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On March 8, 2009, about 0845 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 182P, N1913M, was destroyed when it impacted a lake in Carrollton, Georgia. The certificated private pilot and two passengers were killed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that departed Cobb County Airport (RYY), Kennesaw, Georgia, about 0805, destined for the Clayton County Airport (4A7), Hampton, Georgia. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.
The airplane was based at RYY. The pilot, his wife, and another passenger were en route to 4A7, and planned to attend a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
A witness near the accident site stated she heard a "whining high speed sound" followed by a "thud." She noticed water splashing up from the lake, into the air, which was followed by silence.
The airplane crashed into a private lake and was located at a depth of approximately 16 feet. It was recovered on March 8 and 9, 2009.
The pilot, age 51, held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, which was issued on February 25, 2008. He did not possess an instrument rating.
According to pilot's logbook, at the time of the accident, he had accumulated about 168 hours of total flight experience, which included about 130 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane, 70 hours as pilot-in-command, 3.2 hours logged as "simulated instrument" and 0 hours logged in "actual instrument" meteorological conditions.
He reported 114 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate, which was issued on February 1, 2008.
The four-seat, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number 18264478, was manufactured in 1975. It was powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors O-470-S series, 230-horsepower engine, equipped with a McCauley propeller.
Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane had been operated for about 65 hours since its most recent annual inspection, which was performed on July 18, 2008. The airplane's most recent pitot-static system test was conducted on May 24, 2006.
A weather observation taken at RYY, located about 45 miles northeast of the accident site, at 0847, reported calm winds; visibility 7 statute miles, sky overcast at 1,200 feet; temperature 9 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 8 degrees C; altimeter 30.21 inches of mercury.
A weather observation taken at the Newnan-Coweta County Airport (CCO), located about 26 miles southeast of the accident site, at 0840, reported calm winds; visibility 5 statute miles, sky overcast at 500 feet; temperature 9 degrees C, dew point 11 degrees C; altimeter 30.20 inches of mercury.
A weather observation taken at CCO at 0900, reported wind from 280 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 1/4 statute mile, sky overcast at 300 feet; temperature 11 degrees C, dew point 11 degrees C; altimeter 30.21 inches of mercury.
A witness near the accident site described the weather conditions at the time of the accident as "low cloud cover" with fog drifting across the surface of the lake, and "misty overcast." Another witness stated that conditions were "very foggy."
According to an FAA inspector and a representative from Lockheed Martin flight services, there was no record of the pilot obtaining a weather briefing for the flight through flight service or Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS).
The recovered wreckage was taken to a facility in Griffin, Georgia, for examination on March 10, 2009.
The airplane was heavily fragmented. The main wreckage consisted of the empennage, which was distorted and included about 22 inches of the main cabin floor, forward of the rear door post. Both wings spars were fragmented and wing skin fragments associated with both wing leading edges displayed aft crushing damage to the main spar. The cabin and cockpit areas were destroyed. Both wing struts were separated at their respective attach points and were not located.
All flight control surfaces were accounted for. Rudder and elevator flight control continuity was confirmed from their respective control surfaces to the forward cockpit area. Due to impact damage, aileron control continuity was only confirmed at their respective bellcranks. Measurement of the flap actuator jackscrew corresponded to a flap retracted position.
The propeller remained attached to the engine, which was separated from its mounts. The propeller blades were beyond their respective low-pitch stops and were bent aft. One propeller blade contained "s" bending and the second propeller blade contained a leading edge gouge about mid-span.
All engine accessories were separated from the engine except for the right magneto, propeller governor, and the vacuum pump. The carburetor was not located. All spark plugs were removed. Their electrodes were intact and contained gray deposits. The engine was rotated via the propeller flange. Valve train continuity was confirmed and thumb compression was attained on all cylinders; except for the No. 5 cylinder, which sustained impact damage. A lighted borescope examination of all cylinders did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions. It was noted that the No. 5 cylinder intake valve was displaced. Both magnetos contained impact damage and were rotated by hand. The right magneto sparked at all terminals simultaneously, and the left magneto did not produce a spark when rotated. Disassembly of both magnetos revealed water contamination; however, no preimpact failures were observed. Examination of the oil filter element did not reveal any evidence of metal contamination.
The vacuum pump drive coupling was intact and it could not be rotated by hand. Internal examination of the vacuum pump revealed that the vanes were intact and that the rotor block was cracked, consistent with impact damage. After the interior components were removed, the vacuum pump drive shaft rotated freely.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on March 10, 2009, by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Division of Forensic Sciences, Decatur, Georgia. The autopsy report indicated the cause of death as "multiple generalized blunt force injuries."
Toxicological testing performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol.
Federal Aviation Administration advisory circular 60-4A stated in part:
"The attitude of an aircraft is generally determined by reference to the natural horizon or other visual references with the surface. If neither horizon nor surface references exist, the attitude of an aircraft must be determined by artificial means from the flight instruments. Sight, supported by other senses, allows the pilot to maintain orientation. However, during periods of low visibility, the supporting senses sometimes conflict with what is seen. When this happens, a pilot is particularly vulnerable to disorientation. The degree of disorientation may vary considerably with individual pilots. Spatial disorientation to a pilot means simply the inability to tell which way is up.…."