CHI07LA312
CHI07LA312

On September 29, 2007, about 2020 central daylight time, a Beech B35, N55GW, sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees and terrain during a night visual approach to the Waterloo Regional Airport (ALO), Waterloo, Iowa. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight departed the Waukesha County Airport (UES), Waukesha, Wisconsin, about 1856, and was en route to ALO. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. A visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed.

A certified flight instructor (CFI) reported that on Thursday, September 27, 2007, the pilot had flown to UES to attend the Beechcraft Pilot Proficiency Program (BPPP) that provided Beechcraft pilots and owners with ground school and flight training. On Friday, the pilot attended the ground school sessions required for a biennial flight review and for his instrument proficiency check flight. On Saturday, the pilot attended ground school, which started at 0830 and was completed by 1230. The CFI reported that he flew two training flights with the pilot on Saturday afternoon. The first flight departed UES about 1335 and landed in Kenosha, Wisconsin. After a short break to refuel and brief the second flight, they departed on the second training flight. They landed at UES about 1800. The CFI reported that he completed the required paperwork for the course completion and the required sign-offs in the pilot's flight logbook, and that they were finished with everything by 1830.

The CFI reported that the pilot's flying skills were good and that the pilot did a "pretty good job." The CFI reported that the airplane's radios and engine worked fine and there were no mechanical problems with the airplane. The CFI reported that the pilot had asked twice about when they would be done, and that the pilot seemed "antsy" about when he would be able to go. The CFI did not question the pilot about his night currency. The CFI reported that the pilot did not seem fatigued, but he was anxious to get on his way.

The pilot's flight logbook indicated that the pilot had flown 3.9 hours on September 29, 2007, and that the pilot had successfully completed the requirements for the biennial flight review and the instrument proficiency check.

The pilot departed UES about 1856 and received flight following from air traffic control. At 1954, the pilot contacted Waterloo approach control and was told to enter a left base for runway 18, and was cleared for a visual flight rules (VFR) descent at the pilot's discretion. At 2006, the airplane was about 8 miles east of ALO and the pilot asked approach control if he should stay on their frequency. The pilot was instructed to contact Waterloo Tower on 125.07. The pilot contacted the tower and was cleared to land on runway 18.

Flight track data downloaded from the pilot's hand held Garmin GPS (Global Positioning System) 496 navigation unit indicated that the pilot approached the airport from the east and flew over the approach end of runway 24. The approach controller reported that the airplane flew over the control tower. The flight track data showed that the airplane flew to the southwest and then turned right and paralleled runway 30 to the northwest.

At 2011, the tower controller provided the airplane with a wind check, and the pilot asked if the runway lights were turned on. At 2014, the pilot reported that he had the runway in sight. The tower controller re-cleared the airplane to land on runway 18. The approach controller reported that the pilot "eventually got on [a] right downwind to RY 18." The approach controller reported that he observed the airplane's red blinking light on a right base for runway 18, but then lost sight of the airplane. The tower controller tried to establish radio contact with the airplane but there was no response. The controllers initiated fire and rescue emergency procedures.

The airplane accident site was located near the 3300 block of West Mt. Vernon Road, about 1.4 miles north of runway 18. The inspection of the accident site revealed that the tops of 40 - 50 foot tall trees about 100 yards northwest of the impact area had broken tree limbs. Tree debris was found along the debris path leading to the airplane's impact point. The leading edges of the airplane's left and right wing's had impact damage that was consistent with tree strikes.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the airplane wreckage on site. He reported that the airplane's fuel system revealed that fuel was present in the left main tank, the right main tank had been punctured, and the fuel selector was selected to the left main tank. The landing gear selector was in the down position, and both main landing gear were in the down position but had collapsed. Aileron continuity was confirmed. Embedded tree limbs were found in the left and right leading edges of the wings. The engine was lying inverted in front of the airplane, and at a right angle with respect to direction of travel. One propeller blade was separated from the propeller hub, and was located in a tree line approximately 75 yards due west of the aircraft.

A review of the pilot's flight logbook indicated that he had flown 1 hour and 47 minutes of documented night flight since October 20, 1998. The most recent night flight recorded was 47 minutes logged on December 8, 2003.

At 1954, the observed surface weather at ALO was: Wind 160 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 21 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 22 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 10 degrees C, altimeter 30.01 inches of mercury. Sunset at ALO on September 29, 2007, was at 1856.




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