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On June 7, 2008, about 0039 eastern daylight time, a Cessna T206H, N206GG, impacted ocean waters shortly after takeoff from the George T Lewis Airport (CDK), Cedar Key, Florida. The pilot and two passengers were killed; the airplane incurred substantial damage. The flight was operated by a private individual under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight.
Witnesses stated to a Cedar Key police representative that the owner of the airplane hired the pilot to fly him and two couples to Cedar Key for dinner. When they arrived, they met with two women, who where at the airport watching the sunset. The two women gave the group of six a ride from the airport to a local restaurant area in town. Later on that evening, the two women gave the group a ride back to the airport. Once at the airport, one of the group members noticed that their camera was left back at the restaurant. One of the women offered to take them back to retrieve the camera. The owner of the airplane offered the other woman a ride in the airplane to see the city from the air at night. The pilot, owner and the woman boarded the airplane for the short flight as the others went back for the camera. One of the witnesses stated he observed the airplane takeoff in a northerly direction, then turn toward the west. The witnesses lost site of the airplane when it turned southwest. Shortly after that, a bright flash of light was observed in the water just west of North Key Island. At that time, the witnesses did not know what the flash of light was. They contacted the authorities when ample time had past and the airplane did not return.
The United States Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and several surrounding county law enforcement agencies began the search and rescue operations. The Citrus County Sheriff's dive team located a possible wreckage site with the use of side scan sonar equipment. The operations to locate the wreckage were stopped due to safety concerns. During that time, the back seat passenger onboard was located near the shore of North Key Island.
The Levy County Sheriff's dive team resumed the search operations later that morning. The wreckage was located near where the sonar indicated, about 2.5 miles southwest from CDK. The forward cockpit area, with engine and propeller attached, was partially separated from the fuselage. The airplane's wings separated at the fuselage attachment area. The roof section spanning across the wings was ripped open and remained with the left wing. The empennage section was partially separated and buckled under the fuselage. All the sections remained attached to the fuselage by their respective flight control cables. The pilot was located in the left seat and the female passenger was located in the right seat, both had their respective seat belt and shoulder harnesses secured inside the fuselage.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STAR) Radar for the area captured the accident flight shortly after departure from runway 5 at CDK. At 00:36:43, the airplane was at 500 feet means sea level (msl) in a climbing left turn. At 00:37:31, the airplane was at 900 feet msl, on a downwind leg for runway 5. At 00:38:31, the last radar capture, the airplane was 600 feet msl and turning on to base leg.
The pilot, age 48, held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He was issued a second-class medical certificate on May 21, 2008, with no limitations. A review of the pilot’s flight logbooks revealed that he had 1,370 total flight hours, 12.3 hours in the accident airplane, and a total of 225 hours of night time flying. He also had 157 hours of actual instrument flight time.
The accident airplane, a Cessna T206H, serial number T20608495, was manufactured in 2004 as a six-seat, high-wing airplane, with fixed tricycle landing gear. The airplane was equipped with a Garmin G1000 avionics system, which displayed all flight, engine, and sensor data on two digital screens. Backup vacuum and pitot-static instruments were located below the displays in the form of an attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, and altimeter. The airplane was powered by a turbocharged Lycoming TIO-540-AJ1A, 310-horsepower engine.
Review of the airplane’s maintenance logbooks indicated that the last annual inspection was performed on February 13, 2008, at a total time of 719.5 hours. The last maintenance performed was on May 9, 2008, at a total time of 764.50 hours.
The nearest official weather reporting station was Cross City Airport (CTY), Cross City, Florida, located 30 miles north of the accident site. The 0053 surface observation was: winds light and variable; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 16 degrees Celsius; dew point 12 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.00 inches of mercury.
The United States Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department recorded the phase of the Moon, on 7 June, 2008, for Cedar Key, Levy County, Florida (longitude W83.0, latitude N29.1), as waxing crescent with 20 percent of the Moon's visible disk illuminated. The Moon’s position was recorded below the horizon during the time of the accident.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
A postrecovery wreckage examination was conducted by the airplane’s airframe and engine manufacturer representatives, with NTSB oversight.
All airframe components and flight control surfaces were present. The airplane’s wings had separated from the fuselage at the wing attachment points, and the empennage had separated forward of the horizontal stabilizer in a downward direction. The forward section of the fuselage was bent downward. The left outboard wing sustained leading edge compression damage, and was separated approximately mid-span. The right wing strut separated from the fuselage and remained attached to the right wing. The vertical stabilizer was bent to the left, and the right horizontal stabilizer was bent downward. Fire damage was observed on the left and right wing roots, left inboard flap, center wing section and the top of the fuselage near the cargo door. All fire damage was consistent with a postcrash fuel fire on the surface of the water.
Flight control continuity was established from all control surfaces to the flight controls in the cockpit. Examination of cable separations revealed evidence of tension overload or cutting by wreckage recovery personnel. The flap actuator was found in the flaps retracted position. The elevator trim was found in an approximately 20 degrees tab up position. No evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction was observed with the airplane’s flight controls that would have prevented normal operation.
The engine remained attached to the firewall, which had separated from the fuselage. The engine throttle, fuel mixture, and propeller pitch control continuity was established to their respective components. The control levers were found in the full forward position. Engine drivetrain continuity and cylinder compression was established. The vacuum pump drive coupling was intact and the rotor vanes were undamaged. Damage observed to the engine and accessories were consistent with salt water immersion and impact forces. No evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction was observed with the engine that would have prevented normal operation.
The propeller remained attached to the engine. It was removed and examined by the propeller manufacturer, with FAA oversight in Wichita, Kansas. The damage observed was consistent with the propeller rotating under condition of power at time of impact. No evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction was observed with the propeller that would have prevented normal operation.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The District Eight Medical Examiner Office in Gainesville, Florida, conducted a postmortem examination. The cause of death for the pilot and two passengers was blunt force trauma.
The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) conducted toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot and female passenger. No carbon monoxide, cyanide, or drugs were detected. Putrefaction was noted and ethanol was detected.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The standby attitude indicator was removed from the airplane and examined. The case was observed with impact damaged and corroded from salt water immersion. The factory seal and data plate were present. There was no damage to the yoke assembly and no scoring marks visible on the rotor. No evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction was observed.
Several units from the airplane’s Garmin 1000 Avionics system, which are capable of storing fault data in onboard memory devices, were sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory. The manufacturer was contacted to obtain assistance in reading out the individual memory chips located within the various units. Due to the fact that the units could not be re-powered, the normal maintenance extraction of the fault codes could not be accomplished.
Adjacent to the approach end of runway 5 at CDK, a bronzed plaque stands, which reads: “NOTICE TO VFR PILOTS: YOU MAY LOSE YOUR HORIZON AFTER DEPARTURE OVER GULF.”