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N3150E accident description

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Tail numberN3150E
Accident dateJuly 13, 1994
Aircraft typeCessna 172N
LocationTrout Run, PA
Near 41.36667 N, -77.2 W
Additional details: White/Blue

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 13, 1994, at 1742 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N3150E, piloted by Mr. Gary R. Duncan, of Janesville, Wisconsin, struck a hillside in Trout Run, Pennsylvania. The airplane was destroyed. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions with thunderstorms prevailed. The flight was operated on an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot received two weather briefing from Green Bay Flight Service prior to departure from Janesville, Wisconsin. The first briefing was conducted on July 12, 1994, at 1712, and was an outlook briefing. This was followed by a full briefing on July 13, 1994, at 0744, when the IFR flight plans were filed. The briefing included the following comments:

...okay and as far as the forecast goes for Pennsylvania...general forecast through western Pennsylvania - - looks like northwestern portions, four to five thousand broken, tops ten thousand, widely scattered thunderstorm rainshowers, tops to thirty five thousand...their forecast [AVP] after seventeen zulu [1300 EDT] forty five hundred scattered, twenty five thousand thin broken, southwest winds at ten, occasional ceilings forty five hundred broken, chance of ceilings at a thousand overcast, one mile [visibility] thunderstorm, moderate rain showers - so you'll definitely want to get an update when you get to twenty two golf....

The pilot filed an IFR flight plan to Lorain County Regional Airport (22G), Elyria, Ohio. Enroute he changed his destination to Wood County Airport (1G0), Bowling Green, Ohio, where he made a fuel stop.

There was no record of the pilot receiving a weather briefing prior to departure from Bowling Green at 1445 with a planned destination of Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. At 1723, when the flight was 6 miles east of the Slate Run VOR, the pilot contacted Flight watch for a weather update.

The pilot was told a severe thunderstorm watch was in effect for portions of eastern Pennsylvania, and thunderstorms were northeast of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. This was acknowledged by the pilot.

In a second transmission, Flight Watch continued:

...you are definitely going to have a problem with that area [Wilkes Barre, Mount Pocono] with weather. I don't see any way of getting through that into the Wilkes Barre, Mount Pocono area, ah, to the east, the south is questionable you'd have to deviate ah, between it looks like broken area showing up on my radar of the precip is ah, weak. I don't have an exact location for that it looks like into the northwest of Phillipsburg [Pennsylvania], otherwise the radar is showing a pretty good area coverage, ah from Williamsport [Pennsylvania], eastward through Lake Henry [Pennsylvania], and again just north of ah Scranton [Pennsylvania], area ah, if you went up to the north through ah, Binghamton [New York] possibly come around for ah, from the east side you might have to wait for that to go through ah, Wilkes Barre, over....

At the end of this transmission, the reply was unintelligible; however, when the pilot returned to the New York ARTCC, he requested to deviate to a alternate. This request was modified to, "I'd just like vectors for the closest airport...sounds like we're gonna be running into some storms here and I'm going to wait those out."

The pilot was advised Williamsport was 12 O'clock 40 miles and University Park [Pennsylvania], was 3 O'clock, 40 miles. The pilot chose Williamsport. N3150E was cleared to the Williamsport Airport, via the Williamsport VOR, direct, and instructed to maintain 5000 feet.

At 1737, the pilot of N3150E requested radar vectors for the ILS Rwy 27 approach into Williamsport.

At 1741:16, the pilot of N3150E transmitted, "Five zero echo, this is pretty bad for us right here, do you have any vectors for us." The reply was ,"Sir, my radar does not paint weather very well at all...." The controller then requested assistance on weather in the Williamsport area from an airplane in the area.

At 1741:28, the pilot transmitted, "looks like we're running into some heavy lightning here and decreasing visibility." The pilot was told to standby by while the controller got a pilot report from another airplane.

At 1741:49, the pilot of N3150E transmitted, " Five zero echo, we're flying into an area of lightning and ah, decreased visibility."

At 1742:28, the controller transmitted, "...five zero echo, there's an aircraft at your twelve o'clock and ten miles, he's south heading southwestbound. he says its pretty good to the southwest if you want to take a turn to the south to get away from that weather." This was acknowledged by the pilot.

At 1742:48, the pilot was instructed to make a frequency change. This was acknowledged by the pilot.

At 1743:02, the pilot reported in on the new frequency. This was not acknowledged by the controller. When the controller attempted contact at 1743:53, there was no reply. Radio contact was not reestablished with N3150E.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 41 degrees, 21 minutes, 48.4 seconds North and 77 degrees, 12 minutes, 19.3 seconds West.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane instrument rating. In addition, he held a flight instructor rating for instrument airplane. He was issued a FAA First Class Airman Medical Certificate on September 27, 1993, with no waivers or limitations. His total flight time was 418 hours with 140 hours in the Cessna 172. He had flown 30 hours, 10 hours, and 2 hours in the preceding 90 days, 30 days, and 24 hours respectively. He had recently completed a training program for the issuance of his flight instructor ratings. He had 22 hours as a flight instructor.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a 1972 Cessna 172N. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320-H2AD engine which developed 160 horse power. The airplane was maintained under an annual inspection program. The last inspection was annual inspection, which occurred on June 17, 1994. The airplane had a total time of 3849 hours at the time of the accident and had flown 58 hours since the last inspection.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1750 observation at Williamsport follows: 6000 feet broken, visibility 7 miles. The remarks section stated: "Thunderstorm northwest, moving southeast, occasional lightning in clouds."

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane was located on the afternoon of July 15, 1994. The airplane was examined at the accident site on July 16, 1994. The accident site was located 14.7 nautical miles from the Williamsport Airport, on a heading of 310 degrees magnetic.

The airplane had flown through trees and then impacted against a hill. The marks on the trees and broken branches in the trees were in a descending flight path of 10 degrees down. The broken branches on the right side of the flight path through the trees were at a lower elevation than the left side. The angle was 40 degrees relative to the horizon. The ground impact point was 45 degrees to the face of the hill. The slope of the hill was 40 degrees down at the impact point. The debris path was scattered along a heading of 270 degrees.

All major components of the airplane including the wings, and flight control surfaces were accounted for at the scene. The flight control cables to the ailerons were broken with frayed ends. The flight control cables for the elevator and rudder were intact. The propeller blades were twisted, with impact marks on the leading edge, and were broken in the middle of the hub. There was no fire. Several of the leaves on low branches of the nearby trees had turned brown and were wrinkled.

Wrinkles on the left horizontal stabilizer ran from the leading edge to the trailing edge in a rearward direction, when measured from inboard to outboard. The left elevator was bent downward in two locations. One at the outboard hinge and the other at the middle hinge. These bends were 90 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the airplane.

Examination of the engine revealed the vacuum pump shear shaft was intact. The number 1 cylinder was broken off, The carburetor was broken off. The carburetor had a one piece venturi and was intact.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

Recorded radar data was received from the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). The data revealed the airplane was in an easterly heading approximately 14 miles northwest of Williamsport. Between 1730:00 and 1742:20, the airplane maintained between 4900 feet and 5100 feet. At 1742:32, the airplane had descended to 4800 feet. Three additional returns were received from the airplane, however, no altitude data was available. Between 1742:44 and 1743:08, the airplane heading changed to the right.

Examination of Doppler Weather Radar photographs received from Binghamton, New York, revealed VIP level 5 (scale 1 - 6) returns in the accident area between 1735 and 1746. In addition, a band of weather returns extended to the west, from the accident site. This band was approximately 7 miles wide and extended in excess of 20 miles west of the accident position. The radar track of the airplane lay within this band of weather.

The aircraft wreckage was released to the insurance adjustor, Mr. Harold Mesaris, of Airco, in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, on July 16, 1994. No items were retained.

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