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On November 10, 2010, about 1940 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20F, N6878V, was substantially damaged when it collided with wooded terrain, near the summit of Mount Frey, Copake, New York. The certificated private pilot and passenger were killed. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Walter J Koladza Airport (GBR), Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The flight departed Lorain County Regional Airport (LPR), Elyria, Ohio, about 1550.
According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the flight was in radar and radio contact with Albany terminal radar approach control (TRACON) as the flight approached GBR. At 1921, the pilot advised the controller that he intended to make a visual approach to runway 29 at GBR, which was located 739 feet above mean sea level (msl). At 1927, the controller instructed the pilot to descend from 7,000 msl, to 4,000 feet msl, which the pilot acknowledged. At 1936, the pilot reported that he had GBR in sight and the controller cleared the flight for a visual approach to runway 29 at GBR. At 1937, the controller gave the pilot the option of canceling his IFR clearance on the current radio frequency or with flight service on the ground, and approved a frequency change to the GBR common traffic advisory frequency. The pilot elected to cancel his IFR clearance at that time with the Albany controller. The controller acknowledged the cancellation, instructed the pilot to change the transponder code, and reported no traffic between the accident airplane and GBR. The pilot acknowledged the last instruction and no further communications were received from the accident airplane.
Review of radar data revealed that at the time of the IFR flight plan cancellation, the airplane was at 3,900 feet and began a descent on a northeasterly track, consistent with a 45-degree entry to the left downwind leg of the GBR traffic pattern. At 1939:12, the airplane had descended to 2,900 feet and was approximately 1.5 miles from the summit of Mount Frey. The summit of Mount Frey was located about 5 miles southwest of GBR. At 1939:45, the airplane had descended to 2,400 feet and was approximately .25 mile from the summit of Mount Frey. At 1939:54, the airplane had descended to 2,100 feet and was approximately 1,000 feet from the summit of Mount Frey. The summit elevation at Mount Frey was approximately 2,000 feet msl and the GBR traffic pattern altitude was 1,700 feet msl.
The pilot, age 64, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on February 2, 2009. At that time, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 1,410 hours. The pilot's logbook was not recovered
The four-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane, serial number 22-1271, was manufactured in 1975. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360, 200-horsepower engine and equipped with a three-bladed, constant-speed Hartzell propeller. Review of the airframe and engine logbook revealed that the most recent annual inspection was performed on June 22, 2010. At that time, the airplane had accumulated 3,534 total hours of operation. The engine had accumulated 2,243 total hours of operation.
According to data from Lockheed Martin, the pilot telephoned flight service at 1524. He received a standard weather briefing and filed an IFR flight plan for the flight from LPR to GBR.
Pittsfield Municipal Airport (PSF), Pittsfield, Massachusetts, was located about 20 miles northeast of GBR. The recorded weather at PSF, at 1954, was: wind calm, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 1 degree Celsius, dew point minus 2 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.20 inches of mercury.
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, for the GBR area, sunset occurred at 1637, the end of civil twilight occurred at 1706, and moonset occurred at 2034. The phase of the moon was waxing crescent with 22 percent of the moon's visible disc illuminated.
The airplane was located by a hunter on November 11, 2010, about 5 miles southwest of GBR, at an elevation of 1,861 feet msl. The main wreckage came to rest inverted, oriented on a southerly heading, near the summit of Mount Frey, with the empennage suspended in a tree. An approximate 500-foot long debris path, oriented on a northeasterly heading, was observed originating with tree strikes and terminated at the main wreckage. Pieces from the outboard left wing were located near the beginning of the debris path, along with freshly cut branches from the tops of 25-foot tall trees. No tree damage was observed in the vicinity of the main wreckage, and an approximately 5-foot-long, 3-foot-wide, 2-foot deep crater was present about 10 feet from the wreckage.
A postcrash fire consumed the cockpit and fuselage. The flaps and landing gear were retracted. The inboard sections of the left and right wings remained attached to the fuselage, and the flaps remained attached to their respective wings. The outboard section of left wing was found along the debris path, and its aileron remained attached. The outboard section of the right wing was consumed by fire. The empennage sustained minor damage, and its vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, rudder, and elevator remained attached. The flight control system consisted of push-pull tubes, which were partially consumed by fire. Subsequently, flight control continuity could not be confirmed.
The engine and one propeller blade were partially buried in the ground. All three propeller blades remained attached to the engine. One blade exhibited s-bending, another blade was bent forward, and the third blade exhibited leading edge gouging and tip curling. The engine had sustained thermal damage and the propeller could not be rotated.
The engine was examined further following recovery to a hangar. The No. 2 cylinder was impact damaged, the intake pushrod was missing, and the intake rocker arm was fractured. The No. 1 cylinder also exhibited impact damage. Due to impact damage, the bottom sparkplugs were removed on the No. 2 and No. 4 cylinders. The top sparkplugs were removed from the No. 1 and No. 3 cylinders. Examination of the sparkplugs revealed the electrodes were intact, and light gray in color. Some debris was noted in the No. 2 and No. 4 sparkplugs, consistent with impact damage. The magnetos sustained thermal damage and could not be tested. The valve covers were also removed. The crankshaft could only be rotated about 90 degrees via the propeller; however, a borsecope examination of the cylinders did not reveal any catastrophic failures and oil was noted throughout the cylinders.
Examination of the elevator trim jackscrew revealed 7 threads, which equated to an approximate takeoff trim setting.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot on November 14, 2010, by the Albany County Medical Examiner's Office, Albany, New York.
Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.