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N2813U accident description

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Tail numberN2813U
Accident dateDecember 31, 1993
Aircraft typeCessna 172D
LocationBandon, OR
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On December 31, 1993, approximately 1845 Pacific standard time (PST), a Cessna 172D, N2813U, collided with trees about two miles south of Bandon State Airport, Bandon, Oregon. The private pilot and his passenger received fatal injuries, and the aircraft was destroyed. The personal pleasure flight, which departed Hayward Air Terminal, Hayward, California, at 1544 PST, was being operated in night visual meteorological conditions at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed, and there was no report of an ELT activation.

At 0740 on the day of the accident, the pilot of N2813U called McMinnville Flight Service Station and received a standard briefing for a flight from Bandon, Oregon to Hayward, California. During that briefing he was advised that there was a frontal system off the shore of California and Oregon "...which will be effecting things later on." Later that morning the pilot made the approximately three hour flight to Hayward. While at Hayward, the pilot picked up a passenger and had the aircraft topped-off with 20.6 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation fuel. At 1453, the pilot called Oakland Flight Service Station and asked what the weather would be like the next morning along his proposed route of flight. He was given an outlook briefing for the next morning, and then the briefer suggested that the pilot call back in about five hours to get a update on the next day's weather. The briefer also recommended that the pilot call back in the morning prior to his departure. Just before ending the phone conversation, the pilot asked the briefer what it looked like "right now" in the North Bend area, and commented to the briefer that "...once you get out of the Bay Area it's beautiful." The briefer advised the pilot that the current weather for North Bend was an estimated ceiling of 15,000 feet overcast, with light rain. The pilot then thanked the briefer and terminated the phone call.

At 1544, the pilot of N2813U departed Hayward Air Terminal without filing a flight plan or receiving an update on the forecast and current weather along his return route to Bandon. At the time he left Hayward, the pilot told the tower that he would be departing VFR to the north, but he had no further contact with FAA facilities while en route.

According to the Coos County Sheriff's Office, the plane was seen back in the Bandon area about five minutes prior to the crash, which was after it had already turned dark. At that time the aircraft was passing over the pilot's house, which is located about ten miles south of the airport. The aircraft was next reported seen about one mile southwest of the accident site following a track that brought it inland from the ocean shore toward the southwest edge of Bradley Lake. At that time the aircraft was reported to be "...just above the tree tops." A number of witnesses said that the aircraft was rocking from side to side and being violently thrown around by the strong gusty winds that were present in the area at the time.

According to the witnesses, when the aircraft reached the southwest shore of Bradley Lake it descended to an altitude that was lower than the tops of the trees surrounding the lake. The aircraft remained low over the water until just before reaching the northeast shore. One witness estimated that the aircraft was about 30 to 50 feet above the water the whole time it was over the lake. Upon reaching the northeast shore, the aircraft pulled up to an altitude that appeared to be just a few feet above the tops of the trees. It then quickly went out of sight of the witnesses who had watched it pass over the lake, and within five seconds of passing over the shoreline it was heard impacting the trees.


The initial impact was in a grove of young coniferous trees about 35 feet in height. A number of the trees had been sheared about five feet from their tops. From that point the impact track ran 310 degrees magnetic. About 90 feet from the initial impact, the aircraft sheared a transmission wire, and then after traveling another 23 feet impacted the north end of a storage building roof. The right elevator was found hanging from a transmission wire near the northeast corner of this building. About 15 feet past the point where the aircraft impacted the roof, the wings and carry-through spar were found hanging from a tall coniferous tree. The wings were caught in the tree about 25 feet above the ground, and there were broken limbs and impact marks as high as 35 feet up the tree. Near the base of this tree was a portion of fuselage from just aft of the baggage compartment to just forward of the empennage. About 20 feet further down-track, on the south edge of Beach Loop Road, was the empennage minus the right horizontal stabilizer and right elevator. The bottom forward part of the fuselage, the attached engine and propeller, and the occupants were located approximately 40 feet past the empennage. This portion of the wreckage had come to rest against a parked automobile near the entry ramp to a private residence.

The right elevator showed twisting, tearing, and cutting of the skin. Both wings showed direct rearward crushing along nearly their entire span, and there were a number of well-defined semicircular indentations on their leading edges. The right wing lift strut had pulled loose from the fuselage attach fitting, and the left strut had sheared at about one-half of its length. Blue colored fuel was able to be drained from the left wing tank, but the right tank was dented and buckled, and contained no fuel. The roof of the aircraft, to include the area around the spar carry- through, was hanging in the same tree as the wings, and showed a considerable amount of crushing and tearing. The inboard lower surface of the left wing showed scalloped scratching consistent with twisted wire impact. The aft portion of the fuselage was torn perpendicular to its length in two places, and the sides were crushed in so that they were about eight inches apart. The vertical stabilizer and the horizontal stabilizer displayed direct rearward crushing on their leading edge. Due to severed cables, impact crushing, and binding of flight surfaces, control continuity was unable to be accurately determined.

The forward part of the fuselage, which still contained both the front and back seats, showed considerable denting, crushing, and buckling. The top of the engine cowling had numerous deep scrapes and gouges, with six of the scraped areas being worn all the way through the metal skin. The left main gear leg was still attached to the fuselage, as was the inboard half of the left wing lift strut. The nose gear strut had been torn from its mounting, and was located about 10 feet west of the fuselage.

Both blades of the propeller showed a considerable amount of rotational impact damage. One blade, which was bent aft along the last ten inches of its span, had numerous chord-wise scars and leading edge indentations. The other blade, which also showed aft bending of the last ten inches of its span, had been sheared off about half-way between its root and tip. Much of the paint on the tips of both blades had been scraped away.

The engine, which turned freely, remained bolted to its mounts, and all of its accessories were still attached. Mechanical continuity was confirmed from the propeller through the crankshaft and camshaft to the rockers and accessory drive gears. Spark was confirmed from both magnetos, and compression was present in all cylinders. Fuel was confirmed present in the carburetor and the fuel strainer. No evidence of pre-impact malfunction or anomalies was found.


The 63 year old pilot acquired his private license in February of 1975 and according to his log book had accumulated 570 hours of total time. During the 19 year period that this pilot had been flying, a total of 4.3 hours of his experience had been logged at night, and his records showed two night landings in the last 90 days.


The weather observation taken at North Bend, Oregon, about 20 miles north of the accident site at 1854 PST reported 3,400 feet scattered, 10 miles visibility, and winds of 150 degrees at 10 knots.

Witnesses in the immediate vicinity of the crash reported that there had been light rain moving through the area in the hour prior to the accident, but that it was not raining at the time of the impact. They also said that at the time they observed the aircraft the winds were strong, gusty, and variable in direction. All of the witnesses interviewed estimated the winds were gusting to 50 knots or higher, and several commented that the winds were constantly changing velocity and seemed to rarely achieve a steady state.


An autopsy of the pilot was performed by Dr. William D. Hosack at Bay Area Hospital on January 4, 1994, and no evidence of injury or incapacitation that might have precipitated the accident was noted.

Forensic toxicology samples from the pilot were analyzed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, and no carboxyhemoglobin, cyanide, or ethanol were detected in the blood or urine. This same examination detected 11.400 ug/ml of salicylate in the urine.

The wreckage was released to the Coos County Sheriff's Department on January 1, 1994, at the scene of the accident.

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