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N8759A accident description

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Tail numberN8759A
Accident dateNovember 20, 1995
Aircraft typeBeech A35
LocationHudson, CO
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 20, 1995, at 1733 mountain standard time, a Beech A35, N8759A, collided with a power line during approach to Platte Valley Airpark, Hudson, Colorado. The private pilot received serious injuries and the passenger sustained fatal injuries. The aircraft was destroyed. No flight plan was filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed for this personal flight operating under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from Monterey, California, at 1055 and made an enroute refueling stop at Rock Springs, Wyoming.

According to the pilot, he landed at Rock Springs at 1600 and had the aircraft fueled to 40 gallons with all fuel in the main tanks. The flight then departed to Platte Valley Airpark via Corona Pass. The pilot said his plan was to intercept the 333 degree radial off of Mile High VORTAC eight miles northwest of the navigation aid and proceed to Platte Valley which is located at 13 miles from the navigation aid. This was accomplished and the pilot related that he did not spot the airport and executed a missed approach. He then, according to his statement, attempted to approach the airport from the northwest by intercepting the 333 degree radial inbound to the station and back towards the airport. He said he descended to 5,200 feet above mean sea level (msl) and at 14.5 miles distance from the VORTAC he decided to descend further to "get the airport environment insight."

The pilot related that he was flying at approximately 100 miles per hour with the landing gear and flaps up and the landing light on when he saw power lines in his path. He said when he saw the wires he attempted to pull up and turn east to parallel the wires but was unsuccessful. The aircraft contacted the wires and rolled inverted in the wires. The aircraft impacted the ground inverted and began to burn. The pilot said he exited the aircraft through a hole in the fuselage and did not know how his passenger exited, but later found his passenger north of the aircraft. (See wreckage diagram).

The first person on the scene of the accident stated that the electricity went off and he saw a bright light several times, followed by an explosion. The witness said he proceeded to the scene and found the pilot walking around bleeding from the head and the passenger on the ground burning. The witness said he put the fire out around the passenger and called 911.

According to fire/emergency medical personnel, when they arrived on the scene, the aircraft and the farm field north of the aircraft was on fire. The pilot was wandering around the scene bleeding from the head and the passenger was lying on the ground north of the wreckage with burns over a large portion of his body. The emergency response team had the pilot airlifted to a hospital in Denver and the passenger airlifted to the burn center at University Hospital in Denver.

INJURIES TO PERSONS

The pilot suffered head injuries and was released from the hospital within a few days. His passenger suffered third degree burns over a large portion of his body and died from his injuries on November 26, 1995.

DAMAGE TO AIRCRAFT

The aircraft sustained substantial damage from impact with high tension wires and the ground. It was destroyed by postimpact fire and explosion.

OTHER DAMAGE

As a result of aircraft impact with the high tension power line, damage to six double poles and approximately 5,000 feet of transmission cable and static line occurred. The ensuing fire caused approximately seven acres of wheat stubble to be burned.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot based his aircraft at Platte Valley and was familiar with the area. The visual approach which is discussed under history of flight is a procedure used by local pilots and devised by them. The reported approximately 2,000 hours in make and model.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The aircraft was IFR certified and all required IFR certification requirements were current. The instrument panel was destroyed by fire and no instruments were recovered.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Weather conditions at the time of the accident were clear skies with light winds from the southeast. Light conditions were dark clear night with no moon and on his approach from the northwest, the pilot would have been looking down slope towards a lighted area which was beyond the airport.

AERODROME INFORMATION

Platte Valley Airpark (18V) is located three miles northwest of the town of Hudson. It is a private facility with no airport or runway lighting. The ends of the runways are marked with reflectors which the local pilots use for orientation when making a night landing. Runways are 15/33, 4,115 feet in length and 38 feet in width. The runway surface is asphalt. The way point is Mile High VORTAC located 153 degrees 13 miles from the airport. The airpark is classified as a VFR facility. Airport elevation is 4,965 feet msl.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located at the north edge of a freshly planted winter wheat field underneath a double array of power transmission lines approximately 333 degrees one and one half miles from the airport. Ground elevation at the accident site was 5,065 feet msl. The power lines were oriented east to west and the aircraft was inverted pointing east. The closest pole was 95 feet west of the aircraft. Portions of the transmission line were wrapped around the aircraft and a large field of wheat stubble was located to the north of the accident site.

The transmission line was a double array 115,000 KVA line. Pole height was 56.5 feet above ground level and the double transmission array made of 477 MCM aluminum steel core wire was 49.21 feet above ground level at the pole. A three eights inch cadmium coated, steel static line was mounted approximately six inches below the top of each pole. (See attached diagram.)

The ground at the accident site was soft sandy material and there were no ground scars found around the aircraft to indicate any horizontal movement of the aircraft after impact.

The aircraft was inverted and burned out from the left wing root to mid span on the right wing and from the nose to the center portion of the empennage. Instrumentation and controls were melted beyond useful examination. (See attached photographs).

The engine and propeller remained attached to the airframe. Both were fire damaged with melting of accessories and external areas to a depth of approximately one inch. One propeller had leading edge gouging at approximately mid span extending over a two inch area. The other blade exhibited a leading edge cut at approximately mid span which was one half inch across and one and one quarter inches in depth. Both blades were broken loose in the hub. The propeller spinner exhibited fire damage but was otherwise intact. The propeller blades exhibited slight aft bending.

The left wing was compressed inboard from the tip and the right wing exhibited arcing holes on the outer portion of the bottom skin. The right tip tank was intact.

The ruddervators were bent downward to the horizontal and scarfing was present on the lower portion of the right ruddervator. A portion of the transmission line was found extending across the scarfed area.

FIRE

As previously described, the aircraft was consumed by post impact fire except for the outer portion of both wings and the empennage. The fuel tanks were ruptured and burn marks on the aircraft skin provided evidence of electrical arcing during the impact sequence.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

A review of the regulations concerning the marking of power lines provided information that the transmission line array did not meet the 150 foot average height between poles criteria which is used for marking requirements and the power line was more than one half mile from the extended runway centerline and did not meet the marking requirements where it crossed the extended runway centerline.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

The aircraft and aircraft documents were released to the owner on January 8, 1996. No parts were retained.

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