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N27069 accident description

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Tail numberN27069
Accident dateJuly 04, 2002
Aircraft typeCessna 335
LocationTensed, ID
Near 47.195277 N, -116.997222 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 4, 2002, approximately 0958 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 335, N27069, registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with an open field located about four nautical miles northwest of Tensed, Idaho. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated from Pullman/Moscow Regional Airport, Pullman, Washington, about 20 minutes prior to the accident. Family members reported that the purpose of the flight was a day trip to Sandpoint, Idaho.

Residents in the area of the accident site reported hearing the aircraft overhead and stated that the engine(s) were making a "popping" sound and/or lost power. One witness had observed the aircraft flying in a northerly direction at 5,000 to 7,000 feet. The witness stated that "I spotted the plane I heard a (single) engine stop and the plane dip - loss of altitude - the engine caught and the plane re-gained altitude and turned to the west and headed south." The witness heard an engine stop once again, the aircraft lost altitude and then the engine started and the airplane regained level flight as it continued to the south with the engines running smoothly. None of the witnesses saw the collision, but heard the aircraft hit the ground. The aircraft collided with a soft fallow field on rolling terrain. Wreckage was distributed over the ground for approximately 390 feet.


At the time of the accident, the pilot held a private pilot certificate for single and multi-engine aircraft with an instrument rating. Family members were asked to provide the pilot's flight logbook for review, however, to date that information has not been received. At the time of the pilot's last FAA medical examination for a class three medical certificate dated April 18, 2002, the pilot reported a total flight time of 2,500 hours. No waivers or limitations were listed at the time of the medical examination.

The pilot-rated passenger held a private pilot certificate for single-engine aircraft. Federal Aviation Administration airmen and medical records indicated that the passenger held a class three medical certificate dated July 29, 1977. At the time of the examination, the passenger reported a total flight time of 41 hours. Family members reported that the pilot rated passenger only flew as a passenger and had not flown in years as pilot-in-command.


Aircraft documents and maintenance records indicated that the aircraft was manufactured in 1979. The Certificate of Registration for the aircraft was issued to the pilot in October 1980. Maintenance records indicated that both Continental TSIO-520-EB engines were overhauled in April 1997, at a tach time of 1469.2 hours. The last annual/100 hour inspection was accomplished on both the airframe and engines on July 3, 2001, at a tach time of 1547 hours, and 78 hours since engine overhaul. On the day of the accident, the tach time recorded in the aircraft was 1549 hours; 2 hours since the last annual inspection.


The nearest weather reporting facility to the accident site was the departure airport at Pullman/Moscow, located 26 nautical miles south of the accident site. The 0953 surface observation reported 10 statute miles visibility with few clouds at 4,100 feet. The temperature was 14 degrees C (57 degrees F). The altimeter setting was 30.08" Hg. The winds were from 230 degrees at 11 knots.

The surface observation at Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, airport located 37 nautical miles north of the accident site reported the weather at 0955, as 10 statute miles visibility with broken clouds at 4,600 feet. The temperature was 14 degrees C (57 degrees F). The altimeter setting was 30.05" Hg. The winds were from 250 degrees at 10 knots.

The surface observation at Spokane, Washington, International Airport, located 37 nautical miles northwest of the accident site reported the weather at 0956, as 10 statute miles visibility with thin scattered clouds at 5,500 feet and scattered clouds at 20,000 feet. The temperature was 15 degrees C (59 degrees F). The altimeter setting was 30.03" Hg. The winds were from 210 degrees at 14 knots.


The wreckage was located in an open fallow field at 47 degrees 11.43 north latitude and 116 degree 59.50 west longitude. The accident site elevation was 2,560 feet. The terrain was rolling and the soil was soft, dry and plowed with no rocks.

The wreckage distribution path from the first ground disturbance to the main fuselage section was measured 110 degrees magnetic. The total length of the wreckage distribution path was measured for 390 feet. (See Wreckage Distribution Attachment, and Damage to Aircraft attachment) Several ground impact craters and ground disturbances described as sliding signatures over the soil were noted throughout the path. These signatures traveled from the first disturbance to 117 feet where a five foot section of the left wing with the auxiliary fuel tank (1) was located. Up to this point only small pieces of debris were noted.

At 126 feet, another section of the left wing with the electric fuel pump (2) attached was found.

At 145 feet, the aft section of the left wing tip tank (3) was located.

At 150 feet and 30 feet left of centerline, the left side propeller assembly (9) was located.

At 159 feet, and ten feet right of centerline, a four foot section of the left wing with the battery attached (4) was located.

At 176 feet, the tail section and empennage (5) was located. This section was positioned inverted. About nine feet of the empennage remained with the horizontal and vertical stabilizers attached. The empennage section was bent over flat to the right side. The left horizontal stabilizer remained attached with no leading edge damage noted. The elevator remained attached at the outboard hinge. The right side horizontal stabilizer remained attached. The outboard three feet was bent upward about 30 degrees and the skin was torn. The elevator remained attached as well as the elevator trim tab. The vertical stabilizer remained attached with the rudder attached at the hinges. The rudder was severely deformed. The trim tab was attached and bent over to the right side. The rudder and elevator cables to include the trim tabs were pulled apart in tension.

Near the tail section, the left side aileron (6) was located. The five foot aileron section separated at the hinges. The trim tab was attached.

At 216 feet, the right engine was located with the propeller assembly attached.

At 249 feet, the center section of the left wing tip fuel tank with red strobe light (7) was located.

At 270 feet, the forward section of the left wing tip fuel tank with fuel cap in place (8) was located.

At 271 feet, a 13-foot section of the main fuselage (11) was located positioned upright. The nose was pointing to 360 degrees. The nose section to include the nose landing gear separated (12) and was located at 289 feet. The cockpit and cabin were intact. The empennage broke off just aft of the main entry door. The section of the left wing from the wing root to the engine nacelle was folded under the fuselage section. The left main landing gear was partially extended. The left flap was in place and severely deformed. The right wing remained attached at the wing root outboard six feet to the engine nacelle. The right engine separated from the firewall. The right main landing gear was retracted in the wheel well. The right flap was attached at the hinges and retracted.

At 300 feet, the outboard 11 feet of the right wing with the tip fuel tank partially attached was located. The aileron remained attached at the inboard hinges. The auxiliary fuel tank was ruptured and an odor of fuel was present.

At 375 feet, the left engine (14) was located.

At 390 feet, the starter motor was located.


An autopsy was performed on both the pilot and pilot rated passenger by George R. Lindholm, M.D. located in Spokane, Washington. The result of the findings reported that the pilot was "demonstrated to have prominent anterior facial injuries which had resulted in partial tearing of the cerebral peduncles of the brain, such that it is reasonable to certify the cause of death as partial midbrain lacerations due to blunt impact injury to the head." The autopsy report also indicated a prominent area of scarification of the apex of the heart extending to the anterior septal region of the left ventricular myocardium was identified, despite the presence of only mild coronary disease. Family members reported to the Pathologist, and to the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge, that the pilot may have experienced a cardiac event several years ago, but to their knowledge, had recovered completely and not experienced any other problems since.

The Pathologist reported that the pilot rated passenger sustained multiple blunt impact injuries. The cause of death was reported as cervical spinal cord compression due to neck fracture, due to blunt impact injury to the head.

Toxicology performed by Pathology Associates Medical Laboratory reported blood alcohol - negative, and urine drug screen - negative for both the pilot and the pilot rated passenger.


Interviews were conducted with the fueler who fueled the aircraft on July 3, 2002, and the owner of Interstate Aviation, at the Pullman-Moscow Airport. The owner of Interstate Aviation reported that he observed the pilot performing touch-and-go landings on either July 1 or 2. At the completion of the flight, the owner asked the pilot if he needed fuel. The pilot reported that he did not. The owner stated that it had been about six months since he had seen the aircraft or pilot fly.

The fueler reported that on July 3, 2002, the pilot had driven to Interstate Aviation and requested that the aircraft be fueled at his hangar. The fueler reported to the pilot that as soon as he was finished fueling a Cessna 340, he would meet the pilot at the hangar. The fueler stated that he had been employed with Interstate Aviation since January 2002, and it was the first time that he had talked with the pilot or seen this aircraft.

When the fueler arrived at the hangar, he asked the pilot what type of fuel he wanted in the aircraft. The pilot seemed uncertain as to what fuel should be in his aircraft and asked the fueler what type of fuel was used for the Cessna 340. The fueler stated that 100LL was used. The pilot then instructed the fueler to top off the tip tanks with 100LL. The fueler stated that he topped off the left side tip tank with about 20 gallons of fuel. He then proceeded to top of the right side and put in 15 gallons before the fuel truck ran out of fuel. The fueler told the pilot that he would go and get more fuel and return to complete fueling the right side and lock up the hangar for the pilot. The pilot agreed and the fueler left to fill the truck. When the fueler returned, he found that the hangar was locked and the pilot was leaving the airport. The fueler stated that he estimated that the fuel level in the right tip tank was about two inches below the filler opening and stated that it was probably about five gallons short of a full tank. No fuel was put into the auxiliary tanks.

The Pilot's Operating Handbook indicated that the tip (main) tanks hold 50 gallons each of fuel. The auxiliary (wing) tanks hold 31.5 gallons each.

On July 8, 2002, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, Cessna Aircraft Company, Federal Aviation Administration and Teledyne Continental Motors continued the examination of the airframe and engines at Discount Aircraft, Deer Park, Washington.

Airframe examination confirmed only partial flight control continuity to the primary control surfaces due to the separation of the flight control surfaces from the fuselage. All of the control surface counterweights were accounted for. Flight control cable continuity was established from the bell cranks in the tail section to the forward pulley sector in the empennage. All cables displayed tension overload. Continuity to the rudder was established from the surface to the pulley in the empennage. Continuity was not established for the ailerons due to separation of the wings in several sections. Trim tab settings were inconclusive due to extensive damage to the surfaces and trim tab actuators. The flaps were fully retracted according to the position of the flap chain assemblies on the flap actuator.

The left side fuel selector handle in the cockpit was positioned in the right main tank position. The selector handle could be freely rotated without feeling any restrictions. The left side fuel selector valve cable exhibited tension overloading and was positioned beyond the stop pin at the off position. The left side valve was disassembled and approximately 4 tablespoons of fuel was observed in the fuel bowl. The screen was clean and the bottom of the bowl contained some small particles of debris.

The right side fuel selector handle in the cockpit was positioned in the right auxiliary tank position with no free play observed at the handle. The right wing, outboard of the nacelle separated from the inboard section. The right side fuel selector valve was positioned between the right auxiliary tank position and the right main tank position. The detent to the auxiliary tank position exhibited a gouging signature within it. The right side valve was disassembled and contained no fuel. The screen was clean and the bottom of the bowl contained small particles of debris.

Examination of the left engine (s/n: 510525) revealed that it separated completely from the firewall and nacelle. The mounting cradle was still attached to the engine. The propeller hub was pulled away from the mounting bolts with part of the flange broken off. The crankshaft rotated freely with gear and valve train continuity established. Thumb compression was noted to all cylinders. Both the left and right magnetos were rotated by hand and spark was produced from all leads. Top and bottom spark plugs were removed and normal operating signatures were noted. The fuel manifold was disassembled and a trace amount of fuel was present in the chamber. The diaphragm was pliable and the screen was clear of contaminants.

Impact damage was noted to the starter which was broken off exposing the gear; the vacuum pump was broken off; the fuel pump was damaged, however the drive turned freely. The fuel control unit screen was clean with a smell of fuel noted. The number six rocker box cover was broken off, however, the rocker arms were intact. The throttle body was intact. The butterfly valve was found closed. The valve moved freely. The throttle linkage was broken off. The mixture was positioned about mid-point and the arm moved freely. The propeller, mixture and throttle linkage/cables were stretched and broken. The exhaust was crushed and broken. The turbocharger was broken off. The compressor turned freely and the blades were intact. The waste gate actuator was partially broken from the mount. The front of the oil sump was crushed. The front of the lower crankcase was broken. The propeller governor was broken at the base with the lever all the way forward. The oil filter was cut open and the filament was clean.

The left side propeller assembly separated from the crankshaft flange. The spinner was crushed aft. Propeller blade "A" exhibited no leading or trailing edge damage. The blade was bent aft a smooth arc about 10 to 15 degrees. Minor polishing was noted at the tip.

Propeller blade "B" exhibited no leading or trailing edge damage. Minor blade back polishing was noted near the tip. Minor "S" bending aft was noted.

Propeller blade "C" exhibited no leading or trailing edge damage. Minor polishing on the blade back was noted about mid-range. Aft twisting about 40 degrees was noted to the blade.

Examination of the right engine (

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