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N11WG accident description

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Tail numberN11WG
Accident dateAugust 24, 2005
Aircraft typeMaule Bee Dee M-4
LocationRitter, OR
Near 44.943889 N, -119.338611 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 24, 2005, approximately 1400 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Maule Bee Dee M-4, N11WG, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in an uncontrolled descent about 9 nautical miles west-northwest of Ritter, Oregon. The private pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal cross country flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The airplane departed from Ontario Municipal Airport, Ontario, Oregon, about 1400 mountain daylight time (MDT), with an intended destination of Kelso-Longview Airport, Kelso, Washington.

According to Oregon Department of Forestry personnel, they responded to a grass fire that was spotted about 1400 PDT and discovered that the fire had been started by the airplane crash. No witnesses to the accident were identified.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. His most recent medical certificate was a third class medical issued on October 29, 2004, with the limitation, must wear corrective lenses.

Review of copies of pages from the pilot's logbook provided to the NTSB investigator-in-charge by a family member revealed that the pilot had a total flight time of about 926 hours. He had logged about 25 hours in the accident airplane of which 5 hours were in the 30 days preceding the accident.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane's maintenance records were not examined during the investigation. A family member reported that it was possible the maintenance records were in the airplane at the time of the accident, and it is presumed they were destroyed by fire.

Records of the most recent maintenance on the airplane were obtained from the facilities that performed the work. According to these records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on October 20, 2004, at a total airframe time of 1,140 hours. The logbook entry for the annual inspection indicated that the airframe was recovered and painted. Additionally, the entry stated, in part: "Installed horizontal stabilizer, elevator and rudder with new hardware and rigged. Installed wings to fuselage, installed new wing and lift struts. Installed ailerons and flaps with new hardware. Installed new elevator and rudder trim tab cables. All surfaces and flight controls have been rigged IAW Maule M-4 MM."

The records indicated that the engine, a Continental O-300A, S/N 31074-D-2-A, was reinstalled after major overhaul on August 1, 2005, at a total engine and airframe time of 1,167.81 hours. The last recorded maintenance on the airplane was an oil change conducted on August 9, 2005, at a total engine and airframe time of 1,173.3 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1453, the reported weather conditions at Baker City, Oregon, located approximately 60 nautical miles east of the accident site, were wind from 320 degrees at 7 knots, clear skies, temperature 23 degrees C, dewpoint -4 degrees C, and altimeter 30.00 inches.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in a remote area of Grant County on top of a mesa at latitude 44:56.632 N, longitude 119:20.314 W, and elevation 3,490 feet. The surface of the mesa was hard rock (basalt) covered with a thin layer of soil. There was grass about 18 inches tall growing in the soil, and there were numerous baseball to basketball sized rocks scattered on the surface.

The first evidence of ground contact was a ground scar containing fragments of the green navigation light lens from the right wingtip. The main wreckage was located approximately 26 feet on a measured magnetic heading of 290 degrees from the initial ground scar. The fuselage was resting upright on a measured magnetic heading of 110 degrees. The left wing remained attached at the wing root and to both lift struts. The right wing was separated from the fuselage at the wing root, flipped upside down, and remained attached only to the rear lift strut. The leading edges of both wings were crushed aft to the forward wing spar. The empennage displayed no evidence of impact damage. The wreckage sustained severe fire damage. The fuselage, except for its steel tubing frame, was consumed by fire. The fabric was burned off both wings and the empennage with the exception of a small section of fabric that remained attached to the outboard section of the right wing.

The firewall was wrapped around the rear of the engine. There was a circumferential crack through the nose section of the engine case forward of the cylinders. The propeller spinner was crushed flat against the propeller. The propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft. One blade was bent back at a 90 degree angle, and the other blade displayed minimal impact damage. Fire destroyed the engine accessory case, oil pan and all engine accessories.

All control surfaces remained attached to their respective attach points, and all control cables remained attached to their respective control surfaces. Control continuity from the control surfaces to the cockpit controls could not be confirmed due to the extent of damage to the airplane. All cockpit instruments and avionics were destroyed.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the Medical Examiner Division of the Oregon State Police in Clackamas, Oregon. Toxicology tests conducted by the FAA's Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory were negative for ethanol and drugs.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

On October 20, 2005, the engine was examined by a representative of Teledyne Continental Motors under the supervision of an NTSB investigator at the facilities of Specialty Aircraft Company in Redmond, Oregon. The exhaust system remained attached to the engine and exhibited impact damage signatures. The exhaust muffler and heater shroud were examined and exhibited normal operational signatures. The induction system was consumed by post-impact fire. The induction risers remained attached to the cylinders. All spark plugs exhibited normal operational signatures in accordance with the Champion "check-a-plug" comparison chart, latest revision. All cylinders exhibited normal wear and combustion deposits. The intake and exhaust valve faces and seats exhibited full seat contact signatures, and the intake and exhaust valve guides exhibited normal wear and operating signatures. The connecting rods visually appeared intact and undamaged. The camshaft and lifters appeared visually intact and undamaged. The inspection of the engine did not reveal evidence of any abnormalities that would have prevented normal operation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner on October 20, 2005.

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