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N4159Q accident description

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Tail numberN4159Q
Accident dateApril 03, 1999
Aircraft typeCessna 310N
LocationCecilia, KY
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On April 3, 1999, about 1320 Eastern Standard Time, a Cessna 310N, N4159Q, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in Cecilia, Kentucky, while maneuvering after takeoff from Addington Field (EKX), Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The certificated flight instructor and the certificated private pilot were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the local instructional flight, which was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to one witness, the private pilot was receiving multi-engine and instrument flight training from the flight instructor. A notebook found in the wreckage indicated that the two had flown together for 3.2 hours the previous day. Another witness stated that the pilots had also flown together earlier, on the day of the accident. They had flown a number of VOR instrument approaches, then landed to top off the fuel tanks and eat lunch. Prior to the accident flight, the witness overheard the pilots discussing "engine out" procedures and unusual attitude maneuvers. Just prior to takeoff, he heard one of the pilots on the radio report: "Departing Runway Two Three," but heard nothing from the airplane after that.

A third witness observed the accident. He stated that a thunderstorm had passed through the area 20 to 30 minutes earlier, but that it was not raining when the accident occurred. He had been standing outside, about 1/4 mile south of the accident site, when he heard the sound of the airplane. Initially, he thought nothing of it because the airport was close, and the engines were "definitely running." Then, the engine noise stopped. Then, it started up again, but the engines sounded like they "were laboring real hard." The witness looked up and saw the airplane as it was "entering a steep left bank - it was probably only a couple hundred feet off the ground. It looked like when you had a leash on a dog - like the left wing was being pulled by the leash. Like it [was being] yanked back. It was real fast, real quick, and then the nose went fast into the ground. The airplane cartwheeled right before it hit the ground; it almost did a flip." When the airplane hit the ground, a cloud went up from the impact area.

A fourth witness was proceeding westbound in her car, when the accident airplane flew across the road toward a field to the south. She did not hear the airplane's engines. The airplane looked like it was going to land. It then veered to the left, like it was entering a bank, and "looked like it turned over and over in the air. It looked like it somersaulted in the air." She then saw a wing hit the ground, and a cloud of smoke or dust rose into the air.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, near 37 degrees, 38.9 minutes north, 85 degrees, 56.7 degrees west.


The flight instructor possessed an airline transport pilot certificate for single and multi-engine land airplanes, and a "gold seal" certified flight instructor rating for single and multi-engine land airplanes, and instrument-airplane. His most recent FAA class two medical certificate was issued in November 1997. He had accumulated about 1,809 hours of total flight experience, of which 264 hours were in multi-engine airplanes, and 603 hours were as a flight instructor. He received his multi-engine flight instructor rating on April 18, 1998, and had logged about 24 hours as a multi-engine instructor. He also had accumulated about 32 hours in the accident airplane, and 10 hours as a flight instructor in it.

The private pilot, who was issued his certificate in November 1998, was the pilot's second multi-engine student in the accident airplane. The first student, who was also a single-engine flight instructor, decided during his training that he did not wish to continue with the accident instructor.


The accident airplane was purchased by the flight instructor and a partner in January 1999.


Prior to the arrival of Safety Board personnel, approval was given to document the airplane's condition as found, and then move it, to remove the pilots' remains. According to that documentation, the private pilot was found in the left seat, and the flight instructor was found in the right seat. The cockpit was almost upside-down, and the nose area had about a 45-degree crush angle on the right side. The left wing was still attached, and upside down, off the ground. The right wing was on the ground, right-side up, facing aft, and minimally attached to the fuselage by wires and sheet metal. The empennage was twisted, and canted to the right. The throttles were mid-range, the mixtures were full rich, and the propellers were full forward.

On-scene examination by Safety Board personnel revealed that the airplane had crashed in a wet, untilled cornfield, about 2 nautical miles southwest of Addington Field. All major airplane components were found at the accident site. The most-distant ground scar from the main wreckage was located at 37 degrees, 38.95 minutes north, 85 degrees, 56.69 minutes west. The majority of the main wreckage was found upside down, 354 degrees magnetic, and approximately 162 feet from the beginning of the ground scar. About 24 feet from the beginning of the ground scar, along the 354-degree axis, was a 1-foot deep, 6-foot by 2 1/2-foot hole, followed by another ground scar. Following that, and commencing about 45 feet along the 354-degree axis, and 2 feet to the right of it, there was another hole, 7 feet long by 3 feet wide, and 1 1/2 feet deep. It was followed by a third ground scar, which contained remnants of red lens material.

The left engine was found about 6 feet to the left of the 354-degree axis, 80 feet from the beginning of the most-distant ground scar, while the right engine was found 22 feet left of the axis, 106 feet from the beginning of the most-distant ground scar. On the left engine, one propeller blade was found bent backwards about 90 degrees, toward the left side rocker boxes. Another blade was bent backwards about 30 degrees, toward the right side rocker boxes. The third blade was sticking up in the air, was bent backwards about 20 degrees, and exhibited slight s-bending. The propeller blades also exhibited some minor leading edge damage, and some light chordwise scoring.

One propeller blade on the right engine was bent backwards about 90 degrees, toward the left side rocker boxes. Another blade was found bent backwards about 20 degrees, toward the right side rocker boxes. The third blade was found sticking up in the air with the trailing edge facing forward, and exhibited s-bending. The propeller blades exhibited some minor leading edge damage, and some light chordwise scoring.

The fuel tanks were destroyed, and the tip tanks had separated from the wings. In an area roughly defined as from the most-distant ground scar to the main wreckage, and about 60 degrees to the left of the 354-degree axis, to about 20 degrees right of the axis, the vegetation had turned brown. The left fuel selector handle was found in the "Left Aux" position, while the fuel valve in the left wing was pulled beyond the stop pin, with damage to the pin. The right fuel selector handle was found in the "Left Main" position, while the right wing fuel valve was found in the "right main" position. Approximately 1 ounce of fuel was recovered from the right fuel filter, and 1/2 ounce from the left. The fuel was blue in color, and clear of water and debris. A fuel sample was taken from the in-ground fuel farm at Addington Field, and also found to be blue in color, and clear of water and debris.

The engines were examined, and crankshaft continuity was established. Compression was obtained on all cylinders. All four magnetos produced spark, and the top spark plugs were gray in color. The flow dividers were checked, and found to be absent of water and debris. Both engines' exhaust manifolds exhibited bending and folding.

The turn and bank indicator was found with the miniature airplane set in a fixed position, with it's right wing pointed down towards the "R."

The landing gear drive mechanism beneath the cabin floor was examined, and found it to be in the position that corresponded to the landing gear being down. The elevator trim actuator was found extended 1.3 inches, which equated to 10 degrees tab down. The aileron trim actuator was extended 1.7 inches, or 0 degrees deflection. The rudder trim tab was in a neutral position. The wing flap actuator chain positions equated to the flaps being extended 8 to 10 degrees.

A notepad was found on a kneeboard. The top page listed the procedures for engine failure, and also the procedure for a Vmc demonstration.


Radar information was requested. However, no radar information was obtained due to the airplane being below the lowest altitude for radar coverage at the time of the accident.


Autopsies were conducted on both pilots by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Louisville, Kentucky.

Toxicological testing was conducted on both pilots by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Louisville, Kentucky, and additionally, on the flight instructor by the Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, all with negative results.


On April 4, 1999, the wreckage was released to the Vice President, Phoenix Aviation Managers, Incorporated, Dallas, Texas.

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