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On February 17, 2011, about 2040 Central Standard Time, a Cessna 182P airplane, N325LA, was substantially damaged during a loss of control following a touch-and-go maneuver at the Levelland Municipal Airport (LLN), Levelland, Texas. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured and the two remaining passengers sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The 28 nautical mile cross-country flight originated from the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB), Lubbock, Texas, at an unknown time.
A surviving passenger stated that the pilot contacted him and asked if he wanted to go with the pilot on an evening flight. The passenger agreed and he, the pilot and two other passengers flew direct from LBB to LLN. The passenger said they took off between 2000 and 2030 and that the flight to LLN took about 15 minutes. Along the route, the pilot informed the passengers about what he was doing and pointed out things of interest on the ground. The passenger said there was a full moon and they could see everything. When they got close to LLN, the pilot showed them how he could change the runway light intensity using the airplane’s radio. The passenger described the pilot making a straight in approach to the runway. The accident happened during the first landing. The passenger said that the touchdown was very rough and that he moved in the airplane from side to side. He recalled the pilot apologizing and stating that landings were not usually that rough. The passenger said that at some point the pilot “hollered hold on”. The passenger said he could not remember anything after that.
An individual, residing in a house approximately 1,100-feet west of the accident site, reported that about 2040 she heard an airplane’s engine either accelerate or decelerate followed by a “thud” sound. The witness decided to go out on her front porch to see if there had been an airplane crash at the airport. Not seeing anything unusual she went back inside. About 30 minutes later one of the surviving passengers was able to crawl to her neighbor’s house to get help.
The pilot, age 62, held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane rating. The pilot’s logbooks showed he had approximately 550 hours total flying time. The logbooks also showed the pilot having successfully completed a flight review on March 18, 2010.
The pilot held a Third Class medical certificate dated January 16, 2011. The certificate had limitations that read “Must wear corrective lenses. Not valid for any class after 1/31/2012.”
The flight instructor who had recommended the pilot for his private pilot check ride in 2007 said that he and two other flight instructors who taught the pilot, had trouble teaching him to fly. The pilot failed his first check ride because he had trouble maintaining direction control during the landing flare, touchdown, and the landing roll. The flight instructor said that the pilot had bad hand-eye coordination, did not have quick reflexes, and could not think quickly. When the flight instructor was told that there was a 10 to 11 knot direct crosswind at the airport the night of the accident, he said that the pilot would have had trouble with that. The flight instructor said that the pilot was very familiar with the Levelland Airport. He said that landing there at night would be tricky because there were few lights south of the airport. A person could easily loose the horizon and pitch the nose [of the airplane] up too high if not careful.
The airplane was a 1975 Cessna Aircraft Model 182P Skylane, serial number 18263608. The airplane was powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors O-470-R-CS horizontally opposed reciprocating engine rated at 230 horsepower at 2,600 rpm.
According to the airplane and engine logbooks, the airplane underwent an annual inspection on May 7, 2010. The recorded tachometer reading at the time of the annual inspection was 3,839.5 hours. The tachometer time recorded at the accident site was 3,971.1 hours.
At 2040, the West Texas Mesonet weather observation facility at Levelland, Texas, located approximately 1.75 miles southeast of the accident site, reported wind from 267 degrees at 10 miles per hour (MPH) gusting to 11 MPH.
AERODROME AND GROUND FACILITIES
The Levelland Municipal Airport, ICAO identifier KLLN, is located 2 miles south of the city of Levelland, Texas, at 33 degrees, 33.09 minutes North latitude and 102 degrees, 22.21 minutes West longitude. The field elevation is 3,514 feet mean seal level. It is a public airport and has no control tower.
The airport has two runways; runway 17-35 and runways 8-26. Runway 17-35 is 6,110 feet long and 75 feet wide. It has a smooth asphalt surface and nonprecision approach markings that are listed in the Airport Facilities Directory as being in good condition. The runway end identifier lights and Medium Intensity Runway Lights that are preset to low intensity, but can be increased in intensity by clicking on the radio transmit button when the airplane radio is set to 122.8 Megahertz. The runway is also equipped with a 4-light Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) light bar calibrated to a 3-degree glide path.
Runway 8-26 is 2,072 feet long and 55 feet wide. It has a smooth asphalt surface listed in the A/FD as being in good condition. The runway has no lights or approach path light systems.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest in an inverted position 3,045 feet from the approach end of runway 17 and approximately 62-feet east from the runways edge. There was no evidence of a postcrash fire.
About 2,950 feet from the approach end of the runway, and 18 feet east of the runway's edge was a scrape in the ground that ran parallel to the runway. About 33 feet beyond the scrape were three perpendicular slashes in the ground, about 14 inches apart that was immediately followed by a five foot wide, eight foot long crater in the ground. Broken pieces of clear Plexiglas were located in the crater. Pieces of Plexiglas, pieces of fiberglass, white-colored paint chips, and small pieces of metal preceded the crater. A spray of dirt fanned out from the crater along a 130-degree heading for about 30 feet.
About 45 feet beyond the crater was the airplane main wreckage. The main wreckage consisted of the airplane’s fuselage, left and right wings, right main landing gear, engine, propeller hub, one propeller blade and the empennage.
The engine, cowling, glareshield, instrument panel, and cabin were bent upward and crushed aft. The cabin doors were broken out at the door frames. The windscreen was broken out and fragmented. The aft fuselage was broken downward and separated from the remainder of the airplane at the baggage compartment. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage and showed bends and buckling. The right main landing gear leg, wheel pant and tire showed no damage. The left main landing gear was broken aft at the fuselage. Flight control continuity from the control yokes to the elevator and from the rudder pedals to the rudder was confirmed
The left wing was broken at the root and broken aft at mid-span, just outboard of the wing flap. The leading edge of the outboard section was crushed aft across the entire span. The left aileron was broken at the control arm and hinges. Flight control continuity to the left aileron was confirmed.
The right wing was broken forward at the wing root. The outer 3 feet of the leading edge was crushed aft and downward. The wingtip was broken aft longitudinally along the rivet line. The right aileron was bent downward. Flight control continuity was confirmed to the right aileron.
The engine was bent upward and broken from the mounts and firewall. The propeller hub and one blade remained attached at flange. The one propeller blade showed torsional s-bending, chordwise scratches and leading edge nicks. The other propeller blade was broken out of the hub at the seat and retaining rings and located about 240 feet beyond the airplane’s main wreckage. The second blade also showed torsional s-bending, chordwise scratches and leading edge nicks.
In the immediate vicinity of the airplane main wreckage was the left main landing gear, the cabin doors, cabin interior pieces, and personal items.
The airplane wreckage was retained for further examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Lubbock County Medical Examiner in Lubbock, Texas on February 18, 2011.
Results of toxicology testing of samples taken from the pilot were negative for all tests conducted.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The airplane was examined at Levelland, Texas on February 18 and 19, 2011. An examination of the airplane showed that the flaps were in the full up position. The elevator trim tab was at setting of about 15 degrees nose up. The left main landing gear leg fracture was consistent with an overload failure. The examination of the engine did not reveal any abnormalities that would have prevented normal operation and production of rated horsepower. The examination of the other airplane systems did not reveal any preimpact anomalies.
The observed 15-degree nose up trim setting would be consistent with the pilot raising the flaps immediately after takeoff.