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N5898E accident description

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Tail numberN5898E
Accident dateFebruary 14, 2003
Aircraft typeCessna 172N
LocationWellington, KS
Near 37.19 N, -97.333056 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 14, 2003, approximately 1955 central standard time, a Cessna 172N, N5898E, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed during an in-flight impact with terrain near Wellington, Kansas. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident. The flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The flight departed the Wiley Post Airport (PWA), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, approximately 1745, with an intended destination of Augusta Municipal Airport (3AU), Augusta, Kansas.

An individual representing N5898E contacted the Wichita Flight Service Station (FSS) at 1405 and requested a weather briefing for the route from 3AU to Will Rogers World Airport (OKC), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The pilot was told that conditions were generally VFR, with scattered clouds at 2,000 ~ 3,000 feet above ground level (agl) and winds gusting to 24 knots. This was the only briefing record with Wichita FSS. No record of a briefing prior to departure from PWA was found.

Two passengers accompanied the pilot from 3AU to PWA. Both individuals reported that it was an uneventful flight with relatively good weather. They stated that upon arrival at PWA, a line of clouds was visible to the northeast in the direction of Wichita. When one of the passengers remarked about the cloud line, the pilot reportedly said that the clouds were probably higher than they appeared to be.

After departing PWA, the pilot contacted Kansas City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) at 2014 and requested VFR flight following enroute to 3AU. The aircraft was subsequently radar identified approximately 30 miles north of OKC. On two occasions, the pilot requested that air traffic control (ATC) confirm his location. During the first request, the pilot stated that it "got a little bumpy" at 3,500 feet and that he "got bounced around pretty hard."

Kansas City ARTCC lost radar contact with the accident aircraft at 1940. The pilot again queried the controller about his location. The controller informed the pilot that interstate 35 was five miles east of the aircraft's last known position. The pilot stated that he would "correct a little bit" in order to find it. Radar contact was reestablished at 1943, 55 miles south of Wichita. The pilot reported the interstate in sight at that time.

ATC flight-following services were transferred from Kansas City center to Wichita tower approach control at 1945. During the handoff conversation, the center controller remarked to the approach controller, "you might want to keep an eye on him [N5898E]", "he sounds kind of shaky", and "I guess he got bounced pretty good a little while back."

Wichita approach subsequently established contact with the accident aircraft. Approximately 2 minutes later, at 1948, the pilot reported: "I'm going to have to drop down . . . I went into cloud cover here [at] three thousand five hundred feet." After receiving various weather reports from approach control, the pilot elected to divert to Strother Field Airport (WLD). The controller directed the pilot toward WLD, however, radio and radar contact were lost about 1955.

An alert notice for the aircraft was issued about 2100 by the Wichita Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS). The accident site was subsequently located the next morning by local authorities.

A motorist traveling northbound on I-35, in the vicinity of Wellington, about the time of the accident, reported noticing an aircraft flying northbound parallel to the interstate. A few minutes later, he stated he saw the aircraft traveling to the southwest. Finally, he reported seeing the same aircraft a third time. During this encounter, he stated that the aircraft flew across the interstate from west to east, descending at an approximate angle of 45-degrees. The aircraft was traveling at a "high rate of speed", but was not "wavering". He recalled thinking at the time that the aircraft was approaching to land at a private airstrip.

The motorist reported that weather at the time was very windy and gusty. He stated that there was a low overcast, which he estimated at 200 feet agl. He noted that the cloud bases appeared "rugged", but that visibility below the clouds was good.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating issued on August 31, 1998. He held a third class medical certificate with no limitations issued on May 30, 2002.

The pilot's logbook was present with the aircraft. The first entry in the logbook was dated May 25, 1998, and listed "Lesson #1, A/C Intro, …" in the remarks column. An entry indicating "First Solo" in the remarks column was dated July 21, 1998, with a cumulative logged flight time of 18.9 hours. The final logbook entry was dated October 4, 2002, in N2234E.

Total logged flight time as of the last entry was computed as 152.9 hours. This included 35.0 hours of night flight time and 3.6 hours of simulated instrument flight time. No actual instrument flight time was logged. A total of 148.5 hours were logged in the same make and model as the accident aircraft.

According to a logbook endorsement, the pilot completed a flight review on September 6, 2002. This was conducted in a Cessna 182 aircraft.

A review of the flying club records from which the accident aircraft was rented was conducted. The most recent flight in club aircraft by the accident pilot was on October 5, 2002, in a Cessna 172, N2234E.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident aircraft was a 1979 Cessna 172N, serial number 17271955, and was powered by a Lycoming O-320-H2AD engine, serial number RL-8357-76T. It was registered to the Boeing Employees Flying Club and was operated as a rental/club aircraft.

The maintenance logbooks were found with the aircraft wreckage. The airframe and engine logbooks each contained an entry indicating that an annual inspection was completed on June 1, 2002, at 3710.9 tachometer time.

A flight club log sheet recovered at the accident site indicated that the Hobbs meter and tachometer readings were 1,606.9 and 3,862.3 hours, respectively, when the aircraft was checked out at 3AU. Times indicated on the Hobbs meter and tachometer at the accident site were 1,609.5 hours and 3,864.8 hours, respectively.

An additional flight club log sheet entitled "VOR Accuracy Log" was also found. It contained an entry indicating that an accuracy check had been completed on January 29, 2003, and was found to be within operating limits at that time.

A payment receipt and log sheet from a fuel truck were provided by a fixed base operator at PWA. Both indicated that N5898E was fueled with 18 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel. The truck log sheet noted a fueling time of 1735.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the Wichita area at the time of the accident. Aviation weather reports (METARs) for airports along the route of flight were as follows:

Station: Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (ICT); Wichita, Kansas Time: 1956; Location from accident site: 28 nautical miles at 165 degrees magnetic; Wind: 340 degrees magnetic at 13 knots, gusting to 19 knots; Visibility: 10 statute miles; Sky condition: Overcast at 500 feet above ground level (agl).

Station: Strother Field Airport (WLD); Winfield, Kansas Time: 1954; Location from accident site: 15 nautical miles at 090 degrees magnetic; Wind: 360 degrees magnetic at 11 knots; Visibility: 7 statute miles; Sky condition: Broken at 800 feet above ground level (agl).

Station: Strother Field Airport (WLD); Winfield, Kansas Time: 1854; Location from accident site: 15 nautical miles at 090 degrees magnetic; Wind: 360 degrees magnetic at 10 knots; Visibility: 10 statute miles; Sky condition: Clear.

Station: Ponca City Municipal Airport (PNC); Ponca City, Oklahoma Time: 1953; Location from accident site: 30 nautical miles at 335 degrees magnetic; Wind: 330 degrees magnetic at 11 knots; Visibility: 10 statute miles; Sky condition: Few at 10,000 feet above ground level (agl).

Station: Wiley Post Airport (PWA); Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Time: 1953; Location from accident site: 100 nautical miles at 360 degrees magnetic; Wind: 190 degrees magnetic at 10 knots; Visibility: 10 statute miles; Sky condition: Clear.

An AIRMET, in effect at the time of the pilot's weather briefing, warned of a possibility of instrument meteorological weather conditions north of a line running from Oswego, Kansas, to 50 miles west of Liberal, Kansas. This line is nearly coincident with the Kansas - Oklahoma border and included the destination airport, 3AU. The AIRMET noted the possibility of those conditions spreading eastward and continuing through 2100.

An additional AIRMET noted the possibility of moderate turbulence below 8,000 feet spreading east-southeastward and continuing through 2100.

The ICT terminal area forecast (TAF) noted a possibility of thunderstorms and light rain under a 1,500 foot broken ceiling with cumulonimbus clouds from 1500 through 1800.

The OKC TAF noted a 30% chance of thunderstorms and rain, with a 2,000 foot broken ceiling and cumulonimbus clouds, between 1900 and 2200.

The pilot of another aircraft conducting practice instrument approaches in the vicinity of Wichita at the time of the accident reported cloud tops of between 3,000 and 3,500 feet mean sea level (msl). He noted that, although there was a nearly full moon visible, it was somewhat hazy and there was not much of a horizon. The overcast layer was nearly continuous according to the pilot.

According United States Naval Observatory data, sunset in the Wichita area was at 1807 on the day of the accident. The end of civil twilight was at 1834.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident occurred in an open pasture, approximately 5 miles southeast of Wellington, Kansas. The site was located approximately ½ mile east of I-35 and immediately north of 70th Street in Sumner county.

The wreckage path was oriented in an east-southeast direction, approximately 130 degrees magnetic. The length of the wreckage path, from initial ground impact mark to the location of the main wreckage, was measured at 320 feet. Using a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, the location of the main wreckage was determined to be 37 degrees, 11.370 minutes north latitude; 97 degrees, 19.982 minutes west longitude. The location of the initial ground mark was determined to be 37 degrees, 11.406 minutes north latitude; 97 degrees, 20.010 minutes west longitude.

The initial ground impact mark was approximately 2 feet wide by 12 feet long. An adjacent impact mark was estimated at 6 feet wide by 14 feet long. Debris common to the impact areas included the aft portion of the nose wheel fairing, as well as various small fragments of fiberglass. The nose gear strut was found slightly beyond the second mark, approximately 60 feet from the beginning of the initial mark.

The right wing tip fairing was separated from the aircraft. It was found approximately 84 feet from the initial impact mark and about 20 feet right of the debris path centerline. The top portion of the engine cowling was separated and found approximately 264 feet from the initial ground mark. The left main landing gear strut and wheel assembly was separated from the aircraft and found approximately 273 feet from the beginning of the debris path and about 27 feet right of the debris path centerline.

The propeller and hub were separated from the engine propeller flange. The assembly was found approximately 237 feet from the initial ground mark -- 83 feet from the main wreckage -- along the debris path centerline. The propeller blades exhibited bending in the aft direction, beginning about mid-span. Twisting toward low pitch was evident on one blade. Leading edge and trailing gouges were also noted.

The main wreckage included the left and right wings, cabin area, empennage, engine and instrument panel. The left wing was found separated from the fuselage, and lying flat on the ground. It was oriented southeast, consistent with the direction of the debris path. The leading edge was crushed and the upper skin was buckled beginning about mid-span and running outboard to the tip. The aileron and flap were attached, with the exception of approximately 12 inches of the outboard end of the aileron. This section was separated and found along the debris path. Counter weights were found intact on the separated aileron section. The fuel cap was found in place. A small amount of fluid consistent in color, texture and odor to 100 low lead aviation fuel was present in the tank.

The right wing was found separated from the fuselage and extensively damaged. It was lying over the cabin/empennage section and oriented on a northeasterly heading. The wing was bent over the entire span, with the tip bent upward approximately 70° relative to the inboard end. The wing skin exhibited extensive leading edge damage and buckling over the entire span. The right aileron was attached, with the exception the outboard section, approximately 12 inches in length. This section was separated and found along the debris path. Counter weights were found intact on the separated aileron section. The right flap was attached and heavily damaged. The wing tip fairing was separated from the wing. The fuel cap was found in place. The aft section of the tank was damaged, and the integrity of the tank had been compromised.

The cabin area was extensively damaged. It was found upright, and oriented on a northeasterly heading. The cabin was separated from the instrument panel forward. The windshield was not present with the cabin structure. Fragments of Plexiglas were found along the debris path. The support structure surrounding the windshield and doorframes was deformed. The cabin roof was bent backward and upward. Both of the cabin doors were separated from the fuselage. The right side door was found in-line with the main debris path, approximately 180 feet from the initial ground mark - 140 feet short of the main wreckage. The left cabin door was found lying beyond the main wreckage, relative to the debris path.

The fuselage aft of the cabin and empennage were found lying on their left side, adjacent to the cabin. They were supported at the aft end by the left horizontal stabilizer. Fuselage skin immediately forward of the horizontal stabilizer was buckled and twisted. The rudder, left elevator and inboard section of the right elevator were attached to the empennage. The outboard section of the right elevator, with the elevator trim tab, was separated and found adjacent to the empennage. The elevator torque tube, as well as the elevator and rudder control cable attachment fittings, were intact.

The engine was found separated from the aircraft and lying on the ground, under the aft section of the fuselage. Portions of the engine mount remained attached. The cowling was completely separated. The carburetor was separated from the engine. It was found along the debris path and was broken into two pieces. The propeller flange was bent, but otherwise appeared intact. Several of the propeller attachment bolts had failed. In addition, three propeller flange bushings had been pulled from the flange. The dual magneto remained secured to the engine and appeared to have sustained minor damage.

The instrument panel was separated from the aircraft and found lying under the aft section of the fuselage, adjacent to the engine. The primary flight instruments, with the exception of the attitude indicator, remained secured to the panel. The glass of the airspeed indicator and altimeter was broken. The altimeter was found set to 29.64 inches of mercury. The attitude indicator was dislodged from the panel, but otherwise appeared intact. Fittings and tubing common to the attitude indicator were securely attached to the instrument and appeared undamaged. The face of the instrument appeared intact. The attitude indicator was disassembled. The gyro was intact and rotated freely.

All flight control surfaces were either att

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