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On July 19, 2006, about 0930 central daylight time, a single-engine Cessna 172N airplane, N738KE, was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain during takeoff from a private airstrip near Petal, Mississippi. The private pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to a private individual and was operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local flight departed at an unknown time from a private airstrip that was located directly west of the accident site.
According to the airplane's owner, the airplane was being kept at his neighbor's private airstrip so it could be sanded in preparation for painting. At approximately 0900 when the owner departed his residence, the pilot and passenger (his neighbor) were sitting on the passengers back porch waiting for workers to arrive. To the owner's knowledge, the pilot and passenger were not intending on flying.
There were no reported eyewitnesses to the accident; however, two neighbors reported hearing a crash before a fire erupted.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical was issued on May 03, 2006, with limitations.
An examination of the pilot's logbook indicated a total flight time of 3,429 hours, of which 1,822 hours were in this make and model of airplane. The pilot logged 7 hours in the last 90 days and 4 hours in the last 30 days. The date of the pilot's last flight review was not noted in the logbook.
The 1978-model Cessna 172N, serial number 17270031, was a high wing, semi-monocoque airplane, with a fixed landing gear, configured for four occupants. The airplane was powered by a direct drive, horizontally opposed, carbureted, normally aspirated, air-cooled, four-cylinder engine. The airplane was powered by a single Lycoming O-320-E2D engine, serial number L-45200-27A, rated at 150 horsepower at 2,700 rpm, and was driving a two-bladed constant speed McCauley DTM 7557 propeller.
According to the airframe logbook, the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on November 22, 2005, with an airframe total time of 6,577 hours. At the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated approximately 6,599 hours and 22 hours since the last inspection.
A review of the engine logbook revealed that the engine had been removed from another airplane and installed in N738KE on March 21, 2006. At the time of the accident the engine had accumulated approximately 226 hours since major overhaul and about 10 hours since being installed in the accident airplane. The engine logbook revealed that the engine had last been inspected in accordance with a 100 inspection on June 06, 2004, while installed in the previous airplane. No record of an annual or 100 hour inspection could be located for the engine since its installation in N738KE.
At 0953, the weather observation facility at Bobby L Chain Municipal Airport (HBG), near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, located 5 nautical miles south from the site of the accident reported, wind from 260 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear of clouds, temperature 88 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 73 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.05 inches of Mercury.
The private grass airstrip was located in the backyard of a private residence and was oriented on a 090-270 direction. Tall deciduous and coniferous trees were located along the sides and at both ends of the runway. With the aid of a handheld Global Position System (GPS) and tape measure the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge (IIC) measured the runway. The runway was approximately 1,984-feet in length and 30-feet wide. The field elevation was approximately 170 feet mean sea level (msl). The NTSB IIC calculated the density altitude at 1,959 feet.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Investigators from the Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Textron Lycoming examined the wreckage at the accident scene.
The wreckage was located in a grassy area among several tall trees approximately 280 feet east of the departure end of the runway. The Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates recorded at the accident site were 31 degrees 19.72 minutes North latitude and 89 degrees 14.89 minutes West longitude, at a field elevation of approximately 170 feet mean sea level (msl). The debris field encompassed an area approximately 220 feet long and approximately 20 feet wide, on a magnetic heading of 080 degrees. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the site.
The initial impact point was the top branches of a conifer tree, which was located about 63 feet east of the departure end of the runway. The next point of impact was the top of a conifer tree of the same height, located approximately 70 feet further east. The right landing gear strut cuff was found at the base of this tree. Approximately 129 feet beyond this tree was the first ground scar that contained red glass and fiberglass pieces that were consistent with parts from the left wingtip. The main impact crater was about 21 feet beyond the first ground scar and contained pieces of broken Plexiglas. The main wreckage came to rest in an inverted position approximately 12 feet east beyond the main impact crater, on a heading of 52 degrees.
The main wreckage included the cockpit, fuselage, empennage, the left and right wing, and the engine. The cockpit, forward and aft fuselage, inboard section of both wings, left flap, inboard section of the right flap, rudder, and the right elevator were consumed by the post-impact fire. The remaining components exhibited heavy thermal damage.
Control cable continuity was established to all flight controls. The flaps were found set to the 40-degrees down position and the elevator trim tab was found near the neutral position. The cockpit fuel selector valve was found near the "ON" position.
The engine sustained impact damage and thermal discoloration due to exposure to fire. Engine continuity was established to the accessory section by manual rotation of the crankshaft flange. During the continuity check, compression was established to all cylinders. Valve train continuity was established to all valves. Both magnetos exhibited severe thermal damage and could not be tested. The spark plugs were removed and exhibited normal operating signatures when compared to the Champion Check-A-Plug (AV-27) comparison chart.
The two-bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. The outer halves of both blades were burnt off in the post-impact fire. One outer blade section was found with the tip curled. The remaining sections of both propeller blades revealed equal amounts of thermal damage.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Chief Medical Examiner of Rankin County, located in Pearl, Mississippi, performed an autopsy on the pilot, on July 21, 2006.
The FAA, Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing on the pilot. The pilot tested negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol and tested drugs.
According to the Cessna 172N Information Manual, Section 4, "normal and short field takeoffs are performed with flaps up." The manual further states that "Use of 10 degrees of flaps is reserved for takeoff from soft or rough fields" and that "Flap settings greater then 10 degrees are not approved for takeoff."
The wreckage was released on June 11, 2007, to a representative of the owner's insurance company.