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N97TD accident description

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Tail numberN97TD
Accident dateMarch 20, 2003
Aircraft typeCessna 182S
LocationFayetteville, AR
Near 35.915278 N, -94.159722 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On March 20, 2003, approximately 1910 central standard time, a single-engine Cessna 182S airplane, N97TD, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain while executing the LDA/DME RWY 34 instrument approach into Drake Field Airport (KFYV) near Fayetteville, Arkansas. The airplane was registered to and operated by the Cessna Employees Flying Club, of Wichita, Kansas. The instrument rated private pilot sustained minor injuries, one passenger was seriously injured, and the other passenger was fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight originated from the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (KICT), near Wichita, Kansas, at 1750, and was destined for Drake Field Airport.

In a written statement, the pilot reported that while en route to Fayetteville, he maintained visual meteorological conditions on top of a cloud layer and did not enter instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) until he initiated the instrument approach. He followed air traffic control (ATC) instructions, and had tuned-in and verified the correct navigational frequencies for the LDA/DME RWY 34 localizer only approach. Since the airplane was not equipped with distance measuring equipment (DME), the pilot utilized the panel-mounted KLN94 Global Positioning System (GPS) as the DME. The pilot recalled receiving vectors and altitude assignments from ATC to align the airplane with the localizer course. According to the pilot, the last instructions he received from ATC were, "...maintain 4,000 till established on the LDA/DME RWY 34 approach." He said, "I centered the needles on the nav instruments for the approach and disabled the autopilot. I reduced power and went over the before landing checks before starting my descent. The first point to cross was 'awemo' at 3,000 feet and I remember being a little high at 3,100 feet msl. Seeing this, and noting my groundspeed was a little high at 100 knots, I added 10 degrees of flaps. The next point was 'trium' at 2,500 feet. I remember crossing that point a little high at about 2,600 feet. The last thing I remember is thinking I should increase my descent angle, but never got a chance to. From that point, it was like the airplane fell out of the sky. The next point I remember is waking up in crashed airplane."

The passenger, who was seated in the rear of the airplane, stated that he was asleep for a majority of the flight but woke up prior to the approach and descent into Drake Field. As the airplane descended through the cloud layer, the pilot informed the passenger that they were three miles from landing. The next thing the rear passenger recalled was impacting the trees.

A review of ATC communications revealed that the pilot was instructed to turn left heading 020 degrees, and maintain and altitude of 4,000 feet mean sea level (msl) until established on the localizer course. He was also cleared for the LDA/DME RWY 34 approach.

At 1906, when the airplane was established on the localizer course and about two and a half miles from the AWEMO intersection, an approach controller asked the pilot to contact Drake Tower. The pilot acknowledged. About 20 seconds later, the pilot contacted Drake tower, and stated that he was established on the LDA/DME RWY 34 approach. A tower controller cleared the pilot to land on Runway 34. The pilot acknowledged, and there were no further communications from him.

A review of radar data revealed that an instrument flight rules target, with the same transponder assigned to the accident airplane, approached Drake Field from the northwest. The data revealed that the target was approximately 10 nautical miles from the south end of runway 34 when he intercepted the localizer course at an altitude of 3,900 feet mean sea level (msl). When the target was abeam the AWEMO intersection, it was 7.2 nautical miles south of the runway at an altitude of 2,800 feet msl. This was approximately 1,200 feet below the published minimum altitude for that segment of the approach. The target continued to track toward the airport at a lower than published minimum altitude until the radar data ended at 1908, prior to reaching the TRIUM intersection.

The accident occurred during the hours of night and the aircraft came to rest at approximately 35 degrees, 54 minutes, north latitude, and 94 degrees, 09 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first class medical was issued on May 7, 2001.

The pilot submitted a Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB For 6120.1/2). The pilot report a total of 184.3 hours; of which 33.6 hours were in the last 90 days, and 7.7 hours were in the last 30 days. He had accrued 24.5 hours in make and model. The pilot had also accumulated 52 hours of instrument time, of which, 12.2 hours were in actual instrument conditions, and the remaining time was simulated. The pilot had logged 1.9 hours of actual instrument time in the 90 days preceding the accident.


The airplane was a four seat, dual-control airplane, powered by a 6-cylinder, air-cooled, 230 horsepower engine. The airplane was certificated in the normal/standard airworthiness category, and was registered to the owner on October 8, 1998.

This airplane was on a progressive inspection program per FAR 91.409 (D), and had completed phase 1 of that inspection sequence on March 17, 2003. The airframe had accumulated a total of 1,848.6 hours at the time of the phase 1 inspection and 1,850.1 hours at the time of the accident.


Weather reported at Drake Field, at 1853, was reported as winds from 310 degrees at 11 knots gusting to 14 knots, visibility 4 statute miles, overcast at 500 feet, temperature 46 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and an barometric pressure setting of 29.70 inches of Mercury.


The published inbound course for the LDA/DME RWY 34 localizer only approach was 349 degrees magnetic, and the minimum descent altitude for the approach was 2,000 feet msl. The crossing altitude at AWEMO intersection was 4,000 feet msl, and at TRIUM intersection, it was 3,000 feet msl. The distance between the AWEMO and TRIUM intersections was 2.7 nautical miles. The distance between TRIUM and the missed approach point, which was located at the approach end of Runway 34, was 4.5 nautical miles. The airport elevation was 1,251 feet msl.

A current LDA/DME RWY 34 approach plate was found the wreckage.


Drake Field Airport Runway 34 was a 6,006-foot-long and 100-foot-wide asphalt runway. It was equipped with medium intensity runway lights (MIRL) and a five light omni-directional approach lighting system (ODALS).


Investigators from the NTSB, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Textron-Lycoming performed an on scene examination of the wreckage. The wreckage path from the first tree strike to where the main wreckage came to rest was approximately 335 degrees. The estimated angle between the first tree strike and the first ground impact was approximately 30 degrees.

The terrain was mountainous and wooded. The first and second trees along the wreckage path were approximately 40-feet-high. Slash marks similar to a propeller blade along with black paint transfer marks were observed on two tree branches along the wreckage path.

The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, which came to rest on its left side. There was no evidence of in-flight or post impact fire. The nose gear remained attached and was pushed aft. The left and right main landing gear remained attached to the airplane, but the right tire was separated from the right landing gear.

The left wing was separated from the fuselage and came to rest southeast of the main wreckage. The outboard portion of the wing and aileron separated from the remainder of the wing. This portion of the wing was found near the initial tree impact. Impact damage was observed on the leading edges of each wing section. The flap and inboard portion of the aileron remained attached to the wing. Aileron control cable continuity was established from the control surface to the wing root. The aileron cables had separated and exhibited "broom straw" fractures. The flap cables remained attached to the bell crank and the cables were also separated and exhibited "broom straw" fractures.

The inboard portion of the right wing remained attached at the forward wing attachment and was separated at the aft wing attachment. The flap remained attached to the wing. The flap actuator indicated the flaps were extended approximately 15 degrees. The flap cables remained attached to the bell crank and the cables were separated and the fractured ends were "broom strawed." The aileron remained attached to the outboard portion of the wing, and came to rest behind the main wreckage. Control continuity was established for the aileron to the inboard portion of the wing. The aileron cables were separated and the fractured ends were "broom-strawed."

The tail cone was twisted and remained attached to the fuselage. The rudder remained attached to the vertical fin. Control cable continuity was established for the rudder from the control surface to fuselage. The left elevator was separated from the horizontal stabilizer and the left side of the horizontal stabilizer exhibited impact damage. The right side of the horizontal stabilizer had minor impact damage and the elevator and elevator trim tab remained attached. The trim tab was deflected slightly upward. Control cable continuity was established for the elevator from the elevator bell crank to the fuselage.

The altimeter was found set to 29.67 inches of Mercury (Hg).

The right pitot static line was broken near the port due to impact damage and continuity was established to the altimeter. The alternate static source was observed closed. No water was drained from the moisture trap. The left static port could not be examined due to the position of the wreckage.

One of the vacuum pumps exhibited impact damage and could not be rotated. The vacuum pump was disassembled and the vanes were found broken in the slots and the rotor was cracked. The other vacuum pump rotated freely. Both vacuum pump drive couplings were intact.

The throttle was found pulled-out approximately one inch, the mixture control was found in the full rich position, and the propeller control was found in the full forward position.

The fuel selector handle was observed in the "both" position. Fuel was observed in the right fuel tank. The right fuel cap was vented and the left cap was not examined due to the position of the wing. Fuel was observed in the gascolator and the screen was absent of debris.

The engine remained partially attached to the fuselage and was pushed up and aft. Engine continuity and compression was established on all cylinders by rotating the crankshaft by hand. The fuel injector remained attached and fuel was observed in the fuel injector inlet and outlet lines. The engine driven fuel pump was separated and destroyed by impact damage. The fuel inlet screen was absent of debris. The left magneto exhibited damage to the ignition leads. The unit was manually rotated via the impulse coupling and spark was produced on all towers. The right magneto produced spark at all the leads when the impulse coupling was rotated.

Examination of the three propeller blades revealed that one blade displayed "S" bending, leading edge polishing, and some gouging. The second blade displayed "S" bending and leading edge polishing and gouging. The third blade displayed aft bending approximately 10 degrees with leading edge polishing.


The altimeter was examined at United Instruments on May 1, 2003, under the supervision of the FAA. Examination of the altimeter revealed no mechanical deficiencies.

The FAA conducted a flight test of the LDA/DME RWY 34 approach, and no anomalies were found.

The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on August 12, 2003.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.