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N747CC accident description

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Tail numberN747CC
Accident dateAugust 29, 1999
Aircraft typeCessna T210M
LocationMarcola, OR
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 29, 1999, approximately 1330 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna T210M, N747CC, impacted a densely forested hillside while descending through multiple cloud layers about eight miles northeast of Marcola, Oregon. The student pilot and his two passengers received fatal injuries, and the aircraft, which was owned and operated by B&B Aviation, Inc., of King City, California, was destroyed by the impact. The 14 CFR Part 91 business flight, which departed Mesa Del Ray Airport, King City, California, about 1000, was en route to Aurora State Airport, Aurora, Oregon. No flight plan had been filed, and there was no report of an ELT activation.

According to family members, on the day of the accident, the pilot and two business associates were en route to Aurora in order to meet with individuals involved in the growing of garlic. During the departure from King City, the pilot did not make use of FAA services, but he did contact Oakland Center for flight-following while en route. According to the FAA, the pilot made no in-flight contacts with FAA weather updating facilities during the time he was receiving flight advisories from Oakland Center. At 1200, Oakland Center handed the flight off to Seattle Center, and at 1217 the pilot received permission to leave Seattle's frequency in order to talk with McMinnville Automated Flight Service Station. Upon contacting McMinnville, the pilot asked for information on the weather conditions in the southern Willamette Valley and on up to Aurora. He was informed by the flight service specialist that there was a frontal system moving into western Oregon, and that there were airman's meteorological information advisories (AIRMETS) for his position northward. He was further advised that the AIRMETS called for the possibility of anything west of the Cascade Range to be obscured in clouds and precipitation, and that there was a pattern of stratus and patchy local IFR conditions in the Willamette Valley. The flight service briefer then asked the pilot if he could "...do this IFR if necessary," and the pilot responded with "Yeah, we probably can, but we prefer to just fly under it." The pilot then stated that he was near Klamath Falls, and that although the clouds there were scattered, he could tell that it was getting "...a little more solid up the road." He then asked if there were scattered or broken conditions in the southern Willamette Valley, and was informed that "VFR flight is not recommended into the Willamette Valley and below the cloud layer." The briefer then informed him that there was a wide-spread multi-layered cloud cover associated with the trough, and that local ceilings were down to 700 feet above ground level (AGL), with visibility's as low as one and three-quarter miles, for all of the route from Eugene north. In addition, the briefer gave him the current Aurora automated weather, which included a ceiling of 3,000 feet overcast, and advised him that other pilots had reported the top of the cloud structure was as high as 7,500 feet and extended as far south as Medford VOR.

The pilot then asked for the current weather at Medford, and the briefer advised him that Medford was reporting clear below 12,000 feet. Along with the Medford conditions, the briefer told the pilot that north of Medford, toward Roseburg and Sexton Summit, there were locally IFR conditions, with ceilings of 1,300 broken to overcast, with light rain. Then, after advising the pilot that Roseburg was currently reporting VFR, and suggesting he go to frequency 122.0 for "...detailed weather updates and pilot reports," the briefer advised the pilot that according to other pilots flying in the area, the weather north and south of Roseburg was well under the reported Roseburg conditions. About 1223, the pilot checked back in with Seattle Center, and there was no record of him seeking further weather updates from Flight Watch on frequency 122.0 MHz.

At 1310, the flight was handed off to Cascade Approach, and about 1320, while the aircraft was just southwest of Eugene, the pilot advised the approach controller that he was starting his approach down into Aurora. While the aircraft was descending, the controller asked the pilot if he would like an IFR clearance, and the pilot responded with, "We're kind of coming down through some multiple layers here. I think we'll be alright." The controller responded by telling him to maintain VFR.

As the pilot continued the descent to the northeast, the controller again reminded him to maintain VFR, and then about two minutes later advised the pilot that flight following was being canceled because "...your getting a little bit below my coverage and Seattle Center's coverage also." The pilot responded by saying he would "squawk 1200." The controller then advised him that, "If you need any help, contact Seattle Center on 125.8." The pilot's acknowledgement of the controller's suggestion was his last known transmission. Recorded radar tracking data provided by the FAA shows that the pilot had switched to the 1200 transponder code by 1328:30, and that the aircraft was about two miles southwest of the impact point, at 2,800 feet MSL, at 1328:55.

When the pilot failed to return home the next day as scheduled, family members notified authorities, and a search was initiated. As part of the search process, recorded radar data from Seattle Center was reviewed to determine where the aircraft's radar track ended. During an aerial search near where the radar track terminated, a portion of the aircraft's wing was spotted in a 130 foot tall coniferous tree.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

At the time of the accident, the pilot held a student pilot certificate (#EE-002060463) which was initially issued on March 17, 1997. His last FAA airmen medical was completed on April 30, 1999, and contained no restrictions or waivers.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The aviation surface weather observation for Eugene, located about 25 miles southwest of the accident site, which was taken at 1256, about one hour prior to the accident, indicated winds from 310 degrees magnetic at eight knots, seven statute miles visibility, light rain, a ceiling of 1,500 feet broken, 2,400 overcast, temperature 17 degrees Celsius, dewpoint 14 degrees Celsius, with an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of mercury, and a visibility on runway 34 of two and one-half miles.

The 1315 Eugene observation showed the same winds, with six miles visibility, light rain, 1,200 broken, 2,000 overcast, with no change in the temperature/dewpoint spread or the altimeter setting.

The 1400 Eugene observation reported winds 010 at 9 knots, 10 miles visibility, 1,200 broken, 2,000 overcast, temperature 17 degrees and dewpoint 14, with no change in the altimeter setting.

The 1356 observation at Salem, which is located about 45 miles northwest of the accident site, indicated winds from 050 at six knots, 10 miles visibility, 900 feet broken, 1,500 broken, 4,000 overcast, temperature 16, dewpoint 14, and an altimeter of 30.04.

A 0.65 um visual image taken by the GOES-10 satellite at 1045 on the day of the accident (attached) shows no clouds, except for coastal stratus, from approximately the Klamath Falls area south through northern and central California. The same image shows significant cloud cover between the Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean stretching from the Klamath Falls area north into Canada.

During the investigation, the Investigator-in-charge (IIC) interviewed the pilot of a Lane County Sheriff's helicopter, who had been operating in the area near the accident site at the time the aircraft was lost from radar. According to this individual, he departed Eugene about 1115 and operated in the area around Wendling, which is located about three miles from the accident site, until about 1330. He reported that he had trouble getting into the area because of low clouds with jagged, uneven bases. He said there was a solid overcast, with no breaks, openings, or sunrays showing through. He estimated the bases to be around 1,600 feet mean sea level (MSL), and said there was occasional light rain, and that some of the hills around the area were sticking up into the overcast. After returning to Eugene for refueling, he returned to the area about 1430. At that time, the bases had risen to about 2,000 feet MSL, but there was still a solid overcast, with uneven bases and scattered light rain.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located at 2,400 feet MSL on the south side of a ridge about one mile southeast of Oshkosh Mountain. The wreckage distribution track extended approximately 375 feet through a dense coniferous forest on a magnetic heading of 065 degrees. The initial impact was near the top of a 130 foot tree, and it was determined that the aircraft collided with approximately 25 other trees before coming to rest at the northeast end of the track. Along the first half of the track, the impact scars where at a relatively constant height above the ground (about 50 to 70 feet). Along the second half of the track, the height of the scars above the ground began to decrease at a fairly constant rate. The average height of the trees along the track was about 125 feet, and their diameter varied from eighteen inches to about three feet. The trunks of a number of the trees located at the beginning of the track had been sheared off, and significant portions of the aircraft's primary structure where found near the very beginning of the track. As the aircraft proceeded along the track, most of its structure and systems were torn into small pieces, with much of the interior and exterior parts of the cabin being found about half-way down the track (see wreckage distribution diagram). A number of small pieces of aircraft structure were found embedded in the tree trunks along the track. Almost all of the instruments, radios, and system components located in or around the instrument panel were destroyed. The single largest portion of the wreckage was the cabin floor, with some of the seats still attached, and a section of the fuselage between the aft seats and the empennage. Inspection of the landing gear and flap actuating linkage indicated that both were in the up position. Because of the extent of the damage, flight control system continuity could not be determined.

The engine had been torn from the aircraft structure, and the propeller had separated from the crankshaft flange. The exhaust system, turbocharger, starter, starter adapter, vacuum pump, oil pumps, throttle body, throttle body-to-intake manifold pipes, manifold valve, fuel metering unit, oil filter, alternator, wastegate and pressure relief valve were broken off of the engine by impact forces. All six cylinders exhibited massive impact damage, the oil sump was crushed inwards on its aft face, and a large chunk of a tree was imbedded in the top of the crankcase. The turbocharger housing separated into two pieces, both of which started small localized ground fires where they came to rest. Two of the three propeller blades were still in the propeller hub. Both of these blades, as well as the one that separated, exhibited leading edge damage, and one of them had chordwise striations on its face. One of the retained blades was bent forward in a relatively constant arc, with the tip about 80 degrees to the root, and with a wavy pattern along its leading edge. The other retained blade was bent aft about 10 degrees at the root. The separated blade was bent forward approximately 60 degrees at about half-span, and the outboard one-quarter of the span had been sheared off. After being removed from the accident site, the engine was subjected to a teardown inspection, and no discrepancies or anomalies were detected that would have precluded normal engine operation prior to impact.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by L. Samuel Vickers, M.D., and the cause of death was determined to be accidental due to multiple blunt impact injuries.

Toxicology samples from the pilot were sent to the FAA's Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory for examination. Results of those tests were negative except for Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine (used to shrink swollen nasal membranes) and 14 mg/dL of Ethanol found in the muscle tissue.

ADDITIONAL DATA AND INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the pilot did not make use of the Flight Service Station weather briefing services either on the day of the flight or the day prior to departure. The IIC checked with both commercial providers of the DUATS pilot's weather information program (GTE and DTI) to determine if anyone had used the N747CC identifier to log into the program on either the day of the flight or the day prior. According to those providers, no one had done so.

The wreckage was released to Specialty Aircraft Company, a wreckage retrieval service representing the owner,s insurance carrier, at Redmond, Oregon, on September 27, 1999.

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