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On January 12, 2009, approximately 1320 Central Standard Time, a Probst Baby Ace D, N610DD, operated by a commercial pilot was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain five miles north, northeast of Kilgore, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The cross-country flight departed Minden (F24), Louisiana, and was en route Gilmer (JXI), Texas, at the time the accident occurred. The pilot had picked up the airplane at 1000 local time and departed Oak Ridge, Louisiana, and was en route to Fort Worth Spinks Airport(FWS), Fort Worth, Texas.
Several witnesses in the area reported observing an airplane, matching the description of the accident airplane, flying low in the area of the accident. There were no witnesses to the impact. A local resident discovered the wreckage approximately 1600. According to local law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, the airplane came to rest inverted in a landfill.
The pilot, age 62, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument ratings last issued on February 11, 2007. The pilot was issued a third class airman medical certificate on May 30, 2006. The certificate contained the limitation, "not valid for any class after 11/30/2007." According to the pilot's last application for an airman medical certificate he reported 556 total flight hours. The pilot's current logbook was not located.
The accident airplane, a Probst Baby Ace D (serial number P-1919), was built in 1960. It was registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on an experimental airworthiness certificate for amateur built operations. The airplane was powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors C85 series engine rated at 85 horsepower with a twelve gallon fuel tank. The engine was equipped with a two-bladed, fixed pitch propeller.
The pilot recently purchased the airplane; it was registered to the previous owner, and was maintained under a conditional inspection program. A review of the maintenance records indicated that an inspection had been completed on December 12, 2008, at an airframe total time of 748.03 hours. The airplane had flown approximately three hours between the last inspection and the accident and had a total airframe time of approximately 751 hours.
AIDS TO NAVIAGATION
A sectional aeronautical chart was recovered from the wreckage that consisted of portions of the Dallas-Fort Worth and Memphis sectionals taped together. No effective or edition dates were visible on the chart, nor any information indicating when the chart would become obsolete for use as a navigational aid. The chart was approximately three feet by one foot and contained a pink highlighted black ink line connecting Oak Ridge, Louisiana, with Fort Worth Spinks Airport (FWS), Fort Worth, Texas. Above the line were course headings written in black ink on white paper, and taped to the page. A yellow highlighted line was observed below the pink highlighted line. The yellow line corresponded to Interstate 20 which ran below and parallel to the pink line. The chart was folded such that twelve inch sections of the map were visible at one time.
A hand written yellow piece of notebook paper containing names of cities, mileage, and degree headings along the left margin was also recovered from the wreckage. The cities began with Oak Ridge, and ended with Spinks. Along the centerline of the paper were mileage calculations, and the word "gas" circled in four locations. Degree headings on the paper corresponded to course headings between the way points indicated, and the mileage notations corresponded to the statute miles between these waypoints.
According to the documents recovered at the accident scene, the intended route of flight for this aircraft was: depart Oak Ridge and fly heading 278 degrees 34 miles to Union Parish, fly heading 262 degrees 56 miles to Minden for a scheduled fuel stop. Depart Minden heading 269 degrees 96 miles to Gilmer for a scheduled fuel stop. Depart Gilmer heading 259 degrees 54 miles to Canton, fly 263 degrees 50 miles to Lancaster for a scheduled fuel stop. Depart Lancaster heading 264 degrees 34 miles to the final destination of Spinks and the final fuel stop.
The accident airplane was equipped with a non-aviation approved hand held Garmin E-trex Legend global positioning system (GPS). The GPS was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for download. The information was downloaded on January 27, 2009. An examination of the GPS data contained within the device illustrated a northern departure heading from Oak Ridge, Louisiana, a northwesterly deviation around the Monroe Regional airport (MLU) class charlie airspace, a westerly course change toward the Union Parish VOR, a south course toward Ruston, Louisiana, and a westerly track to Minden, Louisiana, where it joined with the pink course plotted on the sectional map. From Minden the flight continued on a west heading above Shreveport, Louisiana, with a southwestern deviation abeam East Texas Regional Airport (GGG) and terminated at the accident location. The last few minutes of flight track depict the airplane flying over the accident area and reversing course ten different times.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident site was located near a landfill approximately five miles north, northeast of Kilgore, Texas. The accident site was at an elevation of 308 feet mean sea level (msl) and the airplane impacted inverted on a westerly heading. A row of high-tension power lines was located directly above the wreckage. The terrain surrounding the wreckage showed no signs of ground scarring and the debris field was contained to the immediate vicinity of the wreckage. No signs of fuel spillage were observed in the soil surrounding the airplane by on-scene personnel, except for a stain the "size of a plate" under the engine assembly as reported by local law enforcement. According to an FAA inspector, the fuel tank was empty, the float gauge read dry, and the gascolator contained two to three tablespoons of fuel. The right wing fabric was torn, the wing assembly was crushed aft and broken, and the wing spar was broken. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were bent downward and aft mid-span. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were bent to the left at the mid-point. The nose of airplane sustained impact damage and one propeller blade was bent forward approximately 15 degrees and displayed chord wise and lengthwise scratching.
Further examination of the airplane revealed a horizontal gouge spanning the length of the engine cowling below the propeller and above the air filter consistent in physical characteristics to overhead power lines in the immediate vicinity of the crash. An examination of the power lines directly above the wreckage revealed light blue paint transfer consistent with the airplane coloration, and airframe material embedded in the wires.
The accident aircraft was equipped with a lap belt and shoulder harness. The lap belt was cut by responding public safety personnel to affect the recovery of the pilot. The shoulder harness was available for use, but was found secured in a storage sack behind the seat.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences (Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office) in Dallas performed the autopsy on January 27, 2009, as authorized by the County Judge. The autopsy revealed the cause of death as "blunt force injuries."
During the autopsy, specimens were collected for toxicological testing to be performed by the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (CAMI Reference #200900011001). Results for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol were negative. Carvedilol was detected in the blood and urine, and psuedoephedrine was detected in the urine.