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N4734R accident description

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Tail numberN4734R
Accident dateJune 15, 2001
Aircraft typeCessna 172RG
LocationWaveland, MS
Near 30.287777 N, -89.368611 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On June 15, 2001, about 0730 central daylight time, a Cessna 172RG, N4734R, registered to Omega Protein, Inc., collided with trees then a house near Waveland, Mississippi. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91, fish-spotting flight. The airplane was destroyed and the commercial-rated pilot, the sole occupant, suffered fatal injuries. There were no injuries to an occupant in the house. The flight originated about 0540, from Shade Tree Airstrip, near Gulfport, Mississippi.

The pilot was employed by Omega Protein, Inc., to spot fish and relay that information to fishing boats. The accident pilot and another company pilot departed in separate airplanes, one after the other from Shade Tree Airstrip for a planned 4-hour fish-spotting flight. A third company pilot departed from St. Elmo, Alabama (2R5), about 0545, for the same purpose. The pilot that departed about the same time as the accident pilot from the same airport reported air-to-air communications were established with the accident pilot after takeoff, when the flights were clear of the airport area. The flights of the three company airplanes continued and about 0720, someone asked the accident pilot his location; he responded that he was east of a location called Cat Island, and he wanted to suspend fish spotting for the duration of the shift. The pilot who had departed with the accident pilot reported that the accident pilot's voice during this transmission was "weak" sounding. Both other company pilots reported that it was discussed to return due to the inability to see fish. The pilot who departed from St. Elmo returned to his departure airport, and the pilot who had departed with the accident pilot initially elected to attempt to spot fish for a boat that was heading south of the fleet of boats being spotted by him and the accident pilot. He then returned to near the fleet and attempted to establish radio communications with the accident pilot; but was unsuccessful.

A pilot-rated witness who was located approximately 4-5 blocks east of the crash site reported seeing an airplane flying no more than 400 feet above ground level, heading north or northwest bound. He estimated the airplane was flying at 80 miles per hour with the engine operating at a decreased rpm; the engine sound was steady with no sputtering. He reported that after flying over land, the airplane entered a 10-15 degree left bank which continued until he lost sight of the airplane. He then heard a sound he associated with the accident. A copy of his written statement and NTSB Record of Conversation with the witness are an attachment to this report.


The pilot was the holder of a U.S. FAA commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and sea ratings. He was issued a second class medical certificate on January 12, 2001, with the limitation, "Holder shall wear corrective lenses while exercising the privileges of his airman certificate." The operator reported that he had accumulated a total flight time of 17,946 hours.


Review of the maintenance records revealed that the airplane was last inspected in accordance with an annual inspection on March 14, 2001. The airplane had accumulated approximately 246 hours since the inspection at the time of the accident. The airplane was equipped with a GPS receiver.


An automated METAR weather observation taken at the Gulfport, Mississippi Airport, at 0753 central daylight time, indicates that the wind was from 250 degrees at 5 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles, scattered clouds existed at 1,900 feet, broken clouds existed at 2,700 feet, the temperature and dew point were 27 and 24 degrees Celsius, respectively. The altimeter setting was 30.07 inHg.


The pilot was not in contact with any FAA air traffic control (ATC) facility.


Examination of the accident site area revealed the airplane impacted several trees then the roof and chimney of a house in a residential area. The airplane consisting of the fuselage came to rest on the ground partially inside the impacted house, the fuselage was resting on its left side. The first damaged tree along the wreckage path was located approximately 237 feet from the impact point on the roof of the house. Major structure of the left wing were located in two trees approximately 72 feet and 98 feet laterally respectively, from the first tree impact location. Several small tree limbs that exhibited 45-degree angled cuts with black or gray colored paint on the fractured surface were located adjacent to the roof of the house. Examination of the house revealed an impact signature on the upslope of the back side of the roof associated with the right wing which separated and was located on the ground ahead of the house approximately 57 feet forward of the airplane. Browning of grass was noted adjacent to the wing root area where the separated right wing came to rest. The accident site was located at 30 degrees 17.26 minutes North latitude and 089 degrees 22.11 minutes West longitude. That location when plotted was located 217 degrees and approximately 18 nautical miles from the destination airport. The airplane was recovered for further examination.

Examination of the airplane revealed the left wing was separated at the wing root and was fragmented in three pieces; evidence of major tree strikes were located approximately 7 feet and 12 feet respectively inboard of the outermost rib. The right wing was one piece and was separated at the wing root. Flight control cable continuity was established for yaw, and pitch. The left and right aileron control cables exhibited evidence of overstress fracture in the middle of the cabin and at the wing root area, respectively. The balance cable exhibited overstress fracture approximately 10 feet 6 inches inboard of the left aileron bellcrank near the control surface. The landing gear and the flaps were retracted. A GPS receiver that was located in the instrument panel was removed for further examination (see Tests and Research section of this report).

Examination of the engine revealed crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity. Compression and suction was noted from each cylinder during rotation of the crankshaft. The magnetos were properly timed to the engine and during rotation of the engine spark was noted at each spark plug. Additionally, continuity was established on all drive and driven components. A slight amount of fuel was found in the carburetor bowl and in the gascolator; the gascolator screen was clean.

Examination of the propeller revealed that one blade was bent aft 90 degrees with leading edge polishing and chordwise scratches and gouges. The other blade was bent aft 45 degrees with leading edge gouging and polishing; approximately 7.75 inches were missing from the blade tip which was not recovered. No evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction was noted from fracture surface of the propeller blade that exhibited the separated section.


A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Paul McGarry, M.D., of the coroner's office, Hancock County, Mississippi. The first item of the autopsy diagnosis was listed as, "Fresh posteroseptal myocardial infarction; stenotic coronary atherosclerosis."

Toxicological analysis of specimens of the pilot was performed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The results of the analysis was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and volatiles. The results were positive in the urine for hydrocodone, dihydrocodeine, hydromorphone, and glucose. The results were also positive for glucose in vitreous fluid, and hemoglobin (4.7 percent saturation) in blood. No opiates were detected.


Testing of the global positioning system (GPS) receiver at the manufacturer’s facility with FAA oversight revealed the last recorded position before the unit was powered off was 30 degrees 17.299 minutes North latitude and 089 degrees 22.034 minutes West longitude. There was no route entered except for the factory default route and the destination waypoint was named "SHADE." The crash site was later calculated to be located 243 degrees and .08 nautical mile from the location where the GPS was powered off. A copy of the report from the manufacturer and from the FAA inspector who attended the examination are attachments to this report.

FAA radar data of uncorrelated 1200 beacon code targets indicates a target was noted at 0713:09, at 600 feet. The radar targets continue with the last target occurring at 0728:45, the altitude was 300 feet. The crash site was calculated to be located 268 degrees and .96 nautical mile from the last radar target. The radar data also indicates that the average groundspeed was 90 knots. The radar plots are an attachment to this report.

Calculations performed by representatives of the airplane manufacturer based on the location of the witness who reported that the airplane flew over his house and the location of the accident site correlated with the bank angle and ground speed estimated by the witness indicates that the radius of turn was 4,080 feet. The calculations assume that the angle of bank, ground speed, etc., remained constant.


The airplane minus the retained GPS receiver was released to Marshall Dean, assistant vice-president, for U.S. Aviation Underwriters, on July 30, 2001. The retained GPS receiver was also released to Marshall Dean on February 25, 2002.

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