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On October 22, 2006, about 1535 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 182T, N2135L, registered to Performance Aviation of Wilson LLC, and operated by a private pilot, collided with the ground 6.1 nautical miles northeast of the Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport (RWI), Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The private pilot and passenger received fatal injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged by impact and postcrash fire. The flight originated from the Michael J. Smith Field Airport (MRH), Beaufort, North Carolina, on October 22, 2006, at 1440.
Before departure, the pilot received a weather briefing from the Raleigh Durham (RDU), North Carolina, Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) at 1356. Following the briefing the pilot filed an IFR flight plan from MRH to Wilson Industrial Air Center Airport, Wilson, North Carolina (W03).
A review of radar data showed the flight over-flew W03 then diverted to RWI. An airport employee at RWI stated that, while towing a King Air out of a hangar, he heard a pilot announce over the radio that he was making an approach to runway 4. He stated that the weather at the time was light rain, fog, and mist, and that winds were light and favoring runway 4. He said that he could not see the airplane on approach until it broke through the clouds, approximately 600 to 700 feet above ground level (AGL) estimated, and it was well left of the runway centerline. He could see that it was a Cessna 182. The airplane then climbed back into the clouds and departed the area to the northwest. The next radio communication the employee heard was a King Air pilot asking if anyone was talking to the Cessna 182, as Washington Center had lost contact.
The pilot, age 42, held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, issued on December 9, 2003, and an instrument airplane rating issued on June 28, 2006. According to the pilot's logbook he had accumulated about 271 hours total time as of September 22, 2006, and 3.3 hours of actual instrument time in the last 90 days preceding the accident. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on July 12, 2005, with no limitations.
The four-seat, high wing, fixed-gear airplane, was manufactured in 2005. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-AB1A5, 230-horsepower engine, and equipped with a McCauley three-bladed constant speed propeller.
A review of the airplane's logbooks found that the airplane's last annual inspection was performed on August 26, 2005. According to the inspection write up, the tachometer time was 3.3 hours.
According to the airplane's co-owner, the airplane was last fueled on September 22, 2006, with 36.0 gallons of 100 low lead fuel. The co-owner also stated that the airplane had about 200.0 hours on the Tachometer and approximately 210.0 hours on the Hobbs meter. The owner also stated that he did not recall having the opportunity to update the Jeppesen database used in the Garmin G1000, which was a fully integrated avionics package, commonly referred to as a "glass cockpit." Additionally, the co-owner confirmed that the airplane did not have a current annual inspection.
The 1530 surface weather observation at RWI, was: wind 210 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 1.75 miles in fog, overcast ceiling at 500 feet, temperature 57 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 57 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter 29.89.
The 1553 surface weather observation at RWI, was: wind 070 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 3 miles, mist, overcast ceiling at 500 feet, temperature 59 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter 29.90.
The 1612 surface weather observation at RWI was: wind 180 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 2 miles, light rain, mist, overcast ceiling at 500 feet, temperature 59 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 57 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter 29.90.
According to the RDU AFSS, about 0931 the pilot of N2135L called and obtained a standard weather briefing for a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan from MRH, to W03. The pilot was informed at that time that VFR was not recommended.
About 1356, the pilot again called the RDU AFSS and obtained a standard weather briefing for an IFR flight plan from MRH to W03.
Recorded audio communication between the pilot and Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) found that the pilot reported to ARTCC that he was doing a missed approach at RWI. The controller told the pilot of N2135L to climb and maintain 3,000 feet. The pilot then requested an alternate destination and the controller listed several airports including Greenville, North Carolina. The pilot asked about the weather at Greenville and the controller reported that the weather was; visibility 7 miles, scattered clouds at 600 feet, broken clouds at 3200 feet, and overcast ceiling at 5500 feet. The pilot accepted the alternate of Greenville and the controller told the pilot to climb and maintain 3,000 feet and to turn right direct Greenville. Several seconds passed and the controller asked the pilot "did you copy", the pilot stated "copied yes mam". This was the last radio transmission received from the pilot. Several attempts were made by the controller to contact the pilot but were unsuccessful.
Radar data indicated that the airplane was climbing before the target was lost.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located in a CSX railroad yard. The airplane had collided with the ground near a CSX rail line in a nose-down attitude. The airplane came to rest on a heading of 130 degrees magnetic. The debris path was on a heading of 185 degrees. The debris path encompassed an area 317 feet in length and 100 feet wide. The initial impact point with the ground left a crater 6 feet in diameter and 4 feet deep. Two of the three propeller blades were found embedded in the crater, and the third bade was located about 6 feet up the debris path. A postcrash fire partially consumed portions of the wings, fuselage and empennage.
Examination of the fuselage and cockpit found them fragmented and mostly consumed by the postcrash fire. Cockpit instruments and avionics were destroyed. All primary and secondary flight controls were accounted for at the impact site.
The wings separated from the fuselage. The left wing was heavily fragmented and was next to the fuselage. Portions of the wing skins had separated, with the fore and aft spars bent and twisted. The most intense fire damage was present in the area of the integral fuel tanks. The right wing was compromised and exhibited postcrash fire damage. The majority of the wing cord showed lengthwise crushing damage. Examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions.
The propeller and crankshaft flange were impact separated from the engine. The propeller hub was impact fractured. The three propeller blades and pieces of the propeller hub were found in the engine impact crater. Other pieces of the hub, the propeller spinner, starter ring gear and starter ring gear support was found along the wreckage path. All three propeller blades exhibited leading edge gouges, with cord-wise and span-wise scarring of the propeller blades.
The engine was upright and separated from the airframe. The engine was partially disassembled to facilitate the examination. Examination of the engine and system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot on October 24, 2006 by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The autopsy findings reported the cause of death as multiple extreme injuries due to aircraft crash.
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Aeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated that Carbon Monoxide and Cyanide tests were not performed, and that no Ethanol was detected in the liver or muscle.