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On August 31, 2008, about 0940 eastern daylight time, a Cessna T310R N3180M, impacted the ground near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, after it lost control during cruise flight. The certificated private pilot, who was also the owner of the airplane, was killed. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post crash fire. The flight was operated as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
A witness reported that she was outside of her home when she saw a two-engine airplane flying low over her house. The airplane flew with "the left wing up and the right wing down," the engines sounded like they were "running at full power," and the airplane was "descending very fast." She continued by saying that she knew the airplane was in trouble as it continued down on a steep trajectory. As she watched the airplane clear trees and disappear from view, she heard a "thud," which was followed by a plume of white and gray smoke. She then ran towards the smoke, and found the downed airplane in a heavily wooded area.
The coroner’s Report of Investigation notes that the deputy coroner met with the pilot's friend, a flight instructor. The flight instructor said that the pilot left him a voice mail the morning of the accident, stating that he was going to fly at 0900 hours, and that the pilot would meet him at the hanger. The flight instructor returned the call, and left a voice mail stating that he would be “unable to fly with [the pilot] today.” The instructor told the deputy coroner that the pilot had not flown for 3 weeks. The instructor also stated to the deputy coroner that he did not fly with the pilot as an instructor, but as a flying companion and noted that the pilot “was a good pilot and could handle in-flight emergencies if they arose.”
The pilot, age 78, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land and airplane multiengine land. His certificate was issued on December 13, 1998. His last third-class medical certificate was issued on May 4, 2000, with waivers for corrective lenses. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for review, and he reported 800 hours of total flight experience on his last medical application.
The six-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane was manufactured in 1980. It was powered by two Continental TSIO-520 SER, 300-horsepower engines, and equipped with three-bladed McCauley propellers. The airplane's logbooks were not recovered for review. The logbooks were reportedly in the pilot's hanger, but were not located.
The reported weather at LBE, at 0850, included clear skies and wind from 020 degrees at 8 knots.
The wreckage was located in a heavily wooded area, 15 miles northwest from the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (LBE), Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The wreckage debris path was 75 feet in length on a 190-degree magnetic heading. Examination of the airplane revealed that all flight control surfaces were located at the wreckage site. The entire airframe was fragmented throughout the debris path, and was fire damaged. All flight control cables ends exhibited evidence of tension overload. Examination of the airframe and flight control system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.
Examination of the left engine revealed that it was separated from the airframe and found along the debris path. All engine accessories, fuel lines, and ignition leads were separated from the engine case. The intake manifold and exhaust manifolds were separated from the case. The propeller flange was impact damaged and the propeller was separated from the flange. The propeller hub was broken and the three propeller blades were separated, and were located along the debris path. All three blades displayed chordwise bending. Examination of the engine and system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.
Examination of the right engine revealed that is was separated from the airframe and found along the debris path. All engine accessories, fuel lines, and ignition leads were separated from the engine case. The intake manifold and exhaust manifolds were separated from the case. The propeller flange was impact damaged and the propeller was separated from the flange. The propeller hub was broken and the three propeller blades were separated and located along the debris path. All three blades displayed chordwise bending. Examination of the engine and system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.
An autopsy was performed on the pilot on September 1, 2008, by the Division of Natural Sciences, Gross Anatomy, medical examiner’s office, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as authorized by the coroner, County of Westmoreland. The cause of death was reported as “multiple injuries due to blunt trauma." The autopsy report noted that “no recognizable visceral organs” were identified.
The coroner’s Report of Investigation noted, in part, “The decedent was recently hospitalized for congestive hear failure and had a follow-up with [his cardiologist] on May 1, 2008. His diagnoses included; cardiomyopathy, aortic regurgitation, mitral regurgitation, prior myocardial infarction, iron deficiency anemia, significant pulmonary hypertension, biatrial dilatation, chronic atrial fibrillation and duodenal diverticula…[The pilot’s cardiologist] told me he did not know the decedent was a pilot and was actively flying an airplane. He stated the decedent should not have been flying with his medical condition.”
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated no ethanol was detected in the liver or muscle, and no drugs were detected in the liver.