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On May 22, 2006, approximately 1840 central daylight time, a single-engine Cessna 150F airplane, N6242R, was destroyed during impact with terrain following a loss of control while on an approach to the Levelland Municipal Airport (LLN), near Levelland, Texas. The flight instructor and the student pilot receiving instruction were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by a Part 141 Flight School. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.
Multiple witnesses located in the vicinity of the accident site provided statements to the NTSB investigator-in-charge. Below is a summary of two of the eye-witnesses.
The first witness, who is a certificated flight instructor (CFI) and was employed by the flight school, stated that, he had just flown the airplane before the accident flight. He added that the airplane had flown two previous flights; approximately 1.5 and 1.2 hours in duration. During the CFI's last flight, he stated that he took his wallet and keys and placed them in the airplane. Shortly after the accident pilot and student took the airplane, he realized that his keys and wallet were still in the airplane. The CFI stated that he took a car and drove out onto an intersection taxiway, hoping to get the accident pilot's attention. The CFI said the airplane's takeoff was "abrupt and nose high." The CFI then stated the airplane continued its takeoff run, before a slight "leveling off" and then the airplane climbed to 50-100 feet before making a steep, left banked turn. He then observed the airplane descend to about 50 feet while on the downwind leg, before climbing back to 100-200 feet. The CFI then left the taxi area to go back to the flight school and said he didn't see anything else relating to the accident.
A second witness, who was standing outside his shop, located on the northeast side of the airport, reported that he noticed the Cessna 150 taxi onto runway 17. He stated that the conditions were "windy-gusty, 30 plus," which is why he kept his attention on the airplane. The witness added that he observed a car at the "first taxiway exit," and the person in the car began to wave out the window "as if he was flagging the aircraft down." He added that the airplane's engine went to full power and sounded normal. He further stated that the airplane was then "sharply pulled into flight" before the nose was lowered to build airspeed for a couple seconds. He said "the airplane began a normal climb to about 300 feet, then banked hard left at a 70 plus degree bank, and after a 180 degree turn, the Cessna 150 dove sharply to approximately 30 feet." The witness added that "the airplane then sharply climbed to about 300 fee." The witness further stated that the airplane "sharply turned left again at a 70-80 degree bank, and appeared to "rock" once, before falling completely, impacting [the ground]."
The 64-year old pilot, who was occupying the right seat, was a commercial pilot and a flight instructor with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land. He also held a private pilot rating in gliders, and a single-engine seaplane rating. Additionally, he held an advanced ground instructor rating. The pilot's most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued July 12, 2005. A special medical was issued on September 3, 2005, with a restriction to wear corrective lenses. At the time of his medical examination, the pilot reported having accrued a total of 2,300 flight hours.
The 24-year old pilot was occupying the left seat. The pilot was issued a student pilot and third class medical certificate on May 17, 2006. A review of the student's logbook revealed he had accumulated approximately 22 flight hours.
The airplane was a 1966 model Cessna 150F, which was a single-engine, high-wing, all-metal airplane, configured for two occupants, with a fixed tricycle landing gear. The airplane was not equipped with shoulder harnesses.
The airplane was equipped with two main wing fuel tanks for a total of 26 gallons of fuel. A single lever, located between the two occupants, selected the fuel flow off or on.
A review of the aircraft's maintenance log revealed the last annual/100 hour inspection was performed on December 2, 2005, at a tachometer time of 3,739.1 hours. The time accrued on the airplane since the last annual inspection was 41.11 hours. The total time on the airframe was 3,780.21 hours.
The airplane was powered by a Continental O-200A reciprocating engine, serial number 61275A2594, rated at 100 horsepower. The engine had accumulated 186.8 hours since its last major overhaul.
At 1840, the Levelland mesonet weather station operated by Texas Tech University, reported wind from 139 degrees at 28 knots gusting to 37 knots, temperature 91 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.90 inches of Mercury.
At 1853, the automated weather station at the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB), located approximately 29 miles east of the accident site, reported wind from 140 at 22 knots gusting to 26 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, skies scattered at 20,000 feet, temperature 86 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.89 inches of Mercury.
The pilots were not in communication with air traffic control during the flight and no distress calls were received from either pilot. The airplane's communication radio volume control knob was found in the full left (or low) position.
The Levelland Municipal Airport is a public use airport without an operating control tower, located near Levelland, Texas, in Class E Airspace. The airport has two asphalt runways. Runway 17/35 is 6,110 feet long and 75 feet wide and runway 8/26 is 2,072 feet long and 55 feet wide. The field elevation is 3,514 feet mean sea level (msl).
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest in a grass field located by the approach end of runway 17, on a measured heading of 104 degrees. The accident occurred during daylight hours, at GPS coordinates of 33 degrees 33.68 minutes north latitude; 102 degrees 22.38 minutes west longitude, and at a field elevation of 3,483 feet msl (mean sea level). All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site.
The initial impact mark was located 35 feet short of the resting place of the wreckage, and consisted of a prop and wing leading edge ground scar. Red navigational lens, consistent with the left wingtip were found approximately 15 feet left from the center of the ground scar. Approximately 15 feet right, on the other side of the ground scar, the green navigational lens, consistent with the right wing tip was found. The outline of the ground scar was consistent with that of an airplane in a near vertical nose down attitude at the time of ground impact.
The left wing remained attached to the airplane and came to rest perpendicular to the fuselage. The right wing was found lying over the top of the fuselage and was partially attached to the airplane. From one wingtip to the other wingtip, the entire leading edge was crushed aft, in an "accordion" like appearance. The engine compartment and forward cabin sustained major impact damage. The aft fuselage was largely intact from the cabin rearward. All tail surfaces were attached in their respective positions. The elevator trim tab was found 2 degrees tab-down, and the wing flaps were found in the retracted position. Control continuity to all flight controls and systems was established.
Both wing tanks and fuel lines had been breached by the impact. Fuel was not found in either the left or right wing fuel tanks. A sample of fuel found in the gascolator was examined and found to be absent of debris. There was no indication in the fuel sample of water, as indicated by a water testing paste. Additionally, the appearance of the fuel sample was consistent with 100 LL aviation fuel. The fuel tank shutoff valve was found in the "on" position.
The propeller remained on the engine. One propeller blade was bent approximately 90 degrees aft, with a radius starting about a quarter way out from the hub, and running to about three-quarters the way down the blade. The other propeller was twisted along its chord line.
The engine was removed from the airframe while at the accident site to facilitate a detailed engine examination. The engine had sustained heavy impact damage. The propeller remained bolted to the propeller flange; however, the flange had separated from the crankshaft. The engine accessory section had been pushed into the firewall, the starter and generator had separated from the engine, and both magnetos had moved from their original positions. The left and right magnetos were removed and spun by hand. Both magnetos produced a spark on each terminal. The engine would not rotate, so each cylinder was removed from the engine and the engine case was split. Examination of the engine revealed a broken main thrust bearing and no pre-impact abnormalities with the cylinder assemblies or internal engine components. The engine's spark plugs were removed and examined. The number one, two, three, and four top and bottom spark plugs were dark gray in color and found to be worn. The number one top spark plug was oil soaked.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsies were performed by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Division of Forensic Pathology, near Lubbock, Texas.
Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The wreckage was released to the owner on June 20, 2006.