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N6384E accident description

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Tail numberN6384E
Accident dateNovember 05, 2005
Aircraft typeJoseph E. Crosby Zodiac CH 601HDS
LocationPohatcong, NJ
Near 40.670556 N, -75.140833 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 5, 2005, about 1138 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172A, N7467T, and an amateur built Zodiac CH 601HDS, N6384E, were substantially damaged during a midair collision over Pohatcong, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot flying the Zodiac, which departed Alexandria Airport (N85), Pittstown, New Jersey, was fatally injured, and the certificated private pilot flying the Cessna, which departed from Van Sant Airport (9N1), Erwinna, Pennsylvania, incurred minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for either local flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot of the Cessna and recorded radar data, the Cessna departed 9N1 about 1056, and was in cruise flight indicating approximately 90 knots at 1,800 feet above mean sea level. The airplane was near Alpha, New Jersey, heading "northwest towards the Delaware River," when the pilot heard and felt "a tremendous crash" and observed a "flash of blue" out the windscreen at his 2 o'clock position. After regaining control of the airplane, he was unsure of damage that may have occurred and immediately began looking for a place to land. After performing two 360-degree turns to locate a suitable emergency landing area, he observed a cornfield that appeared to be of sufficient length, 1/4 mile to the northwest of the Phillipsburg, New Jersey exit, off of I-78, and executed a successful landing.

According to recorded radar data, and global positioning system (GPS) data recovered from the wreckage of the Zodiac, the airplane was traveling at a ground speed of 92 knots. It was on a true course of 159 degrees, descending approximately 150 feet per minute, through the Cessna's altitude of 1,800 feet, when the midair collision occurred.

Witnesses stated that the airplanes appeared to converge above the Phillipsburg exit, on Interstate 78.

There was no record of either pilot communicating with air traffic control, or each other at the time of the accident.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot of the Cessna held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on May 16, 2005. He reported 129.1 total hours of flight experience.

The pilot of the Zodiac held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. According to his pilot logbook, he had 325 total hours of flight experience. He did not hold a valid FAA medical certificate.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Cessna was a high wing airplane manufactured in 1959. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on May 13, 2005. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accrued 3,532 total hours of operation.

The Zodiac was a low wing amateur-built airplane. Its certificate of airworthiness was issued by the FAA to the builder in 1999. The airplane's most recent conditional inspection was completed on June 20, 2005. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accrued 204.9 total hours of operation.

Neither airplane was equipped with collision avoidance equipment.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The reported weather at Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 23 nautical miles west of the accident site, at 1151, included: winds calm, visibility 10 miles, skies clear, temperature 68 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 48 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The Cessna came to rest after landing on a magnetic heading of 316 degrees. Examination of the airplane revealed damage to the upper left portion of the cowling. Impact damage to the No. 6 cylinder was visible, and the engine was displaced laterally to the right. The propeller exhibited multiple chordwise scratches to the blade face near the tips, and surface scuffing along the length of the blades.

Examination of the cockpit revealed that the barometric scale on the altimeter face indicated 30.12 inches of mercury and the altimeter indicated 442 feet above sea level. The transponder function selector knob was in the altitude-reporting mode and upon power up of the airplane's electrical system, the transponder displayed code 1200. All exterior light switches were in the off position.

The Zodiac wreckage was located in a wooded area approximately 1 mile southwest of the overpass near the edge of a cornfield.

No preimpact mechanical malfunctions of the airplane or engine were discovered.

The left wing remained partially attached to the main wreckage by portions of the spar cap. The leading edge was separated forward of the spar, at the upper wing skin attach rivet line for about 3/4 of the span of the wing and the left fuel tank was breached.

The main wreckage had come to rest partially inverted and was orientated on a magnetic heading of 276 degrees. The debris field was 20 feet in length. Portions of the canopy were missing. Crush damage was visible at the right wing root, upper portion of the aft fuselage, and cockpit. The firewall exhibited impact damage and the instrument panel was separated from the majority of its mounts and had been displaced into the right seat area. Approximately 4 feet of the right wing spar, stripped of its surrounding structure, was found partially attached to the right wing root.

Examination of the cockpit revealed that the canopy latches were in the closed position. The barometric scale on the altimeter face indicated 30.06 inches of mercury and the altimeter indicated 341 feet above sea level. The transponder function selector knob was in the altitude reporting mode position, and the navigation lights selector switch was in the off position.

Control continuity was confirmed to the rudder, elevator, and ailerons. All the control cables were intact except for the right aileron cable, which had separated in the vicinity of the right wing root. The cable ends were broomstrawed, and consistent with overload.

Portions of the right wing, right fuel tank, right spar assembly, and wing skin were recovered from various locations along Interstate 78 and the surrounding area.

While examining the recovered sections of the right wing it was determined that approximately 3 feet of the wing was not present. Further examination revealed a paint transfer mark located 4 feet 10 inches outboard of the wing root. Crush damage was also present in the same location in the form of a concave depression. Slashes consistent with a propeller strike were located on the spar cap, aft of the crush mark, and near the trailing inboard edge of the surviving wing structure.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An external postmortem examination was performed on the pilot of the Zodiac by the Warren County Medical Examiners Office, Phillipsburg, New Jersey

Toxicological testing of the pilot of the Zodiac was conducted at the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The pilot's forensic toxicology report revealed:

" BUPROPION detected in Blood BUPROPION METABOLITE present in Blood METOPROLOL present in Blood MIRTAZAPINE present in Blood"

The pilot had not held a valid airman medical certificate since he failed to submit FAA-required follow up information for high blood pressure in June of 1979. His only application for an airman medical certificate after 1979 (dated 9/4/02) indicated a history of coronary artery disease requiring stent placement, bilateral cornea transplants, and gastric bypass surgery, for extreme obesity. At that time, he was offered the opportunity to be considered for a special issuance medical certificate, but failed to submit information for such consideration.

The medical examiner's report noted that the pilot had a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and coronary artery bypass surgery. The report noted the use of bupropion, lorazepam, candesartan, metoprolol, doxazosin, atorvastatin, and gabapentin, along with an unidentified medication patch found with the pilot's body.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

According to a flight instructor who had flown the Zodiac with the pilot, the airplane would fly in a "nose up attitude" and the cowling and the wings would obstruct the pilot's view. Additionally, he observed that the pilot was unable to see around the cowling and could not lean or raise his head, due to his stature and the width and height of the cockpit canopy.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Advisory Circular 90-48C

FAA Advisory Circular 90-48C, titled "Pilots' Role in Collision Avoidance," stated in part that, the flight rules prescribed in Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) set forth the concept of "See and Avoid." This concept requires that vigilance shall be maintained at all times, by each person operating an aircraft, regardless of whether the operation is conducted under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) or Visual Flight Rules (VFR).

It also states that, pilots should keep in mind their responsibility for continuously maintaining a vigilant lookout regardless of the type of aircraft being flown and to "remember that most mid air collision accidents and near mid air collision incidents occurred during good VFR weather conditions and during the hours of daylight."

With regard to clearing procedures, the advisory circular stated in part, "that pilots should during climbs and descents in flight conditions which permit visual detection of other traffic, execute gentle banks left and right at a frequency which permits continuous visual scanning of the airspace about them."

Sport Pilot Medical Requirements

According to friends of the pilot of the Zodiac, he had advised them that he let his medical lapse years before and had been reintroduced to flying as a "sport pilot."

According to 14 CFR Part 61, a pilot may exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate if that person holds a current and valid U.S. driver's license. In addition to using their state driver's license to establish medical fitness, they must also follow any restrictions or limitations listed on their driver's license.

Sport pilots must determine before each flight that he or she is medically fit to operate their aircraft in a safe manner. A person who has applied for, or held a medical certificate may exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate using a current and valid U.S. driver's license, only if that person has been found eligible for the issuance of at least a third-class airman medical certificate at the time of his or her most recent application; and has not had his or her most recently issued medical certificate suspended, revoked, or their most recent Authorization for a Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate withdrawn.

Existing pilots, including previous student pilots, who've had their FAA medical certificate or most recent application denied, revoked, withdrawn, or suspended by the FAA, are not allowed to operate using their driver's license until they clear the denial from their airman record by having a valid third class medical certificate issued.

Additionally, once the application for a FAA medical is started, if an applicant fails to provide all of the requested information, the FAA can deny the application for "failure to provide."

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 5, 2005, about 1138 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172A, N7467T, and an amateur built Zodiac CH 601HDS, N6384E, were substantially damaged during a midair collision over Pohatcong, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot flying the Zodiac, which departed Alexandria Airport (N85), Pittstown, New Jersey, was fatally injured, and the certificated private pilot flying the Cessna, which departed from Van Sant Airport (9N1), Erwinna, Pennsylvania, incurred minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for either local flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot of the Cessna and recorded radar data, the Cessna departed 9N1 about 1056, and was in cruise flight indicating approximately 90 knots at 1,800 feet above mean sea level. The airplane was near Alpha, New Jersey, heading "northwest towards the Delaware River," when the pilot heard and felt "a tremendous crash" and observed a "flash of blue" out the windscreen at his 2 o'clock position. After regaining control of the airplane, he was unsure of damage that may have occurred and immediately began looking for a place to land. After performing two 360-degree turns to locate a suitable emergency landing area, he observed a cornfield that appeared to be of sufficient length, 1/4 mile to the northwest of the Phillipsburg, New Jersey exit, off of I-78, and executed a successful landing.

According to recorded radar data, and global positioning system (GPS) data recovered from the wreckage of the Zodiac, the airplane was traveling at a ground speed of 92 knots. It was on a true course of 159 degrees, descending approximately 150 feet per minute, through the Cessna's altitude of 1,800 feet, when the midair collision occurred.

Witnesses stated that the airplanes appeared to converge above the Phillipsburg exit, on Interstate 78.

There was no record of either pilot communicating with air traffic control, or each other at the time of the accident.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot of the Cessna held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on May 16, 2005. He reported 129.1 total hours of flight experience.

The pilot of the Zodiac held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. According to his pilot logbook, he had 325 total hours of flight experience. He did not hold a valid FAA medical certificate.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Cessna was a high wing airplane manufactured in 1959. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on May 13, 2005. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accrued 3,532 total hours of operation.

The Zodiac was a low wing amateur-built airplane. Its certificate of airworthiness was issued by the FAA to the builder in 1999. The airplane's most recent conditional inspection was completed on June 20, 2005. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accrued 204.9 total hours of operation.

Neither airplane was equipped with collision avoidance equipment.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The reported weather at Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 23 nautical miles west of the accident site, at 1151, included: winds calm, visibility 10 miles, skies clear, temperature 68 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 48 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The Cessna came to rest after landing on a magnetic heading of 316 degrees. Examination of the airplane revealed damage to the upper left portion of the cowling. Impact damage to the No. 6 cylinder was visible, and the engine was displaced laterally to the right. The propeller exhibited multiple chordwise scratches to the blade face near the tips, and surface scuffing along the length of the blades.

Examination of the cockpit revealed that the barometric scale on the altimeter face indicated 30.12 inches of mercury and the altimeter indicated 442 feet above sea level. The transponder function selector knob was in the altitude-reporting mode and upon power up of the airplane's electrical system, the transponder displayed code 1200. All exterior light switches were in the off position.

The Zodiac wreckage was located in a wooded area approximately 1 mile southwest of the overpass near the edge of a cornfield.

No preimpact mechanical malfunctions of the airplane or engine were discovered.

The left wing remained partially attached to the main wreckage by portions of the spar cap. The leading edge was separated forward of the spar, at the upper wing skin attach rivet line for about 3/4 of the span of the wing and the left fuel tank was breached.

The main wreckage had come to rest partially inverted and was orientated on a magnetic heading of 276 degrees. The debris field was 20 feet in length. Portions of the canopy were missing. Crush damage was visible at the right wing root, upper portion of the aft fuselage, and cockpit. The firewall exhibited impact damage and the instrument panel was separated from the majority of its mounts and had been displaced into the right seat area. Approximately 4 feet of the right wing spar, stripped of its surrounding structure, was found partially attached to the right wing root.

Examination of the cockpit revealed that the canopy latches were in the closed position. The barometric scale on the altimeter face indicated 30.06 inches of mercury and the altimeter indicated 341 feet above sea level. The transponder function selector knob was in the altitude reporting mode position, and the navigation lights selector switch was in the off position.

Control continuity was confirmed to the rudder, elevator, and ailerons. All the control cables were intact except for the right aileron cable, which had separated in the vicinity of the right wing root. The cable ends were broomstrawed, and consistent with overload.

Portions of the right wing, right fuel tank, right spar assembly, and wing skin were recovered from various locations along Interstate 78 and the surrounding area.

While examining the recovered sections of the right wing it was determined that approximately 3 feet of the wing was not present. Further examination revealed a paint transfer mark located 4 feet 10 inches outboard of the wing root. Crush damage was also present in the same location in the form of a concave depression. Slashes consistent with a propeller strike were located on the spar cap, aft of the crush mark, and near the trailing inboard edge of the surviving wing structure.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An external postmortem examination was performed on the pilot of the Zodiac by the Warren County Medical Examiners Office, Phillipsburg, New Jersey

Toxicological testing of the pilot of the Zodiac was conducted at the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The pilot's forensic toxicology report revealed:

" BUPROPION detected in Blood BUPROPION METABOLITE present in Blood METOPROLOL present in Blood MIRTAZAPINE present in Blood"

The pilot had not held a valid airman medical certificate since he failed to submit FAA-required follow up information for high blood pressure in June of 1979. His only application for an airman medical certificate after 1979 (dated 9/4/02) indicated a history of coronary artery disease requiring stent placement, bilateral cornea transplants, and gastric bypass surgery, for extreme obesity. At that time, he was offered the opportunity to be considered for a special issuance medical certificate, but failed to submit information for such consideration.

The medical examiner's report noted that the pilot had a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and coronary artery bypass surgery. The report noted the use of bupropion, lorazepam, candesartan, metoprolol, doxazosin, atorvastatin, and gabapentin, along with an unidentified medication patch found with the pilot's body.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

According to a flight instructor who had flown the Zodiac with the pilot, the airplane would fly in a "nose up attitude" and the cowling and the wings would obstruct the pilot's view. Additionally, he observed that the pilot was unable to see around the cowling and could not lean or raise his head, due to his stature and the width and height of the cockpit canopy.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Advisory Circular 90-48C

FAA Advisory Circular 90-48C, titled "Pilots' Role in Collision Avoidance," stated in part that, the flight rules prescribed in Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) set forth the concept of "See and Avoid." This concept requires that vigilance shall be maintained at all times, by each person operating an aircraft, regardless of whether the operation is conducted under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) or Visual Flight Rules (VFR).

It also states that, pilots should keep in mind their responsibility for continuously maintaining a vigilant lookout regardless of the type of aircraft being flown and to "remember that most mid air collision accidents and near mid air collision incidents occurred during good VFR weather conditions and during the hours of daylight."

With regard to clearing procedures, the advisory circular stated in part, "that pilots should during climbs and descents in flight conditions which permit visual detection of other traffic, execute gentle banks left and right at a frequency which permits continuous visual scanning of the airspace about them."

Sport Pilot Medical Requirements

According to friends of the pilot of the Zodiac, he had advised them that he let his medical lapse years before and had been reintroduced to flying as a "sport pilot."

According to 14 CFR Part 61, a pilot may exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate if that person holds a current and valid U.S. driver's license. In addition to using their state driver's license to establish medical fitness, they must also follow any restrictions or limitations listed on their driver's license.

Sport pilots must determine before each flight that he or she is medically fit to operate their aircraft in a safe manner. A person who has applied for, or held a medical certificate may exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate using a current and valid U.S. driver's license, only if that person has been found eligible for the issuance of at least a third-class airman medical certificate at the time of his or her most recent application; and has not had his or her most recently issued medical certificate suspended, revoked, or their most recent Authorization for a Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate withdrawn.

Existing pilots, including previous student pilots, who've had their FAA medical certificate or most recent application denied, revoked, withdrawn, or suspended by the FAA, are not allowed to operate using their driver's license until they clear the denial from their airman record by having a valid third class medical certificate issued.

Additionally, once the application for a FAA medical is started, if an applicant fails to provide all of the requested information, the FAA can deny the application for "failure to provide."

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