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N5244A accident description

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Tail numberN5244A
Accident dateNovember 19, 2003
Aircraft typeCessna T210N
LocationBellevue, ID
Near 43.446389 N, -114.218889 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On November 19, 2003, approximately 1825 mountain standard time, a Cessna T210N, N5244A, registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal cross-country flight, was reported missing after it failed to arrive at its destination, the Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN), Hailey, Idaho. The flight had departed the Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field (BOI), Boise, Idaho, approximately 1745 for the personal cross-country flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed over the route of flight and a flight plan was not filed.

On November 19, 2003, at 2113, an alert notice (ALNOT) was issued for the missing aircraft. Search and rescue efforts commenced on November 20, 2003. On November 24, 2003, at about 1600, the wreckage was located by search and rescue personnel 307 feet below and 758 feet north-northeast of the summit of Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountain, elevation 7,539 feet above sea level, is located approximately 6 nautical miles southeast of SUN. The aircraft had impacted steep sloping mountainous terrain and was destroyed. The private pilot, sole occupant of the aircraft, was fatally injured. Weather and logistic considerations precluded an on scene examination of the aircraft wreckage. On December 8, 2003, the wreckage was recovered and secured at a storage facility in Boise, Idaho.

According to a transcript of a telephone conversation that occurred between 1710:48 and 1712:57 on November 19, 2003, between the Boise, Idaho, FAA Automated Flight Service Station, (AFSS), and a person representing N5244A, the call was made for an abbreviated briefing on the en route conditions from Boise, Idaho to Hailey, Idaho. The specialist reported that the front in the area was still north of McCall, Idaho, and wasn't moving that fast. The specialist continued by stating that the forecast for SUN for the next three hours was winds variable at three, visibility more than six, and 10,000 foot overcast. The specialist stated that it looked like the front would not get down to SUN] until around midnight or after. The caller then mentioned to the specialist that there was some pretty good turbulence forecasted on his flight over to BOI earlier that morning, turbulence that he didn't pick up. The caller then queried the specialist about the level of turbulence that had been reported earlier, with the specialist responding that it had been moderate. The caller said, "...not severe, huh?" The specialist responded, "...not uh, not severe uh...nothing earth shaking. And right now I don't have anything across that route." The specialist then asked the caller if he wanted a standard briefing, which the caller declined. The briefing was completed after the specialist informed the caller that there were no changes to the NOTAMS (notices to airmen).

Air traffic control transcripts indicate that at 1816:27 the pilot contacted the SUN tower indicating he was about ten west of the beacon (Hailey non-directional beacon) at 9,500 feet mean seal level, turning back towards Sun Valley over Sluders, a visual flight rules (VFR) reporting point 6 nautical miles south-southeast of the airport. At 1816:33 the controller responded to the pilot by instructing him to report a three mile final to runway 31, the wind being from 220 degrees at five [knots], and the altimeter setting of 29.90 inches of Mercury. At 1818:38, the pilot contacted the controller stating, "...we're gonna do a three sixty out here and lose altitude if that's ok." At 1818:44 the controller approved that request. At 1823:22 the controller contacted N5244A and asked the pilot what his position was. At 1823:23 the pilot replied, "ya, we're about five from the field ah at seven thousand five hundred getting set up again." At 1823:30 the SUN controller informed the pilot of N5244A that he was cleared to land on runway 31. At 1823:34, the pilot of N5244A replied to the controller with a partial transmission of, "clear ta..." Beginning at 1827:59 the SUN controller made three requests for position reports from N5244A, each with no response. At 1829:20 the controller again tried to contact the pilot of N5244A. Again, there was no response.

In a telephone interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge(IIC), a local pilot who was flying a Cessna 182 from BOI to SUN and was in front of the accident aircraft, reported winds aloft en route and before turning onto the final approach course, "..were from the west, and were at least 50 knots." The pilot also reported that while on final approach to SUN, " wasn't turbulent but it was bumpy, and it was hard to get down and lose altitude. We had to hold a heck of a crab angle on final."

A flight instructor who was flying a Piper PA-28 in the general area just before the accident occurred reported in a written statement the he flew the NDB (non-directional beacon) final approach course that is published and received a very abrupt and sharp [wind] shear near 4 DME (distance measuring equipment) on the approach. The instructor stated that the turbulence/shear lasted for approximately 30 seconds and then he descended to 7,500 feet and flew into smooth air for the remainder of the approach and landing.


A review of FAA records revealed that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. The pilot was issued a third class medical certificate on June 30, 2003, with the limitation "must wear corrective lenses". On his most recent application for medical certificate the pilot reported he had accumulated a total time of 1,350 hours, with 40 hours in the last 6 months.


Examination of the aircraft's maintenance records revealed that the 1979-model Cessna T210N, S/N 21063324, received its most recent annual inspection on September 10, 2003, at an airframe total time of 4587.2 hours. At the annual, the Continental TSIO-520 engine, S/N 294275-R, had accumulated 267.4 hours since major overhaul. Review of the maintenance records revealed that the most recent altimeter, automatic pressure altitude reporting and static system tests had been performed on July 30, 2001. Additional review of maintenance records indicated no evidence of any uncorrected maintenance discrepancies.


At 0045, the SUN weather reporting facility, located approximately 8 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, reported wind 190 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, broken clouds at 11,000 feet, and an altimeter setting of 29.90 inches of Mercury.


The topography in the vicinity of the accident site is of predominantly high mountainous terrain, accompanied by low standing sagebrush and fresh snow which surrounds the area. Terrain rises to 7,988 feet above mean sea level (MSL) within 5 nautical miles east of the accident site, and to 8,468 feet MSL within about 5 nautical miles north of the accident site. Information provided by search and rescue personnel and a private aircraft salvage/recovery team disclosed that the airplane impacted steep sloping terrain on a southwesterly heading in a relatively level flight, right wing low attitude. From the wreckage that was recovered, the energy distribution path was approximately 100 feet in length and 25 feet wide. The majority of the fuselage was destroyed by fire and not recovered. The coordinates of the accident site were 43 degrees 26.9 minutes North latitude and 114 degrees 12.89 minutes West longitude.

An examination of the wreckage was conducted at a private salvage facility located in Boise, Idaho, on January 14, 2004. All flight control surfaces were accounted for. The left and right wings were separated from the fuselage and remained attached to the top center section. The outboard portion of the leading edge of the left wing was crushed aft. The inboard portion of the bottom of the left wing had thermal damage. Thermal damage was also observed along the top surfaces of the wing. The outboard section of the wing was found separated from the remainder of the wing. Left aileron control cable continuity was established from the aileron to the wing root. The aileron cables had separated with indications of overload at the end of the separated portion of the wing. The inboard portion of the flap exhibited thermal damage, with flap cable continuity established from the bellcrank to the actuator. The flap actuator indicated the flaps were in the retracted position.

The right wing leading edge was crushed aft with thermal damage to the top and bottom of the wing. The aileron remained partially attached to the wing, with the outboard section twisted and separated from the wing. Right aileron control cable continuity was established from the surface to the wing center section. One aileron cable was separated and had indications of overload. The right flap remained attached, with flap cable continuity established from the flap to the control mechanism. One cable was separated and exhibited overload signatures.

The elevator remained attached to the horizontal stabilizer. The left side of the horizontal stabilizer was intact and no thermal damage was observed. The right side of the stabilizer was torn at mid span and exhibited thermal damage. The right elevator was also thermally damaged. The elevator control cables exhibited thermal damage and were separated in the aft tail cone area. The remaining portions of the elevator cables were observed continuous to the forward cockpit area. The elevator trim tab actuator position was equivalent to 1 degree tab up. The elevator trim tab cables were observed to have been separated. Thermal damage was also observed in the aft tail cone area. The remaining portions of the elevator trim cables were continuous to the forward cabin area.

The rudder remained attached to the vertical fin. The rudder cables were separated and exhibited thermal damage in the aft tail cone area. Rudder control cable continuity was established from the separated cable ends to the rudder pedal assembly.

The left and right integral fuel tanks were breeched and exhibited thermal damage, and the left and right fuel caps were vented. Air was physically blown through the fuel selector valve and was determined selected to the RIGHT tank. Air was subsequently blown through the vent line and heard to enter the RIGHT tank.

The cockpit doors were void of any thermal damage, and the cockpit area was not observed. Portions of the seat frames were observed to have thermal damage. Seat belt buckles were observed with some webbing attached, with thermal damage present. No shoulder harnesses were observed.

Engine continuity and compression was established by rotating the engine crankshaft by hand. The spark plugs were gray in color and had moderate wear. The engine driven fuel pump coupling was intact. The turbocharger compressor/turbine rotated freely. One vacuum pump was installed on the engine, with the vacuum pump coupling thermally damaged and melted. The vacuum pump was disassembled; the rotor and vanes were intact. The propeller blades had separated from the propeller hub and were not observed. The engine oil filter was broken off and not located.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Blaine Country Coroner's Office, Hailey, Idaho, on December 1, 2003.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200300348001), the pilot's blood was not tested for carbon monoxide and cyanide, and no ethanol was detected in the liver. No drugs were detected in the liver.


Investigators from the NTSB, FAA, Cessna Aircraft Company, and engine manufacturer Teledyne Continental Motors performed an examination of the wreckage and the airplane's Continental TSIO-520 engine at the facilities of SP Aircraft, Boise, Idaho, on January 14, 2004. This examination did not disclose any evidence of pre-impact aircraft or engine malfunction.


The airplane wreckage was released to the owner's representative, Mr. Scott Patrick, SP Aircraft, Boise, Idaho, on January 27, 2004.

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