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N321MB accident description

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Tail numberN321MB
Accident dateJuly 05, 1999
Aircraft typePitts S-2B
LocationSteamboat Springs, co
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 5, 1999, at 1042 mountain daylight time, a Pitts (now Aviat) S-2B, N321MB, registered to and operated by the pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering 4 miles southeast of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The commercial pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from Steamboat Springs/Bob Adams Field, at 1018.

Several witnesses submitted written statements to the Routt County Sheriff's Office. Witness no. 1 was on Haymaker Golf Course, north of the accident site, when a biplane flew over at an estimated 500 feet agl (above ground level). The witness said the airplane did "a roll, followed by an upward loop from that altitude before proceeding southward down the valley." The witness said he thought the airplane was climbing after it made the loop, and wondered if the airplane was at "a legal minimum altitude."

Witness no. 2 was driving south on County Road 131. He saw the airplane "in the air and suddenly I saw the plane took a low dive [sic] into the bank. I saw the plane hit the bank, leaving a cloud of dirt. . .I did not see how the plane hit I just saw the plane early in [flight]` and hitting the bank."

Witness no. 3 was also driving south on County Road 131. The airplane came into view in the upper left corner of the car's windshield. The airplane was "spiraling with a flat angle of plane to ground. . .It continued spiraling toward the ground and struck the ground at no more than a 20 degree angle."

Witness no. 4 was in his yard watching the airplane, and said it was "flying upside down (I thought way too low). Then he came back over my ranch, then went straight up, started the 'hammerhead,' came down with a spin. I have seen him do many of these, however, not this low. Continued to spin. . .Maybe I heard the engine rev funny. The plane tried to flatten out but couldn't make it."

Witness no. 5 (who is a private pilot) and her husband, witness no. 6, were southbound on County Road 131, about a mile south of the accident site, when they saw the airplane "climb to do hammerhead stall. Aircraft descended from stall and entered spin at approximately 1,000 feet agl. Aircraft did not recover from spin." They said they did not observe the impact.

Witness no. 7, who was at a residence on nearby Highway 40, said the airplane made "a 'hammerhead stall' into a nose down spin. The airplane never went nose down enough to achieve lift over the wings. The airplane went out of my sight in a flat spin."

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, Richard E. Yeager, age 53, was born on November 22, 1945. He held a commercial pilot certificate (no. 388445940), dated May 8, 1994, with airplane single and multiengine and instrument ratings. He also held a third class airman medical certificate, dated December 15, 1998, with the restriction, "Must wear corrective lenses."

Mr. Yeager was the president and chief executive officer of Quintin USA, Inc., a tobacco products import company. According to the 1999 Quintin Wholesale Catalog, the passenger, Cindy Hines, was one of his sales representatives. Her husband, Dain Hines, was the company's cigar manager and a sales representative.

One of two pilot logbooks was recovered from the wreckage; the second logbook was located at the pilot's residence and a portion was photocopied by an FAA inspector and the Routt County Sheriff's Office. The latter contained entries from October 6, 1998, to April 12, 1999, and indicated the pilot owned and flew two airplanes regularly: a Beech E-90 King Air, N83WE, and an American Champion 8KCAB Decathlon, N213CR. It also contained the first 13 entries of the pilot's experience in the Pitts S2B. The former contained Pitts S2B entries exclusively, and began on March 11, 1999, and ended on July 4, 1999. On that date, July 4, the ending trip number was 204.0. Subtracting that number from the front cockpit Hobbs meter reading (204.4), the difference is 0.4, or about 24 minutes.

According to the first logbook, Ms. Hines had flown with Mr. Yeager on previous occasions, both in the Decathlon and the King Air. It could not be determined if she had ever flown in the Pitts.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in an open pasture next to County Road 131, about 3.5 miles south of Steamboat Springs. Four small ground scars, where the grass had been torn from the soil, were aligned on a magnetic heading of 205 degrees. Just beyond these scars was a larger, deeper ground interruption. Triangular in shape, the three legs extended 6 feet from the apex. The center leg was aligned on a magnetic heading of 215 degrees. The wreckage could be seen beyond this leg. Another ground interruption was noted 55 feet beyond. Its crater measured 5 feet in length and a scar, extending an additional 12 feet, terminated at the wreckage.

All major structural components were accounted for and identified. Shattered pieces of the composite propeller were located 57 feet north of the wreckage, along the fence line parallel to the county road. Flight control continuity was established.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by Dr. Ben Galloway at the Jefferson County Coroner's Office in Golden, Colorado. A toxicological screen was conducted by FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI). According to CAMI's report (#9900164001), no carbon monoxide, cyanide, or ethanol were detected in the blood. However, Chlorpheniramine was detected in the blood (0.007 ug/ml, ug/g) and urine (0.027 ug/ml, ug/g). According to a CAMI physician, Chlorpheniramine is a common over-the-counter cold remedy and although it is not contraindicated for flying, pilots are advised not to take Chlorpheniramine and fly because it may cause drowsiness. The 0.007 (ug/ml, ug/g) level detected in the pilot's blood, according to the doctor, was in the lower therapeutic range.

Examination of police photographs taken at the accident site disclosed both occupants were wearing parachutes, and both seat belts and shoulder harnesses were fastened.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

The only party to the investigation was the Federal Aviation Administration.

The wreckage was released to the insurance company on July 6, 1999.

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