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On March 27, 2011, at an undetermined time, a Stinson 108, N97383, was substantially damaged upon impact with terrain near Dickens, Texas. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was mostly consumed by a post-impact fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Dark night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from a private airfield and was headed to an unknown refueling stop with the ultimate destination of Rockdale, Texas.
According to the pilot's wife, the pilot was planning on departing at 0530; however, the actual departure time is unknown. The wreckage was found about 1300 in a pasture area by a local resident. There are no known witnesses to the accident.
The pilot, age 40, held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land issued on May 27, 2008 and did not hold an instrument endorsement. A third-class airman medical certificate issued July 19, 2007, with no limitations. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed the pilot had accumulated over 600 hours total time with over 200 hours in make and model. He had recorded no flight hours in actual instrument conditions and 3.8 hours of simulated instrument conditions.
The four-seat, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number 108-383, was manufactured in 1946. It was powered by a Franklin 6A4-15-B3, s/n 11542, 150-hp engine driving a Sensenich fixed pitch metal 2-bladed propeller. A review of copies of the maintenance logbook records showed an annual inspection was completed on March 27, 2010, at a recorded tachometer time of 2,350 hours and an engine time since major overhaul of 40 hours. The tachometer was damaged and a current tachometer reading could not be obtained; however, 10 days prior to the accident, a logbook entry recorded the tachometer at 2,588.6 hours.
At 0553, an automated weather observation facility at Lubbock International Airport (LBB), located 52 nautical miles to the west, reported winds from 060 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 5 miles with mist, overcast skies at 500 feet, temperature 39 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 36 degrees F., and a barometric pressure of 29.83 inches of Mercury. In addition, automated weather observation facilities at Childress Municipal Airport (CDS), Childress, Texas, located 53 nautical miles north-northeast of the accident site and Winston Field Airport (SNK), Snyder, Texas located 59 nautical miles south, reported weather similar to LBB.
According to astronomical data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, civil twilight began at 0713, with a corresponding sunrise of 0738. The moon had risen at 0335 with 38% disk illumination.
A review of carburetor icing probability chart located in the FAA's Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-09-35, revealed that the airplane was operating in an area conducive to serious icing at cruise power.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane wreckage was located in an area of rolling hills approximately 1.25 miles southeast of the departure airfield. The vegetation was low-lying and sparse. Ground scars reveal an impact heading of 300 degrees. The ground scar began before a barbed wire fence. Damaged fence materials led to a 2.5 foot deep crater about 13 feet past the fence line. Twelve feet past the crater was the airplane's engine separated completely from the fuselage. Debris continued 14 feet towards the main wreckage which consisted of the fuselage, both wings, and the empennage. The airplane was found upright facing about 100 degrees. Evidence of a post-impact fire began at the impact crater and continued about 65 feet in a 90-degree fan pattern. All airplane components displayed fire damage with a majority of the interior completely consumed in the fire.
Flight control continuity was established from the aileron push-pull rods to the flight controls and elevator and rudder continuity was established from the control surfaces to the flight controls. The elevator trim was found in the neutral position. The flap position could not be determined.
The engine also displayed signs of thermal damage. The engine crankcase was broken in multiple locations. Cylinders one and six fractured from the crankcase. The sparkplugs displayed normal wear. The engine's crankshaft displayed a slight bend. The carburetor heat shroud was impact damaged, but remained attached to the muffler. Continunity from the shroud to the carburetor could not be determined due to impact and fire damage. Both blades displayed minor polishing at the leading edges. One blade was nearly straight with the other blade bent rearward.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot on March 28, 2011, by South Plains Forensic Pathology, Lubbock, Texas, as authorized by the Dickens County Justice of the Peace. The autopsy finding noted the cause of death as a result of blunt force injuries.
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The following findings were noted:
26 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Muscle
NO ETHANOL detected in Liver
Notes: The ethanol found in this case is from sources other than ingestion.
Chlorpheniramine detected in Liver
Chlorpheniramine detected in Kidney
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports chlorpheniramine in the antihistamine class with drowsiness as a potential side effect.