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On July 20, 2005, approximately 1215 central daylight time, a single-engine Mooney M20J airplane, N5670M, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering near Saginaw, Texas. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The local flight departed from Hicks Airfield (T67), near Fort Worth, Texas, approximately 1000.
The pilot and two non-rated passengers, who were visiting from out-of-town, departed T67, where the airplane was hangared, for a local airplane ride. People who knew the pilot told the Investigator in Charge (IIC), that the pilot, who had owned the airplane, would routinely take friends or associates out for a local airplane ride.
Multiple witnesses located in the vicinity of the accident site provided statements to the NTSB investigator-in-charge. Below is a summary of statements provided by three of the eye-witnesses.
The first witness, whose house is located under the flight path to Hicks airfield, reported she was outside when the accident airplane passed overhead. She thought the plane was low, but not unusually so. Additionally, she reported hearing the engine [running]. The witness entered the house and after returning, she noticed the airplane had circled and was coming towards the neighborhood and her house. The airplane made several turns, and then maneuvered to miss the two houses at the end of the street, before hitting the ground. The plane then slid into a fence.
A second witness was driving his vehicle northbound on business route 287, when he observed the airplane traveling towards the north side of Hicks airfield. He stated that the airplane was approaching [ the airfield ] high, while in straight and level flight. The witness then observed the airplane enter a sharp left bank [turn]. The airplane came out of the left bank very briefly, and then he observed the airplane re-enter another sharp left turn; however, the second time the angle of bank appeared to be much steeper than the first one. The witness then observed the nose of the airplane dropped, and then the wings appeared to level off. He added the airplane at that point was in about a 45-degree nose down attitude. The witness lost sight of the airplane as the airplane descended behind a tree line. Seconds later he noted a column of black smoke coming from the area behind the tree line. The witness added the airplane was not on fire or trailing smoke while in flight, and he did not see the landing gear.
A third witness, who reported to be a pilot and was at the airport, reported observing the airplane on final approach for landing [ runway 14 ] with the landing gear in the retracted position. Prior to reaching the end of the runway, he observed the airplane make a shallow left turn, followed by a second left turn, but with a 60-70 degree bank angle. The witness stated that during the second turn the airplane did a "knife-edge drop." Before losing sight of the airplane behind a row of hangars, it appeared that the airplane was leveling off.
The pilot who was occupying the left seat, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot was issued a special issuance, FAA third-class medical certificate on April 02, 2005. At the time of his most recent medical application, the pilot reported 5,650-hours of flight time, of which 60-hours were accumulated in the previous six months. The pilot had completed a biennial flight review on March 1, 2005.
The airplane was a 1983-model Mooney M20J, configured for a maximum of four occupants, and featured a retractable landing gear and a controllable pitch propeller, and registered to the pilot since 1996. The airplane was originally powered by a 200-horsepower Lycoming engine. The accident airplane had been modified by the installation of a Continental IO-550 engine and a Hartzell 3-blade full-feathering propeller under the "300 Missile" conversion. Additionally, the airplane was modified by the installation of long-range fuel tanks. Both modifications, were approved by Supplement Type Certificates (STC's). The airplane had accumulated about 4,386-hours total time. Additionally, a review of the airplanes records, indicate that airplane had flown approximately 140 hours, between November 2003 and April 2005.
At 1153, the automated weather observing system at the Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW), located approximately 5 miles from the accident site, reported the wind from 180 degrees at 8 knots, 10-statute miles visibility, few clouds at 3,800 feet, temperature 91 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 71 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.07 inches of Mercury.
The pilot was not radio contact with air traffic control during this portion of the flight. There were no reported distress calls received from the pilot prior to ground impact.
The Hicks Airfield (T67) is a public use airport without an operating control tower, located underneath Dallas-Fort Worth's (DFW) class B airspace. The common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) is 123.05. The airport features one asphalt runway, 14/32 which is 3,740-feet long by 60-feet wide. Approximately 140 light general aviation aircraft were reported to be based at the airfield.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT
An on-scene examination of the wreckage was conducted on July 21, 2005. The accident occurred during daylight hours at coordinates of Latitude 32 degrees 56.659 minutes North, Longitude 097 degrees 24.987 minutes West, which is approximately a half mile on a heading of 354 from the end of the runway. The main wreckage, which consisted of the airplane's engine, fuselage/cabin, both wings, and empennage, came to rest approximately 172 feet from the initial impact point on a measured heading of 269 degrees. All components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. A post-impact fire consumed much of the airplane.
The initial impact point was located in a yard between two homes and consisted of ground scars in the lawn, which was level and thinly covered with low-cut grass. Part of the nose landing gear door came to rest about 20 feet forward of the initial impact scars, and the 3-bladed propeller came to rest about 54 feet from the initial impact point. The propeller had been stripped from the crankshaft flange with the 3 blades remaining attached to the propeller hub. Additionally, the ground just beyond the gear door contained two propeller strikes. A localized grass fire scar started about 55 feet before the final resting point of the airplane.
The left wing remained attached to the airplane and, though damaged by the accident and iron fence, was largely intact. The left wing main fuel tank had 22 gallons of fuel showing on the wing fuel gauge, and the left auxiliary wing tank had approximately 2 inches of fuel in the tank. The appearance of the fuel drained from the wing tanks, was consistent with 100LL aviation fuel. The right wing was largely consumed by fire from the cabin to about mid-span. The aft fuselage and empennage, except the left stabilizer, were also destroyed by fire. The landing gear and flaps were found in the retracted position.
Control continuity was established for all flight control surfaces to the cockpit.
A post-examinations of the engine and propeller was conducted at the accident site. The right side of the engine had light fire damage. The bottom front of the engine and oil sump had impact damage exposing the internal part of the engine. Additionally, the left front valve cover had a hole in it, revealing the top of the valve/spring assembly. The engine was rotated by hand and continuity was confirmed to all cylinders, accessory gears, and the oil pump. Compression was confirmed on all cylinders; the cylinders were borescoped with no abnormalities noted. The oil filter was opened, and the element was clean. The sparkplugs were removed and compared to the Champion Check-a-Plug guide. The sparkplugs had normal wear, and light gray deposits in the electrode area. Both magnetos were removed and rotated with a drill motor; all ignition leads produced an electrical spark. The engine's fuel system was inspected and no discrepancies were found. The airframe's fuel selector valve was removed and inspected; the valve was burnt from the post-crash fire. The valve had the left fuel tank selected, and was clear of obstructions.
Inspection of the three-bladed propeller revealed that one blade was bent slightly forward about mid-blade, and exhibited rotational scoring in the paint on the cambered side. The second blade was bent aft approximately 45 degrees at mid-blade and twisted to low pitch. The third blade was bent slightly forward and had minor cord-wise scratches on the paint.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office, in Fort Worth, Texas. The autopsy did not reveal any evidence of incapacitation or physical impairment. The autopsy listed the cause of death as blunt force injuries due to an aircraft crash.
Toxicological Testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The wreckage was recovered to Air Salvage of Dallas, near Lancaster, Texas, and released to a representative of the owner's insurance company.