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N86980 accident description

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Tail numberN86980
Accident dateMay 21, 1994
Aircraft typeBellanca 8GCBC
LocationChallis, ID
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 21, 1994, at approximately 0900 mountain daylight time, a Bellanca 8GCBC Scout, N86980, sustained substantial damage when it collided with mountainous terrain about 12 miles west of Challis, Idaho. The pilot and his pilot-rated wife were fatally injured in the accident. No flight plan was filed for the flight which was believed to have departed that morning from Triple Creek Ranch, an isolated airstrip. The couple's destination, according to friends, was Challis, Idaho. The ELT actuated and assisted in the location of the wreckage.

The pilot and his wife frequently flew from their home in California to stay at a cabin at Triple Creek Ranch, and had been there for several days prior to their departure to return to Challis. The crash site was about six miles from a unmarked airstrip at Triple Creek Ranch, and about 12 miles northwest of Challis.

A local pilot (and friend of the two accident victims) located the crash site by air at about 1300. He stated that Challis weather on the morning of the accident started with high thin broken clouds, then deteriorated to showers by 1000 or 1030.


The local pilot who located the crash site stated that Challis weather on the morning of the accident was basically good, with high thin broken clouds, followed later by a southwest flow, with good showers in the Challis area by 1000 to 1030, and with heavy showers at about 1230 to 1300. He described the previous day's weather as obscured in the morning, with heavy showers through noon, with gradual clearing to high broken clouds, with strong south winds off a low.


The wreckage was located on the west slope of a ridge, a few hundred feet below the ridgeline on about 45 degree sloping terrain, at about the 8700 foot elevation. A saddle, at the approximate elevation of the crash site, was about 1/4 to 1/2 mile north of the wreckage. East of the saddle was a drainage that led to the Challis valley. First evidence of terrain contact was a tree about 50-60 feet from the wreckage. An impact crater was found about 16 feet from the tree, with some wreckage scatter between that point and the main wreckage.

The fuselage was oriented on its left side with the nose section downslope. The left elevator horn was bent upward about 90 degrees. The right horizontal stabilizer leading edge was bent rearward at midspan. The vertical fin and rudder were essentially undamaged.

The right wing was separated from the fuselage at the wing root, and was crushed, with the wooden wing spars broken and sectioned into several lengths. The right wing was partially separated from the fuselage at the wing root, and was folded under the fuselage, about four to five feet outboard of the wing root. The main landing gear was separated from the fuselage attachment points. The forward section of the fuselage was crushed and was found to be laying on top of the engine. The instrument panel and firewall were partially separated from the rest of the fuselage. When the fuselage was moved, a clean cut was found in a log upon which the fuselage was resting.

Control cable continuity was established to the elevator and rudder and left aileron. The fuselage was rolled over and the engine and propeller were inspected. Both propeller blades had chordwise scars. Spark plugs appeared normal, the carburetor fuel screen was clean, and lubrication was found to be present under the valve covers. Valve and gear train continuity were established during partial crankshaft rotation.


Postmortem examination of both the pilot and his pilot-rated passenger were conducted by Dr. Tom Mitchell, at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, with multiple traumatic injuries secondary to the aircraft accident. Toxicological testing on both was negative.


The wreckage was released to Frontier Adjusters, of Spokane, WA, while it was still on site, on June 23, 1994.

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