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On October 26, 2004, at 1940 central daylight time, a Cessna 182J, N2703F, operated by a private instrument rated pilot collided with a tree and terrain while maneuvering on final approach to runway 20 at the Springfield Branson Regional Airport, Springfield, Missouri. The private pilot and a private pilot rated passenger were fatally injured. A second passenger who was in a rear seat of the airplane was seriously injured. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions at the time of the accident. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed and activated for the flight. The flight originated from the Ardmore Municipal Airport (ADM), Ardmore, Oklahoma, at 1726.
The passenger in the rear of the airplane stated during an interview that his brother, the pilot, had purchased the airplane in San Diego and they were flying it back to his home in New York. He stated that on the day prior to the accident, they departed San Diego and flew to El Paso, Texas, where they spent the night. The passenger stated they departed El Paso between 0800 and 0830 on the morning of the accident and made an en route fuel stop in Ardmore. He stated they then departed Ardmore en route to Springfield where they planned on spending the night. The passenger stated his brother was flying the airplane. He stated that he did not remember any other events regarding the flight including the accident.
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) records, N2703F landed at ADM at 1430. An employee of a fixed base operator (FBO) at ADM stated the pilot and passengers left the airport to get something to eat. He stated they then waited for the weather to clear prior to departing. FAA ATC records indicate N2703F departed ADM at 1726 en route to SGF.
At 1913, N2703F contacted SGF approach control. The pilot was told to expect the visual approach for runway 20 and he was cleared to descend and maintain 4,000 feet at his discretion.
At 1927, N2703F reported being level at 4,000 feet.
At 1930, the pilot of N2703F was cleared to descend to 3,000 feet and was instructed to report having the airport in sight.
At 1931, the controller informed the pilot that the airport was at his two to two thirty position and three miles away. One minute later, the pilot reported having the airport in sight at which time the pilot was instructed to contact the tower.
Radar data indicates the N2703F flew over the airport at an altitude of approximately 2,800 feet above mean sea level (msl). At 1932, N2703F asked the approach controller if there were two airports next to each other. The controller informed the pilot that there was only one airport and that it was off his right side about a mile and a half behind him. N2703F then requested vectors to final approach which the controller began issuing.
At 1935, the controller informed the pilot that the airport was at his eleven thirty to twelve o'clock position and seven miles from him. Radar data indicates the airplane was at an altitude of approximately 3,100 feet msl when it was 7 miles from the airport.
At 1936, N2703F reported having the airport in sight. The approach controller cleared the airplane for the visual approach to runway 20, and instructed the pilot to contact the tower. N2703F contacted the tower and was cleared to land on runway 20. The tower controller issued the winds as being from 200 degrees at 7 knots.
At 1939, the tower controller informed the pilot that he was on a one mile final and asked, "...are you gonna be able to get down from there... ." N2703F replied, "uh one mile final uh no can I make a circle please." N2703F also stated, "(unintelligible) I was cleared for zero two zero." The controller replied that the airplane was cleared to land on runway 20 and the runway was about one half mile directly in front of them. Radar data indicates that N2703F was approximately 600 feet above ground level at this time. N2703F replied, "eh can I make a circle or just extend this downwind and come back." The controller stated, "well its seven thousand feet long you got a lot of room if you need to make a three sixty that's fine." N2703F replied they were going to make a left 360-degree turn.
At 1940, the tower controller radioed, "zero three foxtrot just crashed." There were no further radio communications with N2703F.
One witness reported seeing the airplane as it approached the airport. This witness stated the airplane looked high and slow. He stated the airplane was over the runway when it entered a sweeping left descending turn. This witness estimated the descent angle as being approximately 45-degrees. He stated it looked as if the pilot was attempting to pull up just prior to the airplane impacting the ground.
Another witness reported seeing the airplane's lights over the runway at an altitude of 150 to 200 feet. He stated the airplane was traveling from the southwest to the northeast. He stated the light was moving fast when it suddenly descended into the ground.
An airport employee reported seeing the airplane near the approach end of the runway at what he estimated to be traffic pattern altitude. He stated his attention was diverted and when he looked back, the airplane was descending at a high rate to the east.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings which was issued on August 29, 2000. FAA records indicate his last medical examination was completed on August 24, 2004, when he was issued a third-class medical certificate. The medical certificate contained the limitations: "Must have available glasses for near vision. Not valid for any class after October 31, 2004."
The pilot's logbooks were not located during the investigation. At the time of his last medical examination the pilot reported having 1,000 hours of total flight time and 25 hours of flight time in the previous six months.
The pilot initially received his private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating on November 30, 1998. On July 27, 1999, the pilot failed an instrument rating flight test. The comment on the Notice of Disapproval of Application stated, "Attitude instrument flying entire flight test." On September 23, 1999, the pilot failed a second instrument rating flight test. Comments on the Notice of Disapproval of Application stated, "ILS Appch - Intercepting Localizer; NDB Appch - Putting Winds Into Appch; VOR Appch - Associating Hdg with OBS; Compass Turns." On August 29, 2000, the pilot passed his instrument rating flight test.
The pilot rated passenger held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating which was issued on June 11, 1969. FAA records indicate his last medical examination was completed on July 3, 2003, when he was issued a third-class medical certificate. The medical certificate contained the limitations: "Holder shall posses glasses that correct for near vision. Not valid after 7/31/04."
The passenger's pilot logbook was not located during the investigation. At the time of his last medical examination the pilot rated passenger reported having 105 hours of total flight time, none of which were accumulated in the past 6 months.
The surviving passenger stated that although his brother was flying the airplane, the pilot rated passenger occasionally flew portions of the trip to give his brother a rest.
A friend of the pilot's stated the pilot had flown N2703F twice since purchasing the airplane. He stated these two flights totaled four or five hours of flight time.
The accident airplane was a 1965 Cessna 182J, serial number 18256803. N2703F was a high wing, fixed landing gear airplane with dual flight controls that was configured to hold four occupants. The airplane was equipped with a single Continental O-470-R reciprocating engine that was rated at 230 horsepower.
According to the aircraft logbook, the last annual inspection was completed on March 18, 2004, at a total aircraft time of 3,929.1 hours. The tachometer time at this inspection was recorded as being 2,124 hours. The logbook showed the last pitot-static and transponder checks were accomplished on March 11, 2004.
The engine logbook indicated the last engine annual inspection was completed on March 18, 2004, at a tachometer time of 2,124 hours. The time since the last major engine overhaul was listed as being 1,299 hours.
The tachometer time at the time of the accident was recorded as being 2,150 hours.
A typed Bill of Sale was located among paperwork found in the airplane. The Bill of Sale indicated that the transfer of the airplane was effective September 22, 2004. However, the date was crossed out and October 22, 2004 was written in its place. The document was signed by the previous owners, but not the pilot. One of the previous owners stated that the pilot purchased the airplane on September 22, 2004. The Bill of Sale listed the aircraft total time as being 3,935.55 hours and the engine total time as 1,305.45 hours.
According to the Lakeland Aviation FBO at ADM, N2703F was fueled with 40.6 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. The airplane was also fueled with 47.9 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel earlier in the day at Cutter Aviation at the El Paso International Airport (ELP), El Paso, Texas.
The SGF weather conditions reported at 1940 were: Wind 190 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; scattered clouds at 3,000 feet above ground level (agl); overcast ceiling at 4,700 feet agl; temperature 20 degrees Celsius; dew point 18 degrees Celsius; and altimeter 30.00 inches of mercury.
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory the end of civil twilight occurred at 1848 on the evening of the accident with 98-percent of the moon's visible disk illuminated.
Runway 20 at SGF is 7,003 feet long and 150 feet wide. The airport elevation is listed as being 1,267 feet above mean sea level (msl) and the elevation at the approach end of runway 20 is listed as 1,261 feet msl. The runway is serviced by an instrument landing system (ILS) approach. In addition, the runway is equipped with a 4-box vertical approach slope indicator (VASI) system.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) on-scene investigation began on October 27, 2004.
The wreckage was located in an open field containing rolling hills near the intersection of Highway 160 and Willard Road, west of Westgate Road. A global positioning system (GSP) receiver recorded the position of the main wreckage as 37-degrees 15-minutes 5-seconds north latitude, 93-degrees 22-minutes 4-seconds west longitude.
The initial impact was with a 45 to 50 foot tall tree at a height of approximately 30 feet above the base of the tree. A fresh scar was visible in the tree as were several freshly broken branches. Several pieces of the left wing structure were located near the base of the tree. A 4-foot long section of the left wing located near the base of the tree was crushed rearward in a semi-circular fashion matching the diameter of the tree. The tree was on terrain which contained a slope of approximately 5-degrees. This down slope continued for approximately 100 feet past the tree at which point the terrain sloped upward at an approximate 5-degree angle. The wreckage path continued along the upslope on a magnetic heading of 030 degrees. The next visible impact marks were three parallel ground scars next to each other on the up sloping terrain. The ground scars varied from 8 to 20 feet in length. These ground scars were located approximately 318 feet from the initial tree strike. These ground scars were followed by the propeller and the tailcone access panel. The main wreckage was upright facing a magnetic heading of 210 degrees, 590 feet from the initial tree strike.
The propeller was separated from the engine. The outboard half of one blade exhibited torsional twisting. The second blade was broken at the hub and bent rearward starting at the blade root. The studs were pulled out of the crankshaft flange and the nose cone exhibited rotational twisting.
The fuselage was fractured just forward of the aft seats. The top of the fuselage was separated from the rest at the bottom of the rear and side window posts. The top of the fuselage was folded forward over the engine. The left door was separated from the fuselage and the right door remained attached.
The left wing was separated from the fuselage at the attach points and it was folded under the wreckage. The left wing was located along the right side of the fuselage. The outboard section of the wing, including the aileron, was separated into several pieces which were located along the wreckage path.
The right wing strut was separated at the fuselage attach point. The wing remained attached to the top of the fuselage. The outboard six feet of the leading edge were crushed rearward and the leading edge of the wing tip was bent upward and back. The outboard three feet of the right wing aileron were crushed. The wing contained approximately 15 gallons of fuel.
Flight control continuity from both wings was established to the cockpit. Separations in the flight control cables exhibited broom-straw characteristics.
Both main landing gears remained attached to the fuselage. The nose gear was separated and portions of the nose gear were found along the wreckage path.
The empennage remained attached to the aft fuselage area. The right elevator and horizontal stabilizer were intact and undamaged. The rudder and vertical stabilizer were intact and undamaged. The left elevator was undamaged. The leading outboard edge of the left horizontal stabilizer was bent up and rearward. Flight control continuity was established from the tail surfaces to the cockpit.
Both front seat belts were cut by rescue personnel. There were no shoulder harnesses installed. The rear seat belts were intact and unbuckled.
The kolsman window on the altimeter was set at 29.98 inches. The mixture, throttle, propeller, and carburetor heat controls were found in the full forward position. The fuel selector was positioned between the Both and Left tank positions. The master and magneto switches were in the On and Both positions respectively.
The engine was separated from the firewall. Cockpit engine control continuity could not be established due to impact damage. The exhaust system sustained impact damage. The upper spark plugs were removed and they were observed to be light gray in color with normal wear signatures. The vacuum pump drive coupling was observed as being intact. The vacuum pump drive coupling was sheared when the investigative team was establishing engine continuity by rotating the engine.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsies were performed on the pilot and the pilot-rated passenger by the Green County Medical Examiner's Office at the Lester E. Cox Medical Center South, Springfield, Missouri, on October 27, 2004.
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared for both the pilot and the pilot-rated passenger by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The results for the pilot were negative for all tests performed.
The results for the pilot-rated passenger were negative with the exception of Atenolol which was detected in the urine.
Atenolol is a prescription medication used to control high blood pressure and typically approved by the FAA for that use. It is also used to help control angina (heart-related chest pain) and to improve survival following a heart attack.
Parties to the investigation included the FAA and Cessna Aircraft.
The wreckage was released to the Director of Maintenance at Aviation Enterprises, Springfield, Missouri, on October 28, 2004.