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N70FJ accident description

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Tail numberN70FJ
Accident dateMarch 15, 2003
Aircraft typeCessna 501
LocationCarey, ID
Near 43.4475 N, -114.001944 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On March 15, 2003, approximately 1425 mountain standard time, a Cessna 501, N70FJ, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following an uncontrolled descent near Carey, Idaho. The airplane was registered to Dancing Wind Aviation LLC, of Livingston, Montana, and operated by the pilot. The airline transport pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal cross-country flight. The flight originated from the Salt Lake International Airport (SLC), Salt Lake City, Utah, at 1340, and was destined for the Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN), Hailey, Idaho.

According to initial data from the Western Air Defense Sector, McCord Air Force Base, Tacoma, Washington, and the Salt Lake Air Route Traffic Control Center (SLC ARTCC), N70FJ departed flight level 350 for flight level 240 at 1359:57. At 1407:08 the pilot reported that he was at flight level 240, and at 1407:11 SLC ARTCC cleared the aircraft to descend and maintain flight level 190. At 1408:25 the pilot queried SLC ARTCC "if aircraft were missing the approach into Hailey?" At 1408:29 the controller told the pilot, "You can make it in on the RNAV (Area Navigation) approach sir. Are you able the RNAV?" The pilot replied, "That's affirmative." At 1408:37 the controller further advised the pilot, "The last one made it in on an RNAV just at the bare minimums and Hailey says it's getting worse there, so I got a couple stacked up right now. I'll get you lower and a holding pattern set up. I'll put you in a hold at Oreye if that's going to work for you sir. N70FJ, cleared direct Oreye. Expect holding at Oreye and expect the RNAV approach from there once I get the pattern clear sir." At 1409:07 N70FJ confirmed "direct Oreye for Fox Juliet." At 1409:09 the controller cleared the aircraft to 15,000 feet, which was followed by N70FJ confirming the clearance. At 1410:21 the controller instructed the pilot of N70FJ to expedite his descent to 16,000 feet for traffic. There was no response. From 1410:33 to 1417:21, SLC ARTCC made ten attempts to establish radio communications with N70FJ, all of which proved unsuccessful. At 1417:26 the controller requested N70FJ to "ident if you hear me." At 1417:39 the controller confirmed that she had received N70FJ's ident, that she had not received any replies to her previous attempts to contact the aircraft, and that if possible the pilot might try using another radio to establish communications with SLC ARTCC. The controller also instructed the pilot to descend and maintain 15,000 feet. At 1418:36 the controller cleared the aircraft direct to the Oreye intersection for the GPS (global positioning system) approach and to acknowledge with an ident. There was no further radio communication or radar contact with N70FJ. Post accident data provided by SLC ARTCC indicates center received the ident at 1417:35 reporting 19,700. The ident remained on for one (1) minute until 1418:35.

On March 15, 2003, at 1527, an alert notification (ALNOT) was issued for N70FJ. At approximately 0700 on March 16, 2003, the aircraft wreckage was located in an area of mountainous terrain bordered by a valley running east to west 10 nautical miles north of Carey, Idaho, and 15 nautical miles east-southeast of SUN. On March 18, 2003, the aircraft wreckage was recovered by personnel from Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona.


The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a multiengine land rating and a Cessna 500 type rating, commercial privileges for single engine land and sea airplanes, and private privileges for helicopters. The pilot obtained his Cessna 500 type rating on April 12, 1986, and his most recent single pilot proficiency check for the Cessna 500 was satisfactorily completed on May 24, 2002. Records furnished by a family member indicated that the pilot had accumulated a total of 1,382 hours of total flying time in Cessna 500 series aircraft from March, 1985, through December, 1999.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aeromedical records, dated April 11, 2002, the pilot reported having 14,000 total flying hours with 150 hours in the 6 months prior to the examination. The pilot held a second class medical certificate with the limitation "must wear corrective lenses".


N70FJ, a Cessna 501 Citation (certified for single pilot operation), serial number 0073, was issued an airworthiness certificate on July 31, 1978. The airplane was configured to carry six passengers and two pilots, and was equipped with two Williams/Rolls FJ44-2A fanjet engines rated at 2,300 pounds of thrust per engine.

The Cessna Citation Operating Manual limitations for single pilot operations include in part: "1 boom microphone or headset mounted microphone." The operating manual states in part: "The pilot-in-command must have a C-500 Type Rating and meet the requirements of FAR 61.58 for two-pilot operation, or FAR 61.57 for single pilot operation (Model 501 only).

The aircraft was modified in accordance with numerous Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) during the period of August 2002 through October 2002. These modifications included the Eagle SP recontoured wing leading edges, increased gross weight, increased fuel capacity, installation of the Williams/Rolls FJ44-2A engines, complete interior refurbishment, installation of Keith Products air conditioning system, aft baggage compartment, and numerous interior modifications. There were also numerous avionics installations and alterations to the aircraft, including Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS), Multi Function Display (MFD), and a Global Positioning System (GPS).

The last completed Aircraft Flight Log page includes flight information through March 10, 2003, which included an aircraft total time of 7118.0. The flight time for the final four flights between March 13th and March 15th were estimated by the Flying J, Inc., Aviation Department, based on their knowledge of the pilot's activity during this time period. The estimated total aircraft time at the time of the accident was 7120.2 hours, and the total time for each engine was 91.8 hours.


The Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) for Hailey, Idaho (SUN), issued March 15, at 1030, valid March 15, 1100 to March 16, 1100, indicated wind 160 degrees at 5 knots, visibility greater than 6 miles, showers in the vicinity, scattered clouds at 2,000 feet, overcast clouds at 6,000 feet; temporary 1100 to 1400, light rain showers, broken clouds at 2,000 feet, overcast clouds at 6,000 feet. From 1400, wind 160 degrees at 5 knots, visibility greater than 6 statute miles, light rain showers, overcast clouds at 2,500 feet; temporary from 1400 to 1800 visibility 4 statute miles, light rain showers, mist, overcast clouds at 1,500 feet.

At 1346, the weather reporting facility at Hailey, Idaho (SUN), located approximately 15 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, reported wind 260 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 15 statute miles, showers in the vicinity, scattered clouds at 2,000 feet, overcast clouds at 3,000 feet, temperature 7 degrees C, dew point 1 degree C, and an altimeter setting of 29.62 inches of Mercury.

At 1446, the SUN weather reporting facility reported wind 350 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 20 statute miles, overcast clouds at 2,700 feet, temperature 6 degrees C, dew point 1 degree C, and an altimeter setting of 29.61 inches of Mercury.

A Senior NTSB meteorologist reported that occasional moderate rime/mixed icing was present between the freezing level and FL 220, and that there were no Non-convective or Convective SIGMETs issued relevant to the accident area.

Pilot reports (PIREPS) indicate that light to moderate mixed icing was present in the region.


A global positioning system (GPS) revealed that the accident site was at latitude 043 degrees 26.85 minutes North and longitude 114 degrees 00.12 minutes West at an elevation of 5,630 feet. The area consists primarily of rolling hills surrounded by high mountainous terrain in all geographical quadrants, accompanied by sparse sagebrush vegetation. The aircraft impacted a rocky drainage trench near the base of rock outcropping at an impact angle estimated to be approximately 40 degrees nose down. Evidence of the initial impact was a smooth ground scar area 6 feet in length by 2 feet in width, oriented on a magnetic heading of 200 degrees. Twenty-five feet forward of the initial impact scar was an impact crater which measured 20 feet by 10 feet, and approximately 18 inches deep. Debris comprised of components of the airplane was located on an energy path of 240 degrees magnetic, extending 1,023 feet from the impact crater. Lateral distribution of the wreckage extended approximately 250 feet on both sides of the energy path.

The main body of the wreckage, including the cabin, empennage, and left engine was located 183 feet forward and 35 feet to the left of the main impact crater. The area was evidenced by extensive fire damage and sooting. The cabin and cockpit areas were destroyed due to impact forces. Portions of the interior were strewn throughout the energy path. Documentation of individual seats and restraints could not be accomplished given the extent of damage to these components. The position of the occupants could not be confirmed. The instrument panel was broken into multiple sections; many of the instruments were dislodged from the panel. The pilot's yoke was separated from the control column. Both yoke handles were broken off; the left side remained attached to the bottom section of the yoke via wires. The hose for the pilot's quick-donning oxygen mask was pinched in the armrest storage box. The four oxygen mask storage containers from the cabin exhibited impact damage. Six of the eight passenger oxygen masks were recovered and examined; five of the eight were mostly intact. None of the masks had evidence of human remains nor were the elastic bands in a tightened position.

The fuselage was heavily fragmented from the nose to the empennage. The larger sections of fuselage consisted of several frame and stringer sections, but none more than approximately one-third the fuselage circumference. Some fuselage sections had pieces of the interior still attached. The main cabin door was in multiple pieces; six side and two top locking pins were extended. The door width was reduced to approximately 8 inches. Each landing gear was separated from the respective mounts. The nose landing gear actuator was extended and the main landing gear actuators were not extended, indicating a retracted landing gear position.

The right wing was heavily fragmented, the largest section approximately 6 feet in length. The aileron separated approximately 2 1/2 feet outboard from the inboard attach point. The aileron was nearly separated at mid-span. The aileron pulley/actuator had both cables attached; the other end of each cable was separated with signatures consistent with tension overload. The spoiler actuator was detached and the piston was in the retracted position. The flap was separated adjacent to the middle flap track. The inboard flap track remained attached to the flap and wing aft spar. The outboard flap track was separated from the flap and wing structure. The flap cables were separated and signatures were consistent with tension overload.

The left wing was destroyed by impact forces and was heavily fragmented. Thermal damage was observed on the largest section, approximately 6 inches in length (span wise), common to fuel filler port. The aileron was in multiple sections and completely separated from the wing. The aileron pulley/actuator had both cables attached; the other end of each cable was separated. The aileron trim tab remained mostly attached to the aileron and exhibited substantial impact damage. The trim tab actuator was separated from the wing and attached to the tab by one push/pull tube; the other was broken. The flap was separated into two primary sections at mid-span. The outboard track was attached to a section of rear spar and flap. The outboard flap bell crank remained attached to the flap and two control cables. One cable was separated; the other appeared to have been cut. Both spoilers were observed detached from the wing.

The left side of the horizontal stabilizer had even accordion compression along the span. The right side was broken into multiple pieces, some of which also exhibited accordion damage. The left elevator was separated from the horizontal stabilizer into two sections at mid-span. The left elevator counterweight was found securely installed. A broken piece of the push/pull rod was attached to the elevator control horn. Outboard of the center hinge, the right elevator was broken into multiple small pieces. A section of the elevator remained attached to the horizontal stabilizer at the center hinge via the trim tab linkage (no missing hardware). The elevator counterweight was observed detached from the elevator. A broken piece of the push/pull rod was attached to elevator control horn.

The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer's aft spar at the bottom and middle hinges. Above the middle hinge, the rudder was separated into multiple pieces. The rudder counterweight remained securely attached. The rudder cables remained attached to the control horn at the bottom of the rudder. Forward of the aft spar the vertical stabilizer was heavily fragmented. The rear spar remained attached to a small section of the tail cone.


An autopsy was conducted by the Blaine Country Coroner's Office, Hailey, Idaho on March 18, 2003. The pilot's cause of death was reported as "multiple blunt force trauma."

The NTSB Medical Officer reviewed the pilot's medical records, which were supplied by the family of the pilot.

10/8/02: Physician's note indicates that the pilot’s medications include "Zocor [simvastatin], hypertension medication, Cardura [doxazosin]." The note also indicates that the pilot's "father died of myocardial infarction" and that the pilot "exercises regularly," "had possible tightness in chest one year ago" and had a history of a "heart murmur." The physician noted blood pressure of "140/100," a "dermal lesion to left upper arm, cardiac symptoms," and "hypertension." The physician noted that the pilot "...should not require stress test."

12/12/02: Physician's note indicates blood pressure of "137/97" and indicates refill of "Toprol XL [metoprolol] 100mg/day," " hydrochlorothiazide 12.5mg/day," and "Lipitor [atorvastatin]."

2/5/03 Physician's note indicates that the pilot’s "...fasting blood sugar is 126 but Hgb A1c is normal at 5.5..."

The NTSB Medical Officer extracted the following information from the pilot's medical records which was obtained from his dermatologist:

2/20/03 Dermatologist’s note indicates that the pilot "...was referred ...for a melanoma of the left arm, Breslow depth 3.72 mm, Clark level V. This was removed with a wide local excision and sentinel lymph node biopsy on 10-25-02 ...Five lymph nodes were sampled and ...all of them were negative for melanoma ...he has had several recurrent upper respiratory infections, although the symptoms have been different for each infection, suggesting new viral infections as opposed to a persistent infection. He otherwise feels well with no changes in his weight ...and has no CNS symptoms. ...Stage IIA melanoma, T3a tumor, with an estimated five-year survival of 78.7%. The recurrent upper respiratory infections could possibly be related to postoperative stress and decreased immune function..."

Aviation toxicological testing was performed by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test was negative for ethanol in the muscle, while Doxazosin was detected in the muscle. Doxazosin is a high blood pressure medication also used to control symptoms of prostate enla

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