WPR09FA428
WPR09FA428

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 30, 2009, about 0927 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-22-150 (Tri-Pacer), N2967P, cruised into a mountainside about 1.2 miles south of Canyonville, Oregon. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the structure, which was fragmented and consumed by postimpact ground fire. The pilot and passenger co-owned and operated the airplane, and they were killed. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), neither of the occupants in the airplane held a pilot certificate. Instrument meteorological conditions existed in the vicinity of the accident site, and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight was performed under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and it originated about 0902 from the George Felt Airport, a privately-owned field located about 3.1 miles west-southwest of Roseburg, Oregon.

The Felt Airport manager reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that the pilot based his airplane in a hangar at the airport. The manager and members of the pilot's family indicated that the pilot periodically flew his airplane and occasionally took passengers flying. At 0902, the passenger reportedly telephoned her sister, indicated that she was airborne, and stated she was en route to the Grants Pass Airport, Grants Pass, Oregon. (Grants Pass is located about 49 miles south of the Felt Airport.) The passenger’s sister planned to meet the airplane upon its landing between 0925 and 0930.

The FAA coordinator reported that neither radio communications nor services were provided to the airplane’s pilot. A review of radar data did not reveal any southbound aircraft track originating in the vicinity of Roseburg and terminating in the vicinity of the accident site area between 0850 and 0930. The FAA coordinator indicated that aircraft flying below 2,500 feet mean sea level (msl) may not be recorded on radar along this flight route because this altitude was below the minimum coverage altitude for radar.

Between 0927 and 0955, about 1/2-dozen witnesses telephoned 911 and reported what they deemed to be an event consistent with an airplane crash. One of the witnesses was located about 1,000 feet msl and was located about 1 mile northwest of the accident site. In pertinent part, this witness reported observing an airplane flying in an easterly direction above the clouds (toward Interstate Highway 5 (I-5)). Due to the presence of the clouds, the airplane was only visible for a few seconds. The witness reported that the mountain’s top, located southeast of his location, was not visible because it was obscured by clouds. (The mountain’s peak elevation is about 3,400 feet msl.) The witness additionally indicated that he heard the sound of the airplane's engine, and it revved up just before he heard the sound of an impact.

Other witnesses located about 1.2 miles northwest of the accident site reported hearing but not seeing the airplane. The witnesses stated that, although their horizontal visibility was not restricted, clouds obscured the mountain located south of their respective locations. All of the witnesses stated that they heard a sound consistent with an impact. Several witnesses reported hearing a sputtering engine, while others reported hearing the engine rev up or down, or noted silence just seconds before they heard the boom noise of an impact. Witnesses reported that within a few hours after the accident, when the base elevation of the clouds increased, they observed a fire on the mountainside southeast of their location.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Neither the 70-year-old pilot nor passenger (the pilot’s wife) held a FAA pilot or aviation medical certificate. No pilot logbook was provided to the Safety Board investigator, and no flight time information was documented.

The passenger’s sister reported to the Safety Board investigator that her sister did not know how to fly. The pilot had been flying airplanes since he attended high school, and he was familiar with the route of flight between Roseburg and Grants Pass, having flown over the area for years. The pilot was “handy with tools,” and he performed maintenance on his airplane.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 1955, and the FAA issued it a standard airworthiness certificate in the normal category. FAA records indicate that in June 2006, the pilot and passenger registered the airplane in their names as co-owners.

The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming 150-horsepower engine, model O-320. No maintenance records were provided to the Safety Board investigator for examination.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Roseburg Regional Airport, elevation 529 feet msl, is located about 23 miles northwest of the crash site. At 0853 and 0953, Roseburg reported the base of its overcast ceiling was 1,500 and 1,700 feet above ground level, respectively (2,029 and 2,229 feet msl).

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Based upon the on-scene examination of the accident site and the southerly distribution of airplane wreckage, the airplane was found to have cruised into estimated 2,400-foot msl upsloping mountainous terrain. The first observed evidence of impact was felled tree branches and the severed trunk of a tree, estimated about 80 feet above ground level. The main wreckage was found on estimated 20- to 30-degree upsloping terrain on the northern face of a 3,300-foot msl mountain, about 900 feet below its peak. Fragmented components of the airplane were observed scattered over an estimated 50-foot-wide by 120-foot-long path. The crash site is located at the following global positioning system coordinates: 42 degrees 54.62 minutes north latitude by 123 degrees 16.86 minutes west longitude.

The entire engine compartment, cockpit, instrument panel, fuselage, empennage and wings were consumed by fire, which also burned an estimated 1/2-acre of the forest around the crash site. The engine's case and carburetor were fractured. All cylinders remained at least partially attached to the engine. No evidence of preimpact catastrophic engine malfunction was noted. No instrument settings were readable.

No impact damage was noted to the horizontal stabilizer or the attached elevator assembly. The ailerons remained hinged to portions of their respective cable pulley system. The integrity of all the flight control cables was confirmed at their respective connections to the flight control surfaces. Several cables were found broken midspan in areas where broomstraw-like witness marks were present. Fragments from the four corners of the airplane were located at the crash site.

The spinner and propeller were found separated from the engine. These components were located about 50 feet upslope from the main wreckage and demarked the southern-most area of wreckage distribution. The spinner was crushed in an aft direction and exhibited deformation signatures consistent with torsional twisting during engine crankshaft rotation. The propeller was bent into an "s" shape, and the blades were torsionally twisted. The tip of one blade was missing, and the second blade had a 1-inch-long gouge in its leading edge.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

On September 1, 2009, an autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Office of the State Medical Examiner, Roseburg. The autopsy findings indicated that the pilot died from severe blunt trauma and post-crash fire. Forensic toxicology was not performed on the pilot.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The pilot's departure airport is located about 2.5 miles west of I-5, and his destination airport is located about 1.3 miles west of I-5. Between the departure and destination airports, I-5 is principally oriented along a north-to-south course. However, in the vicinity of the accident site, I-5 changes direction and becomes easterly for several miles as it winds through a mountainous area.

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