspector, the pilot handed him a newspaper article, which he characterized as his statement. According to the newspaper article, the pilot reported that, about 1,500 feet, "We hit a downdraft and the plane dropped 625 feet just like that. It just kept falling." The airplane "fell" toward two sets of transmission lines, and a landing gear caught on one of the wires. The airplane then came to rest upside down, suspended about 25 feet above the ground.

The pilot further reported, "We were close to home and my son came up almost immediately. He got some rope on one wing and tied the other end to his truck to stabilize the plane. The wind was blowing pretty hard."

A photograph of the airplane, hanging from a wire by one wheel, revealed that the right wing was bent about 90 degrees upward at the wing root, and another 90 degrees to the right, about 2 feet from the first bend.

The pilot and his passenger were suspended in the airplane until about 1345, when power company and rescue personnel removed them.

According to a written statement subsequently submitted by the pilot, the purpose of the flight was to take his grandson for a ride. Sometime after departure from Mexico Farms, while at an altitude of 1,600 feet (above mean sea level), the airplane encountered a downdraft and "dropped 600 feet to the high-tension wires," then "glided to a stop." The pilot also reported that he had flown the route many times and had never experienced a similar downdraft.

The pilot also stated that the airplane received its last annual inspection on January 17, 1998, that he last received a flight review on May 27, 2002, and that he had obtained his latest medical certificate (no class noted) on March 28, 2004.

According to FAA records, the pilot obtained his first and only third class medical certificate on February 28, 1986. When asked by the FAA inspector to provide records of his flight reviews, the pilot could not provide any.

The weather reported at Winchester Regional Airport (OKV), Winchester, Virginia, about 40 nautical miles southeast, at 1100, included clear skies, and winds from 120 degrees true, at 7 knots. The weather reported at Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR), Hagerstown, Maryland, about 50 miles to the east, at 1153, included clear skies, and winds from 150 degrees true, at 11, gusting to 16 knots. The weather reported at Morgantown Municipal Airport (MGW), Morgantown, West Virginia, about 55 miles to the west, at 1153, included clear skies, and winds from 140 degrees true, at 5 knots.

The fire chief who responded to the accident reported that he could not recall any wind blowing that day. He also stated that the ropes were used to stabilize the airplane so the occupants could be extricated.

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