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On October 3, 2007, about 1410 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-18 (Super Cub), N91254, was substantially damaged during a collision with power transmission lines and terrain near the Crowley Ranch Airstrip (78OR), Crowley, Oregon. The solo commercial pilot, the airplane owner, was killed. The visual flight rules (VFR) personal flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Crowley Ranch about 1400.
Witnesses reported that the pilot was working cattle when the accident occurred. A witness said that he observed the airplane "...dive down at the cows and then pull up at a pretty sharp angle." The witness stated this occurred twice, and after the second maneuver, the pilot initiated a 360 degree turn. After completing the turn, with the wings level, the airplane collided with a series of power transmission lines that were located at the pilot's 12 o'clock position.
A second witness, who was working the same cattle from an all terrain vehicle (ATV), reported that he observed the airplane flying in the area just before the accident. He noted that he heard the airplane, but lost sight of it. Moments later he became concerned when he heard the airplane's engine "shut off." He looked out in the direction of the airplane just as it collided with terrain in a nose-low attitude and rolled over.
The pilot, age 76, held an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate, commercial pilot certificate and flight instructor certificate. He held a second-class airman medical certificate issued on June 18, 2007. On the Application for Airman Medical Certificate, the pilot listed 35,000 hours total flight time and 400 hours total flight time in the 6 months preceding the medical application.
Piper Aircraft manufactured the tailwheel-equipped PA-18 airplane, serial number 91254, in 1982. The two-place tandem seat airplane was powered by a 150-hp Lycoming O-360 engine.
Review of copies of maintenance logbook records showed an annual inspection of the airframe, engine and propeller was completed on September 7, 2007, at a recorded tachometer reading of 2,571 hours. The annual inspection included the airframe, engine and propeller.
Review of engine, airframe and propeller records disclosed no open maintenance discrepancies.
The closest weather reporting facility to the accident site was the Rome State Airport, (KREO), located approximately 43 nautical miles (nm) south of the accident location at an elevation of 4,050 feet msl. The following meteorological report was issued during the period of the accident: At 1352, the observation was, in part, wind variable at 7 knots, temperature 14 degrees Celsius, dew point 2 degrees Celsius. Visibility and sky conditions were not reported. Witnesses stated the visibility was unrestricted.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted terrain approximately two miles south of the airstrip. A deputy from the Malheur County Sherriff's Office reported that it came to rest, inverted, approximately 267 feet from where it struck the power lines. He reported that wreckage debris was scattered between the point of initial impact and the final resting point of the main wreckage. First responders reported that the airplane's wing fuel tanks contained fuel, but could not quantify the specific amount.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot on October 5, 2007. According to the autopsy report, the cause of death was attributed to "Blunt Force Trauma."
The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed forensic toxicology tests on specimens from the pilot. The toxicology reports stated no ethanol, carbon monoxide, cyanide or listed drugs were detected. No drugs of abuse were detected.
A wreckage examination was completed on November 8, 2007, by the NTSB IIC and Parties to the investigation.
The cylinders, crankcase and overhead components were intact and no evidence of an uncontained engine failure was noted. The spark plugs were removed and the center electrodes showed normal operating signatures when compared to the Champion aviation check a plug chart. The cylinders were examined utilizing a borescope and no mechanical damage or evidence of oil starvation was noted. Lubrication was present throughout the engine. The crankshaft rotated by hand; compression was established in all cylinders and drive train continuity was established throughout the engine. Both magnetos produced spark at each lead when manually rotated.
Examination and teardown of the engine revealed no evidence of a mechanical malfunction or failure prior to impact.
Examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of a pre impact flight control surface anomaly or flight control system component failure.