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N72546 accident description

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Tail numberN72546
Accident dateJuly 18, 1995
Aircraft typeCessna 140
LocationDanielsville, PA
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 18, 1995, about 0348 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 140, N72546, struck trees in Danielsville, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot received serious injuries, and the pilot-rated passenger was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight which was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, and had departed from Reading, Pennsylvania, about 0325.

The accident flight was the last of three flights that involved the pilot and passenger.

The first flight began on the afternoon of July 17, 1995, when the pilot of N72546, flew from Slatington, to Reading, with the passenger onboard.

The second flight began at Reading, when the pilot of N72546, boarded a Cessna 310, as a passenger on a multiple leg flight, while the passenger performed the duties of pilot. She reported that while on approach to Reading, which was the last flight in the Cessna 310, the Allentown Airport Terminal Information Service (ATIS) was checked. Allentown which was located 10 NM from Slatington, on a heading of 145 degrees magnetic, was the closest weather observation point.

Allentown Information India, which was active from 0250 through 0345, reported the following: scattered clouds at 400 feet, a measured ceiling of 1,100 feet overcast, visibility of 6 miles with fog, temperature 71 degrees F, and dewpoint 71 degrees F, altimeter 29.80.

After the Cessna 310 landed at Reading, the third flight began when the occupants boarded N72546, for the flight to Slatington. The pilot occupied the left seat and performed the takeoff, while a passenger occupied the right seat.

At 0330, Allentown Approach Control Radar identified the flight in the vicinity of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, after the pilot reported that she was at an altitude of 1100 feet, and requested flight following to Slatington. Additionally, she reported that the passenger became the operator of the flight controls; however, she continued to talk on the radio.

At 0346:23, approach control transmitted, "cessna five four six slatington ten o'clock three miles," which was acknowledged by the pilot. A few seconds later, the controller transmitted, "cessna five four six are you familiar with the ridge just to the north of slatington." The pilot replied, "ah yes i am but ah you can make sure we'd steer clear of that." She then added, "can't see the ah tops of the ridge."

At 0347:56, the controller transmitted, "cessna five four six roger and slatington's about ah your eight O'clock and two miles." This was acknowledged by the pilot, after which no further transmissions were received.

The airplane struck trees on the top of Blue Mountain, at an elevation of 1450 feet MSL, about 3 1/2 NM northeast of Slatington Airport, on a bearing of 060 degrees magnetic. The pilot extricated herself from the airplane and walked about 1 mile to a road, where emergency personnel were notified. The passenger was found inside the airplane, fatally injured.

When interviewed, the pilot reported that after the 2nd position report from approach control (Slatington at 8 o'clock, 2 miles), that she wanted to climb, and the passenger, who was the operating the flight controls, wanted to turn toward Slatington. Power was added, and a left turn was initiated, after which the airplane struck trees. Additionally, the pilot reported that they were navigating by dead reckoning, and there were no problems with the engine or airplane.

The accident occurred during the hours of darkness at location 40 degrees, 48 minutes North and 75 degrees, 33 minutes West.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a Commercial Pilot Certificate, for single and multi-engine land airplanes, and an instrument rating. She was issued an FAA 2nd Class Airman Medical Certificate, with no limitations, on November 1, 1994. According to her pilot log book, which was current through July 9, 1995, she had the following flight times:

Total Time 819.2 hours Pilot-In-Command 743.4 hours Night Time 92.7 hours

Additionally, she had owned N72546 for 2 1/2 years and based it at Slatington.

The passenger, held an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, with airplane single and multi-engine land ratings. His pilot log book contained an entry dated June 25, 1995, which read, "First time flying the 140...." No other entries were found to indicate the pilot had additional experience in a Cessna 140, or had flown any tailwheel airplanes in the preceding 90 days at night.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane was examined at the accident site on July 18, 1995. The empennage was found lodged in a tree, about 15 feet above the ground, and the outboard 3 feet of the left wing was found 20 feet southwest of the empennage. The fuselage, which was heading 010 degrees, was laying inverted in a rock pile, and was located 110 feet from the empennage, on a bearing of 310 degrees. The cabin roof was penetrated by rocks.

The throttle was in the mid-range position, the mixture was rich, and the carburetor heat was off. The magneto switch was off, and fuel selector was on the left tank.

Several flight control cables between the fuselage and empennage had failed with characteristics that were similar to tension overload. Other cables were still attached to their mounting brackets which had pulled away from their attach points. The aileron cables were not failed; however, the left aileron was attached to the wing with only the inboard aileron hinge.

Both blades of the propeller were bent forward, with the tips missing. Rotational scoring and leading edge impact damage was observed on both blades.

Both wings had leading edge impact damage. Additionally, the right wing spar was fractured outboard of the strut attach point.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was conducted on the pilot-rated passenger by S. Funke, M.D. Forensic Pathologist, for Northampton County, Pennsylvania, on July 18, 1995.

The pilot voluntarily released the results of her toxicological testing which was conducted by the Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Toxicological testing was conducted on the passenger by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. All results were negative for drugs and alcohol.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

Meteorological Information

The pilot reported that other than checking the Allentown ATIS, no weather check was accomplished. The terminal forecast for Allentown, issued at 2024 on July 17, 1995, called for,

Ceiling 2500 feet broken, visibility 5 miles with haze, winds from 220 degrees at 6 knots, occasionally ceiling 1000 feet, sky obscured 200 feet, rain showers, or thundershowers, and gusts to 35 knots.

The forecast was ammended at 0224, on July 18, 1995, and called for:

Ceiling 400 feet broken, 4000 feet overcast, visibility 5 miles with fog, occasionally 400 feet scattered, ceiling 4000 feet overcast, visibility 2 miles with rain showers, or thundershowers, and fog.

The following hourly observations were recorded for Allentown:

July 17 2350 45 SCT M95 OVC 5RW-F 099/72/72/1709/983 July 18 0050 M1000 OVC 6 F 089/71/71/3605/980 July 18 0150 M4 BKN 1000 OVC 6F 092/71/71/0000/981 July 18 0250 4 SCT M11 OVC 6 F 088/71/71/0105/980 July 18 0350 4 SCT M10 OVC 6 F /71/71/3604/979

Additionally, the pilot reported that although she could see the lights from the town of Slatington prior to the accident, she could not see the runway lights. She also reported that after the accident she did not observe any fog.

Slatington Airport

The airport was located 10 NM from Allentown on a magnetic heading of 325 degrees, adjacent to, and north of the town of Slatington. Blue Mountain was a ridge that was orientated east/west, located about 1 mile north of the airport, and with peak elevations between 1400 and 1500 feet.

The airport was equipped with low intensity runway lighting and an airport rotating beacon, that were pilot controlled. The FAA had issued a NOTAM for inoperative runway lights on May 12, 1995, which was still in effect at the time of the accident. The lights were tested on July 19, 1995, with 5 clicks of the Slatington Airport UNICOM radio. Both the runway lights and rotating beacon illuminated.

A single runway, orientated 010/190 degrees, was situated next to the Lehigh River. Trees parallel to the runway, and located on the east side of the runway, obscured the accident site, from an observer standing next to the runway.

Wreckage Release

The airplane was released to the insurance adjustor, Mr. John Cooley, on July 19, 1995.

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