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N6248V accident description

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Tail numberN6248V
Accident dateJuly 05, 2004
Aircraft typeLake LA-4-200
LocationWilmot, NH
Near 43.368889 N, -71.851944 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 5, 2004, approximately 1500 eastern daylight time, a Lake LA-4-200 airplane, N6248V, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain in Wilmot, New Hampshire. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight which departed the Clinton County Airport (PLB), Plattsburgh, New York, and was en route to the Concord Municipal Airport (CON), Concord, New Hampshire. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

Information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the pilot contacted the Burlington Flight Service Station (FSS) about 1030 and requested a visual flight rules (VFR) outlook weather briefing for a flight from the Adirondack Regional Airport (SLK), Saranac Lake, New York, to CON. The weather briefer reported that marginal ceilings were forecasted all day, with mountain obscuration from clouds, and precipitation. Thunderstorms were also forecasted for the afternoon. The forecast, valid until 1600, included: broken clouds at 1,500 feet, an overcast cloud layer at 6,000 feet, visibility 6 miles, occasionally broken clouds at 2,500 feet, an overcast cloud layer at 5,000 feet, and visibility 2 miles with rain and mist.

The pilot then requested the current weather at Clinton County, which was reported by the briefer as: scattered clouds at 1,200 feet, 10 miles visibility, and calm winds. The pilot reported he would "head over there" and the briefer asked him if he was still going to CON. The pilot replied that he was "worried about getting through the Green Mountains" but stated he could "go into Manchester if [he] needed to." He then asked what the current weather was at Manchester, and the briefer responded that the weather was: clouds 1,100 scattered, 1,700 broken, 3,000 overcast, 10 miles visibility, and winds from 180 degrees at 7 knots. The briefer also stated that the forecast, valid until 1600, was for: scattered clouds at 800 feet, broken clouds at 1,500 feet, and 6 miles visibility. The forecast also included an occasional overcast cloud layer at 800 feet with rain and mist. The pilot responded, "I didn't bring my charts so I'm going to head to Plattsburgh."

A review of radar data provided by the FAA revealed a target departed Plattsburgh at 1338, and proceeded southeast across Vermont. The target over flew Lebanon, New Hampshire, about 1440, at an altitude of 5,500 feet, and then began a gradual descent of about 200 feet per minute. The target continued on a southeast heading and descended to an altitude of 2,600 feet. The target was level at 2,600 feet for about 1 minute prior to the last recorded hit, which occurred about 1455, at 43 degrees, 29 minutes north latitude, and 71 degrees, 41 minutes west longitude.

According to local law enforcement authorities, the pilot called "911" from his cell phone and reported he had impacted trees about 15 miles west of Concord. He remained on the phone line while search and rescue personnel attempted to locate the airplane. A review of the "911" tape revealed the pilot stated he was flying "under a [cloud] deck" between the Concord VOR and Lebanon Airport, at an altitude of 3,000-3,500 feet, about 500-800 feet above the trees. He stated that he and his son had originally departed from the Long Lake Seaplane Base, flew to Adirondack Regional Airport, and then to Clinton County Airport. They waited for weather to clear, and then departed Clinton County. The pilot flew a path direct to Rutland [Vermont], where it was clear above 12,000 feet, and then flew a path from Rutland to Lebanon [New Hampshire], "where there was overcast." The pilot further stated:

"I flew over the overcast at 9,000 feet VFR, and came through a hole past Lebanon. I was flying at 3,500 feet and the hole disappeared. I stayed at 3,500 feet on instruments. The report at Concord was that the ceiling was 1,400 feet and I was heading to Concord for a landing, a fuel stop."

The pilot was asked by dispatchers what caused the accident, and he replied, "Controlled flight into terrain."

The airplane and pilot were located about 1851, at an elevation of 2,490 feet on the western side of Mount Kearsarge. The summit of Mount Kearsarge was 2,937 feet. An officer of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Division reported that at the time of the accident, Mount Kearsarge was obscured by a cloud layer from its summit, down to about 2,000 feet. Additionally, the lateral visibility was about 200 feet at the time.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on March 22, 2004. At that time he reported 475 hours of total flight experience.

Examination of the pilot's logbook revealed he had accumulated 479 hours of total flight experience, 15 hours of actual instrument time, and 74 hours of simulated instrument time. He received his instrument rating on November 22, 1999, and had logged instrument time on 4 flights since then (5.4 hours of simulated instrument time and 0.5 hours of actual instrument time). The most recent entry for instrument flight time was on August 26, 2001, at which time the pilot logged 0.5 hours of actual instrument time.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Examination of the airplane and engine logbooks revealed the most recent annual inspection was performed on March 25, 2003, with no abnormalities noted. The airplane had flown 49 hours since then.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The cloud ceiling reported at CON, at 1451, was overcast at 1,400 feet. The visibility was reported as 10 miles; however, local authorities stated that weather in the vicinity of the accident site was "foggy, with low ceilings."

The cloud ceiling reported at LEB, at 1453, was overcast at 1,300 feet. The visibility was reported as 10 miles.

COMMUNICATIONS

Information provided by the FAA revealed the pilot did not file a flight plan. Additionally, there was no record of air traffic control communication with the pilot.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The airplane impacted wooded, up-sloping terrain, and an underside section of the right wing was noted suspended in a tree, at the beginning of the wreckage path. Tree strikes continued along the wreckage path, all approximately the same height. The wreckage path extended about 300 feet from the initial tree strikes to the main wreckage, and was oriented on an approximate 155-degree heading. Branches of varying diameters, cut at 45-degree angles, and the leading edge of the left wing were also located along the wreckage path.

The main wreckage came to rest upright, in a level attitude, on a heading of 142 degrees. The left wing remained intact and attached to the fuselage at the wing root. The left flap and aileron remained attached to the wing at their attachment points. The outboard half of the right wing, with the aileron attached, came to rest under the left wing. The inboard half of the right wing remained attached to the fuselage at the wing root, and the right flap was separated and located under the inboard right wing.

The empennage section remained attached to the fuselage and sustained minimal damage.

The engine remained attached above the fuselage and was examined at the accident site. The engine was rotated by the propeller and thumb compression and valve train continuity was obtained on all cylinders. The top and bottom spark plugs were removed; their electrodes were intact and light gray in color. During rotation of the engine, spark was produced at each magneto ignition lead.

Fuel was observed in the fuel distributor, engine driven fuel pump, and the fuel line to the fuel pump.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 61.57(c), Instrument Experience, states, "no person may act as pilot in command under IFR or in weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR, unless within the preceding 6 calendar months, that person has: performed and logged under actual or simulated instrument conditions, (i) at least six instrument approaches, (ii) holding procedures; and (iii) intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigation systems."

FAR 91.155, Basic VFR Weather Minimums, states, "no person may operate an aircraft under VFR when the flight visibility is less, or at a distance from clouds that is less, than that prescribed for the corresponding altitude and class of airspace." Class C, D, E, and G distance from cloud minimums were listed as: 500 feet below, 1,000 feet above, and 2,000 feet horizontal.

ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter)

The airplane was equipped with a Martech ELT, which emitted a signal after the accident, and aided rescue workers in locating the airplane.

Wreckage Release

The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on July 7, 2004.

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