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N8548S accident description

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Tail numberN8548S
Accident dateJune 21, 2003
Aircraft typeCessna 182H
LocationCushing, OK
Near 35.935833 N, -96.779167 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 21, 2003, approximately 1630 central daylight time, a single-engine Cessna 182H airdrop modified airplane, N8548S, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of control while conducting an airdrop for parachutists near Cushing, Oklahoma. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, two parachutists were seriously injured, two parachutists received minor injuries, and one parachutist was not injured. The airplane was owned and operated by the Oklahoma Skydiving Center of Cushing, Oklahoma. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 parachute activity flight. The local flight departed the Cushing Municipal Airport (CUH) approximately 1600.

A police officer, standing on the south side of the skydiving hangar, who was video taping the event for his friend, who was the first parachutist to exit the airplane, observed the plane bank to the left after his friend exited the airplane. The officer continued video taping his friend and heard someone say that something was wrong with the airplane. He looked up at the airplane and observed that the plane was in a "nose dive" and "spinning toward the ground." As the airplane was spinning toward the ground, he observed two parachutists exit the airplane. Once the airplane descended to tree line level, the witness heard what sounded like the engine revving.

One witness, who was standing next to the skydiving hangar, observed one parachutist jump out of the airplane and then observed the airplane bank to the left and enter a "nose dive, spinning in circles." Then the witness observed two more parachutists exit the airplane. Just as the airplane was about to disappear behind the tree line, the witness heard "the engine rev up."

Another witness, approximately 1 mile from the landing zone, who was observing the flight from its beginning, started talking to the first parachutist through a radio after he had jumped from the airplane. Approximately 30 seconds later, the witness observed the airplane "turn left and go into a flat spin, rotating to the left." The witness radioed the pilot and asked what was wrong, and the pilot replied that he was in a spin and didn't know what to do. The witness replied, "flaps and power," and continued to watch both the airplane and the parachutist. At approximately 800 feet, the witness heard the engine go from a low power setting to a high power setting, and noticed another parachutist jump out. The airplane appeared to slow down from its rotation and descended below the trees.

One witness, standing in the landing zone, saw the first parachutist exit the airplane, and heard another witness talking to the parachutist and the pilot through a radio. The witness observed the airplane go into a left-hand spin and two more parachutists jumped from the plane. After observing that the airplane was in trouble, the witness ran back to the hangar. After watching the airplane descend below the trees, the witness ran into the hangar and had someone call the police. Then the witness got in his van and started looking for the accident site. The witness reported that a highway patrolman and a few other people were already at the site when the witness got there. The highway patrolman instructed the witness to go show the rescue personnel how to reach the accident site.

Another witness, standing in front of the skydiving hangar, saw six people get on the airplane, including the pilot, a jumpmaster, and four skydivers. The airplane took off, circled, and flew over the landing area, "heading south." Once over the landing area, the first parachutist jumped out of the airplane. The airplane then made a "sharp" left turn, and seemed to "hang" in the air. The witness observed the airplane's nose drop and start to "rotate and spiral." Then two more parachutists exited the airplane. The airplane "went down" south of a tree line.

One witness observed the airplane fly "slightly upward and then out of control" after the first parachutist exited the airplane. A few seconds later, two more parachutists exited the airplane. At approximately 300 to 400 feet above ground level, the witness reported hearing the engine rev-up but continue in a "spin" until impact.

Another witness, gearing up students for the next jump in the hangar, looked up and observed two parachutes open and the airplane going down. The witness headed to where he thought the impact was. When he got near, the witness heard a scream and the smell of fuel. When the witness arrived at the impact site, he laid out a parachute to help guide the rescue helicopter.

Another witness, located in the hangar, heard someone yell "call someone!" The witness looked up and observed the airplane in a spin. The witness also reported hearing an engine noise that sounded like a "power-up, or revving."

One passenger, seated on the right side of the airplane next to the exit door, reported that at approximately 3,500 to 4,000 feet, he helped the first jumper out of the plane without incident. After observing the jumper for a few seconds, he closed the door and turned to assist the second jumper. At this point the passenger heard the "stall buzzer" go off, and felt the airplane pitch down and to the right. The passenger reported hearing the pilot say that the airplane had stalled. Then the passenger opened the door and said "emergency, everyone out!" The passenger tried to drag the second jumper out, but the airplane went into a flat spin and the passenger was thrown out. On the way down, the passenger noticed that the airplane was still in a flat spin.

Another passenger, seated back-to-back to the pilot, reported that the airplane seemed to have a difficult time reaching the 3,500 feet altitude designated for jumping. Once at the target altitude, the first jumper exited the airplane, and the airplane started to turn left, and the passenger heard a buzzer go off. As the buzzer was going off, the jump master started talking to the pilot. Then, "very quickly," the nose of the airplane dropped and the airplane began losing altitude. The passenger heard the jump master say "get ready for your emergency procedures, we have an emergency!" The jump master then turned around, opened the door, and jumped out. The passenger tried to help one of the other jumpers out, but she wouldn't move, so the passenger crawled over to the door and fell out of the airplane.

Another passenger, seated in the back-left corner of the airplane, reported that at the beginning of the flight, everyone was instructed to get in the airplane according to who was going to exit first. After boarding the airplane, the passenger reported that there was only one seat for the pilot, and all the jumpers sat on the floor. The passenger observed that the airplane had to "circle" four times to reach the jump altitude. Once the airplane reached jump altitude, the jump master opened the door and instructed the first jumper to get on the jump platform. As the first jumper stepped outside, the jump master repositioned himself to where the first jumper had been sitting, and another jumper moved to where the jump master was. After the first jumper exited, the airplane banked to the left. The passenger stated that "the left wing pointed almost straight down" and he thought the plane was "going to roll." The pilot "corrected a little bit" but then banked again. At this point, according to the passenger, the "engine lost power, the airplane straightened, and started falling." The pilot got very busy and instructed everyone to leave the airplane. The jumpers, including the passenger, started shuffling around to try and help one of the other jumpers out. The passenger moved up behind the pilot's seat and was looking at the jump master. As the passenger was looking at the jump master, the jump master dove out of the airplane. As the passenger was helping one of the other jumpers, he knocked out the jumper who was also helping him. So the passenger grabbed the last remaining jumper (besides himself) and started pushing her towards the door. The passenger heard the engine "rev" and mentioned to the other jumper that he thought the pilot had "re-gained control" of the aircraft. Then the passenger suddenly awoke with the paramedics attending to him.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot was issued a first-class medical certificate on April 30, 2003, with no limitations or waivers. At the time of the accident, the pilot had accumulated approximately 363 hours total flying time.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1965 model Cessna 182H airplane, serial number 18256648, was a high wing, semimonocoque design airplane, with a fixed landing gear. The airplane was powered by a normally aspirated, direct drive, air-cooled, horizontally opposed, fuel injected, six-cylinder Continental O-470-R engine (serial number 131767-5R4), rated at 230 horsepower. The airplane was configured for skydiving applications, and the pilot sat in the only seat on the airplane. The most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on May 17, 2003. The airplane had accumulated approximately 6,262.4 hours total flying time, and 2,652.4 hours since the engine's last major overhaul.

On July 19, 1986, a parachute jumper step was installed, and on November 28, 1986, the right hand door was modified to accommodate parachuting operations. Wing extensions were installed on July 31, 2000, from a kit manufactured by Air Research Technology, Inc., certificate number 473 (part number R1582-SS, FAA supplemental type certificate SA00276N4). On August 7, 2000, leading edge cuffs, manufactured by Flite Research (FAA supplemental type certificate 3A4303), were installed on the left and right wings.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1653, the automated surface observing system at Stillwater Municipal Airport (SWO), near Stillwater, Oklahoma, located approximately 20 miles northwest of the accident site, reported wind from 140 degrees at 11 knots, visibility 8 miles, cloud condition broken at 3,800 feet, temperature 86 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 73 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.85 inches of Mercury.

At 1652, the automated surface observing system at Chandler Municipal Airport (CQB), near Chandler, Oklahoma, located approximately 14 miles south of the accident site, reported wind from 190 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, cloud condition scattered at 3,500 feet, temperature 91 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.86 inches of Mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The main wreckage was located approximately 0.5 nautical miles southwest of the approach end of Runway 36. The Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates recorded at the accident site using a hand held GPS unit were 35 degrees 56 minutes 9 seconds north, and 96 degrees 46 minutes 45 seconds west. The aircraft came to rest on a heading of 220 degrees at an elevation of 878 feet.

Ground signatures and examination of the wreckage was found to be consistent with the airplane impact with the ground in a relatively flat attitude. The cabin section of the fuselage was crushed downward and empennage and wings were twisted consistent with counter-clockwise rotational forces at impact. The propeller blades displayed forward twisting and bending opposite the direction of rotation.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

A teardown inspection was conducted on the Continental O-470-R engine S/N 131767-5R4 at the facilities of Air Salvage of Dallas near Lancaster, Texas. No anomalies were noted that could have prevented normal engine operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on June 22, 2003, by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Oklahoma. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force sustained during an aviation accident.

Toxicological tests performed by the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) found .003 (ug/ml,ug/g) tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (marihuana) detected in urine.

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