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On July 14, 2004, at 0900 central daylight time, a Beech C23 single-engine airplane, N48DB, was destroyed upon collision with terrain following an in-flight collision with a power line during takeoff from the Heifer Creek Ranch Airport (16AR) near Springfield, Arkansas. The airline transport rated pilot was fatally injured, while the 3 passengers sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident, with Memphis, Tennessee, as its intended destination.
One of the three passengers on board the airplane reported in the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), after boarding the airplane, the pilot performed an "engine run-up" on the north end of runway 24 without incident. The passenger further stated that on take-off, the engine "did not develop enough lift" to clear the power lines running perpendicular to the departure end of the runway. Subsequently, the airplane struck the power lines and impacted the terrain among some pine trees. The passenger reported that the airplane "burst into flames," and he and the other two passengers exited the airplane through a left-side window. The passenger further reported that the pilot exited the airplane through the right-side door.
The 73-year old pilot held an airplane transport pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and rotorcraft helicopter ratings, a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine sea, rotorcraft gyroplane, and glider ratings. The pilot also held a flight instructors certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, instrument airplane, rotorcraft helicopter, and glider ratings. The pilot's most recent second-class medical was issued on January 14, 2004, with limitations that stated "Must wear lenses for distant - possess glasses for near vision." The pilot reported on his most recent medical application that he had accumulated a total of 26,000-hours of flight time. The pilot's logbook flight records were not recovered during the investigation.
The 1970-model Beech C23 single-engine airplane, serial number M-1292, was a low wing, semimonocoque design airplane, with a fixed tricycle landing gear, configured for a maximum of four occupants.
The airplane was powered by a normally aspirated, direct drive, air-cooled, horizontally opposed, carbureted, four-cylinder Lycoming O-360-A2G engine, serial number L-142298-36A, rated at 180 horsepower, driving a two bladed fixed pitch propeller. .
The logbooks for the airplane were not recovered during the investigation.
The closest weather reporting station to the accident site was located at the Russellville Regional Airport (RUE), near Russellville, Arkansas, located approximately 26 nautical miles west of the accident site. At 0853, the automated surface observing system at RUE reported wind from 280 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 86 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 73 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.00 inches of Mercury. A passenger onboard the airplane reported the air temperature to be 90 degrees at the time of the accident. Using the reported air temperature, the investigator-in-charge calculated the density altitude to be 2,845 feet at the time of the accident.
The Heifer Creek Ranch Airport (16AR) is an uncontrolled airport operating under Class G airspace. The field elevation for 16AR is 730 feet. The airport features a single 2,000-foot long and 100-foot wide turf runway (6/24).
The Airport/ Facility Directory, South Central U. S. (SC) did not list 16AR, however, AirNav.com listed 16AR. The airport information found on http://www.airnav.com stated that there were wire obstructions, approximately 30-feet in height, 200 feet beyond the departure end of runway 6. The information also states that trees, approximately 30-feet in height exist 200 feet from the departure end of runway 24.
Examination of the runway by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, who responded to the accident site, revealed that the grass on the turf runway was approximately five inches in height. Additionally the inspector reported that the runway featured an upslope beyond the mid-point of the runway.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, who responded to the accident site, reported that the fuselage and inboard portions of the wings were completely destroyed by a post-impact fire.
A post impact fire consumed most of the aircraft.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLIGCAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Medical Examiner Division, on July 16, 2004. The autopsy revealed no ill regularities or preexisting diseases that would have contributed to the accident. According to the autopsy report, the pilot succumbed to his injuries on the day of the accident at 1800.
Toxicological tests performed by the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) were negative for carbon monoxide, and alcohol, however tested positive for Lidocaine (values confirmed by the FAA).
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Examination of the engine was conducted on June 3, 2005, at the facilities of Dawson Aircraft, near Clinton, Arkansas, by the IIC and a representative from the Raytheon Aircraft Company. The accessory gearbox sustained fire damage. Both magnetos were destroyed by fire. Removal of the accessory gearbox facilitated rotation of the engine. Oil was observed in the oil sump. Rotational continuity was established throughout the engine to the accessory drive gears when rotated by hand using the propeller. The number 3 cylinder intake valve was stuck. However, the number three intake valve push rod was actuated. Compression was noted on cylinders #1, #2, and #4. The top spark plugs were removed. When compared to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug Wear Guide (Part Number AV-27), cylinder #1, #2, #3, #4 spark plugs displayed signatures consistent to normal operation.
Using reported weights provided by the occupants or family members and the reported fuel on board, the IIC determined the total weight of the airplane to be approximately 2,660 pounds. Using the average basic airplane weight, the airplane was estimated to be approximately 210 pounds over the airplane's maximum takeoff gross weight of 2,450 pounds. There were no published performance figures by Beech in the pilot operating handbook for these given conditions. The conditions were outside of the published charts.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on June 3, 2005.