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N738GX accident description

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Tail numberN738GX
Accident dateSeptember 15, 2002
Aircraft typeCessna TR182
LocationTwin Falls, ID
Near 42.483889 N, -114.488333 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 15, 2002, approximately 1035 mountain daylight time, a Cessna TR182, N738GX, registered to Helen and Harold Frisch (trustee), and being operated/flown by one of the owners, a certificated commercial pilot, was destroyed when the aircraft collided with a fuel truck parked at a fuel truck marshalling area at Joslin Field, Twin Falls, Idaho, while attempting a go around maneuver to runway 12. The pilot and two accompanying passengers sustained fatal injuries during the crash and post impact explosion/fire. Visual meteorological conditions existed and a VFR flight plan had been filed and activated. The flight, which was personal, was operated under 14CFR91 and originated from Kalispell, Montana, approximately 0800 on the morning of the accident. The aircraft was flight planned to Sacramento Executive airport, Sacramento, California, with an intermediate fuel stop at Twin Falls.

The pilot contacted Great Falls Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) twice on September 14th requesting information on the weather for the return flight to Sacramento. At 0703, on the morning of September 15th he contacted Great Falls AFSS again and received a weather briefing for the leg to Twin Falls and then on to Sacramento. The pilot was advised of the enroute weather including a report of winds at Twin Falls from 170 degrees at 16 knots (refer to Attachment AFSS-I).

The pilot first contacted the Twin Falls Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) reporting about 13 nautical miles (nm) north of the field. The tower controller advised that winds were favoring runway 12, reported the wind from 150 degrees magnetic at 20 knots, altimeter 30.03, and instructed the pilot to contact the tower when three miles north of the field (refer to Attachment AT-I).

Approximately three minutes and 55 seconds later the pilot reported three miles north of the airport and the tower controller cleared N738GX to land on runway 12. The controller did not provide, nor did the pilot request any further wind information. There were no further communications to/from the aircraft.

The tower controller reported, " appeared the pilot was having problems with the winds and was attempting to go around..." and "...that when he tried to go around the aircraft kept going to the left..." (refer to Attachment C-I).

A line fueler with Reeder Flying Service, who was returning fuel truck number three to its parking position in between fuel trucks one/two and four/five observed the accident sequence. He reported seeing the aircraft in a continuously right wing low attitude between the time he first observed the aircraft up to the time of the impact with the fuel truck. He indicated that the angle of bank decreased periodically but that the aircraft was always in a right wing low attitude. Additionally, the fueler reported "...when it looked as if he was pulling up he was only about five feet of[f] the ground and about 10 - 20 feet away from the fuel truck..." (refer to Attachment F-I). He also remarked that the winds on the day of the accident were not uncommon for Twin Falls and he estimated the wind between 20 and 25 knots out of the south-southeast.


The pilot held a commercial certificate with airplane single engine land and helicopter ratings and an instrument rating for both fixed wing and helicopter. The pilot's most current FAA medical examination was conducted on August 29, 2001, at which time he was issued a second class medical certificate with the restriction that he "must wear corrective lenses & possess glasses for near & interim vision."

No pilot logs were found or made available to the investigative team and the pilot's total (estimated) flight time of 2,200 hours was based upon that time reported at his last FAA medical examination. Records indicated that the pilot had acquired the Cessna TR182 on May 27, 1997.


N738GX, a Cessna TR182, was equipped with two 46-gallon fuel tanks (one in each wing). The aircraft's maximum gross takeoff weight was 3,100 pounds. No logs, records or weight and balance documentation were available and the manufacturer reported the standard empty weight of the Cessna TR182 model as 1,764 pounds.

The fixed base operator who serviced the aircraft prior to it's departure from Glacier Park International airport, Kalispell, Montana, reported that the aircraft had been fueled with 36.8 gallons of 100 low lead aviation octane fuel on September 13, 2002. The fuel on board listed on the flight plan (5 hours) from Kalispell, Montana, to Twin Falls, Idaho, was consistent with full fuel tanks (92 gallons).

The weights of all three occupants were provided by the Twin Falls Coroner's Office and derived from automobile drivers license data. The pilot was reported to weigh out at 195 pounds while the two passengers weighed out at 198 and 190 pounds. An accurate assessment of the weight of personal effects could not be determined due to the extensive post crash fire. However, numerous golf clubs were found at the crash site.

The manufacturer provided a "Wind Components" Chart for the Cessna TR182 (refer to Attachment WC-I). The chart provides a note that reads "Maximum demonstrated crosswind velocity of 18 knots (this is not a limitation)." The Cessna TR182 flight manual (1979) defines demonstrated crosswind velocity as "the velocity of the crosswind component for which adequate control of the airplane during takeoff and landing was actually demonstrated during certification tests. The value shown is not considered to be limiting."


Aviation surface weather observations taken on September 15, 2002, at Joslin Field were reviewed (refer to Attachment ASWO-I). The following wind information was noted:


0753 190 DEG TRUE 12 KTS 20 KTS 0853 180 DEG TRUE 16 KTS 0953 170 DEG TRUE 20 KTS 28 KTS PEAK WIND 170 @ 28 (0953) 1053 180 DEG TRUE 19 KTS 27 KTS PEAK WIND 190 @ 30 (1037) 1153 190 DEG TRUE 21 KTS 29 KTS PEAK WIND 180 @ 31 (1142) 1253 200 DEG TRUE 17 KTS 27 KTS PEAK WIND 190 @ 29 (1214)

An Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) was operating at Joslin Field on the date of the accident (refer to Attachment ASOS-I). The following wind information was noted:


1035 180 DEG TRUE 22 KTS 29 KTS PEAK WIND 180 @ 29 (1035) 1040 180 DEG TRUE 20 KTS 30 KTS PEAK WIND 190 @ 30 (1037) 1045 190 DEG TRUE 22 KTS 30 KTS PEAK WIND 190 @ 30 (1037) 1050 180 DEG TRUE 21 KTS 27 KTS PEAK WIND 190 @ 30 (1037) 1055 190 DEG TRUE 17 KTS 24 KTS 1100 190 DEG TRUE 19 KTS 25 KTS


Joslin Field (TWF) was equipped with a primary (instrument) runway (07/25) measuring 8,703 by 150 feet and a (general aviation) runway (12/30) measuring 3,224 by 75 feet. According to the most recent FAA Form 5010-1 survey, dated August 12, 2002, runway 12/30 was designated as non-air carrier movement area (refer to Attachment 5010-I and Diagram I). The centerline of runway 120 was measured to be on a bearing of 120/300 degrees magnetic (105/285 degrees true). The magnetic variation at Joslin Field was about 15 degrees East. The airport was fully certificated under 14CFR139 and maintained an Index "B" rating.

According to the November 1997 Airport Layout Plan for Joslin Field, runway 12/30 was designated as an approach category "B" and Design Group II runway. The safety area associated with the runway was designated as 150 wide (+/- 75 about the centerline) and extending the full length of the runway and 300 feet beyond each approach end.

According to the Airport Facility Directory in effect at the time of the accident, the airport's ASOS system was keyed to a specific radio frequency (135.025 megahertz). Tuning this frequency would enable the pilot to receive continuous meteorological information including wind conditions.


The aircraft impacted the right rear quarter of a general aviation fuel truck on Joslin Field (refer to photograph 1). The latitude and longitude of the initial impact site was 42 degrees 29.038 minutes North and 114 degrees 29.296 minutes West about 4,130 above mean sea level (refer to photograph 2). The impact occurred with the fourth truck parked in a marshalling area, and the point of impact was 231 feet perpendicular to and north-northwest of the centerline of runway 12 (155 feet outside of the boundary of the designated safety area for runway 12 refer to photograph 3). The marshalling area consisted of parking for five fuel trucks, side by side with each truck's longitudinal axis roughly parallel to the centerline of runway 12. The truck parking spaces, numbers one through five, lay on lines perpendicular to the centerline of runway 12 with space one being the most distant from the runway. At the time of the accident, fuel trucks occupied spaces one, two, four and five. Truck three was being returned to space three at the time of the accident and was several hundred feet away in motion (refer to Diagram II).

The impacted truck (number four) was observed to have shifted position east-southeast approximately 30 feet along a 120 degree bearing line and was observed with its longitudinal axis oriented along an approximate 090/270 degree bearing (refer to photograph 4). The remains of the aircraft, exclusive of the engine/propeller, were observed lying on the ground oriented around the rear and right side of the impacted fuel truck (refer to photograph 5). The engine/propeller was observed lying on the ground free of the airframe and a short distance east-southeast of the airframe remains (refer to photograph 6). An approximate eight-inch section of outboard propeller blade tip was found close in to the main wreckage. The tip section displayed leading edge compressive deformation and a separation tear along its chordline (refer to photograph 7).

Fuel truck number five, which had been parked immediately south-southwest of truck four, had been moved immediately after the accident to prevent possible fire damage. This truck, which was dimensionally similar to truck four, was observed to have a large fiberglass wingtip fragment from the aircraft's right wing jammed in the upper, left handrail running along the truck's longitudinal axis along the top of the tank. The handrail exhibited bending distortion and the power supply unit from the aircraft's right wingtip was observed lying on top of the truck adjacent to the handrail (refer to photograph 8). The height of the distorted handrail was measured at 92 inches above ground level.

All of the aircraft's major components were located at the crash site and all, with the exception of the engine/propeller, forward engine cowl, and left and right wing leading edges and outboard wing/aileron sections sustained extensive fire damage. All three landing gear were observed lying on the ground at the rear of the fuel truck. The empennage and horizontal/vertical stabilizers and associated control surfaces had been completely destroyed by the post-crash fire and only a melted aluminum overlay in the shape of this area remained (refer to photograph 9).

There was no evidence of any flight control cable pre-impact disconnect. The flap jackscrew was extended to a point consistent with a 5-degree flaps extension. The landing gear were observed in an extended condition and the elevator trim jackscrew setting was consistent with a neutral (0 degrees) trim setting. The throttle, propeller control and mixture within the remains of the instrument panel were observed all in the full forward position and the control cables had separated from the engine.


Glen R. Groben, M.D., conducted post-mortem examination of the pilot at facilities arranged for by the Twin Falls County Coroner's Office, on September 16, 2002, (case number OC-0115).

The FAA's Toxicology Accident and Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological evaluation of samples from the pilot. All findings were reported as negative (refer to attached TOX report).


On-site examination of the wreckage was conducted on September 16, 2002, after which the wreckage was verbally released to Joslin Field airport authorities until arrival of the insurance representative. Written wreckage release was completed on October 2, 2002, and is documented on NTSB form 6120.15 (enclosed).

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