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On July 30, 2005, about 1045 central daylight time, a Mooney M20C, N6555U, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of control during takeoff initial climb from runway 31 at the Hardy-Anders Field Natchez-Adams County Airport, Natchez, Mississippi. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. One passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal cross country flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident, and the intended destination was Wichita Falls, Texas.
The pilot flew the accident airplane from Kickapoo Downtown Airport, Wichita Falls, Texas, to Natchez, Mississippi, with two passengers on board. During a 45-minute stop at the Natchez airport, the airplane was fueled with 39 gallons of 100 LL avgas, which filled the tanks. A third passenger was picked up and the flight departed for the return trip to Wichita Falls.
A witness, an employee of the airport, stated that he watched the accident airplane as it took off from runway 31. The airplane climbed to about 100 feet before it banked left with the engine sounding normal. "All of a sudden," the nose of the airplane pitched down. He knew something was wrong and expedited toward a vehicle to reach the crash site.
A pilot witness was standing in front of the airport office building as the accident airplane was taking off. He stated that the airplane "started a normal looking departure and climb out." However, "within a few hundred feet," he noticed the climb out was steeper than normal. The airplane started banking to the left while it continued to climb. The airplane "appeared to stall while still banking left," nosed down and impacted the ground.
The surviving passenger, who was seated in the right front seat, was interviewed by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) on November 7, 2005. She stated that this was the first time she had flown with the pilot, and she felt at ease with him. During the week prior to the flight, he asked her for the weights of the passengers and what luggage they would be bringing in order to plan for the flight. During the flight from Wichita Falls to Natchez, the pilot showed her how to use the sectional map. The first landing approach at Natchez was "a little rough," and the pilot proceeded with a go around. The second approach and landing were "very smooth." After the airplane was refueled, the luggage was placed in the airplane, and they all boarded.
According to the passenger, the takeoff roll was normal. As the airplane lifted off, she bent over to place a camera on the floor in front of her seat. At that moment, it felt to her like the right wing and nose of the airplane were abruptly lifted up. She recalled that it was like someone pulled her backwards by her shoulders. At the same time, the pilot made a loud exclamation. She looked toward the pilot and could see through his side window that their height was just above the trees parallel to the runway. She also saw the ground, felt the airplane veer toward the left, and knew they were going to impact the ground.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. His most recent medical certificate was a third class medical issued on August 12, 2004, with the limitation, must wear corrective lenses.
Review of the pilot's logbook, which was recovered from the airplane, revealed that the pilot had logged a total flight time of about 126 hours. He had logged a total of 3.4 hours in the accident airplane, all of which was in the 30 days preceding the accident. There was no record of the pilot receiving any flight instruction from a certified flight instructor in the accident airplane or in any other complex airplane. In the endorsements section of the pilot's logbook, the endorsement required by 14 CFR Part 61.31(e), which certifies proficiency to operate a complex airplane, was blank. (A complex airplane is an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller; the Mooney M20C is a complex airplane.)
Examination of the airplane's maintenance records, which were recovered from the airplane, indicated that the 1962 model Mooney M20C received its most recent annual inspection on May 7, 2005, at a total time of 3,723.06 hours. As of that date, the engine, a Lycoming O-360-A1D, S/N L-5242-36, had accumulated 385.06 hours since major overhaul. The most recent maintenance action was an engine oil change performed on July 29, 2005, at a total time of 3,754.69 hours and a time since major overhaul of 416.69 hours. Review of the maintenance records revealed no evidence of any uncorrected maintenance discrepancies.
At 1100, the reported weather conditions at the Natchez airport were wind from 340 degrees at 9 knots, clear skies, temperature 28 degrees C, dew point 22 degrees C, and altimeter setting 30.11 inches.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site by the NTSB IIC and an FAA inspector revealed that the airplane impacted level grass covered terrain about 300 feet left of the runway centerline and 2,600 feet from the threshold of runway 31. The first evidence of ground contact was a ground scar containing the red lens cover from the left wingtip navigation light. The airplane was located about 50 feet from this ground scar on a measured magnetic heading of 280 degrees. The airplane remained substantially intact and came to rest upright on a measured magnetic heading of 74 degrees.
The left forward lower section of the fuselage was crushed aft and upward. The left wing was separated from the fuselage at the forward attach point, but remained attached at the rear. The right wing remained attached to the fuselage and sustained relatively minor impact damage. The empennage remained intact. The tailcone was buckled and twisted. The engine remained attached to the airframe and was tilted down and pushed back toward the firewall. The engine crankshaft was fractured in overload immediately aft of the crankshaft flange. The propeller, which remained attached to the separated forward section of the crankshaft, was found approximately midway between the initial ground scar and the airplane. Both propeller blades displayed chordwise scoring and abrasions. One of the blades exhibited torsional twisting.
The wreckage was relocated to a storage hangar on the airport on July 31, 2005, and further examined on August 1, 2005, by the NTSB IIC and a representative of Textron Lycoming. All control surfaces were accounted for and all flight control tubes were traced and found to be intact or fractured in overload.
The engine was removed from the airframe to facilitate examination. The top spark plugs and valve covers were removed, the crankshaft was rotated, and continuity was confirmed to all cylinders and to the rear of the engine. Thumb compression was confirmed on all cylinders during engine rotation. Bore scope examination of the cylinders revealed no anomalies. All spark plugs displayed medium gray color combustion deposits and were dry. The magnetos were removed, and both produced sparks from all towers when rotated by hand. Fuel that was clean and blue in color was found in the fuel pump and the fuel lines. The fuel pump was removed and functioned when actuated by hand. The carburetor was impact damaged, and the mount flange was fractured. The carburetor bowl and inlet screen were observed to be free of debris. The throttle control was found in the full throttle position. The mixture was in a mid range position, and the carburetor hear control was closed. The engine contained an adequate quantity of oil, and the oil suction and oil pressure screens were clean.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was conducted at the Rankin County Morgue in Pearl, Mississippi, on August 1, 2005. The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing on the pilot. The tests were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. Ephedrine was detected in urine, and pseudoephedrine was detected in blood and urine.
The wreckage was released on August 2, 2005, at the completion of the wreckage examination. No parts were retained.