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On November 28, 2005, about 1700 Pacific standard time, a Navion G, N2455T, collided with a tree and transmission wires while performing a low pass maneuver in Imperial, California. The pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. The local personal flight departed from Douthitt Strip, El Centro, California, between 1530 and 1600. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed.
During interviews with a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, witnesses stated that they were attending a barbeque located in the yard of a residence. They reported seeing the accident airplane make several low-altitude passes just prior to the accident. On the final pass, the witnesses observed the airplane flying from a westerly direction in a slight right bank (left wing high). The left wing collided with a tree located near the barbeque grill. After the initial impact, pieces of the wing fell to the ground. The remaining skin on the left wing began to shed as the airplane continued in an easterly direction. The airplane then flew into transmission wires, impacted the soft terrain, and flipped inverted.
Witnesses additionally stated that the pilot was well known in the local community and friends with many of the people present at the barbeque. He would often maneuver the airplane at low altitudes in the area, viewing the farms and machinery. Several witnesses noted that during the accident sequence the engine sound was loud and they could not audibly detect any changes in the performance, or revolutions per minute (rpm).
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airman and Medical records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane ratings for single and multiengine land. The most recent issuance of the certificate was the addition of the multiengine land rating, which occurred on August 21, 1980. A third-class medical certificate was issued on May 08, 2004, with the limitation that he must have glasses for near vision while exercising the privileges of his airman certificate.
No personal flight records were recovered for the pilot. On the application for his last medical certificate the pilot stated that his total flight experience was 2,000 hours.
The airplane was a Navion G, serial number NAV4-2455, which was manufactured in 1962. The maintenance records were provided to the Safety Board several weeks after the accident. A review of the airframe logbook revealed that the most recent annual inspection was completed on August 02, 2005. At this time the airframe had accumulated a total time in service of 1,376.25 hours.
The Teledyne Continental TSIO-520-B engine, serial number 120790-5-B, was not the engine originally installed on the airplane; the date of the modification is unknown. The most recent 100-hour inspection was recorded as completed on August 03, 2005. At that time the total time in service for the engine was 1,913.25 hours, and 554.25 hours since the last major overhaul.
A routine aviation weather report (METAR) for Imperial County Airport was issued at 1653. It stated: skies clear; visibility 10 nautical miles; winds from 220 degrees at 4 knots; temperature 60 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 18 degrees Fahrenheit; and altimeter 30.17 inHg.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT
The global positioning system (GPS) coordinates for the accident site were: 32 degrees 47 minutes 52 seconds north latitude by 115 degrees 30 minutes 38 seconds west longitude. The wreckage was spread over about 1,100 feet through a private residence's yard and a soft plowed dirt field. The main wreckage was consumed by fire and had come to rest on a 60-degree slope, which was located off a dirt road that made a perimeter of the field. The left wing and its respective surfaces were located at the most westerly area of the debris field. The remaining airframe components were with the main wreckage along with their flight control surfaces, which had remained attached to their respective hinges.
The nearest airport to the accident site was Imperial County Airport (IPL), elevation -54 feet, and on a magnetic bearing of about 290 degrees. At the GPS coordinates given in the Airport Facilities Directory, the airport was about 4 nautical miles away from the site. Douthitt Strip, the privately owned dirt airstrip the pilot departed from, was located about 4 nautical miles southeast of IPL.
The first point of impact as a 70-foot tree located at the most westerly area of the debris field. Numerous broken branches were located at the base of the tree, which displayed freshly severed ends. Transmission wires were erected several hundred feet east of the tree, with wood towers at each end; they were oriented about 120/300 degrees. Additional transmission wires were parallel to the aforementioned wires and located about 100 feet further west, with a water-filled ravine positioned in between. The power lines to the east of the ravine had been displaced from the towers and were lying in the field below. Electric company personnel replaced the wires prior to the investigative team arriving on scene. The wires were severed about 200 feet from the northerly wood tower.
A ground scar impression was located, with a piece of the airplane skin imbedded within. The impacted dirt was located about 500 feet west of the ravine. It consisted of a ground scar that was about 30 feet long oriented about 050 degrees magnetic. The main wreckage was about 200 feet west of the ground scar. The engine was about 40 feet from the main wreckage about 020 degrees magnetic.
Fire consumed the entire cabin from the firewall aft to the empennage, with only a portion of the horizontal stabilizer, rudder, and right elevator intact. Fire consumed all flight and engine instruments, along with cockpit system switches. The fuel selector was not located within the molten material found in the cockpit area.
The thermally destroyed right wing remained attached to the fuselage and was oriented upside down. The left wing separated from the fuselage and sustained no fire damage. The left tip tank was located by the severed tree branches at the initial impact point. The bottom skin of the left wing was folded in half along the length and located near the ravine.
Control continuity was established from the cockpit area to the ailerons, elevator, and rudder surfaces. Cables were traced from both aileron control surfaces to the attach points in the cockpit. The rudder cable was attached to the control surface and continuity was established to the pedals. The elevator cable was traced from the control surface to the control column.
The Continental IO-520-B engine sustained impact damage with several cylinder fins bent and rocker box covers crushed. The top spark plugs were removed and no mechanical damage was noted. The electrodes and posts exhibited a light ash gray coloration, which according to the Champion Spark Plugs Check-A-Plug chart AV-27 is consistent to normal operation and wear.
Accessory gear and valve train continuity was established by rotation of the crankshaft via the crankshaft flange; thumb compression was detected in all cylinders. Spark was obtained in each lead upon rotation of the crankshaft. The fuel flow divider was removed and inspected. Trace amounts of fuel remained in the body and the rubber diaphragm was intact.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Imperial County Coroner completed an autopsy. Attached to the autopsy report was a toxicological test performed by Bio-Tox Laboratories of Riverside, California. The toxicological findings were positive for ethyl alcohol with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent (W/V). Toxicological testing was additionally performed by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicological findings were positive for ethanol (alcohol). The report indicated the following findings in samples of the pilot: 31.00 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol detected in vitreous, 44.00 (mg.dL, mg/hg) ethanol detected in muscle, and 51.00 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol detected in brain.
FAA regulation 14 CFR 91.17, alcohol or drugs, in part, stated: (a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft -- (1) Within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage; (2) While under the influence of alcohol; (3) While using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety; or (4) While having .04 percent by weight or more alcohol in the blood. (b) Except in an emergency, no pilot of a civil aircraft may allow a person who appears to be intoxicated or who demonstrates by manner or physical indications that the individual is under the influence of drugs (except a medical patient under proper care) to be carried in that aircraft.
The wreckage was not retained by the Safety Board and when last viewed was at the accident site.