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N172JF accident description

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Tail numberN172JF
Accident dateOctober 11, 1998
Aircraft typeCessna 172M
LocationOklahoma City, OK
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 11, 1998, approximately 1125 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M airplane, N172JF, was destroyed when it impacted the ground while maneuvering near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The private pilot, the sole occupant of the airplane, was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Gregg Frank Aircraft Leasing of Yukon, Oklahoma, and operated by W.L. Frank LLC of Bethany, Oklahoma. No flight plan was filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane departed from Oklahoma City's Wiley Post Airport at 1118.

Employees of the fixed base operation at Wiley Post Airport, where the airplane was based, were interviewed by an FAA inspector. The employee, who checked the airplane out to the pilot, reported that the pilot was "in a real hurry, but [this pilot was] always in a hurry." The line service technician, who refueled the airplane, reported that the pilot "seemed to be in a hurry" and performed a "very brief" walk-around inspection of the airplane during the refueling operation. He further reported that the pilot tipped him $20, which "seemed unusual."

According to the operator, he observed the airplane taxiing for takeoff at an "excessively fast" speed. He was concerned that "possibly the pilot may be drunk or possibly something else." He called the air traffic control tower and requested that they relay a message to the pilot to return to the ramp.

Review of a voice tape provided by the FAA containing the communications between the tower and the airplane, revealed that the airplane had already taken off by the time the operator called the tower. At 1122:32, the controller advised the pilot of the operator's request that he return to the airport, and at 1122:38, the pilot acknowledged receiving the message. This was the last radio communication received from the airplane.

Examination of radar data recorded by Oklahoma City Terminal Radar Approach Control revealed that the airplane departed from runway 17L and turned left to a northerly heading. At 1122:31, the airplane was approximately 2 miles northeast of the airport, at an altitude of 3,200 feet msl. The airplane continued on a northerly heading and climbed to an altitude of 3,600 feet. At 1123:31, the airplane entered a descent, and at 1124:03, it began to turn towards the northwest. The last recorded radar return at 1124:31 placed the airplane at an altitude of 2,600 feet msl, approximately 1 mile east of the accident site.

The airplane impacted the ground about 5 nautical miles north of the airport, in a field west of a church located at 14343 North MacArthur Boulevard. Two witnesses, who were located on the roof of a house approximately 300 yards northeast of the church, reported that they observed the airplane heading west toward the church at an estimated altitude of 200 to 300 feet above ground. Both witnesses stated that the airplane "turned sideways" and "went straight into the ground." One of the witnesses described the airplane's descent as a "nose dive," and the other stated that it impacted the ground "propeller first."

Another witness, who was riding his bicycle northbound on MacArthur Boulevard near the church, reported that he heard the airplane, looked over his left shoulder to the west, and saw the airplane "in a steep left hand bank descending at an increasing speed." He further reported that "the engine was running" and he "was not aware of any unusual engine noise - missing, backfire, etc." When the witness lost visual contact with the airplane, it "appeared to be pointed down towards the ground." Approximately 2 seconds later, he heard the impact.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Examination of the airplane's maintenance records by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the 1976 model Cessna 172M, S/N 17267410, received a 100-hour inspection on September 29, 1998, at an airframe total time of 4,375 hours. As of that date, the engine had accumulated 2,363 hours since the last major overhaul. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on February 5, 1998. Review of the maintenance records revealed no evidence of any uncorrected maintenance discrepancies.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane rating issued on February 23, 1994. He held a third class medical certificate dated August 7, 1997, with the limitation: must wear corrective lenses. The pilot's logbook, which was recovered from the airplane and examined by the NTSB IIC, indicated that the pilot had accumulated a total of 148 hours of flight time. An endorsement in the logbook stated that the pilot completed a biennial flight review in the accident airplane on August 12, 1997.

Interviews conducted by an FAA inspector and the NTSB IIC revealed that a friend of the pilot was attending services in the church adjacent to the accident site when the accident occurred. The friend, who was described by the executive director of the church as "a young lady the pilot had been dating," declined a request to be interviewed by the NTSB IIC. She was reported to have turned down a marriage proposal from the pilot the night before the accident.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was an open, flat field situated west of the church parking lot. A handheld Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver located the site at 35 degrees 36.99 minutes north latitude, 97 degrees 37.50 minutes west longitude, and an elevation of approximately 1,150 feet.

The majority of the wreckage was located within 50 feet of the initial ground scar. The scar consisted of a central crater surrounded by a pattern of indentations corresponding to the wing leading edges, the left main landing gear wheel, and the tip of the vertical stabilizer. The pattern of indentations was consistent with a near vertical impact on a measured magnetic heading of 150 degrees. A debris path extended from the crater on a measured magnetic heading of 250 degrees. The engine and instrument panel were located approximately 9 feet from the crater, and the main wreckage, consisting of the fuselage, empennage and both wings, was located approximately 23 feet from the crater.

Examination of the main wreckage revealed that the wing leading edges were crushed aft across the entire wingspan. The right door, which was found approximately 100 feet west of the main wreckage, exhibited a crush angle corresponding to impact at a near vertical angle. The elevator trim tab actuator extension measured 1.35 inches, which, according to the Cessna representative, equated to 5 degrees tab up (nose down) trim. The flap actuator was not extended, which corresponds to a retracted flap position. Continuity of the elevator, rudder, and aileron control systems was confirmed from the flight control surfaces to the cabin controls.

The engine, a Lycoming O-320-E2D, S/N 45784-27A, was separated from the fuselage. The crankshaft was broken aft of the propeller mounting flange. The fracture surface was smeared and displayed 45-degree shear lips.

The propeller, a McCauley 1C160/CTM7553, S/N 722588, was found buried 2 feet deep in the central crater. The propeller mounting flange section of the crankshaft was attached to the hub. Both blades displayed chordwise scratches and "S" bending. One of the blades also displayed leading edge gouges.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Oklahoma City conducted an autopsy of the pilot. The manner of death was determined to be suicide. Toxicological tests performed by the FAA's Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory detected 0.028 ug/ml diazepam (Valium) in kidney tissue and 0.077 ug/ml diazepam in liver tissue. Additionally, the tests detected 0.134 ug/ml nordiazepam (metabolite of diazepam) in liver tissue, 0.069 ug/ml nordiazepam in kidney tissue, and an unquantified level of nordiazepam in lung tissue. The FAA does not approve the use of diazepam by pilots.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The airplane's maintenance records and the pilot's logbook were released to the owner's representative on October 12, 1998. The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on November 17, 1998.

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