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N8540B accident description

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Tail numberN8540B
Accident dateJanuary 22, 2006
Aircraft typeCessna 172
LocationHarrison, MI
Near 44.052778 N, -84.8125 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On January 22, 2006, about 1440 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172, N8540B, collided with the terrain following a loss of control near the Clair County Airport (80D), Harrison, Michigan. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The last known departure for the flight was from the Browne Airport (HYX), near Saginaw, Michigan, about 1330.

The airport was unattended at the time of the accident and there are no known witnesses who saw the accident occur. Employees of a business near the airport saw the airplane in the field and reported it to local authorities at 1745. A fuel receipt was found in the pilot's pocket. The receipt indicated that on the day of the accident the pilot obtained 17.42 gallons of fuel from HYX, at 1325. HYX is approximately 65 statute miles (sm) southeast of the accident site.

There were several people who contacted local authorities after the accident to report that they had either seen or heard an airplane in the area prior to the accident.

One witness reported seeing an airplane flying low, just above the trees, near his house, which is located about one mile north of the airport. He reported this occurred between 1330 and 1430, and that it was the same airplane that he later saw a picture of in the newspaper. This witness reported that the engine did not sound like it was running at full power, but it also didn't sound like the pilot was having any problems.

Another witness who lives on the east side of the airport reported that he saw a small white airplane heading north around 1400. He stated the airplane appeared to be traveling slowly.

A pilot who was at 80D reported that a Cessna 172 made a normal approach and touched down on runway 18 between 1430 and 1445. He stated he was almost positive that it was the same airplane that he saw a picture of in the newspaper on the day following the accident. He stated he saw the airplane touch down then he left the airport so he isn't sure if the airplane stayed on the ground or if it made a touch and go.


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicate the pilot failed the oral examination portion of his Private Pilot's test on July 2, 2005. The areas noted for reexamination were I C - Determining Performance and Limitations; D - Airplane Systems; E - Aeromedical Factors; II - Airport and Traffic Pattern Operations; and III - Normal Takeoff and Landing. The pilot's logbook showed an entry dated August 2, 2005 indicating that he received additional flight and ground training in preparation for the Private Pilot practical test. The pilot was subsequently issued a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land rating on August 6, 2005.

FAA records indicate the pilot held a third-class medical certificate that was issued on October 5, 2004. The medical certificate contained the restriction: "Must possess lenses for near vision."

The pilot's family provided his logbook. The first entry in the logbook was dated June 3, 2004. The logbook started with a carried over time of 66.7 hours. The last entry in the logbook that had a flight time associated with it was dated July 4, 2005. As of that date, the pilot's flight time was listed as being 145.5 hours. There was an additional page of entries, which listed dates, aircraft registration number, departure points and destinations, but no flight times.

On the pilot's application for his private pilot certificate, dated August 1, 2005, the pilot reported having 138 hours of flight time of which 118 hours were in Cessna 172 aircraft.


The accident airplane was a Cessna 172, serial number 36240, which was manufactured in 1958. The 172 was a high-wing airplane equipped with fixed tricycle landing gear. The airplane was equipped with dual controls. The airplane was configured to accommodate four occupants and had a certified maximum takeoff weight of 2,200 lbs. The airplane was equipped with a Horton short takeoff and landing (STOL) kit, which consisted of stall fences and leading edge cuffs.

The airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on October 17, 1957, and was certified as a normal category airplane. The accident airplane accumulated a total flight time of approximately 5,383 hours since new.

According to the aircraft logbooks, the last annual inspection was completed on November 14, 2005, at a total aircraft time of 5,378.9 hours. The logbooks listed a tachometer time of 900.1 hours at the last inspection. The tachometer time on the airplane at the time of the accident was 904.35 hours.

A Continental O-300 engine powered the airplane. The data plate for the engine was found inside the engine logbook. The serial number on that data plate was 13042. The same serial number was listed in the engine logbook. According to the engine logbook, the last annual inspection was performed on November 14, 2005. The engine time at this inspection was listed as a tachometer time of 900.1 hours and a time since major overhaul off 900.1 hours. The engine logbook indicates that cylinders number 2 and number 3 were removed, rebuilt, and reinstalled during the last annual inspection.


The Roscommon County Airport (HTL), in Houghton Lake, Michigan, is equipped with an Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS). This weather observation station is located approximately 23 sm north northeast of 80D. The following weather conditions were reported prior to and after the time of the accident:

At 1453: Wind 220 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 10 sm, clear, temperature 2 degrees Celsius; dew point -3 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.32 inches of mercury

At 1553: Wind 180 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 sm, clear, temperature 1 degrees Celsius; dew point -3 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.29 inches of mercury

At 1529 the winds at 80D were recorded as being from 207 degrees at 8 knots.


The Claire County Airport is served by runways 18/36 and 09/27. Runway 18/36 is asphalt and is 2,978 feet long by 50 feet wide. Runway 09/27 which is sod is closed during the winter months.


The airplane came to rest in a wooded area approximately 500 feet east of the runway and approximately 1,000 north of the south end of the runway. A global positioning system (GPS) receiver recorded the position of the main wreckage as 44 degrees 03 minutes 1 seconds North latitude, 084 degrees 48 minutes 8 seconds West longitude. The airplane contacted trees, which were approximately 40 feet tall, prior to impacting the ground. Several freshly broken tree branches varying from 2- to 5-inches in diameter were located on the ground near the wreckage.

The wreckage came to rest in an approximate 45-degree nose-down attitude on a magnetic heading of 110 degrees. The fuselage was split open at the aft portion of the left side entry door. The aft portion of the fuselage was leaning on the inboard trailing edge of the right wing, which was crushed out to the outboard flap attachment. The leading edge of the right wing tip was crushed aft approximately 45 degrees. The upper leading edge of the right wing, inboard of the wing strut, was also crushed. The leading edge of the left wing had two areas, which were crushed aft in a concave fashion. One of these crushed areas was just outboard of the wing strut and the other was outboard of the wing lights.

Examination of the aircraft revealed the flaps were in the 20-degree extended position. Control continuity was established to the ailerons, elevator, and rudder. The elevator trim was measured as being extended 1.5 inches, which equates to a neutral trim position.

Examination of the engine revealed continuity was present throughout the engine and thumb compression was achieved on all of the cylinders. Spark was observed on each spark plug lead when the engine was rotated by hand. All of the spark plugs appeared to have normal wear and coloration with the exception of the number 3 and number 5 plugs, which were oil soaked due to the position of the engine after the terrain impact. Fuel was present in the carburetor bowl. The finger screen on the carburetor was clean and fuel flowed from the injector jet when the actuator pump was moved by hand.

Examination of the propeller revealed that one blade was bent rearward from mid-span to the tip of the blade. Both propeller blades contained chordwise scratching.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Stocking Funeral Home, Harrison, Michigan, on January 23, 2006.

A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results of those tests are as follows:

0.035 (ug/ml,ug/g) Chlorpheniramine detected in blood Chlorpheniramine present in urine 0.0048 (ug/ml,ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) detected in blood 0.115 (ug/ml,ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) detected in lung 0.0298 (ug/ml,ug/g) Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in blood 0.0394 Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in lung 1.1135 Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in urine Phenylpropanolamine detected in urine Psuedoephedrine detected in urine

The Michigan Department of State Police Forensic Science Division conducted toxicological tests on blood samples from the pilot. The result of those rests were:

5 ng/ml THC and 26ng/ml 11-THC-COOH (cannaboinoids) was detected

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary active substance found in marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (THC-COOH) is an inactive metabolite of THC. The levels of THC and THC-COOH reported suggest recent use of marijuana in relation to the time of the accident.

Chlorpheniramine is an over-the-counter sedating antihistamine commonly used for cold and allergy symptoms. The level detected in the pilot's blood is several times higher than the level expected with a typical maximum single over-the-counter dose of medication.

Psuedoephedrine is a common decongestant often known by the trade name of Sudafed. Phenylpropanolamine is a metabolite of Psuedoephedrine. Chlorpheniramine and Psuedophedrine are available together in many multi-symptom cold and allergy medications.


A handheld Garmin GPSMAP 1995, s/n 61041863 was found in the wreckage. The unit was retrieved and shipped to GARMIN to download the stored data. The GPS contained data for January 22, 2006. The information stored consisted of longitude, latitude, date, time, leg length, leg speed, and leg course. The initial trackpoint recorded for January 22, 2006, was recorded at 1335:37. The position of this trackpoint was near HYX. A plot of the trackpoints showed the airplane headed in a north-northwesterly direction until reaching a point approximately 7 sm south-southwest of West Branch, Michigan. The track then turned south, and then southwesterly toward Gladwin Zettel Memorial Airport (GDW), Gladwin, Michigan. The track then proceeded a short distance to the northeast followed by another turn to the southwest. The track continued to the southwest for approximately 7.8 sm prior to turning back to the north-northwest for another 7sm. The track then turned to the west and headed toward 80D.

The track showed the airplane continued west until reaching the north end of the runway at 80D. The track then turned to the south and followed the length of the runway prior to making a turn to the east. The track then showed the airplane heading north to a point approximately 2.5sm north of the airport. The track then turned to the south, heading back toward the airport. According to the data, the airplane continued on a course, which varied between 186 and 175 degrees true. The data also showed the airplane's speed decreasing from 99 miles per hour to 51 miles per hour during this period. The last data point showed the airplane on a heading of 157 degrees true with a speed of 56 miles per hour.

Parties to the investigation included the FAA, Teledyne Continental, and Cessna Aircraft.

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