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On January 18, 2005, about 1650 mountain standard time, an Aero Commander AC200D (Meyers), N49J, owned and flown by the pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with flat open terrain located about five miles south of Hatch, Utah. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The second passenger was seriously injured. The flight departed from Provo, Utah, about two hours prior to the accident.
A witness reported that the aircraft was observed maneuvering over the golf course and the pilot's property shortly before the accident.
The surviving passenger who was seated in the right rear seat reported that the purpose of the flight was to have the pilot fly he and his business partner, the passenger in the right front seat, over the pilot's property and golf course. The passenger recalls that the pilot landed at Provo about 1400. The three then had a conversation in the airport pilot lounge for about 30 minutes getting to know each other and to discuss the flight and property that they were going to see. The flight then took off and followed Highway 89 southbound toward Hatch. While en route, the three were talking about another project that the passengers were working on in the Saint George, Utah, area. The three then decided to fly down to Saint George first before going to Hatch. After viewing the property in Saint George, the flight then continued northbound back to Hatch. The passenger stated that he recalled when they arrived at the pilot's golf course they made two complete turns over the property. This is all the passenger could recall before waking up in the hospital.
Further questioning of the passenger revealed that he did not recall any performance problems with the aircraft during the flight. He also stated that the three of them had on head-sets so that all could hear and talk with one another. The passenger stated that the conversation was mostly between the pilot and his business partner while he took pictures from the back seat. The passenger stated that in his opinion he felt that the pilot was distracted by the conversation, which was his first priority, and second was commanding the aircraft.
At the time of the accident, the pilot held a private pilot certificate for single-engine land aircraft. A review of the pilot's flight logbook indicated a total flight time of approximately 551 hours in all aircraft, with 463 hours as pilot-in-command. A total flight time in the make and model aircraft involved in the accident was approximately 155 hours.
A flight review was satisfactorily accomplished in the AC200D, N49J, on August 3, 2004.
The pilot held a Class III medical certificate issued on May 4, 2004. No waivers or limitations were listed.
Maintenance records indicated that an Annual Inspection was accomplished on February 13, 2004. The pilot purchased the aircraft sometime around May of 2004. At the time of the purchase, the aircraft was equipped with an IO-520-A engine. Due to a crack that was found in the crankcase in September 2004, the engine was replaced with an IO-520-FCA engine, s/n: 168202-7-F in November 2004.
At the time of the accident the engine had accumulated approximately 73.5 hours since installation. Maintenance write-ups indicated two oil changes. The aircraft total time was 3,678 hours.
At 1653, the Bryce Canyon Airport (BCE), located 15 nautical miles northeast of the accident site was reporting clear skies with 10 miles visibility. The temperature was 28 degrees F, and the dewpoint was 20 degrees F. The wind was calm. The altimeter setting was 30.48" Hg.
At 1653, the Cedar City Airport (CDC), located 32 nautical miles west of the accident site was reporting clear skies with 10 miles visibility. The temperature was 48 degrees F, and the dewpoint was 34 degrees F. The wind was from 100 degrees at three knots. The altimeter setting was 30.46" Hg.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
An on site investigation was conducted on January 19, 2005, by investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The accident site was located at latitude 37 degrees 35.091 minutes north, longitude 112 degrees 26.925 minutes west at an elevation of 7,100 feet. The terrain was level and covered with low brush and rocks. About two feet of snow covered the area.
The first indication of ground impact was noted to a four foot high bush that was broken and bent over. Following the bush impact, a 19 foot by six foot ground impact crater was noted. Fragments of paint chips were noted in the snow and soil. The main wreckage was located on a magnetic heading of 100 degrees at a distance of 82 feet from the bush. The aircraft was laying on its belly, with the nose pointing to 40 degrees. Both wings remained attached to the wing roots. The empennage was bent over to the left side with the aft end of the fuselage structure torn open exposing the interior control cables and push-pull tubing. The top of the cabin area had been removed by rescue personnel in order to extricate the occupants.
The left wing displayed a leading edge rearward crush the entire length. The top of the wing structure material was wrinkled from the leading edge to the outboard trailing edge on an approximate 35 degree angle. Both the flap and aileron remained attached to their respective hinges. The flap appeared to be extended about 30 degrees.
The right wing displayed a leading edge crush from the wing root to about 64 inches outboard. A 24 inch section was pushed aft. Both the flap and aileron remained attached to their respective hinges. The flap appeared extended about 30 degrees.
The empennage control surfaces remained attached to their respective hinges. Control continuity was verified from the aft end attach points, forward to the cabin area.
The propeller hub assembly separated from the crankshaft at the flange. One propeller blade separated from the hub and was located about 30 feet south of the main wreckage. The blade displayed an "S" bending signature. The second blade, which was still attached to the broken and cracked hub, was found a few feet in front of the main wreckage. The blade was loose in the hub and displayed severe "S" bending with the tip of the blade torn away. Chordwise scoring was noted to the blade surface.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsy was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner - State of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. The pilot's cause of death was reported as, "Blunt Force Injuries to the Head, Torso, and Extremities."
Samples were sent to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for analysis. A toxicology examination was negative for all tested substances.
An engine teardown inspection was conducted on January 31, 2005, at Spanish Fork Flying Service, Spanish Fork, Utah, by investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and Teledyne Continental Motors.
The engine, to include hoses wires and cables, had been removed and disconnected from the firewall during the wreckage recovery and preparation for engine inspection and teardown. The nose gear remained jammed up into the bottom of the engine and was subsequently removed. The propeller had been stripped from the mounting bolts during the accident sequence. The bottom front of the crankcase was broken back. The bottom of the engine displayed extensive impact damage which crushed the oil sump up into the engine. The camshaft drive gear was bent. The starter was broken from the mount. The mixture lever was found at mid-range and the lever was bent. The throttle was loose and found in the closed position. The linkage had been removed.
The valve covers were removed to expose the rocker arms. The fuel pump was removed and the drive shaft was found intact and the drive turned freely. Fuel was present in the supply line to the fuel pump. The fuel manifold was opened and the diaphragm was found pliable and intact. The screen was clear of contaminants. The body was moist with a smell of fuel. The fuel manifold lines and fuel nozzle screens were clear.
The spark plugs were removed. It was found that the spark plugs connected to the right side magneto; 1, 3, 5 top and 2, 4, 6 bottom displayed a white coloration on the electrodes. The plugs connected to the left side magneto; 1, 3, 5 bottom and 2, 4, 6 top displayed a grey coloration on the electrodes. During the on site documentation of the cockpit, it was found that the magneto switch was located on the left magneto. A timing check was accomplished which found the magnetos timed per specification.
The crankshaft was rotated by hand and gear and valve train continuity was established. Compression was developed in each cylinder. A spark was produced from each magneto lead.
Additional inspection of the airframe verified that the landing gear had been extended at the time of the collision.
A Garmin GPSmap 295 unit was recovered from the accident site and sent to Garmin International for download of data. The unit was in good physical condition. The data extracted displayed waypoints recorded on January 18, 2005.
The active log tracking points started at 1303 and indicated that the aircraft departed from Cedar City (CDC) about 1305. The tracking course indicates an increasing airspeed to 165 to 170 knots and varying altitudes to as high as 8,000 feet while tracking toward the Provo Airport (PVU). The track log terminates at PVU at 1411.
The active log begins again at 1440, with a departure from PVU at 1449. The tracking course indicates an increasing airspeed to 170 to 179 knots and an varying altitudes from 7,000 feet to about 9,700 feet as the aircraft continues on a southerly heading toward the St. George, Utah, area.
About 1608, the tracking indicates a decreasing altitude and airspeed to as low as 73 knots, and an altitude as low as 3,214 feet in an area about 5 nautical miles southwest of Hurricane, Utah. The coordinates of 37 degrees 08.020 north, 113 degrees 21.976 west indicate a ground elevation of approximately 3,000 feet mean sea level in this area. The tracking indicates a 180 degree turn over the area before the airspeed and altitude again increase heading in a northeasterly direction about 1612. The tracking then continues northbound toward the area of the accident site.
At 1636, approximately 5 nautical miles south of the accident site, the tracking indicates a decreasing altitude from about 8,200 feet followed by a decreasing airspeed from about 150 knots. The altitude decreases to varying altitudes about 7,400 feet and varying airspeeds between 80 and 90 knots followed by a decrease in airspeed to 75 knots before it increases for a short time followed by a slight increase in altitude. The tracking indicates that several "race track" type maneuvers and "360 degree" turns are made over the area of the accident site with decreasing altitudes varying to as low as less than about 300 feet above ground level and varying airspeeds to as low as 70 knots. These maneuvers continue to 1649 when the last tracking indicates a right turn to the last data point at a location of 37 degrees 35.105 minutes north latitude, 112 degrees 26.968 minutes west longitude, at an airspeed of 75 knots and an elevation of 7,240 feet (approximately 140 feet above ground level).
The accident site location is 37 degrees 35.091 minutes north latitude, 112 degrees 26.925 minutes west longitude at a terrain elevation of 7,100 feet mean sea level.
The Owner's Manual, which was located in the wreckage, indicated in Part V Performance, Stall Speeds, "Altitude loss (as measured from the time the airplane pitches until horizontal flight is regained) in power-off stalls may be as high as 275 feet. The addition of power after the pitch reduces the altitude loss considerable." This section also depicts the varying stall speed, (as low as 62 mph) at varying bank angles, (as high as 60 degrees) and flap configurations (fully extended to 40 degrees).
Fueling records indicated that the aircraft was fueled on January 18, 2005, at 1415, in Provo, Utah. Records obtained from the fueling facility indicated a total of 43.1 gallons of fuel was added.
The wreckage was recovered by personnel from Spanish Fork Flying Service on January 25, 2005, and transported to Spanish Fork, Utah.
The wreckage and maintenance documents were released to the owner's representative on February 9, 2005. Personal effects of the pilot which were retained for review were released to the pilot's family member on March 16, 2005.