Plane crash map Find crash sites, wreckage and more

N4137T accident description

Go to the Georgia map...
Go to the Georgia list...

Tail numberN4137T
Accident dateMarch 15, 2003
Aircraft typeCessna 320D
LocationPerry, GA
Near 32.510556 N, -83.767223 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 15, 2003, at 2226 eastern standard time, a Cessna 320D, N4137T, registered to and operated by a private pilot, collided with trees 8 miles south of Perry-Houston County Airport near Perry, Georgia. The personal flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Instrument weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane was substantially damaged. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. The flight departed Abernathy Field, Pulaski, Tennessee at approximately 1915 central standard time on March 15, 2003.

According to airport personnel at Abernathy Field in Pulaski, Tennessee, the flight landed in the late afternoon, and the pilot requested the airplane be topped off with fuel. The pilot asked to use a truck so he could go into town to get something to eat. While the pilot and passenger were in town, the airplane was topped-off with 104.1 gallons of 100-low lead aviation fuel. After the pilot and passenger returned to the airport, they conducted casual conversation about the flight and purchase of the airplane with the airport personnel for about 45 minutes. At 1905 CST, the pilot paid for the fuel and departed approximately 10 minutes later. The airport personnel watched the airplane taxi for takeoff, heard the pilot completed a long run-up, and watched the airplane climb out of sight.

At 2138:44, eastern standard time, the pilot established radio contact with Atlanta Approach Control. The pilot reported a cruise altitude of 7, 500 feet and a 138- degree heading. The pilot was issued the current altimeter setting and at 2154:33, he requested current weather for Perry, Georgia. At 2155:29, the nearest weather reporting facility, Macon, Georgia, reported 600-foot ceiling and 7 miles visibility. At 2213:29, the pilot was asked if he was instrument qualified and the pilot stated that he was instrument qualified. When the controller asked the pilot for his current flight conditions, the pilot reported that he was at 1300 feet and requested a direct heading to Perry. At 2224:36, the controller told the pilot that the airport was about his two o'clock position and 10 miles. At 2226:04, radio and radar contact was lost with the airplane.

Witnesses near the accident site observed a fireball followed by a crashing sound. Within minutes, the airplane wreckage was located, and the passenger was rescued from the airplane. At 2237:33, Macon Automated Flight Service Station received a telephone call from the Georgia State Patrol who asked if they knew of a downed airplane about ten miles east of Macon.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma revealed the airman held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and airplane multiengine land. His pilot certificate was issued on February 27, 1988. The review of medical records on file with the FAA revealed the pilot held a third class medical certificate issued on February 5, 2003. Further review of the pilot medical records revealed that he reported 2865 civilian flight hours on February 5, 2003.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a fixed wing, multiengine, 1966 Cessna 320D. It weighed 5200 pounds and had 6 seats installed. The airplane was equipped with two TSIO-520-B-9 reciprocating 285 horsepower engines, manufactured by Teledyne Continental Motors. The right engine was rebuilt on November 13, 1979 and the left engine was rebuilt on September 10, 1980. The last recorded annual inspection was conducted on March 13, 2003. Refueling records on file at Pulaski Airport, Pulaski, Tennessee revealed that N4137 was topped of with 104.1 gallons of 100LL avgas on March 15, 2003. According to a recovered bill of sale, the pilot purchased the airplane on March 13, 2003, and the flight was enroute home when the accident occurred.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was in Macon, Georgia, approximately 20 miles north of the accident site. The 2254:00, weather observation from Macon was: winds 030 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 8 statute miles, ceiling overcast at 600 feet, temperature 51 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 48 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter 30.00 inches of mercury. No record of the pilot receiving a preflight weather briefing was recovered.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Examination of the accident site disclosed that wreckage debris was scattered over an area 850 feet long and 75 feet wide. The wreckage path was orientated on a 010-magnetic heading. The examination of the wreckage path also revealed several fresh gouges in the dirt, and there were paint chips and other debris from the airframe embedded in the ground. At the beginning of the wreckage path there were several freshly broken trees with branches that were diagonally slashed. The slash branches were scattered the width of the initial wreckage path. Both trailing and leading edge wing skin and structure materials were also scattered at the beginning of the wreckage path.

There were also several fire-damaged pieces of airframe material scattered throughout the wreckage path. The fire-damaged rudder assembly was lodged in a tree about 400 feet south of the main wreckage. Other fire damage debris included both wing tip tanks scattered 50 and 300 feet north of the first freshly damaged tree. Both left and right outboard wing panels were fire damaged and torn from the wing assemblies' outboard the respective engine assembly.

The main wreckage, which consisted of the airframe center section cockpit and empennage, was wrapped around the base of a pecan tree 725 feet north of the first freshly damaged pecan tree along the wreckage path. The left engine assembly was 75 feet northwest of the main airframe, and the right engine was located about 150 feet northwest of the cockpit and empennage sections. Both propeller assemblies were separated from the engine crankshafts and exhibited "S" type bending with chordwise scratching and trailing edge damage. Both propeller assemblies were located about 450 feet from the first freshly damaged trees.

External examination of the left engine revealed the starter, vacuum pump, and tachometer separated from the engine. The oil sump was crushed upward; the number five and six fuel injector lines were fractured at the fuel nozzle and the turbocharger missing. The right engine revealed damage to the alternator, the number one and five cylinders, the number one, three and five top and bottom spark plugs, the oil sump and a bent exhaust runner.

Both engines were recovered from the accident site and examined. The engines were partially disassembled and gear train continuity was confirmed. Cylinder compression was obtained and both magnetos ignited. The fuel pump drive couplings form both engines were intact and no abnormalities were found.

The fuel selector valves were both separated from their normally installed positions, and their in-flight selected positions were not determined. Both wing tanks were also damaged and the fuel quantity at the time of the accident was not determined. However, according to first responders to the accident site the smell of fuel was present at the time they arrived on site.

The flight control cables were separated in multiple locations. All flight control surfaces were located at the accident site. The cockpit and cabin area were completely torn open. Both flight and engine instruments were separated from the panel mounts and scattered throughout the wreckage. A section of the instrument panel was located 640 feet from the first freshly damaged trees. The pilot side directional gyro, turn and bank indicators, attitude gyros were recovered and subsequently examined. The examination revealed no smear marks or stationary gouges.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed no carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol or alcohol was detected in the pilot's system. There was diphenhydramine present in urine and 0.101 ug/ml of diphenhydramine detected in blood. Tramadol and ranitidine were present in both blood and urine, 10.57 ug/ml of acetaminophen and 181.1 ug/ml of salicyate were both detected in urine.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Review of radar data revealed that the airplane was on a steady course until 2222:30, at which time it was observed at 1300 feet, flying a 137-degree heading at 164 knots of ground speed. Then a minute and two seconds later at 2223:32, the airplane was observed at 1200 feet, a 356-degree heading at 144 knots of ground speed. Radar data revealed that the airplane was last observed at 1300 feet, flying a 279-degree heading, at 177 knots of ground speed.

The airplane wreckage was released to Atlanta Air Recovery of Griffin, Georgia.

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