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N1029J accident description

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Tail numberN1029J
Accident dateJuly 27, 2005
Aircraft typeAero Commander 112
LocationJunction, TX
Near 30.548611 N, -99.770278 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 27, 2005, approximately 1050 central daylight time, a single-engine Aero Commander 112 airplane, N1029J, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Junction, Texas. The pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight plan was filed for the personal flight, conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed from Kimble County Airport (JCT), near Junction, Texas, approximately 1040 with the Neosho Hugh Robinson Airport (EOS), near Neosho, Missouri, as their intended destination.

An airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic, who is based at the departure airport, reported that he had a couple conversations with the accident pilot; one the day prior to the accident and one the morning of the flight. The day prior to the accident, the pilot had told the mechanic that he was planning to leave by 08:30 in the morning. The day of the accident, the pilot had pulled the airplane out of the hangar and was in the process of checking/adding air to the tires. The mechanic offered his help, but pilot did not need any assistance and everything seemed normal, so the mechanic returned to his hangar. A few minutes later, the mechanic heard the sound of the airplane engine starting. The mechanic stated that while the airplane was taxiing, he heard the pilot perform a "rolling mag check" and then depart Runway 35.

Several witnesses provided statements to the Safety Board. Below is a summary of their statements:

The first witness was traveling south on Highway 83, when he first observed the airplane heading north and flying at an altitude of "about 300 feet." He stated the airplane flew parallel with the highway for about a mile and a half before the airplane crossed the highway to the left "and proceeded down a ravine and out of sight." The witness concluded that "the plane appeared over trees and then struck a tree and went down."

A second witness was driving north on Highway 83, when he noticed an airplane was "coming up behind him and low". He said, "the airplane [looked] like he took a left turn, went into a ravine and [I] didn't see him until he was trying to bring [the] airplane up the cliff." The witness also noted that the airplane's left wing "clipped a tree" before impacting the ground.

Several family members, who were visiting from a foreign country, were driving north on Highway 83, and observer the accident airplane on the taxiway at JCT. A short time later, a family member stated that the airplane "flew over the road above us only about 100 feet." The witness then stated the airplane turned left and "went down in the valley." The witness added that "he could see it coming up at times, then it disappeared." The witness also stated that his girlfriend saw the airplane "hit a tree and then flip over."

Since the airplane appeared low, one of the witnesses took digital photographs of the airplane as it flew overhead. A review of the photographs revealed that the flaps were fully extended.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land, and a commercial pilot, with an additional rating for single-engine land. The pilot was issued an FAA first-class medical certificate on July 20, 2005. At that time, the pilot reported having accumulated a total of 7,000 flight hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a 1973 model Aero Commander 112, configured for a maximum of four occupants, and featured retractable landing gear and a controllable pitch propeller. The airplane was powered by a 200 horsepower IO-360 Lycoming engine, that had accrued approximately 8 hours since major overhaul (SMOH). The engine was driving a Hartzell 3-bladed propeller installed under the approval of a Supplement Type Certificate (STC). The engine and propeller installation were completed in March 2005.

The last annual inspection was conducted on July 3, 2005, at a total time of 3,385 hours. The accident flight was reported to be the first flight after the annual inspection. The previous year's annual inspection was conducted in June, 2004, with reading of 3,369 hours. Additionally, a review of the airplane maintenance records indicted that Rockwell's Service Letter number SL-112-4 was accomplished, which increased the airplane gross weight to 2,650 pounds and limited flap travel to 35 degrees.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1051, the automated weather observing system at JCT, reported wind from 040 at 7 knots, 7 statute miles visibility, few clouds at 2,400 feet, temperature 82 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.09 inches of Mercury. The investigator-in-charge calculated the density altitude to be 3,546 feet at the time of the accident.

AERODROME INFORMATION

Runway 35-17 at the Kimble County airport was a 5,000-foot by 75-foot asphalt runway, at an elevation of 1,749 feet (msl). Runway 35 is marked as non-precision, and has a noted obstacle of a 200-foot hill, 4,400 feet from the departure end of the runway.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT

The airplane came to rest near the crest of a ridgeline that was covered mostly with mesquite trees, on approximate heading of 120 degrees, about 2.6 miles north of the airport. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The accident occurred during daylight hours at the coordinates of, 30 degrees 32.9 minutes north latitude, 099 degrees 46.2 minutes west longitude, and at an elevation of 2,070 feet (msl). The amount of fuel on the aircraft could not be determined, however, patches of vegetation in the impact area displayed signs of fuel contamination.

The main wreckage area included the fuselage, wings, empennage, and engine/propeller. A post-impact fire consumed much of the airframe. The left aileron and portion of the left wing skin was separated from the airplane and was located in front of the main wreckage. The remainder of the left wing was located under the fuselage; the right wing was located above the cabin area; both wing sections and cabin area were heavy damaged by the ground fire. The flap jack-screw was located, and found to be extended approximately 4 7/8 inches, corresponding to a flap setting of 35 degrees. At the tail end of the wreckage area, the empennage was largely intact; the elevator trim tabs were in the neutral position.

The initial impact point was the top portion of a mesquite tree approximately 120 feet from the main wreckage. Along the impact path, on a heading of approximately 325 degrees to the main wreckage, the left wing navigation light assembly was located and just before the second impact point (mesquite tree). The tree/bush impact scars became progressively lower in the direction of the main wreckage. Ground propellers scars were noted approximately 23 feet from the final resting area; several pieces of angular cut tree branches, along the wreckage path were observed prior to the ground scars.

Control continuity was established for all flight controls to the cockpit, except for the right wing aileron due to fire damage.

On-site and post examinations of the engine and propeller were conducted. The propeller remained attached to the engine and located with the main wreckage, both were heavily damaged by the impact and the post crash fire. Due to impact and fire damage, the engine could not be rotated. The engine accessory case was melted away and the engine case had extensive damage, revealing internal components. The magnetos, fuel pump and fuel servo were all fire damaged.

One propeller blade appeared melted, with the outer three-quarters of the blade missing.

The second blade was bend almost 180 degrees approximately at the mid-point, toward the cambered side of the blade. The blade exhibited fire/heat damage.

The third blade was missing the tip and partially melted, however the blade had leading edge gouges and chordwise scratching on both the cambered and non-cambered sides.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on 28 July, 2005 by the Travis County Medical Examiner, Austin, Texas. The Medical Examiner’s report list the pilot's manner of death as natural. Additionally, the report states that the pilot died as a result of cardiac arrhythmia due to a dilated cardiomyopathycardiomyopathy; however, the timing of the cardiac event could not be conclusively determined.

Toxicological Testing was conducted by, the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was recovered to Air Salvage of Dallas, in Lancaster, Texas, and released to the owner's representative at the completion of the field portion of the investigation.

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