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On July 18, 2004, at 1708 eastern daylight time a Beech BE-36TC, N1525M, registered to Equipco, Inc, and operated by the private pilot, broke up in-flight approximately 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL) during cruise flight near Sylvester, Georgia. The flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and instrument flight rules. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight plan was filed. The pilot and three passengers received fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated from Sarasota, Florida, on July 18, 2004 at 1510.
The pilot received a weather briefing from an FAA Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) at about 1305. The briefer advised of convective activity from Sarasota, Florida extending up to Georgia moving east northeast at 30 knots with tops to Flight Level (FL) 450. The briefer also stated thunderstorms were east, west and south of Columbus, Georgia moving east at 25-35 knots. The briefer provided winds aloft information and the pilot requested to file an IFR flight plan from Sarasota, Florida to Lawrenceville, Illinois. The briefing was concluded at about 1312.
According to air traffic data, the pilot was en route to Lawrenceville, Illinois, and in radar contact with Jacksonville Center. During the course of the flight. Air Traffic Control (ATC) issued several broadcast messages regarding convective SIGMET activity. ATC stated Convective SIGMET'S 1 Eastern and 99 Eastern were valid. The pilot had reported on the frequency when the messages were broadcast. At about 1649, the pilot advised the Jacksonville Center that he was level at 10,000 feet.
At about 1656, the controller asked the pilot if he had a storm scope or weather radar onboard, which the pilot replied "I have a storm scope." The controller advised the pilot that there was a significant cell 10 miles in front of him extending 30 miles. The pilot advised that he was looking and asked. "what does the weather look like if we turned about heading 336 now." The controller stated that the cell extended all the way from Albany towards Ashburn airport. That it was a solid cell 20 miles wide with Level 4 and 5 thunderstorms. The pilot asked if he could have a suggested heading. The controller advised that there were no openings. The pilot then asked how far was the cell and the controller replied 5 miles and suggested. "If you wanted to go eastbound that's the clearest route due east about 45 miles than northbound that's the clearest route. "The pilot replied, "we'll try that." There was no further transmissions from the pilot. At about 1704, the controller attempted to contact the pilot but there was no response. At 1708, radar contact was lost with the flight. At 1714, Worth County Sheriff's Department received the first 911call reported by a local resident. At 1721, the airplane wreckage was located.
A review of information on file with the Federal Aviation administration Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. A review of records on file with the FAA Aero Medical Records revealed the pilot held a third class medical certificate issued on October 2, 2002, with a restriction that he must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision. The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate the he had accumulated 1,320 total flight hours. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination.
A review of maintenance records revealed that the factory overhauled engine was installed on January 6, 2004. The annual inspection was also completed at that time at a total airframe time of 2,277.4 hours. Both the Hobbs Meter and/or the Tachometer were destroyed during the accident sequence and no additional times were obtained.
The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, in Albany, Georgia, located approximately 13 miles west of the accident site at a ground elevation of 197 feet, variation of 02W. Automated Surface Observation System installed with NWS certified augmentation. Following conditions reported surrounding the time of the accident at 1553, winds 210 at 12 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, overcast 2500 broken, temperature 31-degrees Celsius, dew point temperature 24-celcius, altimeter 29.77. Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, Albany, Georgia, reported localized IFR conditions in thunderstorms and moderate rain at the time of the accident. The thunderstorm began at 1705 and continued through 1712, with a second round of thunderstorms moving back into the area between 1724 and 1746.
The National Weather Service (NWS) Radar Summary Chart near the time of the accident depicted an area of light-to-moderate intensity echoes extending over northern Florida, with an area of strong-to-very strong intensity echoes embedded within that area. The area was associated with thunderstorms and rain showers moving eastward. A break in the weather echoes was indicated along the Florida and Georgia border before another area of echoes was depicted in the immediate vicinity of the accident site. This band of echoes extended from eastern North Carolina southwestward into South Carolina, central and southern Georgia, southern Alabama, extreme western Florida panhandle, into southern Mississippi and Louisiana. Maximum intensity ranged to intense-to-extreme intensity, with movement to the southeast between 31 and 46 knots. This band of echoes extended over the accident site.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident terrain was composed of flat fields planted with alfalfa. The fields were bordered by spans of tree groves with single family homes mixed in. Examination of the accident site found the wreckage path to be about 5,900 feet in length on a heading of 360 degrees. A search of the area at the beginning of the wreckage path found cabin interior components, followed by heavier items consisting of cabin doors, emergency escape side window, and some airframe skin. The right wing, left wing, and empennage, were next, followed by the cockpit and cabin seats. The engine and instrument panel were located at the end of the wreckage path. The wreckage was recovered by Atlanta Air Recovery and transported to Griffin, Georgia for further examination.
The wreckage was laid out and reexamined at Atlanta Air Recovery on July 21, 2004. The examination found the both elevator trim actuators were extended 1.5 inches, which corresponds to a 7-degree tab trailing edge down position. The aileron trim tabs were measured and found to be .25-inches trailing edge up. The two flap actuators were extended 1.75-inches, which corresponds to a flap retracted position. The landing gear actuator was in the landing gear up position.
The airplane structure had separated into the following larger sections: Nose section, back to the front carry through, which contained the engine , nose landing gear, instrument panel, and flight controls. The cockpit roof with upper cabin door frame and door hook receiver. The left wing with attached flap and aileron bolted to the front carry through, about 23-inches of the right wing, and the lower cabin door frame and bolt receiver. The right wing with attached aileron. The right main landing gear assembly, which was attached to 12-inches of front spar web and lower spar cap. The cabin floor from the rear carry through aft to the aft baggage compartment bulkhead. The rear carry through had about 7 to 11-inches of the left wing rear spar attached to it, and about 43-inches of right wing rear spar, about 15-inches of the right flap attached to the rear spar. The rear fuselage and cabin roof. The left emergency exit window. The two utility doors had separated and were found individually on the ground. The right flap had separated into four sections. The outboard half of the left elevator, with the counter balance weight attached. The outboard half of the right elevator with the counter balance weight separated and was not recovered.
All of the fractures examined found no indications of fatigue fractures. Examination of the right wing front and rear spars found bending in the upward or positive direction with wrinkling of the upper skin at the fracture sites.
Examination of the engine found heavy impact damage on the left side, and cylinder heads two, four, and six partly crushed. The cooling fins on cylinders two, four and six were pushed to the center. The intake pipes were separated from cylinders two, four and six. The throttle and propeller governor controls were separated. The mixture control was hooked up and jammed into the rear of the aneroid. The exhaust pipes were pushed up and to the right. The crankshaft was separated at the point where it enter the c crankcase halves. The left magneto was crushed in place, and the right magneto was in place and impact damaged. All of the ignition harness was impact damaged and the left side top spark plugs were broken in half. The top spark plugs and the valve covers were removed, but the crankshaft would not rotate.
The propeller was separated and the spinner was crushed. Blade one was separated from the hub and had "S" type bending, and length wise scaring on the cambered side. Blade two was wrinkled and the tip was separated and bent toward the cambered side. Blade three was loose in the hub. It was bent toward the cambered side near the tip. The tip was separated and a tear was observed in the trailing edge near the tip.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Division of Forensic Sciences, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, State of Georgia. conducted a postmortem examination of the pilot on October 8, 2004. The reported cause of death was "Generalized Trauma, and the Manner of death was Accident." The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. There was no Carbon Monoxide, Cyanide, or Ethanol detected in the blood However, there was Bupropion and Bupropion Metabolite detected in blood and liver samples.
The airplane wreckage was released to the owners Insurance Adjuster on June 13, 2005.