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N2442S accident description

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Tail numberN2442S
Accident dateAugust 25, 1997
Aircraft typeCessna 337B
LocationWarren Township, NJ
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 25, 1997, at 1030 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 337B, N2442S, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during an uncontrolled descent in Warren Township, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight originated at Newark, New Jersey (EWR), at 1021, with an intended destination of Princeton, New Jersey. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a telephone conversation, a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector stated that N2442S departed Newark and "...departed a VFR corridor to the west." He stated that initial Air Traffic Control (ATC) services were provided by Newark Airport ground control and by the tower. Further ATC service from approach control was offered, but the pilot declined the service. At 1024, radar service was terminated; however, radar facilities continued to track N2442S.

Radar data showed that N2442S climbed to 1,800 feet mean sea level (MSL). The airplane continued at 1,800 feet MSL for approximately 38 seconds in a westerly direction. The last radar plot at 1,800 feet was at 1028:26. At 1028:31, radar data indicated N2442S had descended to 1,100 feet MSL. No further radar plots were recorded. The airplane impacted wooded terrain behind a house in a residential area.

A witness interviewed at the scene stated she was seated in her car with the engine running and the windows rolled down. The car was approximately 200 yards from the accident site, facing perpendicular to the flight path, with the driver's side facing the approaching airplane. The witness stated her attention was drawn to the aircraft because the engine noise was very loud. She stated the engines sounded "...very loud but not smooth." She said the engines were running very fast but were increasing and decreasing speed. The witness stated, "The airplane came straight down." The witness said she heard a loud explosion approximately 1 minute after the sound of impact.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 40 degrees, 37 minutes north latitude, and 74 degrees, 29 minutes west longitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

The seventy-eight year-old pilot held a private pilot's certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. The multi-engine rating was limited to center thrust and was issued on the basis of a medical flight test.

The pilot was issued a third class medical certificate December 11, 1996. Limitations placed on the certificate were: "Holder shall wear corrective lenses" and holder "Must wear artificial limb."

A review of the pilot's most recent logbook revealed the pilot had documented 3,797 hours of total flight experience. He logged 2,922 hours of multi-engine flight experience, all of which was in the Cessna 337. The pilot logged 10 hours of flight experience in the 90 days prior to the accident and no flights in the 30 days prior. The pilot completed a biennial flight review in the Cessna 337 October 25, 1996.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Cessna 337B was a twin-engine airplane, with one engine and propeller mounted each on the front and aft ends of the fuselage, in a 'push-pull' configuration. The maintenance logs for the airplane were not recovered. However, the pilot entered aircraft maintenance notes in his pilot log and receipts for recent maintenance and inspections were recovered and corroborated the pilot log entries.

The airplane total time was approximately 3,000 hours. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed January 13, 1997, and the airplane accumulated approximately 40 hours after that date.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A weather observation taken at the Newark International Airport, 18 miles east of the accident site, at 1051 reported: scattered clouds at 5,000 feet with a broken layer at 10,000 feet. The visibility was 10 miles and the winds were variable at 4 knots.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The wreckage was examined at the accident site on August 25 and 26, 1997. The examination revealed the airplane struck the ground in an approximate nose-down attitude of 60 degrees and was destroyed by impact and post crash fire. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene.

The wreckage path was oriented on a magnetic heading of 245 degrees and covered an approximate distance of 300 feet. The wreckage path was divided into 1 foot increments called wreckage points (WP).

The initial impact scar was on a tree approximately 18 inches in diameter at a point approximately 50 feet above the ground. The first ground scar was at WP 24. The forward engine was buried beneath the first ground scar and was destroyed by impact. The crankshaft was broken aft of the propeller flange and displayed a fracture 45 degrees to the longitudinal axis. Engine compression, valve train continuity, and ignition system checks were not possible. Three of twelve spark plugs were recovered and the electrodes were light tan and gray.

The left tailboom and a portion of the left wing were found at WP 27. The left wing and flap were found at WP 33. The main fuselage was at WP 36 and was consumed by fire.

The aft mounted engine was found inverted at WP 45 feet, 3 feet left of centerline. Examination revealed the engine was destroyed by impact and ground fire. Engine compression, valve train continuity, and ignition system checks were not possible. The top six spark plugs were recovered and the electrodes were light tan and gray. The electrodes on two spark plugs were coated with oil.

The forward propeller hub with one blade attached was found at WP 78, 24 feet left of centerline. The aft propeller hub with both blades attached was found at WP 118, 12 feet left of centerline.

All propeller blades displayed similar twisting, bending, leading edge gouging, and chord-wise scratching.

Flight control continuity could not be established due to impact and fire.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed October 22, 1997, by Dr. Kenneth D. Hutchins, Assistant Medical Examiner of the New Jersey Regional Medical Examiner's Office, Newark, New Jersey.

Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

One witness described through an interpreter that he was behind his place of employment when he saw the accident airplane. He could not hear the engine. The witness said he saw the airplane climbing "...then it just dropped. Then I saw smoke."

Another witness stated he was in his house, less than 1,000 feet from the accident site, when he heard the engine noise. He said:

"The engine was running fast-so fast. Sounded like a plane going down-like in the World War II movies-like a dive bomber. It sounded like a model plane. I heard the impact, it was very loud. Maybe one minute later I heard an explosion. There was really loud, constant, engine noise."

A retired aircraft mechanic stated he heard the airplane engine, the impact, and the subsequent explosion. He said he did not see the airplane. According to the witness, "I was an aircraft mechanic. The engine was running perfectly well...There was nothing wrong with that engine. The engine was running beautiful." The witness further stated that the engine noise continued until he heard the sound of impact. In describing the sounds associated with the crash, he said, " The first sound was kind of muffled, the second one was really loud."

In a telephone conversation, the owner/manager of the fixed base operation at Princeton Airport said he had a personal and professional relationship with the pilot and had maintained N2442S for approximately 12 years. He said:

"[The pilot] would fly down here to exercise the airplane. He would get a cup of coffee, we would talk, and then he would fly back. I know the airplane very well. I was the only one who flew it besides him...He spent money. He did what he had to do to make it fly right. The airplane was 100 percent. The paint was ugly, it was original. We put two factory engines in it in the last couple of years. We did mounts, hoses, props, and governors. As far as performance goes - flying - it did a nice job. It never had any recurring problems."

A close friend and fellow pilot stated he had flown with the pilot many times and was familiar with the accident airplane. He said:

"He put new engines in two years ago. I doubt if those engines had 200 hours on them. I looked in the engine compartment a year ago and everything was perfect. The hoses, baffles, everything was immaculate. Cosmetically it was a 5 or a 6 but mechanically it was perfect."

The airplane wreckage was released on August 27, 1997, to a representative of the owners insurance company.

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