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On July 6, 2010, about 0650 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 150J, N1053M, sustained substantial damage after colliding with terrain and power lines near Keller, Washington. The student pilot was killed and his sole passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which was conducted in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.
In a post accident interview with the Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), the surviving passenger reported that this was his first flight in an airplane, and that the purpose of the flight was to fly over the area around Keller to locate cattle, as both he and the pilot were in the cattle business. The passenger stated that after they arrived at the airplane, which was located at the south end of the strip, the pilot walked around the airplane looking things over and said “everything looked fine.” The passenger further stated that the pilot did not climb up on the wing strut to check the fuel. He said the pilot then helped him into the airplane and fastened his seat belt, then went through a book "like a check list” before starting the airplane and taxiing to the north end of the airstrip. The passenger revealed that during the taxi the pilot mentioned that it was cool and calm, and that “they shouldn't have any problem at all.” The passenger added that after they reached the north end of the airstrip and turned around, the pilot started the takeoff roll. He also added that the pilot did not do any engine power checks before starting the takeoff roll. The passenger reported that during the takeoff roll the pilot said he “could take off now” but wanted to go a little further. The passenger added that the next thing he knew the airplane was in the air and he was looking outside, but couldn’t see over the nose, as it was too high. The passenger stated that the next thing he remembered was feeling a “jolt,” followed by a right bank and the nose going straight down. The passenger further stated that he became disoriented and didn’t remember hitting the power lines or striking the ground.
Local law enforcement personnel reported to the IIC that a resident who lives about 300 feet from the departure end of runway 21 reported that he heard the airplane take off, that the engine sounded like it was producing normal power, and that the wind was not blowing hard at the time.
The pilot, age 65, held a student pilot certificate. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued June 15, 2005, with the limitation “Must wear lenses for distant vision – possess glasses for near vision.” A review of the student pilot’s logbook revealed that the last logbook entry was dated July 15, 2004, and indicated a total flight time of 125.8 hours, all of which was in the accident airplane. The student pilot’s most recent logbook entry was for a solo cross-country flight, which was dated August 5, 2004.
The two-seat, side-by-side, fixed-gear, high-wing airplane, serial number (S/N) 1507093, was manufactured in 1969. It was powered by a Continental O-200-A (48) engine, serial number 814004-R, rated at 100 horse power. Maintenance records revealed that the most recent annual inspection performed on the airplane occurred on September 18, 2004, at a recorded tachometer reading of 6,822.28 hours. As the observed tachometer hour reading at the accident site was 7,042.9 hours, the IIC subsequently computed that the airplane had accumulated 220.62 hours since the annual inspection.
The closest weather reporting facility to the accident site was located about 45 nautical miles to the northwest at the Omak Airport (OMK), Omak, Washington. At 0653, the report indicated wind from 030 degrees at 3 knots. At 0753, the observation facility reported wind from 030 degrees at 5 knots.
At 0653, the weather reporting facility at the Ephrata Municipal Airport (EPH), Ephrata, Washington, located about 66 miles southwest of the accident side, reported wind from 010 degrees at 10 knots. At 0753, the observation station recorded wind from 060 degrees at 3 knots.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
An examination of the accident site and surrounding area revealed that the first point of impact was evidenced by a damaged tree, about 85 feet tall, having been topped. The tree was located about 330 feet from the departure end of runway 21 on a magnetic heading of about 220 degrees. The debris path indicated that subsequent to impacting the tree the airplane descended on a heading of about 230 degrees for about 270 feet before striking power lines and impacting the ground. The airplane came to rest in a near vertical attitude on a magnetic heading of about 050 degrees, with the power lines wrapped around the propeller and right and left wings.
An examination of the airplane at the accident site revealed that the airplane came to rest in a near vertical position, tangled and supported in this position by one power line cable having impacted and sliced through the left wing’s leading edge at about the point where the right wing support strut attaches. A second power line cable was observed to have impacted and sliced into the leading edge of the left wing’s leading edge, at about the location of where the left wing strut attaches. The cable was also observed wrapped around the airplane’s left main landing gear, which supported both main landing gear off of the ground. Both left and right wing support struts remained attached to the fuselage and respective wings.
The forward section of the airplane was pushed aft into the cabin/cockpit area due to impact forces. Both wings remained intact and attached to the fuselage at their respective attach points. The right wing sustained leading edge aft crushing through its entire span. The left wing sustained damage to its leading edge as a result of the impact with the power line cable. Both left and right ailerons and left and right flaps remained intact, undamaged, and observed attached to their respective wings at all attach points. The empennage, with the exception of a section of the right side aft of the aft cabin bulkhead, which was deformed inward, was intact and undamaged.
Both main landing gear remained attached to the fuselage. The nose landing gear remained attached to the airplane but bent aft.
The propeller remained attached to the engine with one blade observed bent slightly aft, while the second blade was bent forward and the tip bent aft.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Ferry County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy on the pilot on July 7, 2010. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was “Blunt force injuries…”
The FAA’s Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI’s report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, and volatiles were tested, and had negative results. With respect to tests for drugs, the following was revealed:
Acetaminophen, 7.504 (ug/ml, ug/g) detected in Blood. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter analgesic medication used to treat aches and pains as well as fever.
Dihydrocodeine, detected in Blood and Liver. Dihydrocodeine, which is a prescription medication used to control pain, is also a Metabolite of Hydrocodone.
Hydrocodone, 0.037(ug/ml, ug/g) detected in Blood and 0.126 (ug/ml, ug/g) detected in Liver. Hydrocodone is a prescription medication, is used to control pain and coughs.
Nordiazepam, 0.05 (ug/ml, ug/g)detected in Blood and 0.074 (ug/ml, ug/g) detected in Liver. Nordiazepam is a metabolite of several different benzodiazepines and is used in the treatment of anxiety.
A family member reported that the pilot frequented the local Veteran’s Administration hospital for chronic joint pain issues, as well as for a back injury he had suffered during the Vietnam War. The family member stated that he was not aware of any other physical issues with the pilot.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Under the supervision of the IIC, an examination of the airplane was performed by a representative from Cessna Aircraft Company. The examination revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunction.
An examination of the engine was performed by a representative from Teledyne Continental Motors, under the supervision of the IIC. The examination revealed that the engine remained partially attached to the airframe, and that the propeller had impact damage and a large diameter braided power line cable wrapped around the crankshaft propeller flange. After both of the engine’s magnetos were removed, it was noted that both drive shafts turned freely with impulse coupling engagement and spark was observed. The carburetor was undamaged and removed from the engine. The mixture and throttle linkages moved freely by hand. The floats were undamaged and the float bowl was free of debris and of fuel. The inlet fuel screen was removed and observed free of debris.
An examination of the engine’s cylinders revealed that the overhead components were lubricated and undamaged. Subsequent to the large diameter braided power line cable being removed from the crankshaft propeller flange, the crankshaft was rotated by hand. Cylinder compression and valve continuity was confirmed. Continuity was also confirmed from the propeller assembly to the upper accessory drive gears, alternator drive gear and forward camshaft accessory drive.
An examination of the propeller revealed that the spinner had spiral scratches and damage on both sides. Blade A was bent forward and the tip was bent aft. The tip was also observed to have chord-wise scratches along its cambered face and leading edge. Blade B had a slight bend from the mid-section to the tip. The leading edge had nicks and gouges.
The technician concluded that the inspection of the engine did not reveal any abnormalities that would have prevented normal operation and production of rated horsepower.