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N254M accident description

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Tail numberN254M
Accident dateJuly 04, 2003
Aircraft typeBeech A24-R
LocationYellow Pine, ID
Near 44.852222 N, -115.501111 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 4, 2003, about 1200 mountain daylight time, a Beech A24-R, N254M, was destroyed after colliding with forested terrain approximately four miles south of the Johnson Creek Airport (3U2), Yellow Pine, Idaho. The airplane was owned by the pilot, and was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal/pleasure flight under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 91. The private pilot and the two passengers aboard the airplane were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight. The flight originated from McCall, Idaho, approximately 30 minutes prior to the accident.

The accident airplane was the lead aircraft of a flight of two that departed McCall with a planned destination of Johnson Creek. The pilot of the number two aircraft stated that both airplanes approached the destination airport (3U2) from the North with intentions of landing on runway 17. He reported that he was approximately 1.5 miles in trail of the lead aircraft when the pilot of N254M radioed "54 Mike is going around, Johnson Creek." Witnesses on the ground reported that they observed the aircraft do a "standard" go-around and remarked that the engine powered up and the gear was retracting from the extended position during the maneuver.

Shortly after the go-around, witnesses reported that they began receiving an ELT signal on a handheld radio that was tuned to 121.5 megahertz.

Approximately two hours later, the aircraft wreckage was located below a ridgeline south of the Johnson Creek Airport.

The pilot and both passengers arrived at Johnson Creek on July 3, and planned on camping in the area during the holiday weekend. The following day (approximately 0845), the group flew to McCall, Idaho, for camping supplies and were returning to Johnson Creek when the accident occurred.


At the time of the accident the pilot-in-command (PIC) held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. The private pilot certificate was issued on February 24, 1986. Logbook records indicated that the pilot completed a flight review as well as an instrument proficiency check on June 8, 2003. Logbook records indicated that the pilot's total flight experience was approximately 454 hours, with a total of 390 hours as PIC. The pilot had logged approximately 85 hours as PIC in the accident airplane, 10 of which were logged in the 30 days preceding the accident.

Medical information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration indicated that the pilot held a second-class medical certificate, dated July 2, 2001.


The accident airplane, a 1970 Beech A24-R Sierra (serial number MC-34), was a normal category four-place single engine airplane powered by a Lycoming IO-360 series engine. The engine is rated at 200-horse power. The aircraft is equipped with an adjustable pitch propeller.

Maintenance records indicated that the last inspection, an annual inspection of the airframe, engine and propeller, was completed on February 4, 2003. The airframe total time at inspection was 2,241 hours. At the time of the inspection, the engine had accumulated approximately 2,241 hours total time, with 282 hours since major overhaul.


The 1150 weather observation (ASOS) at McCall, Idaho (KMYL), 26 miles west of the accident site, reported winds from 200 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clear skies; temperature 20 degrees Celsius; dew point 6 degrees Celsius and altimeter setting 30.16 inches.

Witnesses located at Johnson Creek Airport reported the weather, at the time of the accident, was clear skies with light winds from the south.


The Johnson Creek Airport is located in mountainous terrain adjacent to the Frank Church Wilderness area. The airport elevation is 4,933 feet above sea level, and has a single turf runway (17/35), which is 3,400 feet long and 150 feet wide. The U.S. Government Airport/Facilities Directory (A/FD) recommends landing on runway 17 and takeoff on runway 35 when wind conditions allow.

The State of Idaho Airport Facilities Directory entry for Johnson Creek states, "special considerations should be given to density altitude, turbulence, and mountain flying proficiency."


Personnel from the NTSB, FAA, and Raytheon Aircraft accessed the wreckage site on the morning of July 6, 2003. The wreckage was located in heavily wooded, down sloping terrain approximately four miles south of the Johnson Creek Airport. The elevation of the accident site was approximately 6,100 feet mean sea level (MSL). The first identified point of contact was a grouping of large conifer trees located near the ridge top, uphill from where the main wreckage came to rest.

The magnetic bearing from the conifer trees to the main wreckage was approximately 220 degrees. The terrain sloped downhill from the initial point of contact to the main wreckage, and measured approximately 204 feet.

All major airplane components were located along the wreckage distribution track.

A large outboard section of the airplane's left wing was located at the base of a tree approximately 36 feet down slope from the first identified point of contact. Leading edge damage and "U" shaped crushing was noted to the wing section. Pieces of tree bark, as well as staining consistent in color to tree bark, was noted to the leading edge surfaces of the wing.

The airplane's right wing was located approximately 70 feet down slope from the first identified point of contact. The wing was torn away from the fuselage near the wing root. Rearward accordion type crushing was noted to the outboard leading edge of the wing. The wing flap, which was found in the up position, and aileron were attached to the wing.

The main wreckage was located approximately 84 feet down slope from the first identified point of contact. The fuselage impacted terrain in a nose-low attitude and was found oriented on a magnetic heading of 170 degrees. The main wreckage consisted of the engine, engine compartment accessories, cockpit/cockpit instrumentation, cabin section and empennage. The forward section of the fuselage and partially attached engine assembly was pushed aft and bent toward the starboard side of the fuselage. The cockpit controls and instrumentation sustained extensive impact damage. The windshield was fragmented and pieces of windscreen material were found down slope of the wreckage. The inboard section of the left wing was partially attached to the fuselage. Leading edge damage and "U" shaped bending was noted to the wing section. Negligible damage was noted to the empennage and associated control surfaces. All movable control surfaces remained attached in their respective positions and control cable continuity was established.

The propeller hub assembly was found adjacent to the main wreckage. The assembly separated as a unit from the crankshaft flange. Crushing type deformity was noted to the spinner. Both propeller blades were found attached to the hub assembly. The number one blade displayed leading edge damage and "S" type bending. The blade was found rotated approximately 180 degrees from its installed position and a section of the blade tip had broken away from the main body of the blade. The number two blade exhibited extensive leading edge damage with aft bending and chord wise twisting deformation. Chord wise scratches to the cambered side of the blade were noted.

Pieces of the engine cowling and right wing were located down slope from the main wreckage. The section of wing was identified as the end of the wreckage track, approximately 120 feet beyond the main wreckage and fuselage. Numerous pieces of cockpit components, contents from the cabin area and fragments from the frontal area of the airplane were scattered between the main wreckage and the end of the wreckage track.

A section of conifer tree, measuring approximately 31 inches in length and 5 inches in diameter, was found at the midway point of the wreckage track. Fresh diagonal cuts were noted to both ends of the tree section.


Postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted by the Valley County Coroner's Office on July 7, 2003. According to the postmortem report, the pilot's cause of death was attributed to "Blunt force trauma due to an aircraft accident."

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted a toxicology examination on August 13, 2003. According to the postmortem toxicology report, the following substances were detected during the analysis:

Citalopram (amount unspecified) was detected in the pilot's liver and urine. Citalopram is a prescription antidepressant, also known by the trade name Celexa.

Diphenhydramine (amount unspecified) was detected in the pilot's liver and urine. Diphenhydramine is an over-the-counter antihistamine, also known by the trade name Benadryl.

Quinine (amount unspecified) was detected in the pilot's urine. Quinine is commonly found in tonic water and is also used to treat malaria.

Acetaminophen (18.77 ug/ml, ug/g) was detected in the pilot's urine. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter pain-reliever and fever-reducer. Acetaminophen is also known by the trade name Tylenol.

The pilot was under treatment for chronic daily headaches, which had been treated with citalopram and gabapentin at the time of his accident. He had previously reported to his neurologist difficulty sleeping due to the headaches. He had not reported the headaches or medical treatment for them to the FAA on an Application for Airman Medical Certificate less than one week following his initial neurology evaluation during which he indicated having headaches for over a year.

Additional medical records information, as well as a copy of the CAMI toxicology report, is attached.


Following the accident, the aircraft wreckage was transported to SP Aircraft, Boise, Idaho, for additional examination and assessment.

On September 16, 2003, representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board and Lycoming conducted the engine examination.

Impact damage, to include rearward crushing and aft bending, was noted to the lower frontal area of the engine assembly. Both crankcase halves, cylinders assemblies, and valve train components were intact. Four holes were drilled in the top of the engine case to accommodate a lighted bore scope examination. Visual examination of the internal engine components, to include the accessory gear drive train, revealed no evidence of lubrication depravation, foreign debris or mechanical failure.

Both magnetos, and respective ignition harnesses, remained attached to the engine assembly. The magnetos were removed and tested. Both produced spark when manually rotated.

The top spark plugs were removed. The spark plug electrodes were undamaged and gray in color. According to the Champion Aviation "Check-A-Plug" AV-27 Chart, the gray color corresponded to normal operation.

Disassembly and examination of the engine, and associated components, revealed no evidence of a pre-impact failure.

On January 14, 2004, the airplane, engine and associated components were released to Phoenix Aviation Managers.

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