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N38416 accident description

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Tail numberN38416
Accident dateAugust 22, 2003
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-181
LocationLake Elmo, MN
Near 44.953333 N, -92.883333 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 22, 2003, at 1726 central daylight time, a Cessna 172S, N53033, operated by Wings, Inc., and a Piper PA-28-181, N38416, operated by the Prescott Flying Club, were destroyed when they impacted terrain after a mid-air collision near Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The certified flight instructor (CFI) in the Cessna received fatal injuries, and the student pilot received serious injuries. The private pilot and passenger in the Piper received fatal injuries. The Cessna departed the Downtown St. Paul Airport (STP), St. Paul, Minnesota, about 1719 on a 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, and was flying east to practice flight maneuvers. The Piper departed the South St. Paul Municipal Airport (SGS), South St. Paul, Minnesota, about 1719 on a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, and was en route to Silver Bay, Minnesota. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The Cessna had not filed a flight plan. The Piper had filed a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan.

The student pilot in the Cessna reported that he met the CFI at STP about 1630 for his first instructional flight, although it was the second flight with the CFI. The first flight with the CFI had been an introductory flight. He did a detailed preflight of the airplane before departure. The purpose of the flight was to practice basic flight maneuvers such as straight and level flight, climbs, turns, and descents.

He reported that the CFI was flying the airplane during takeoff, and they departed to the east on the north side of interstate highway I-94. He reported that the CFI explained the function of the flight controls and airplane's instruments, and let him practice for 30-60 seconds. He reported that the CFI let him take the flight controls while they were flying straight and level for about 10 minutes. He reported that he was flying the airplane and was looking straight ahead trying to maintain straight and level flight. He reported that the CFI put her hand on the throttle and started explaining the climb procedure. He reported that while the CFI was explaining the climb procedure, the airplane was hit by another airplane on the right side of the airplane. He reported that he never saw the airplane before the impact and that he didn't think the CFI saw it either. He reported that the CFI did not grab the controls or make any "violent maneuvers" prior to the impact. He reported that the airplane "went into some sort of dive" and impacted a grove of trees. He reported that he remained conscious during the impact with the trees and was able to extract himself out of the wreckage after the airplane came to a stop.

Five witnesses reported observing the airplanes just prior to the mid-air collision. Four of the witnesses reported that one of the airplanes was traveling in an eastbound direction prior to impact. There was no general agreement as to the direction the other airplane was traveling. The headings for the direction of travel for the second airplane included: westbound, eastbound, northbound, and southbound. The witnesses observed one of the airplanes spiraling downward with one wing missing. The other airplane was observed descending in a curved arc and impacting trees.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The CFI in the Cessna was a commercial pilot with single and multi-engine land ratings. She held a Certified Flight Instructor certificate with airplane single engine and instrument airplane ratings. She held a First Class medical certificate. Her pilot logbook indicated that she had logged a total of 1,372 flight hours of which 951 were logged as a flight instructor. She had logged 139 hours of providing instruction in the last 90 days and 44 hours of providing instruction in the last 30 days.

The pilot in the Piper was a private pilot with a single engine land rating. He held a Third Class medical certificate. The pilot's logbook indicated that he passed his Private Pilot checkride on August 13, 2003. The logbook indicated that the pilot had a total of 99 hours of total flight time. He had flown 33 hours in the last 90 days, and 14 hours in the last 30 days. The Piper airplane's sign-out log indicated that the pilot had flown 1.5 hours in the accident airplane on August 19, 2004.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Cessna 172S, serial number 172S9258, was a high wing airplane that seated four and had a maximum gross weight of 2,400 pounds. The engine was a 180 horsepower Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine. The last 100 hour inspection was conducted on July 18, 2003. The airplane had flown 78 hours since the last 100 hour inspection and had a total tachometer time of 559 hours at the time of the accident.

The Piper PA-28-181, serial number 28-7790549, was a low wing airplane that seated four and had a maximum gross weight of 2,550 pounds. The engine was a 180 horsepower Lycoming O-360-A4M engine. The airplane had flown 240 hours since the last annual inspection on November 1, 2002, and had a total of tachometer time of 7,792 hours at the time of the inspection.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1753, the weather conditions reported at STP were: Winds calm, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 29 degrees C, dewpoint 11 degrees C, altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The collision occurred near the intersection of County Road 17 (CR 17) and 3rd Street Place North, Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The Cessna impacted terrain on the west side of CR17 in a thick wooded area approximately 111 feet west of the roadway. The coordinates for the Cessna location were 44 degrees 57.241 minutes north, 092 degrees 53.008 minutes west. The Piper impacted terrain on the east side of CR 17 approximately 205 feet east of the roadway near a practice putting green on a golf course. The coordinates for the Piper location were 44 degrees 57.257 minutes north, 092 degrees 52.932 minutes west. The main wreckage of the Piper was located approximately 383 feet to the east northeast of the Cessna main wreckage.

The right wing of the Cessna was detached and located with the Cessna main wreckage. The leading edge of the right wing was crushed aft to the spar. The outboard section of the right wing was shredded. Approximately 36 inches of the Cessna's outboard right wing structure was found lodged in the left wing root of the Piper, and was located with the main wreckage of the Piper. Cessna parts at the Piper site included two Cessna wing rib sections, part numbers 0523035-2 and 0523515-7. No Piper parts were identified at the Cessna site.

The Piper's left wing exhibited a span-wise crease about five feet long in the lower wing skins forward of the flap. The Cessna's right wing leading edge had two distinct dents that were spaced a similar distance apart as the Piper's wing tie-down ring and jack pad. A series of scrapes approximately one-inch apart were observed on the Cessna's right wing. Similar rivet spacing existed on the Piper wing.

The left side of the Piper's fuselage was crushed. The aft left fuselage in the vicinity of the registration number exhibited black, rubber-like transfer marks. The right tire from the Cessna's main landing gear had white scuff marks on the right side of the tire.

Both airplanes were inspected for flight control continuity. The post accident inspection of both airplane's flight controls revealed no preexisting anomalies that could be associated with a pre-impact condition.

Both blades of Cessna's propeller exhibited gouges and dents to the leading edges, and chordwise scrapes and gouges to the chambered side of the blades. One of the Cessna propeller blade tips, about four inches in length, had separated from the propeller blade and was found at the main wreckage site of the Cessna.

One of the Piper's propeller blades exhibited gouges and dents to the leading edge, and chordwise scrapes and gouges to the chambered side of the blade. The other blade exhibited no gouges, dents, or chordwise scrapes. (See the Minnesota State Patrol "Metro Crash Reconstruction Team Report" and the photographs in the docket material associated with this case)

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Autopsies were performed on the CFI in the Cessna and the pilot and passenger in the Piper at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Reports were prepared by the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute. The reports for the CFI in the Cessna and the pilot and passenger in the Piper were negative for all substances tested.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Both the Cessna and Piper aircraft were flying beneath the positively controlled Class B airspace of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Neither airplane was required to be in radio contact with air traffic control. Both airplanes were operating under visual flight rules, and both airplanes were transmitting the 1200 VFR beacon code on their respective transponders.

The Cessna departed STP approximately 1719. Radar data indicated the Cessna departed to the northwest and turned right to an easterly heading. The radar track indicated that the Cessna was north of interstate highway I-94 and was paralleling the interstate to the east. The radar data indicated that the Cessna climbed to approximately 2,300-2,400 feet pressure altitude about 4 minutes after takeoff and remained at that altitude until impact approximately 2 minutes later. The radar data indicated the Cessna was traveling at approximately 98 knots average ground speed during the 2 minutes prior to impact.

The Piper departed SGS approximately 1719. Radar data indicated the Piper departed to the southwest and turned left to the east initially, and then turned to the north. Approximately 4 minutes after takeoff, the Piper turned to the northeast on a heading of about 027 degrees. The radar data indicated that between 1723:41 and 1725:32, the Piper climbed from about 1,900 feet pressure altitude to about 2,300 feet pressure altitude. During the 2 minutes prior to impact, the relative bearing between the Piper and the Cessna was about 60 degrees. The radar data indicated the Piper was traveling at approximately 107 knots average ground speed during the 2 minutes prior to impact.

Federal Aircraft Regulation (FAR) 91.113 states the following regulation regarding "Right-of-way:"

(a) Inapplicability. This section does not apply to the operation of an aircraft on water.

(b) General. When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.

(c) In distress. An aircraft in distress has the right-of-way over all other air traffic.

(d) Converging. When aircraft of the same category are converging at approximately the same altitude (except head-on, or nearly so), the aircraft to the other's right has the right-of-way. If the aircraft are of different categories--

(1) A balloon has the right-of-way over any other category of aircraft;

(2) A glider has the right-of-way over an airship, powered parachute, weight-shift-control aircraft, airplane, or rotorcraft.

(3) An airship has the right-of-way over a powered parachute, weight-shift-control aircraft, airplane, or rotorcraft. However, an aircraft towing or refueling other aircraft has the right-of-way over all other engine-driven aircraft.

(e) Approaching head-on. When aircraft are approaching each other head-on, or nearly so, each pilot of each aircraft shall alter course to the right.

(f) Overtaking. Each aircraft that is being overtaken has the right-of-way and each pilot of an overtaking aircraft shall alter course to the right to pass well clear.

(g) Landing. Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface, except that they shall not take advantage of this rule to force an aircraft off the runway surface which has already landed and is attempting to make way for an aircraft on final approach. When two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right-of-way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land or to overtake that aircraft.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, the New Piper Aircraft Company, and the Cessna Aircraft Company.

The wreckage from the Cessna and Piper was released to Wentworth Aircraft, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 24, 2003.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 22, 2003, at 1726 central daylight time, a Cessna 172S, N53033, operated by Wings, Inc., and a Piper PA-28-181, N38416, operated by the Prescott Flying Club, were destroyed when they impacted terrain after a mid-air collision near Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The certified flight instructor (CFI) in the Cessna received fatal injuries, and the student pilot received serious injuries. The private pilot and passenger in the Piper received fatal injuries. The Cessna departed the Downtown St. Paul Airport (STP), St. Paul, Minnesota, about 1719 on a 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, and was flying east to practice flight maneuvers. The Piper departed the South St. Paul Municipal Airport (SGS), South St. Paul, Minnesota, about 1719 on a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, and was en route to Silver Bay, Minnesota. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The Cessna had not filed a flight plan. The Piper had filed a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan.

The student pilot in the Cessna reported that he met the CFI at STP about 1630 for his first instructional flight, although it was the second flight with the CFI. The first flight with the CFI had been an introductory flight. He did a detailed preflight of the airplane before departure. The purpose of the flight was to practice basic flight maneuvers such as straight and level flight, climbs, turns, and descents.

He reported that the CFI was flying the airplane during takeoff, and they departed to the east on the north side of interstate highway I-94. He reported that the CFI explained the function of the flight controls and airplane's instruments, and let him practice for 30-60 seconds. He reported that the CFI let him take the flight controls while they were flying straight and level for about 10 minutes. He reported that he was flying the airplane and was looking straight ahead trying to maintain straight and level flight. He reported that the CFI put her hand on the throttle and started explaining the climb procedure. He reported that while the CFI was explaining the climb procedure, the airplane was hit by another airplane on the right side of the airplane. He reported that he never saw the airplane before the impact and that he didn't think the CFI saw it either. He reported that the CFI did not grab the controls or make any "violent maneuvers" prior to the impact. He reported that the airplane "went into some sort of dive" and impacted a grove of trees. He reported that he remained conscious during the impact with the trees and was able to extract himself out of the wreckage after the airplane came to a stop.

Five witnesses reported observing the airplanes just prior to the mid-air collision. Four of the witnesses reported that one of the airplanes was traveling in an eastbound direction prior to impact. There was no general agreement as to the direction the other airplane was traveling. The headings for the direction of travel for the second airplane included: westbound, eastbound, northbound, and southbound. The witnesses observed one of the airplanes spiraling downward with one wing missing. The other airplane was observed descending in a curved arc and impacting trees.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The CFI in the Cessna was a commercial pilot with single and multi-engine land ratings. She held a Certified Flight Instructor certificate with airplane single engine and instrument airplane ratings. She held a First Class medical certificate. Her pilot logbook indicated that she had logged a total of 1,372 flight hours of which 951 were logged as a flight instructor. She had logged 139 hours of providing instruction in the last 90 days and 44 hours of providing instruction in the last 30 days.

The pilot in the Piper was a private pilot with a single engine land rating. He held a Third Class medical certificate. The pilot's logbook indicated that he passed his Private Pilot checkride on August 13, 2003. The logbook indicated that the pilot had a total of 99 hours of total flight time. He had flown 33 hours in the last 90 days, and 14 hours in the last 30 days. The Piper airplane's sign-out log indicated that the pilot had flown 1.5 hours in the accident airplane on August 19, 2004.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Cessna 172S, serial number 172S9258, was a high wing airplane that seated four and had a maximum gross weight of 2,400 pounds. The engine was a 180 horsepower Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine. The last 100 hour inspection was conducted on July 18, 2003. The airplane had flown 78 hours since the last 100 hour inspection and had a total tachometer time of 559 hours at the time of the accident.

The Piper PA-28-181, serial number 28-7790549, was a low wing airplane that seated four and had a maximum gross weight of 2,550 pounds. The engine was a 180 horsepower Lycoming O-360-A4M engine. The airplane had flown 240 hours since the last annual inspection on November 1, 2002, and had a total of tachometer time of 7,792 hours at the time of the inspection.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1753, the weather conditions reported at STP were: Winds calm, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 29 degrees C, dewpoint 11 degrees C, altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The collision occurred near the intersection of County Road 17 (CR 17) and 3rd Street Place North, Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The Cessna impacted terrain on the west side of CR17 in a thick wooded area approximately 111 feet west of the roadway. The coordinates for the Cessna location were 44 degrees 57.241 minutes north, 092 degrees 53.008 minutes west. The Piper impacted terrain on the east side of CR 17 approximately 205 feet east of the roadway near a practice putting green on a golf course. The coordinates for the Piper location were 44 degrees 57.257 minutes north, 092 degrees 52.932 minutes west. The main wreckage of the Piper was located approximately 383 feet to the east northeast of the Cessna main wreckage.

The right wing of the Cessna was detached and located with the Cessna main wreckage. The leading edge of the right wing was crushed aft to the spar. The outboard section of the right wing was shredded. Approximately 36 inches of the Cessna's outboard right wing structure was found lodged in the left wing root of the Piper, and was located with the main wreckage of the Piper. Cessna parts at the Piper site included two Cessna wing rib sections, part numbers 0523035-2 and 0523515-7. No Piper parts were identified at the Cessna site.

The Piper's left wing exhibited a span-wise crease about five feet long in the lower wing skins forward of the flap. The Cessna's right wing leading edge had two distinct dents that were spaced a similar distance apart as the Piper's wing tie-down ring and jack pad. A series of scrapes approximately one-inch apart were observed on the Cessna's right wing. Similar rivet spacing existed on the Piper wing.

The left side of the Piper's fuselage was crushed. The aft left fuselage in the vicinity of the registration number exhibited black, rubber-like transfer marks. The right tire from the Cessna's main landing gear had white scuff marks on the right side of the tire.

Both airplanes were inspected for flight control continuity. The post accident inspection of both airplane's flight controls revealed no preexisting anomalies that could be associated with a pre-impact condition.

Both blades of Cessna's propeller exhibited gouges and dents to the leading edges, and chordwise scrapes and gouges to the chambered side of the blades. One of the Cessna propeller blade tips, about four inches in length, had separated from the propeller blade and was found at the main wreckage site of the Cessna.

One of the Piper's propeller blades exhibited gouges and dents to the leading edge, and chordwise scrapes and gouges to the chambered side of the blade. The other blade exhibited no gouges, dents, or chordwise scrapes. (See the Minnesota State Patrol "Metro Crash Reconstruction Team Report" and the photographs in the docket material associated with this case)

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Autopsies were performed on the CFI in the Cessna and the pilot and passenger in the Piper at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Reports were prepared by the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute. The reports for the CFI in the Cessna and the pilot and passenger in the Piper were negative for all substances tested.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Both the Cessna and Piper aircraft were flying beneath the positively controlled Class B airspace of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Neither airplane was required to be in radio contact with air traffic control. Both airplanes were operating under visual flight rules, and both airplanes were transmitting the 1200 VFR beacon code on their respective transponders.

The Cessna departed STP approximately 1719. Radar data indicated the Cessna departed to the northwest and turned right to an easterly heading. The radar track indicated that the Cessna was north of interstate highway I-94 and was paralleling the interstate to the east. The radar data indicated that the Cessna climbed to approximately 2,300-2,400 feet pressure altitude about 4 minutes after takeoff and remained at that altitude until impact approximately 2 minutes later. The radar data indicated the Cessna was traveling at approximately 98 knots average ground speed during the 2 minutes prior to impact.

The Piper departed SGS approximately 1719. Radar data indicated the Piper departed to the southwest and turned left to the east initially, and then turned to the north. Approximately 4 minutes after takeoff, the Piper turned to the northeast on a heading of about 027 degrees. The radar data indicated that between 1723:41 and 1725:32, the Piper climbed from about 1,900 feet pressure altitude to about 2,300 feet pressure altitude. During the 2 minutes prior to impact, the relative bearing between the Piper and the Cessna was about 60 degrees. The radar data indicated the Piper was traveling at approximately 107 knots average ground speed during the 2 minutes prior to impact.

Federal Aircraft Regulation (FAR) 91.113 states the following regulation regarding "Right-of-way:"

(a) Inapplicability. This section does not apply to the operation of an aircraft on water.

(b) General. When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.

(c) In distress. An aircraft in distress has the right-of-way over all other air traffic.

(d) Converging. When aircraft of the same category are converging at approximately the same altitude (except head-on, or nearly so), the aircraft to the other's right has the right-of-way. If the aircraft are of different categories--

(1) A balloon has the right-of-way over any other category of aircraft;

(2) A glider has the right-of-way over an airship, powered parachute, weight-shift-control aircraft, airplane, or rotorcraft.

(3) An airship has the right-of-way over a powered parachute, weight-shift-control aircraft, airplane, or rotorcraft. However, an aircraft towing or refueling other aircraft has the right-of-way over all other engine-driven aircraft.

(e) Approaching head-on. When aircraft are approaching each other head-on, or nearly so, each pilot of each aircraft shall alter course to the right.

(f) Overtaking. Each aircraft that is being overtaken has the right-of-way and each pilot of an overtaking aircraft shall alter course to the right to pass well clear.

(g) Landing. Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface, except that they shall not take advantage of this rule to force an aircraft off the runway surface which has already landed and is attempting to make way for an aircraft on final approach. When two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right-of-way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land or to overtake that aircraft.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, the New Piper Aircraft Company, and the Cessna Aircraft Company.

The wreckage from the Cessna and Piper was released to Wentworth Aircraft, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 24, 2003.

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