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On July 3, 2005, about 1211 central daylight time, a Beech V35, N2056W, registered to the pilot and another owner, crashed into a swamp near De Funiak Springs, Florida, following a loss of engine power and an emergency descent. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight from Pearland Regional Airport, Houston, Texas, to Panama City-Bay County International Airport, Panama City, Florida. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the private certificated pilot was fatally injured. The sole passenger, the pilot's son, received minor injuries. The flight originated about 0842 central daylight time from Pearland Regional Airport.
A review of the air route traffic control and approach control transcripts disclosed that the pilot reported no difficulties until approximately 1205, when he radioed to the Elgin Air Force Base approach controller: "I think we lost our engines, sir." When asked his intentions, the pilot reported that he was at 2,500 feet, and was looking for a place to land. The approach controller responded with an airport's location, De Funiak Springs, which he described as about 5 miles southwest of the pilot, and off his right wing. The pilot asked for a radar vector to fly to the airport, and the controller issued 270 degrees. At 1206, the pilot called the Elgin controller, and the controller says the airport is at his 12 o'clock position and asks if he's going to make it. The pilot says he has it in sight, but doesn't know if he can reach it. About a minute later, in his last transmission, the pilot radioed that he was going to try and set it down on a road to the right of him.
The airplane did not reach the highway, and crashed in a tree-covered swamp, about 2 miles east of the De Funiak Springs Airport.
The passenger stated to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Alabama Flight Standards District Office inspector who went to the crash site, that his father woke him up and advised him to put on his seatbelt and shoulder harness. His father also advised him that the engine was running rough. The passenger also said that his father was talking with someone on the radio, and then airplane was then in the trees. He next saw his father face down in mud, and he called 911 to summon help.
Two witnesses related they saw an airplane appear overhead, flying low, with either the engine sputtering or idling. They saw it descend toward the swamp, and then sounds of impact.
INJURIES TO PERSONS
The pilot received fatal injuries, the passenger received minor injuries. There were no injuries to anyone on the ground.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single engine land and instrument ratings. His total flight experience was approximately 320 hours, and his last logbook endorsement by a certificated flight instructor for a flight review was dated August 17, 2004. He held a third class FAA medical certificate that expired November 30, 2005.
The accident airplane was a 1966 model year Beechcraft V35, equipped with a single Continental 285-rated horsepower IO-520-BA engine. The pilot owned the airplane in partnership with another pilot.
The closest weather reporting station was at the Bob Sikes Crestview Airport (KCEW), about 22 mile west of the accident site. Reported weather at 1153 was 10 miles visibility, few clouds at 3,600 feet, temperature 91F, dewpoint 73F, wind from 270 degrees at 7 knots.
Prior to the emergency descent, the accident airplane had been in intermittent instrument meteorological conditions at its cruise altitude of 9,000 feet.
The pilot had been in radio contact with FAA ATC facilities and a military approach control facility prior to the accident. An air traffic control aircraft accident package, with partial transcripts of the pilot's communications with these facilities, is in the public docket of this report.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was in a wooded swamp between a road and a field, about 400 feet msl.
An FAA inspector traveled to the site on July 3 for the initial inspection of the airplane and the accident site. He noted that all of the airplane's major structural components were at the immediate crash site, and that there was a slight odor of gasoline and a light sheen of gasoline on the swamp water surrounding the airplane. The inspector stated that there was a small stream that flowed around the airplane, which kept any substantial amount of fuel from accumulating and being measured. He indicated that the airplane had struck trees while in a gliding descent, with some associated damage to the wings, fuselage, and tail surfaces. He stated that the fuel tanks in the left wing had broken open, and fuel lines were severed in both wings, allowing the remaining fuel in both wings to drain out of the tanks. The airplane came to rest in a near vertical, nose-down attitude, with the engine mostly buried in swamp mud and water.
Due to the difficulty in examining the airplane at the crash site, it was recovered to a salvage yard, and inspected by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC). Assisting and under the guidance of the NTSB IIC, were the parties to the investigation: the airplane manufacturer, the engine manufacturer, and an FAA inspector from the Alabama Flight Standards District Office.
The inspection disclosed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunction. All essential components of the airplane were recovered and examined. Flight control continuity was established from respective flight controls to points of damage related impingement or separation. One of the two propeller blades had minor chord-wise scratching and slight bending, and the other was essentially undamaged. The engine, which separated from the firewall during impact, was sent to the engine manufacturer for additional inspection and to prepare it for an attempted run on a test stand.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed by Office of the Medical Examiner, District I, Florida. The examining physician/pathologist listed the cause of death as "Blunt impact of head."
A toxicological test performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs or alcohol.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Under the guidance and direction of an NTSB investigator from the Miami regional office, the engine was prepped for a test run at the engine manufacturer, Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM), Mobile, Alabama, on August 10, 2005.
In preparation for the engine run, several engine accessories/components that had sustained crash damage were either removed, repaired, or replaced to facilitate the engine run. Those items, along with additional details of the engine preparation and run, are noted in the TCM Engine Operational Test Report in the public docket of this report.
Following preparation, and cleaning of mud from portions of the induction system, the engine was started and ran for approximately 20 minutes, reaching and sustaining full-rated rpm/horsepower.
Fueling records from the pilot's departure airport, revealed that he had added 31.41 gallons of aviation fuel to the airplane prior to departure. The airplane's fuel tanks held 40 total gallons, with 37 gallons useable. The pilot's flight plan indicated that he had 4 hours and 30 minutes of fuel, and was planning for an en route time of 3 hours and 40 minutes.