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N93908 accident description

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Tail numberN93908
Accident dateJune 15, 1997
Aircraft typeCessna 152
LocationEdgewater, MD
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 15, 1997, at 1705 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 152, N93908, was destroyed when it collided with terrain during an uncontrolled descent after takeoff from Lee Airport near Edgewater, Maryland. The certificated Airline Transport Pilot and the certificated Airline Transport Pilot flight instructor, the sole occupants, were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a Visual Flight Rules flight plan was filed for the local instructional flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Lee Airport approximately 1610.

The pilot and the flight instructor were members of the NAVAIR Flying Club, co-located with the Fort Meade Flying Activity, at Lee Airport in Edgewater, Maryland. According to NAVAIR Flying Club records, the purpose of the flight was to complete an initial aircraft check for the pilot in the Cessna 152. The check was part of new member in-processing. The pilot was re-joining the NAVAIR club after a 9 year absence.

Witnesses reported that the airplane had completed three previous takeoffs and landings. On the fourth takeoff, the airplane reached an altitude of approximately 150 feet in a nose high attitude with the engine developing "full" power. They reported that the engine sputtered, the nose lowered, the engine power resumed, the right wing dropped, then the airplane spiraled to the left and struck the ground nose first.

In a written statement, one witness reported:

"..at an altitude of 150 feet, I observed the aircraft go into an extremely nose high attitude, if you used a clock face to describe the angle, I would say one o'clock. Then the engine sputtered. Prior to the sputter of #93908, the aircraft was hanging on the prop. The Cessna appeared to be shuddering and drifting to the right ...then the nose dropped abruptly with a right twist incorporated. This rotation to the right was stopped...and started a rotation to the left...before impact... Also as the nose dropped from the high attitude the aircraft regained power, to what sounded to me to be full power."

In a written statement, a second witness reported:

"The plane started climbing very steep with the nose in the 1 o'clock position. The engine was running strong, all of a sudden the plane started mushing back and forth in a nose high position, next the engine started missing. ...the plane then dropped its nose down a little and the engine started developing power. It looked like the plane was just hanging in the air on the prop. ...next the left wing fell, the nose dropped and ... the plane hit hard on the left front corner of the cowling."

The airplane crashed on the airport at the departure end of Runway 12, approximately 30 feet left of the runway surface.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 38 degrees, 56 minutes north latitude, and 76 degrees, 51 minutes west longitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with ratings for airplane multi-engine land. He held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, multi-engine land, and rotorcraft-helicopter. The pilot held a private pilot's certificate with ratings for airplane single engine sea. He also held a Flight Instructor Certificate for airplane single engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane.

His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) First Class Medical Certificate was issued on March 18, 1997.

A review of the pilot's logbook by the Chief Flight Instructor of the Ft. Meade Flying Club revealed a total flight experience of 2,036 hours, of which 1,544 hours were in single engine airplanes. The pilot had accumulated 268 hours of flight experience in make and model.

The flight instructor held an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and multi-engine land He held a Flight Instructor's certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. The flight instructor held a Ground Instructor's certificate with ratings for Advanced and Instrument ground instruction. The flight instructor also held a Mechanic's certificate with ratings for Airframe and Powerplant.

His most recent FAA Second Class Medical Certificate was issued on July 1, 1996.

The flight instructor's logbook was not recovered. At the time of his most recent medical examination, the flight instructor reported 5,500 hours of flight experience. A review of flying club records revealed the flight instructor completed a Biennial Flight Review on November 1, 1996.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The weather reported at Andrews Air Force Base, 16 miles southwest of ANP, was variable winds at 5 knots with 7 miles visibility. There were few clouds at 4,000 and 25,000 feet. The temperature was 76 degrees and the dewpoint was 55 degrees. The altimeter setting was 30.00.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on June 15 and 16, 1997. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The airplane came to rest upright, on an approximate magnetic heading of 045 degrees, at a ground elevation of 30 feet above mean sea level (MSL).

The wreckage came to rest in the initial ground scar. After removal of the wreckage, the ground scar measured approximately 8 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 8 inches deep.

The engine was forced down and aft into the firewall. The propeller was separated from the flange and pinned beneath the engine. One blade displayed twisting, bending, and chordwise scratching. The spinner displayed torsional damage.

The entire firewall was crushed aft into the cockpit area along with the area around the rudder pedals at both the pilot's and co-pilot's stations, which was crushed up and aft into the cockpit area. The seats and seat belts were attached. The seat belts were cut by rescue personnel.

The cabin roof area was buckled upwards, with rivets popped along the left wing chordline at the wing root. The left wing was crushed aft in the area between the fuselage and the wing strut mount. The leading edge of the right wing was undamaged except for the right wing tip. The right aileron was buckled and separated at the outboard attachment point.

The aft portion of the cabin was crushed forward, and bent over 90 degrees from horizontal. The empennage was torn and buckled at the fuselage attachment point but still connected by control cables. The main landing gear was attached and forced aft. The landing gear attachment points were forced up and forward.

The tail section aft of the fuselage attachment point was intact. Control cable continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit area. Fuel was present throughout the fuel system.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Autopsies were performed on the pilot and flight instructor on June 16,1997, by Dr. J. Laron Locke, of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore, Maryland.

Toxicological testing performed by the Medical Examiner revealed negative for drugs and alcohol for both pilots.

The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The airplane's engine was examined at the scene on June 17, 1997. The carburetor was impact damaged and separated from the engine at the mounting flange. The venturi was intact.

The engine was rotated through the vacuum drive coupling and valvetrain continuity was established. The magnetos and all plug wires were attached and spark was achieved at all spark plugs. The ignition timing met the manufacturer's specification. Compression was confirmed using the thumb method.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Witness Accounts

Several witnesses described the takeoff of N93908 in written statements. When the airplane reached an altitude of approximately 100 to 150 feet, they stated the airplane pitched up to an "extremely" nose high attitude. Four witnesses described the pitch angle as "...well over 45 degrees...", "...45 to 60 degrees...", "...60 to 70 degrees up...", and "...60 degrees at least...".

Two witnesses described the pitch angle of N93908 as if it flew, left to right, across a clock face. Each said the nose was up at the "...one o'clock position."

Two witnesses said the airplane was "...just hanging on the prop."

One witness described the four takeoffs of N93908. He stated:

"The takeoffs were what I would classify as High Performance takeoffs. My daughter, who was with me earlier, asked me if that was a student flying and 'Does he know how to fly?'

Safety Evaluation/Assistance visit from U.S. Army Safety Center

At the suggestion of the Safety Board Investigator, a Safety Specialist from the United States Army Safety Center (USASC) performed a safety assistance visit to the Ft. Meade Flying Activity (FMFA), and the Naval Air Systems Command Flying Club (NAFC), with the support of the 12th Aviation Battalion, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, and the FAA. The inspection/assistance team was on site for 3 days and a report on their findings was forwarded to the Board.

In the findings section of the report, the Safety Specialist stated the Flying Activity was in compliance with applicable Army Regulations. He further stated:

"The entire operation is well managed. Noteworthy was the professional attitude displayed by the FMFA manager and the entire staff. No evidence was noted linking recent aircraft mishaps and incidents to the policies, practices or overall operation of the FMFA...The maintenance contractor should be commended for excellent job performance."

Discrepancies noted during the evaluation included: lack of required publications, lack of adequate fire extinguishers on the flight line, and a lack of formal safety training for the FMFA Safety Officer. The publications were provided and the fire extinguishers were ordered by the 12th Aviation Battalion. The FMFA Safety Officer was enrolled in the U.S. Army Aviation Safety Officers Course.

In the Recommendations section of the report, the Safety Specialist stated:

"...we recommended the FMFA formally apply for FAR Part 141 pilot school certification...Under Part 141 training is more controlled through proper supervision and is conducted by highly experienced instructors."

The airplane wreckage was released to the owner on June 17, 1997.

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