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On August 27, 2005, about 0915 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172C, N1680Y, was substantially damaged during a forced landing, after it experienced a loss of engine power while in cruise flight near Winthrop, Maine. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
The airplane was owned by the pilot, and based at the Bowman Field Airport (B10), Livermore Falls, Maine. Witnesses at B10 observed the pilot conducting a preflight inspection of the airplane. The pilot subsequently conducted an engine run-up, taxied for takeoff, and departed without incident about 0845.
Witnesses near the accident site reported that they observed the airplane descending toward a field. They further reported that they did not hear any engine noise, and the propeller was not turning, or turning "very slowly." The airplane's left wing struck a tree. The airplane then rolled and "nose dived" to the ground.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 44 degrees, 16.9 minutes north latitude, and 70 degrees, 00.4 minutes west longitude.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and sea. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that the last flight logged was during November 1999. The pilot's ex-wife stated that the pilot had not flown between June 2004, and April 2005. She stated that the pilot had been flying the accident airplane during the past few months; however, she could not provide any specific information regarding the pilot's recent flight experience.
The pilot reported 240 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate, which was issued on June 17, 1999.
The airplane had been previously purchased by the pilot's family in May 1996. The airplane was sold in April 2002, and repurchased by the pilot on August 29, 2003.
Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent inspection was a 100-hour inspection that was performed on July 7, 2003, at a tachometer time of 5,422 hours. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was performed on December 5, 2002, at a recorded tachometer time of 5,260 hours. The observed tachometer reading at the time of the accident was 5,487.65 hours. The airplane was not operated between June 2004, and April 2005, and had remained parked outdoors.
The airplane had a supplemental type certificate (STC) to burn automotive fuel per STC#SA1948CE.
A weather observation taken at an airport that was located about 10 miles east-northeast of the accident site, at 0853, reported: calm winds, visibility 10 statue miles, clear skies, temperature 66 degrees F, dew point 57 degrees F, altimeter 30.10 in/hg.
The airplane came to rest inverted at the base of a wire fence, on a magnetic heading of 10 degrees. Several portions of the left wing tip were located on the ground, near the base of a 30-foot-tall tree that was located approximately 155 feet south-southeast of the main wreckage.
All major portions of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The upper leading edges of both wings were crushed aft, and an 18-inch wide portion of the fuselage located aft of the main cabin, was buckled around the airframe. The empennage was not damaged, except for the top portion of the vertical stabilizer. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the aileron, elevator, and rudder control surfaces to the forward cockpit area. The mechanically actuated flap system was in the retracted position.
The propeller remained attached to the engine, which remained attached to the firewall; however, the entire engine assembly was displaced aft. One propeller blade was bent back about 45 degrees, and the other propeller blade was bent back about 30 degrees. The engine was removed from the airframe for examination. The crankshaft was rotated by hand via the propeller. Valve train continuity was observed, and thumb compression was attained on all cylinders. In addition, both magnetos produced spark from all their respective towers. The top spark plugs were removed. There electrodes were intact and covered with black soot. A borescope inspection of all cylinders, pistons, and valves did not reveal any discrepancies.
Both fuel tanks remained intact. Winthrop Fire Department personnel reported that the fuel selector was observed in the "both" position, and moved to the "off" position after the accident. Approximately 2 to 2.5 gallons of yellow colored fuel was drained from both fuel tanks. A placard for automotive gasoline was observed near the fuel tank caps. The gascolator was drained and contained sediment and a liquid that was later identified as water through use of water finding paste. In addition, the carburetor contained about 1 ounce of fuel, with some sediment, and fluid identified as water.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on August 29, 2005, by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Augusta, Maine.
The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.
The time and quantity of the airplane's last refueling could not be determined. According to the airplane owner's manual, fuel was contained in a 19.5 gallon aluminum fuel tank located in each wing. The total fuel capacity was 39 gallons, with a total usable fuel in all flight conditions of 36 gallons. Two additional gallons of fuel was usable in level flight, and one gallon of fuel was unusable.
The airplane wreckage was released on August 31, 2005, to a representative of the pilot's family.