DEN04FA104
DEN04FA104

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 11, 2004, at 0530 central daylight time, a Cessna 172I, N46174, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when the airplane struck several trees and subsequently impacted terrain 0.42 nautical miles west of the Paris-Subiaco Municipal Airport (7M6), Paris, Arkansas. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger on board the airplane were fatally injured. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Ozark, Arkansas.

A witness who lived next to the airport said he heard the airplane at about 0530, but did not see the airplane. He said it was foggy, that you could not see beyond 50 feet. The witness said that the airplane sounded normal - "running like they revved it [the airplane] up for takeoff." The witness said he couldn't see it because of the fog. He then heard a sound like something hitting a building. The witness said that later he left his house on personal business. When he came back, he drove into the pasture and found the airplane. He said he called the sheriff at approximately 1030.

The county sheriff said the pilot made the flight to Ozark every Sunday to attend a breakfast and devotional service at the airport. The pilot-rated passenger was the music minister for a local church.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 72, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land rating. The certificate was dated November 22, 1996.

According to his logbook, as of May 25, 2003, the pilot had 830.8 total flying hours. Approximately 800 hours was as pilot-in-command.

The pilot successfully completed a flight review on December 8, 2002.

The pilot held a third class medical, dated November 4, 2003. The medical certificate cited the limitations that the pilot must wear corrective lenses for distance vision and must have available glasses for near vision. The certificate also cited, "Not valid for any class after October 31, 2004."

The pilot-rated passenger, age 55, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land rating. The certificate was dated April 15, 1983.

According to his most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) physical examination, dated March 2, 2004, the pilot-rated passenger reported having 340 total flying hours, and 15 hours in the previous 6 months.

The pilot-rated passenger successfully completed a flight review on June 10, 2003.

The pilot-rated passenger held a third class medical, dated March 2, 2004. The medical certificate cited the limitations that the pilot must wear corrective lenses for distance vision and must have available glasses for near vision.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane, serial number 172-57089 was a 1968 Cessna 172I. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot and used for pleasure, and as a rental airplane at the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO).

According to the airframe logbook, the airplane underwent an annual inspection on November 1, 2003. At the time of the inspection the airplane had a recorded tachometer time of 4,746.20 total hours. The tachometer time recorded at the accident site was 4,797.94 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

At 0553, the Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) at Fort Smith, Arkansas, 275 degrees from the accident site at 33 nautical miles, reported a 300 foot ceiling, surface visibility of 5 statute miles and mist, temperature 72 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 71 degrees F, winds 040 degrees at 4 knots, and altimeter 30.10 inches.

At 0553, the Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) at Russellville, Arkansas, 090 degrees from the accident site at 29.5 nautical miles, reported clear skies, surface visibility of 6 statute miles and mist, temperature 68 degrees F, dew point 68 degrees F, calm winds, and altimeter 30.12 inches.

Weather observations for 7M6 showed a temperature and dew point of 69 degrees F, beginning approximately 0353 and continuing through 0553. Visibility during this time was recorded as 6 miles and mist. Winds were reported as calm.

A local police officer on duty reported he was patrolling in the area of the Paris Airport early that morning. The officer reported that at 0244, fog was beginning to set into the area. The officer estimated the visibility at that time was 3/4 of a mile. The officer stated he went by the airport again at 0430. The office stated that at that time the visibility was approximately 1/8 of a mile or less. The officer stated that he returned to the airport a third time at approximately 0605. At this time the fog was beginning to lift and clear out. It was daylight and that the visibility was about 4 miles.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The NTSB on scene investigation began July 12, 2004, at 0730.

The accident scene was located in a cedar grove located 0.42 nautical miles from the end of runway 31 at the Paris Municipal Airport at a heading of 254 degrees. The main wreckage was located at coordinates 35 degrees, 17.51 minutes north latitude, and 093 degrees, 41.24 minutes west longitude. The elevation at the accident site was approximately 460 feet mean sea level.

The accident scene began with a 30-foot tall cedar tree. The top branches of the tree were broken and had fallen. Small pieces of fiberglass and red and white paint chips were located on the ground just northwest of the tree. A second cedar tree was located 20 feet northwest of the first tree. The tree was approximately 13-inches in diameter. The top 8 feet of the tree was broken off and was lying in some of the tree's lower branches. Pieces of metal, more paint chips, and fiberglass pieces were found on the ground in the vicinity just west of the tree. From the second cedar tree, the wreckage path to the airplane fell along an approximate heading of 313 degrees.

Approximately 42 feet northwest of the 13-inch diameter cedar tree was a 4-foot long section of the right outboard wing and right aileron. The wing and aileron sections were broken aft longitudinally. A 20-inch diameter "C" shaped dent was present in the leading edge, approximately 3 inches inboard of a longitudinally running rivet line. Pieces of cedar bark and needles were embedded in the dent. A portion of the aileron cables was found within the wing section. The cable ends showed evidence of overload failure.

Approximately 63 feet from the large cedar (13-inch diameter cedar tree) was a 6 foot section of the right outboard wing, the wing tip, and the outboard 6 feet of the right aileron. The wing section was broken aft longitudinally. The leading edge of the wing was crushed aft to the rear spar at the fracture. A 6-inch diameter "C" shaped dent was present in the leading edge, approximately 4 feet inboard of the wing tip. Pieces of cedar bark were embedded in the dent. Pieces of broken clear Plexiglas and red and white paint chips were found in the area of the outboard wing section.

A third broken cedar tree was located 70 feet from the 13-inch diameter cedar tree. It had been severed approximately 20 feet up from the ground. The top and numerous large tree branches were found on the ground running northwest from the tree toward the main wreckage. Several of the tree branches showed 45-degree angular clean cuts through them.

Approximately 19 feet northwest from the third broken cedar and 89 feet from the 13-inch diameter cedar was the right main landing gear, the aft portions of the left and right gear wheel pants, and pieces of clear Plexiglas.

Approximately 94 feet from the 13-inch cedar tree was a fourth broken cedar tree. This tree was 12 inches in diameter and was severed approximately 8 feet up from the ground. The top of the tree and numerous branches were found on the ground, northwest of the tree's base. Many of the branches showed 45-degree angular clean cuts through them.

Starting at the base of the fourth tree and running to the airplane main wreckage was a debris field. The debris field was 94 feet long running northwest toward the main wreckage, and 31 feet wide, southwest to northeast. Within the debris field were pieces of fuel tank, fuel line, pieces of fragmented clear Plexiglas, the aft portion of the nose gear wheel pant, pieces of fiberglass, paint chips, pieces of chopped and broken wood, tree branches, the right side upper air vent and temperature gauge, the airplane's rotating beacon, and the top of the airplane's rudder with the counterweight and aft position light.

The airplane's main wreckage was located 178 feet northwest from the first cedar tree. The main wreckage consisted of the airplane's propeller, engine, cowling, nose gear, cabin, baggage section, aft fuselage, empennage, left main landing gear, left wing and 8 feet of the inboard right wing and wing flap. The airplane was inverted and rested predominately on the top of the forward cabin.

The propeller was broken at the flange. All but two of the flange mounting bolts were broken torsionally. The propeller blades showed torsional bending, chordwise scratches, and tip curling. The spinner was crushed aft and twisted counterclockwise around the propeller hub.

The upper and lower cowlings were broken open and bent aft. The engine was intact. The engine mounts were bent and broken aft and downward. The firewall was crushed aft. The nose gear and tire were intact. The wheel pant was broken off.

The forward windscreen was broken out and fragmented. The glareshield and instrument panel were crushed downward and pushed aft. The forward cabin floor was crushed upward. The top and right side of the airplane's cabin were crushed downward and aft. The right side cabin door was broken downward and aft. The aft cabin window posts were broken downward. The right side aft cabin window and right side rear window were broken out and fragmented. The left cabin door was broken at the hinges. The left aft cabin wall, window posts, and floor showed minor damage. The left side aft cabin window was cracked. The left side rear window was broken out and fragmented. The left main landing gear was intact.

The baggage compartment area was bent and twisted. The aft fuselage was bent and buckled. The fuselage, just forward of the empennage was twisted counterclockwise approximately 45 degrees and bent to the right approximately 40 degrees.

The outboard 24 inches of the airplane's left horizontal stabilizer was crushed aft and dented. In the dented areas was embedded tree debris. The left elevator and elevator trim tab were intact and showed minor bends and buckles. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were bent downward and crushed aft. The top 20 inches of the vertical stabilizer was bent left and buckled aft. The top 3 to 4 inches of the vertical stabilizer was torn aft. The instrument landing system antennae was broken out and twisted 80 degrees. The top 8 inches of the rudder was torn aft. The remainder of the rudder showed dents and buckles. Flight control continuity was confirmed to the elevators and rudder.

The airplane's left wing was bent downward 35 degrees starting at a point 30 inches outboard of the wing root. The left flap was bent downward 30 degrees at mid-span. An examination of the flap jackscrew showed the wing flaps were in the retracted position. The left wing's leading edge from the root and running outboard approximately 8 feet was crushed aft. Tree debris was found embedded in the leading edge. A 12-inch "C" shaped dent in the wing's leading edge was located at the wing mounting bolt for the strut and the stall warning horn. Tree debris was embedded in the dent. The landing and taxi lights Plexiglas cover was broken out. The left wing fuel tank was broken open. The smell of fuel was prevalent. The outboard 2 feet of the left aileron was bent downward and buckled aft. The left wing tip was broken longitudinally at the rivet line. The wing tip was cracked and broken. The left wing strut was bent upward at mid span and dented in several locations along its leading edge. Control continuity was established to the left aileron.

Approximately 8 feet of the airplane's right wing inboard section remained attached to the airplane. The wing section was bent downward 15 degrees and aft approximately 20 degrees. The right wing fuel tank was broken open. The remaining wing portion was crushed and broken aft and downward. The right flap was bent and buckled upward beginning 20 inches outboard of the wing root. The right wing strut was bent aft at the fuselage mounting bolt and torn out of the wing at the wing mounting bolt bracket. Control continuity was established to the right aileron.

An examination of the airplane's engine controls showed the following:

Throttle full forward (full power)
Mixture knob full forward (rich)
Ignition switch BOTH
Primer in and locked
Fuel selector BOTH
Carburetor heat full cold
Master switch ON

An examination of the airplane's engine instruments showed the following:

Ammeter ZERO
Left fuel tank indicator ZERO
Right fuel tank indicator ZERO
Oil temperature gauge ZERO
Oil pressure gauge ZERO
Suction ZERO
Tachometer ZERO RPM
Tachometer time 4,797.94 hours

An examination of the airplane's flight instruments showed the following:

Attitude indicator inverted, wings level, 4 degrees nose down.
Airspeed indicator ZERO
Altimeter 100 feet
Kollsman window 30.23
Vertical speed indicator ZERO
Turn coordinator wings level
Flap indicator ZERO
Flap actuator handle broken off

An examination of the airplane's navigation instruments showed the following:

Direct Gyro (DG) 185 degrees
NAV 1 OBS, GS 300 degrees
Clock 0650
Hobbs meter 5,107.3 hours
Intercom ON
Transponder 1200, ALT
Comm. 1 radio 122.9 Megahertz (MHz)
Nav 1 radio 110.2 MHz
Strobe light switch OFF
Beacon switch OFF
Nav lights switch OFF
Pitot heat switch OFF
Landing light knob broken off

An examination of the engine showed no pre-impact anomalies that could have contributed to the accident. Fuel was recovered from the line to the gascolator. A mechanical test of the vacuum pump showed it produced adequate suction. An examination of the attitude indicator gyro showed rotational scoring marks on the inside of the gyro case. An examination of the remaining airplane systems showed no anomalies. A portable global positioning satellite receiver was retained for further examination.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy on the pilot's remains was conducted on July 12, 2004, by the Arkansas Chief Medical Examiner at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, Medical Examiner Division, Little Rock, Arkansas.

According to the autopsy report, the stated "CAUSE OF DEATH" is noted as "Multiple Injuries."

Under "CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM", is noted: "Pericardial surfaces were smooth and intact. The pericardial sac was completely and firmly adhesed to the heart. The heart weight noted above [550 grams] was taken with removal of the adhesed pericardial sac and adjacent soft tissues. The heart was enlarged in overall size, but appeared normal in shape and configuration. Initial examination of the heart did not reveal definitive evidence of a previous surgical site. The large degree of pericardial fibrosis present made it difficult to identify and follow the coronary arteries. The possibility of internal mammary grafts was considered, but due to the degree of fibrosis present, this type of procedure could neither be confirmed nor ruled out. The natural coronary arteries arose normally and followed the usual course. Severe atherosclerotic change involved all three natural arteries. The right coronary artery was relatively large and dominant. It showed focal 70 to 80 percent atherosclerotic narrowing in its proximal course. In the left anterior descending artery, focal 75 percent narrowing was present. This same degree of narrowing also involved the left circumflex artery. The cardiac chambers were of normal size and appeared unremarkable. The cardiac valves were all natural and were generally unremarkable. Cut surfaces of the myocardium revealed a wide area of healed fibrosis involving the upper posterior left ventricular myocardium. This involved an area measuring 1-1/2 by 1 inch in greatest dimensions. Remaining cut surfaces of the myocardium generally displayed uniform brown-red coloration, with no gross evidence of hemorrhage or necrosis. The arterial and ventricular septa were intact. ..."

Under "OPINION" is noted: "... The degree of observed heart disease present can cause sudden and unexpected symptoms. There were no findings present, however, which would necessarily indicate that such symptoms did occur. ..."

FAA toxicology testing of specimens from the pilot were negative for all tests conducted.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The portable global positioning satellite receiver, a Garmin GPS III Pilot, serial number 40311078, was sent to the factory for examination. The examination report, dated July 29, 2004, stated that extensive damage to the unit precluded being able to extract any data from it.

Measurements of the accident area and examination of the sequential tree damage showed the accident airplane being in a wings level attitude and a shallow descent of approximately 3 to 5 degrees when it impacted the tops of the first damaged cedar trees. Measurements of subsequent tree impacts showed that the descent angle of the airplane increased to approximately 40 degrees. The airplane rolled over on its back and impacted the ground in an inverted attitude at a 35 to 40 degree descent angle.

The 2004 Aeronautical Information Manual, Section 8, paragraph 8-1-5. b. 2. (d) "Somatogravic illusion" states, "A rapid acceleration during takeoff can create the illusion of being in a nose up attitude. The disoriented pilot will push the aircraft into a nose low, or dive attitude. A rapid deceleration by a quick reduction of the throttles can have the opposite effect, with the disoriented pilot pulling the aircraft into a nose up or stall attitude."

According to the FBO manager, also a previous owner of the airplane, the pilot was a local small business owner who had retired several years ago. The pilot took up flying and initially soloed in May 1996. He said the pilot was flying approximately 150 hours a year and later cut that back to about 50 hours a year. He said that the pilot was a responsible person, but had gotten caught in fog before. The FBO manager said, "He's done some flying he shouldn't have been doing."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Parties to the investigation were the FAA Flight Standards District Office, Little Rock, Arkansas, the Cessna Aircraft Company, and Textron Lycoming.

All airplane wreckage was released and returned to the Logan County Sheriff Department.

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