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N141F accident description

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Tail numberN141F
Accident dateJune 08, 2003
Aircraft typeAviat A-1A
LocationSandpoint, ID
Near 48.426389 N, -116.421389 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 8, 2003, approximately 1530 Pacific daylight time, an Aviat Husky A-1A, N141F, impacted the terrain near the northern edge of an open field about 10 miles north of Sandpoint, Idaho. The private pilot received fatal injuries, his passenger received serious injuries, and the aircraft, which was owned and operated by the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal pleasure flight, which departed Sandpoint Airport about 30 minutes earlier, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed. The ELT, which was activated by the accident sequence, was turned off at the scene.

According to the passenger, the purpose of the flight was to fly over a group of individuals who were gathered near a pond about one-quarter mile north of the accident site, in order to drop candy to those gathered below. It was reportedly the intention of the pilot to land in the open field after the last candy drop, so that he and his passenger could join the people on the ground.

After takeoff, the pilot headed to the area of the pond, and then flew over the group of individuals, passing from north to south. He made a total of three passes, during each of which the passenger dropped candy. After each pass, the pilot reversed course, and then flew back over the group again. After the third pass, the pilot told the passenger that the next one would be the last, and then he would be landing the aircraft in the field.

After he passed over the pond the third time, the pilot continued toward the south end of the open field. When he was about one-half way down the field, he made a left descending turn, and then flew north about 300 feet from the east edge of the field, where a pickup truck was proceeding north toward the pond. According to witnesses, the aircraft flew past the pickup at a very slow airspeed, while about 40 to 50 feet above the ground. As the aircraft flew past the truck, the passenger waved to those riding in it, but neither he nor the occupants of the truck remembered seeing the pilot do any waving. After passing by the truck, the pilot continued to the north at the same height. As the aircraft approached the approximately 75 feet high trees at the north end of the field, the passenger started to think that maybe the pilot was going to turn slightly to the right, and then fly through the opening in the trees at the northeast corner of the field. Instead, the pilot continued heading toward the trees. When the aircraft was almost to the trees, it banked slightly to the left, its nose came up, engine power was increased significantly, and then almost immediately after the pilot stated an expletive, it rolled to the right and impacted the ground in a nose-down attitude.

One witness in the truck said that when the plane flew by, it looked like it was going "too slow," and that after it started its bank to the west "…it looked like it just stopped in mid-air," and then turned a "real slow half circle," and then went straight down.

According to both the passenger and the individuals in the truck, the engine sounded normal during the low pass, and except for the rapid increase in power as the nose came up just prior to the trees, they did not hear or see anything that would indicate there was any problem with the engine. In addition, the passenger said he did not hear any noises or see any actions by the pilot that would lead him to believe that the pilot was having any problems with the aircraft's flight controls.

In addition to the passenger and the individuals in the truck, some of the people at the pond were paying attention to the sound of the aircraft as it proceeded back north. To those individuals, the pilot's reduction of power for the descent and low pass made them think he was in the process of landing in the field. But they eventually heard the engine accelerate to what sounded like a high power setting, and then about four to six seconds later they heard the sound of the aircraft impacting the terrain. According to these individuals, the engine sounded smooth and normal, and there were no unusual engine sounds, except for the fact that the engine suddenly accelerated to a high power setting.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The aircraft impacted the terrain in a near-vertical attitude at 48 degrees, 25.45 minutes North, 116 degrees, 25.09 minutes West. It made contact with branches on the south side of a 75 foot high tree located just off the north end of the field, knocking off portions of four branches, which were scattered around the accident site. The impact point was 15 feet south of the most southern edge of the tree line at the very northern edge of the field. The propeller and front of the engine were buried approximately two feet into the soft muddy soil. The firewall and instrument panel had been pushed up and aft, partially intruding into the area occupied by the pilot. Although its skin was slightly wrinkled, the right wing maintained its basic shape, except for where the leading edge was crushed back at an angle of about 30 degrees, starting just outboard of the inboard edge of the aileron, and proceeding outward to its tip. The left wing maintained its structure to a point adjacent to the outboard edge of the flap, but from there outward it was significantly deformed, with the leading edge being crushed up and aft, and the trailing edge being bent underneath and forward. The aft lift strut on the right side and both lift struts on the left side were bent/buckled near their midpoints. The fuselage, from a point adjacent to the aft spar attach fittings, was essentially undamaged. The flaps were found in the full-down position, and the flap actuation bell crank mechanism, situated inside the left cockpit wall, was in the full down position. Flight control continuity was established to all flight controls, and the elevator trim was found in the mid-range position.

The propeller, which was inspected after removal from the soft terrain, did not show any chord-wise scratching, but there was a slight burnishing of its surface and minimal longitudinal twisting of both blades. Both blades where bent aft approximately 20 degrees starting at a point about mid-span. Both magnetos were determined to still produce spark, and all cylinders created compression when a thumb was placed over an open spark plug hole and the propeller was rotated. Fuel was present in both wings, in the gascolator, and the line to the carburetor. The propeller control was in the high rpm (flat pitch) position, and the carburetor heat was in the off (cold) position. The magneto switch was in the both-on position, and the mixture was set at full rich. Except for impact damage, there was no indication of any abnormality or anomaly that would have contributed to a loss of engine power or an uncommanded flight control movement.

The aircraft, engine, and propeller logs were not provided to the investigative team, and therefore the date of the last annual could not be determined, and a review of recent maintenance activities was not able to be conducted.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Although it was essentially clear at the accident site, with only a few high clouds scattered around the area, a number of witnesses reported that thunderstorms where starting to build a short distance to the north. They said that when the thunderstorms started to build, the winds in the area of the crash occasionally became gusty and variable in direction. The passenger reported that while they were flying in the area of the accident site, there were times when the flight was smooth and seemingly unaffected by wind, and other times when the wind seemed gusty and the ride was bumpy. The passenger did not recall any significant wind gusts or bumpiness at the time the aircraft was approaching the tree line. Witnesses further stated that within 30 minutes to one hour after the crash, there were large dark rain clouds over the site, and the winds had become strong and gusty.

The 1535 aviation surface weather observation (METAR) at Coeur D' Alene Air Terminal, which is located approximately 35 miles south of the accident site, recorded winds of 230 degrees at nine knots gusting to 14 knots.

ADDITIONAL DATA AND INFORMATION

A forensic toxicological examination of the pilot was completed by the Federal Aviation Administration's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, and it was determined that there was no carbon monoxide or cyanide in the pilot's blood, and no ethanol or detectable prescription or non-prescription drugs in the pilot's urine.

Although no autopsy was performed, the State of Idaho Certificate of Death concluded that the cause of death was massive blunt force trauma to the head and neck, as a result of an accidental aircraft crash.

Because the pilot's flight log could not be located, the date of the pilot's last flight review was not able to be determined.

The aircraft was released to Discount Aircraft Salvage, of Deer Park, Washington, on June 9, 2003.

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