NTSB Identification: WPR17FA091
HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On April 27, 2017, about 1350 Pacific daylight time, a Nanchang CJ6A airplane, N192NG, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Keene, California. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to G&C CJ6 LLC and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Apple Valley Airport (APV), Apple Valley, California, about 1255, with an intended destination of Porterville, California.
According to three friends of the pilot, they and the pilot were flying together in a four-airplane formation and had originally departed from Phoenix, Arizona, earlier in the morning. They made a fuel-stop at APV, and, following lunch and a brief delay for weather, the flight of four departed APV en route to Porterville. They were flying in a diamond formation, and the accident pilot was to the left of the lead pilot (the number 2 position). As the flight neared Tehachapi, California, the formation was at an altitude of about 7,500 ft mean sea level (msl), flying above an overcast-to-broken cloud layer that covered the area. As they passed Tehachapi, the formation began a shallow descent. During the descent, the lead pilot lost sight of the accident airplane and asked the pilot if he was ok, to which the accident pilot responded that he was.
A short time later, the lead pilot asked the accident pilot a second time if he was ok, and the accident pilot responded that he was. Subsequently, the pilot in the slot position (behind the lead pilot) noticed that the accident airplane was behind his position and lower. The pilot in the slot position eventually lost sight of the accident airplane and maneuvered to reestablish visual contact but was unsuccessful. The pilot who was flying to the right of the lead pilot (the number 3 position) observed the accident airplane fly into a cloud layer while in a wings-level, slightly nose-low attitude, behind and below his position. The formation flight never reestablished radio or visual contact with the accident pilot or airplane.
A witness who was in a vehicle near the accident site reported that she observed the airplane descend from a cloud layer in an almost vertical attitude until she lost sight of it behind a mountain.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. A third-class special issuance airman medical certificate was issued to the pilot on May 22, 2015, with the limitation, "not valid for any class after 5/31/2017." The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 500 hours of flight experience of which 40 hours were in the previous 6 months.
The two-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane, serial number 3051217, was manufactured in 1975. It was powered by a 285-horsepower Huosai HS-6A engine driving a two-bladed, composite, controllable-pitch propeller.
At 1355, the reported weather conditions at the Tehachapi Airport (TSP), located about 5 miles southeast of the accident site, were wind from 290° at 26 knots gusting to 35 knots, visibility 9 statute miles, broken cloud layer at 1,700 ft, overcast cloud layer at 2,500 ft, temperature 12°C, dew point 8°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.93 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted hilly terrain about 5 miles northwest of TSP. The airplane came to rest in an almost vertical attitude on a magnetic heading of about 249°. All of the major structural components of the airplane and wreckage debris, including canopy material, metal debris, and foam, were located within about 100 ft of the main wreckage.
The left wing was separated from the fuselage and came to rest about 8 ft north of the main wreckage. The aileron and flap remained attached to the wing structure. The entire wing exhibited leading edge compression aft to the aileron and flap.
The right wing was partially separated from the fuselage. The aileron and flap remained attached to the wing structure. The entire wing exhibited leading edge compression aft to the aileron and flap. A swath of displaced dirt similar to the size of the right wing was observed directly under the wing structure.
The fuselage structure was severely crushed aft. The empennage structure was compressed into the cabin and engine areas. The vertical stabilizer, rudder, left and right horizontal stabilizers, and left and right elevators remained partially attached to their respective mounts. The forward and aft cockpit areas were severely fragmented. The instrument panels were fragmented with numerous instruments displaced.
Flight control continuity was established throughout the airframe from the cockpit controls to all primary flight control surfaces. Numerous separations in the control cables were observed. The separated ends of the cables exhibited signatures consistent with overload.
The engine exhibited extensive impact damage to all cylinders and the crankcase. The accessory case was impact damaged and separated from the engine. The crankshaft could not be rotated by hand due to impact damage. Mechanical continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train. The magnetos, starter, carburetor, and propeller governor were separated and exhibited extensive impact damage, which precluded functional testing of the components. Portions of both propeller blades were located within the recovered wreckage and were separated from the propeller hub. The propeller blades exhibited chordwise striations on the forward sides of the blades.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Kern County Coroner, Bakersfield, California, performed an autopsy of the pilot and determined that the cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma. The autopsy consisted of an external examination of the body, and the condition of the brain and heart were not described in the report.
The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on samples from the pilot and identified 0.014 gm/dl of ethanol in muscle tissue but no ethanol in brain tissue. In addition, amlodipine and pravastatin were identified in the liver, and amlodipine was identified in muscle. Ethanol is the intoxicant commonly found in beer, wine, and liquor. Ethanol may also be produced in body tissues by microbial activity after death. Amlodipine is a blood pressure medication, and pravastatin is a cholesterol lowering medication. These drugs are not generally considered impairing.
The pilot reported high cholesterol and treatment for this condition to the FAA beginning in 2002. In 2004, he reported to the FAA occasional premature ventricular contractions and provided an evaluation that included a cardiac catheterization, which revealed mild-to-moderate coronary artery disease with 40 to 50% stenosis in several arteries.
After an evaluation by the FAA, the pilot was placed on a special issuance medical certificate that required annual reviews. The reviews were generally positive until 2010, when a repeat catheterization demonstrated slight worsening of the area of stenosis in the right coronary artery to 50% to 60%. At his last medical examination, the pilot reported using the blood pressure medications doxazosin and hydrochlorothiazide and the cholesterol medication simvastatin. The most recent clinical reports received by the FAA in June of 2016 included a normal stress test, an echocardiogram that was abnormal but unchanged, and a cardiologist's report showing that the airman was doing well with no symptoms.