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On March 6, 2002, about 1125 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172N, N75908, registered to, and operated by Aerial Messages Inc., as a title 14 CFR Part 91 banner towing flight, crashed in Bunnell, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The commercial-rated pilot, and one commercial-rated passenger received fatal injuries, and the airplane incurred substantial damage. The flight had originated from Bunnell, Florida, the same day, about 1100.
Witnesses stated that the accident airplane had just dropped a banner, and was being maneuvered from base to final, to execute a landing on runway 06, and that the pilot made a radio communications transmission stating that aileron control had been lost. According to one witness, the pilot of the accident airplane was heard stating, "mayday, mayday, mayday, ... this is an actual emergency...clear the runway at Flagler, I have no control of my ailerons." The witness further stated that at the time of the radio communications transmission, the airplane was observed at an altitude of about 200 to 300 feet, in about a 30-degree bank to the left. The witness further stated that the bank angle continued to increase as the airplane got closer to the ground, and it continued its descent, disappearing from sight behind the tree line.
The pilot held a FAA commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land and instrument airplane privileges and private pilot privileges for single engine sea. The pilot also held a FAA second-class medical certificate issued on May 7, 2001, with no stated waivers or limitations. According to the pilots logbook, at the time of the accident he had accumulated about 675 total flight hours, with about 240 flight hours in the Cessna 172. The pilot had about 660 total flight hours in single engine airplanes, about 117 hours simulated instrument time, 8 hours of actual instrument flight time and about 149 hours of documented night flying experience. He had flown about 71 hours in the last 90 days, 33 hours in the last 30 days, and an undetermined number of flight hours in the last 24 hours.
The pilot-rated passenger held an FAA commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land and instrument airplane privileges. He also held a FAA flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multiengine land and instrument privileges, as well as a first-class medical certificate issued on September 17, 2001, with no stated waivers or limitations. According to the rated-passenger's logbook, at the time of the accident he had accumulated about 263 total flight hours, with about 119 in the Cessna 172, and had a total of about 122 hours in single engine airplanes. He had also accumulated about 67 hours simulated instrument time, 15 hours actual instrument time, and 34 hours night time, and had flown about 35 hours in the last 90 days, 7 flight hours in the last 30 days, and an undetermined number of flight hours in the last 24 hours.
The airplane was a Cessna Aircraft Company model 172N, serial number 17268032, manufactured in 1976. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated approximately 7009 total flight hours. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-H2AD reciprocating engine, which produces 160 horsepower. The airplane was equipped with a McCauley model DTM7557 propeller, which contained two blades.
Maintenance records showed the airplane and engine was last inspected on August 10, 2001, when it received a 100-hour inspection. At the time of the accident, the airplane and engine had accumulated approximately 180 flight hours since the last inspection. At the time of the accident the engine had accumulated 2,296 flight hours since major overhaul. The propeller had accumulated an unknown number of flight hours. The airplane's static system, altimeter, and transponder had last been tested on August 16, 1993.
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and the Daytona Beach International Airport, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1153 surface weather observation was wind from 060 at 14 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky condition 5,000 feet scattered, temperature 21 degrees Celsius, dew point temperature 11 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 30.41 inHg.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane wreckage was located on the southwest side of the airport between runway 11 and runway 06 in a wooded area southwest of taxiway D at latitude 29 degrees 27.843 minutes North and longitude 081 degrees 12.707 minutes West. The airplane came to rest in a near vertical flight attitude, suspended by trees. The debris path was approximately 66 feet long heading 225 degrees and the airplane was resting at a heading of 120 degrees. All components of the airplane necessary for flight were located on or around the airplane wreckage.
The first people on the scene reported finding fuel leaking from the airplane, and the airplane was found nose down with the engine crushed aft into the cockpit displacing the instrument panel aft. The nose gear was found lying under the nose of the airplane bent to the left and the main landing gear remained attached. The right side of fuselage forward of the door was bent rearward and the rear doorpost was separated at the base of the right rear window. The right side of the fuselage aft of the baggage door was crumpled. The left side of the fuselage forward of the door had crushed aft and the rear doorpost had separated at the base of the left rear window. The empennage had separated from the fuselage and was suspended from the wreckage by the flight control cables. The leading edge of the right side of the horizontal stabilizer sustained impact damage and the vertical stabilizer was damaged where it attaches to the horizontal stabilizer. The elevator remained attached to the horizontal stabilizer and the rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. The top portion of the rudder had separated from the tail. The left wing was bent downward and the leading edge displayed accordion crushing aft. The left wing tip was separated from the wing. The left lift strut was separated from the wing and the fuselage. The aileron and the elevator remained attached to the left wing. The right wing leading edge exhibited accordion crushing outboard of the lift strut. The aileron and flap remained attached. There was no evidence of fire having occurred at the scene.
Examination of the airplane cockpit showed the throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat controls in the forward position and the engine primer control was broken. The airspeed indicator displayed 160 knots. The attitude indicator displayed 30 degrees nose down, 25 degrees right bank, and was damaged. The heading indicator displayed a heading of 155 degrees and the glass was broken. The altimeter displayed an altitude of 800 feet with a altimeter setting of 30.38. The tachometer displayed 500 rpm. The vertical speed indicator displayed a 1,250 feet per minute descent. The needle of the oil temperature gauge was deflected full left and was broken. The needle of the oil pressure gauge was positioned vertically and broken. The ADF needle pointed to 210 degrees. The transponder displayed 1200 and was turned off. The EGT and CHT read 0. The master switch was on and the ignition switch was on both. All circuit breakers except for the strobe light and autopilot were in. The switches for the strobe light, rotating beacon, navigation lights, and pitot heat were broken and the landing light switch was turned off. The flap handle was bent down and the flap indicator was pushed back and unreadable. The cabin air, cabin heat, and alternate static air controls were in the off position. The elevator trim indicator was in the takeoff position and the elevator control wheel was broken. The fuel selector was slightly right of the both position and was bent and twisted. Both the right and left control yokes were broken off.
Control continuity was established between the rudder and the rudder pedals. Control continuity was also established for the elevator system between the elevator and the control yoke. When control continuity was traced for the ailerons, continuity was found to exist between the bell crank in the right wing, and the control yoke, and for the aileron crossover cable between the bell cranks in the left and right wings. The aileron control cable was found to have separated between the bell crank in the left wing in the vicinity of the right upper doorpost pulley on the way to the control yoke. From that separation point cable continuity was established from the separation point to the control yoke and from the cable separation point and the bell crank in the left wing. Corrosion was present on the upper left and right doorpost pulley bearing, the lower right doorpost pulley bearing, the bulkhead assembly-rear doorpost channel near the upper pulley, and the inner surface of the wing skins and ribs of both the left and right wings. The right wing forward flap cable also was found to have separated 27 inches from the bell crank in the right wing. Cable continuity was established between the separated ends of the cable to the left and right wing bell cranks. Corrosion was observed at the flap attachment rods and both the left and right attachment rods were bent. The rear flap cable was intact and continuity was established between the left and right bellcranks. The flap actuator was observed in the retracted position.
Examination of the engine assembly showed that it rotated normally, and there was continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives. Each cylinder produced normal compression. The lubrication system displayed no preimpact anomalies. The oil filter adapter was separated from the engine, and the oil cooler was found to be leaking, consistent with the impact. No debris was noted in the oil filter or the oil suction screen. The left side capacitor on the dual magneto had incurred impact damage, and when the dual magneto was tested, sparks were obtained at the one and three bottom and two and four top cylinder positions. A spark was not obtained on cylinder positions 2 and 4 bottom, or positions 1 and 3 top positions. The spark plugs were examined, and they exhibited characteristics consistent with those associated with normal wear. The carburetor had broken and had separated from the engine. The carburetor accelerator pump was actuated, fuel discharged, and in addition, fuel was observed in the carburetor bowl, and debris was noted in the fuel inlet screen.
The propeller and spinner had remained attached to the engine. One blade was bent aft near the mid-blade and the other blade's tip had curled and there was chordwise scratching on the blade.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by a Medical Examiner, District 23, St. Augustine, Florida. The cause of death was attributed to multiple traumatic injuries. No findings which could be considered causal to the accident were reported. Postmortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the pilot were performed by the FAA Toxicological Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tests were conducted for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs, and none were found to be present.
Postmortem examination of the commercial-rated passenger was performed by a Medical Examiner, District 23, St. Augustine, Florida. The cause of death was attributed to multiple traumatic injuries. No findings which could be considered causal to the accident were reported. Postmortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the commercial-rated passenger were performed by the FAA Toxicological Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The specimens were tested for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs, and none were found to be present.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Examinations of the separated sections a broken flap cable from the right wing, and the separated section of aileron cable from the left wing aileron cable were performed by the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, D.C.
The examinations revealed that the wire rope of the flap cable was separated with almost all of the wires broken within a 0.5-inch axial length. There was minor unraveling of the strands adjacent to the separation, but no unraveling of the individual wires within strands. Detailed examination with a bench binocular microscope revealed extensive corrosion damage at the broken ends, with many of the individual wires corroded all of the way through. Dark deposits that appeared to be a mixture of oxidation debris and dried grease were noted within about 1 inch of the broken ends. The wire rope of the aileron cable had separated with almost all of the wires broken within a 0.5-inch axial length. There was some unraveling of the strands as well as the individual wires within strands adjacent to the separation. Detailed examination with a bench binocular microscope revealed extensive corrosion damage at the broken ends, with many of the individual wires corroded all of the way through. Dark and rust-colored oxidation deposits were noted within about 1.5 inches of the broken ends.
On March 8, 2002, the NTSB released the wreckage of N75908 to Tim Pacini, owner, Aerial Messages Inc.