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On April 18, 2007, at 1314 eastern daylight time, a Beech 95-B55, N868ST, was destroyed when it impacted terrain at Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK), Saranac Lake, New York. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for a flight to Elton Hensley Memorial Airport (FTT), Fulton, Missouri. The personal flight was conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
According to the airport manager, he observed the airplane taxi out taxiway Delta, then hold short of runway 5 for a commuter airplane to clear. The accident airplane then back-taxied to the approach end of the runway, made a 180-degree turn, and held in position for approximately 1 minute before commencing a takeoff roll. When the airplane became airborne, it made a "rather abrupt climb," and shortly thereafter, started an "abrupt left hand climbing turn." As the airplane "came up, the nose passed through the horizon, the nose dropped, the left wing dropped," and the airplane entered an "abrupt" dive. The airplane was in a bank angle in "excess of 90 degrees, left wing low" as it disappeared behind a tree line. The manager did not believe the airplane ever climbed above 500 feet.
Another witness, a New York State Police trooper, first noticed the airplane when it was about 50 feet in the air. According to the trooper, the airplane began to climb at what he thought was a "very steep angle," until it reached approximately 300 feet. It was "abnormally slow and appeared as if it was going to stall." The airplane then "barrel-rolled to the left," and the nose pointed towards the ground. "Within seconds," the airplane was perpendicular to the ground, heading straight down, nose first. The airplane then descended into some trees.
A third witness, a line service technician for 14 years, stated that about 1230, he fueled the accident airplane. At the time, he put 44 gallons into the main fuel tanks, which filled the tanks. The pilot told him that he was flying to Minnesota and then California. The witness was about to fuel a helicopter when he saw the accident airplane take off. The airplane attained a "nose-high configuration, and peaked at 300-400 feet." Once it peaked, it rolled to the left, "and sorta did a barrel roll." The witness then saw the top of the airplane as it descended "nose straight down" into some trees.
Runway 5 was 6,573 feet long and 150 feet wide. Airport elevation was 1,663 feet.
The airplane was manufactured in 1968. Maintenance logbooks were not recovered; however, according to airport personnel and the pilot's website, the airplane was recently repainted, the interior was redone, and the Teledyne Continental IO-470 engines were replaced during a Colemill conversion with Teledyne Continental IO-550 "spec 6" engines. Vortex generators were also installed on the wings and tail surfaces.
Membership cards, credit cards, and medical consultations found in the wreckage, along with the pilot's website and friends, identified the name of the pilot. However, there were no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman or medical records linked to that name.
A subsequent investigation by the New York State Police identified the pilot under another name. According to FAA records, under the second name, the pilot, age 51, held a commercial pilot certificate with single engine land, and instrument-airplane ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate, for airplane single engine land, which expired on June 30, 1978. The pilot's latest FAA second class medical certificate was issued on November 20, 1981, and at the time, he claimed 3,000 hours of flight experience. No pilot logbooks were located.
Weather conditions reported at the airport at 1251, included winds from 070 degrees true, at 7 knots, gusting to 36 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, a few clouds at 1,600 feet, an overcast layer at 2,400 feet, temperature 4 degrees Celsius, dew point 1 degree Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.90 inches of mercury.
The wreckage was located about 200 feet to the left of runway 5, about 3,500 feet from the approach end, in a snow-covered, boggy area in the vicinity of 44 degrees, 23.22 minutes north latitude, 74 degrees, 12.60 minutes west longitude. The wreckage was found between two tree lines, and three smaller trees that exhibited cut branches. Except for ground scars consistent with an approximately 10-foot bounce, there was no wreckage path.
The nose of the airplane came to rest heading 030 degrees magnetic, and all flight control surfaces were accounted for at the scene. The landing gear were down, with the right main landing gear separated from the airframe. The flaps were up. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces.
The tail section was broken off to the right, the right wing was angled forward about 10 degrees, and the left wing was angled about 10 degrees aft.
The gust lock was not installed, and the holes to hold it in place were not elongated.
Two of the three right engine propeller blades exhibited little to no damage, while the third was bent backwards, under the engine, and exhibited some chordwise scoring. One of the left engine propeller blades was undamaged, while the other two were bent aft, with some chordwise scoring.
Both engines were removed from the airframe for further examination at the manufacturer's facility under National Transportation Safety Board oversight. During the examination, neither engine exhibited any mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.
MEDICAL AND TOXICOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Adirondack Medical Center, Saranac Lake, New York. Results indicated the cause of death resulted from "severe blunt impact and rapid deceleration." Toxicological testing was subsequently performed by the FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with no anomalies noted.