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N2333J accident description

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Tail numberN2333J
Accident dateAugust 31, 2005
Aircraft typePiper PA-18-150
LocationMountain City, NV
Near 41.766667 N, -115.316667 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On August 31, 2005, about 1050 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-18-150 airplane, N2333J, impacted mountainous terrain about 30 nautical miles east of Mountain City, Nevada. The private pilot and his passenger sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The pilot was operating the airplane as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated from Jackpot, Nevada, about 1030, after the pilot refueled the airplane with 17 gallons of fuel, and was destined for Davis, California.

When the flight failed to arrive in Davis, the family issued an Alert Notice (ALNOT), which initiated search and rescue efforts. A friend of the family indicated that the pilot called his wife from Jackpot at 1017 mountain daylight time and the call lasted 19 minutes. According to the person that helped refuel the airplane at Jackpot, the airplane was the only one that received fuel from that facility that day. He observed the airplane takeoff and climb out and noted no anomalies with the airplane. According to Civil Air Patrol (CAP) personnel, there was no recorded radar data from air traffic control nor were there any recorded communications with the pilot. CAP activated two search units; one in California and one in Nevada.

The wreckage was located by hunters on October 27, 2005, at the 8,680-foot level of a mountain at 41 degrees 46 minutes north latitude and 115 degrees 19 minutes west longitude. Both the pilot and passenger remained positioned in their seats in the cockpit/cabin area.

Plotting of the accident site on a topographic map indicated that the wreckage was located about 400 feet below a 9,000- to 9,300-foot ridgeline. The airplane was below a small gap in the rapidly rising ridgeline. A valley led to the rising ridge, and from the valley to the accident site, the average grade was 22 percent. From the accident site to the top of the ridge was an average grade of 20 percent.

The owner's insurance company did not recover the wreckage and the NTSB did not travel to the accident site. The Elko County Sheriff's Department took a video recording of the accident site. The following information was gleaned from that video footage. The wreckage came to rest at the base of a pine tree that had its branches stripped from the side the airplane was resting against. The entire wreckage, with the exception of one of the landing gear with tundra tire attached, came to rest at the base of the tree. The cockpit/cabin sustained significant crushing damage from the nose aft. The empennage was twisted and came to rest with the leading edges of the vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizers facing up. The left wing was twisted almost 180 degrees outboard of the flap. All flight controls remained attached and in their respective places.

One pine tree, with an eight-inch circumference, came to rest underneath the wreckage, and was freshly cut into logs about 36 inches in length. The cuts were straight and almost perpendicular to the trees height. The top of this tree, with its fresh, perpendicular cut, came to rest adjacent to the engine/propeller.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration's data, the pilot obtained a third-class medical certificate on April 8, 2005. He held a private pilot certificate with single-engine land and sea airplane ratings. A friend of the pilot provided information regarding the pilot's flight experience. According to the information provided, the pilot accumulated about 500 total flight hours, the majority of which were accrued in the accident airplane make and model.

The pilot's family and friends did not have any information regarding the last annual inspection of the airplane/engine and when it was conducted. Records for the airplane/engine were not recovered and are presumed to be within the wreckage.

An autopsy was performed by the Elko County Coroner's Office. Review of the autopsy report revealed that the pilot died as a result of multiple blunt force trauma sustained during the accident.

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