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On January 14, 2005, at 0954 central standard time, a Beech 95-B55 twin-engine airplane, N7912R, was destroyed following a loss of control during the initial takeoff climb from the Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport (PTN), near Patterson, Louisiana. The airline transport rated pilot and his dog were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight destined for Houma-Terrebone Airport (HUM), near Houma, Louisiana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Several witnessed observed the airplane when it landed at Patterson Airport and/or when it departed. One witness watched the airplane land and taxi "at a very high rate of speed-almost missing the taxiway entrance to Perry [Aviation] ramp." He said that he was going to speak to the pilot about his "reckless manner" but was interrupted. The witness later observed the pilot taxiing back to the runway, but did not see the airplane depart.
A second witness was at the avionics shop next door to Perry Aviation, when the pilot arrived unannounced. According to the witness, the pilot reported that he was on his way to Houma-Terrebone Airport for scheduled maintenance, but was experiencing transponder problems and elected to land at PTN to have the transponder replaced. The witness installed a "loaner" transponder in the airplane for the pilot to use while the original transponder was being repaired. After the loaner transponder was tested and found to be in working order, the pilot departed.
A third witness, a pilot who had flown into Patterson Airport that morning, was standing at Perry Aviation, when he first observed the airplane enter the traffic pattern for Runway 06. The witness did not see the airplane land, but observed the airplane taxi up to within approximately 15 feet of where he was standing. The witness reported, "the engines sounded normal during taxi and shutdown." The witness later observed the pilot return to the airplane and start the engines. He reported that, "the engines started right up and there was no smoke (blue or black), backfiring or audible problems from the engines." The witness then boarded his airplane and taxied approximately halfway down the taxiway in a westerly direction. While taxiing, he saw the accident airplane depart Runway 06. After the airplane became airborne, it climbed in a steep, nose-high attitude with the gear and flaps retracted. At approximately 800 feet above ground level (agl) and approximately halfway down the 5,401-foot-long runway, the airplane started a slow left turn. Both propellers were turning. The witness said the airplane's initial turn was slow, but then developed into a rapid and tight turn until it was in inverted. When inverted, the nose of the airplane dropped and the airplane made approximately two rotations before impacting the ground adjacent to the runway on private property.
A fourth witness saw the airplane depart. Initially, the airplane had a normal ascent rate, but the ascent rate and airspeed began to decrease as the airplane began a left turn at an altitude of approximately 200 feet above the ground. Shortly after, the airplane entered a "left spiral" and descended nose first toward the ground. The witness lost sight of the airplane as it descended behind a tree located north of the airport.
A fifth witness was in his car driving on Highway 182 going east. He saw the airplane depart and make a left turn. As the airplane was in the turn, the witness observed a "puff off smoke" come out of the left engine. The airplane then "rolled over to the left and [fell] straight down."
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 29 degrees, 42 minutes north latitude, and 91 degrees, 20 minutes west longitude.
The pilot held an airline transport pilot rating for airplane multi-engine land. He also held a commercial certificate for airplane single-engine land and multi-engine land. In addition, he was a certificated flight instructor with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane.
His last second class FAA medical certificate was issued on May 21, 2004. At that time the pilot reported having accumulated a totoal of 6,000 flight hours.
The weather reported at Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport, at 0955, included wind from 020 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 2,300 feet, temperature 48 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.42 inches of Mercury.
An on-scene examination of the airplane wreckage was conducted on January 15, 2004. The airplane came to rest upright at an elevation of approximately eight feet mean sea level (msl) on a magnetic heading of 72 degrees. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the site.
The point of initial impact was a large oak tree located approximately 46 feet from where the main wreckage came to rest. Broken tree limbs and an eight-foot section of the left wing were found at the bottom of this tree. The first ground impact mark was noted approximately 30 feet beyond the tree base and the main wreckage came to rest approximately 16 feet beyond the first ground impact mark.
The main wreckage included the cockpit, fuselage, empennage, tail section, the right wing, remaining inboard section of the left wing, and both engines. The cockpit area of the airplane was consumed by post-impact fire
Control cable continuity was established to all flight controls, and the elevator trim tab was found to be at an approximate 10-degree tab down setting. The flaps and landing gear were found in the retracted position.
The left engine sustained minor impact and post-impact fire damage. The engine crankshaft was manually rotated via the propeller, and valve train continuity and compression were established for each cylinder. Both left engine magnetos were removed, tested, and produced spark at the ignition leads. The left, two-bladed constant speed propeller remained attached to the engine. One blade displayed no leading edge gouging or chord-wise scratches. Starting approximately eight inches outboard for the propeller hub, the blade was slightly bent towards the non-cambered side. The other blade displayed no leading edge gouging, chord-wise scratches, and was not bent.
The right engine sustained minor impact damage. The engine crankshaft was manually rotated via an adapter in the vacuum pump drive, and valve train continuity and compression were established for each cylinder. Both right engine magnetos were removed, tested, and produced spark at the ignition leads. The right propeller remained partially attached to the engine. One blade displayed no leading edge gouging, chord-wise scratches, and was not bent. The other blade displayed no prominent leading edge gouging or chord-wise scratching. The blade exhibited a gradual bending to the non-cambered side, with the outer eight inches curled aft.
Both the left and right fuel selector handles were found set to the auxiliary fuel tank positions.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Lafayette Parish Coroner and Forensic Facility, Lafayette, Louisiana, performed an autopsy on the pilot on January 15, 2005.
The FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing. The pilot tested positive for Brompheniramine, which is an antihistamine and may cause drowsiness. According to the FAA's Southwest Regional Flight Surgeon, if the pilot had reported the use of this substance, he would have received a warning not to fly for 24-hours after taking the last dose.
An individual, who was also a pilot, contacted the Safety Board after the accident. He reported that he had recently flown with the pilot in the accident airplane as a passenger. He said that when the pilot took-off, he increased the pitch angle of the airplane to a point where the stall horn activated. The individual mentioned his concern about the low airspeed, but the pilot "shrugged off his concern." During the same flight, about two minutes after the pilot leveled-off the airplane, the left engine quit. The pilot then "fiddl[ed] with a few things", feathered the propeller, and flew to Baton Rouge. After landing, the individual noticed oil leaking from the left engine. Additionally, he reported that the pilot did not do a preflight inspection and did not use a airplane's check-list during the flight . He was also not sure how the fuel selector handles were positioned.
A review of the Normal Procedures check-list located in the airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook (POH), (which was located in the wreckage), the pilot was required to set the fuel selectors to the main tanks prior to take-off.
In addition, the FAA issued Airworthiness Directive (AD)-68-26-06 on February 5, 1974, to prevent a power loss. It required this model airplane to have a placard installed on the pilot's instrument panel (or on other FAA approved location), which stated the following:
"TAKE OFF AND LAND ON MAIN TANKS ONLY. TURNING TYPE TAKE OFFS OR TAKE OFFS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING FAST TAXI TURNS PROHBITED. REFER TO FAA FLIGHT MANUAL FOR OTHER FUEL SYSTEM LIMITATIONS."
A review of the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH), also revealed that the best rate of climb speed with one engine inoperative (Vyse) was 100 knots and the minimum controllable airspeed (Vmc) was 78 knots. It also stated, "Two major factors govern one engine operations; airspeed and directional control. The airplane can be safely maneuvered or trimmed for normal hands-off operation and sustained in this configuration by the operative engine AS LONG AS SUFFICIENT AIRSPEED IS MAINTAINED...The most important aspect of engine failure is the necessity to maintain lateral and directional control. If airspeed is below 78 knots, reduce power on the operative engine as required to maintain control."
The wreckage was released to the registered owner on January 16, 2004.