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On February 22, 2009, about 1520 Pacific standard time, a Champion 7ECA, N2835G, collided with power lines and subsequently impacted the waters of the Salinas River in Salinas, California. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the private pilot and passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight, and no flight plan was filed. The airplane departed from Salinas Municipal Airport about 1501.
In a written statement, the pilot reported the purpose of the flight was to sightsee over the Salinas River. Following an uneventful departure, he continued south toward the east-west oriented river. While maneuvering over the river, about 3.5 miles from the airport, the airplane struck a set of power lines, which spanned across the river below the tree line. Subsequently, the airplane impacted the water, substantially damaging the right wing and fuselage. The pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine prior to the accident.
Local law enforcement personnel reported that three power lines, which span the river, were down and a loss of electrical power was reported in the area around the time of the accident.
According to the pilot, he had accumulated 607 hours total flight time, 60 hours of which was in the same make and model as the accident airplane.
A pictorial diagram of the accident area is contained in the public docket for this accident.
The airplane, a Champion 7ECA, serial number 514, was equipped with a Lycoming O-235-C1 engine (serial number L-9202-15) and was manufactured in 1967. According to the pilot, at the date of the last inspection, the airframe accumulated a total time in service of about 2,063 hours. The last inspection was an annual inspection, which was completed on February 9, 2008.
A routine aviation weather report (METAR) for Salinas Municipal Airport, located 4 miles northwest of the accident, was issued at 1453. It stated: clouds broken at 8,000 feet and 10,000 feet; visibility 10 statute miles; wind from 130 degrees at 9 knots; temperature 17 degrees Celsius; dew point 13 degrees Celsius; and altimeter 30.02 inHg.