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On October 29, 2008, at approximately 1545 mountain daylight time, a single-engine Cessna 175, N175JG, was destroyed upon impact with terrain on Mt. Dora, New Mexico. The private pilot, the sole occupant of the airplane, was fatally injured. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot. The local flight originated at the Clayton Municipal Airport (CAO), Clayton, New Mexico, approximately 1500. Visual conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.
Smoke and fire was reported by a local resident at approximately 1545. The wreckage of the airplane was discovered by responding personnel.
There were no reported eyewitnesses to the accident.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating. A third class medical certificate was issued on March 5, 2007. On that date, the pilot reported logging 5,218 hours total time with 125 hours in the preceding six months. The pilot's logbook was not recovered.
The pilot was a native of the area and owned land in the vicinity of the accident site. Family members of the pilot reported that he flew, on average, twice a week and was very knowledgeable of the local area.
The 1958 Cessna 175, serial number 55092, was powered by a 175-horsepower Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) GO-300-E engine, serial number 26113-2-E, driving a two-bladed, metal, McCauley propeller. The airplane was equipped with Horton fiberglass wingtips. The pilot had owned the airplane since July 2006. The airplane's maintenance log books were not recovered. Records obtained from the mechanic who performed the last annual inspection on September 4, 2008, recorded the airplane's tachometer time at 2,955.2 hours, total engine time of 2,603.2 hours, and the engine's time since major overhaul of 846.1 hours. In addition, the mechanic replaced cylinders #2 and #4. A friend of the pilot, who flew with the pilot during the two previous flights, stated that the airplane appeared to operate normally and that the pilot never mentioned any abnormalities with the operation of the airplane or the engine. Furthermore, she stated that the pilot informed her that the airplane was almost due for an oil change since the installation of the cylinders.
At 1455, an automated weather reporting station at CAO, 16 nautical miles southwest of the accident site, reported winds variable at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, skies clear, temperature 75 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure of 30.21 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was examined on-site by the National Transportation Safety Board (Safety Board) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with technical assistance from Cessna Aircraft. The airplane impacted the northwest side of Mt. Dora. Ground scars consistent with the airplane's left main landing gear and nose landing gear were found approximately half way up the side of the mountain along a 140-degree magnetic heading. During the impact sequence, the engine separated and impacted large rocks with enough velocity to embed pieces of metal into the rock. The engine accessories and nose landing gear were found impact separated near the engine. The fuselage was found inverted approximately 92 feet uphill from the initial impact point. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the cabin compartment. All major airplane components were accounted for at the accident scene. Flight control continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder surfaces to the flight controls. The flap handle was found in the first detent and flap cable continuity was confirmed.
Both blades of the airplane's metal propeller displayed S-bending, leading edge polishing, and chord-wise scratches; consistent with engine-power at the time of impact. In addition, the tips of both propellers were fractured; one piece of propeller was recovered near the initial impact point. In addition, the fiberglass spinner, which had separated from the propeller hub, displayed signs of rotational scoring.
The engine was recovered and later examined by the Safety Board with technical assistance from Teledyne Continental Motors. No pre-impact anomalies were detected with the engine.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
On October 30, 2008, an autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Office of the Medical Investigator of the State of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Medical Investigator stated the cause of death as a result of "multiple blunt force and thermal injuries."
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated that carbon monoxide and cyanide were not detected in the blood. No ethanol was detected in the urine. The toxicology report noted the following:
572.3 (ug/ml, ug/g) ACETAMINOPHEN detected in Urine
0.272 (ug/mL, ug/g) DIHYDROCODEINE detected in Urine
DIHYDROCODEINE NOT detected in Heart Blood
DIHYDROCODEINE detected in Liver
1.794 (ug/ml, ug/g) HYDROCODONE detected in Urine
0.068 (ug/ml, ug/g) HYDROCODONE detected in Heart Blood
HYDROCODONE NOT detected in Femoral Blood
0.627 (ug/ml, ug/g) HYDROCODONE detected in Gastric
0.207 (ug/ml, ug/g) HYDROCODONE detected in Liver
0.093 (ug/ml, ug/g) HYDROCODONE detected in Brain
0.368 (ug/mL, ug/g) HYDROMORPHONE detected in Urine
HYDROMORPHONE NOT detected in Heart Blood
LIDOCAINE detected in Urine
LIDOCAINE NOT detected in Heart Blood
0.629 (ug/mL, ug/g) NORPROPOXYPHENE detected in Urine
NORPROPOXYPHENE NOT detected in Femoral Blood
12.518 (ug/mL, ug/g) OXYCODONE detected in Urine
8.242 (ug/mL, ug/g) OXYCODONE detected in Heart Blood
0.317 (ug/mL, ug/g) OXYCODONE detected in Femoral Blood
490.8 (ug/mL, ug/g) OXYCODONE detected in Gastric
3.351 (ug/mL, ug/g) OXYCODONE detected in Liver
1.357 (ug/mL, ug/g) OXYCODONE detected in Brain
220.3 (ug/ml, ug/g) SALICYLATE detected in Urine
Total amount of the Gastric Contents received was 50 grams.
Records obtained from the pilot’s personal physicians indicated that he had a history of multiple medical conditions treated with multiple medications. He had a history of rheumatoid arthritis since at least 1998, and had continuously been treated with methotrexate and sulfasalazine for the condition since at least January 2006. He had a history of osteoporosis continuously treated with alendronate, and calcium and vitamin D supplementation since at least January 2006. He had a history of back pain due to degenerative disk disease of the spine continuously treated with prescription narcotic medications since at least January 2007, at which time he was noted to be taking 3 to 4 hydrocodone per day. On March 12, 2008, he was noted to have been on oxycodone 5 mg every 6 hours as needed for pain, and was warned not to drive within 6 hours of taking the medication. On July 24, 2008, he was noted to have chronic neck pain and to be on oxycodone, but, at the pilot’s request, that medication was discontinued and replaced with hydrocodone/acetaminophen 7.5/500 mg every 4 hours as needed for pain. There were no indications in the records reviewed that he had been prescribed any oxycodone since that time, and no indications of any narcotic prescriptions other than hydrocodone and oxycodone in the two years preceding the accident. On September 25, 2008, the pilot was noted to have pelvic pain, indicated as being possibly being related to his chronic back pain. On October 21, 2008, the pilot declined an injection for his lower back pain. The pilot was noted at the July 2008 visit to have a history of depression which had not responded to medication and declined mental health services at that time.
The pilot's medical condition and prescription medications were not disclosed on the last application a third class medical ceritifcate.
At autopsy, the pilot was noted to have no evidence of significant natural disease. Local toxicology analysis of femoral blood identified oxycodone (3.7 mg/L; sent to a second laboratory for confirmation with a concentration noted of 2.4 mg/L) and its metabolite oxymorphone (<0.05 mg/L); and hydrocodone (0.05 mg/L).
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Global Positioning System (GPS) information
A Garmin GPS 95 XL was recovered at the accident scene and sent to the laboratory in Washington D.C. for data download. The device did not contain any data from the accident flight.