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N5357M accident description

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Tail numberN5357M
Accident dateSeptember 25, 2000
Aircraft typeCessna 152
LocationNavasota, TX
Near 36.48333 N, -96.15 W
Additional details: Red/White

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 25, 2000, at 0115 central daylight time, a Cessna 152 airplane, N5357M, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of control near Navasota, Texas. The airplane was registered to the Airline Training Academy (ATA) Inc., of Orlando, Florida, and operated by ATA Inc., of Arlington, Texas. The instrument rated private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. Dark night instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Easterwood Field Airport, College Station, Texas, approximately 0035, and was destined for the Arlington Municipal Airport, Arlington, Texas.

According to transcripts provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), on September 24, 2000, at 1134, and then at 1322, the pilot of N5357M contacted the Montgomery County Automated Flight Service Station (CXO AFSS) and received two separate standard weather briefings for a visual flight rules (VFR) flight from the Sugarland Municipal Airport, Houston, Texas, to the Arlington Municipal Airport. Both weather briefers informed the pilot of weather advisories and a convective sigmet for thunderstorm activity along the route of flight, an airmet for IFR conditions for the Dallas-Forth Worth area, and a line of thunderstorms moving from the northwest, across Texas, to the southeast. However, the conditions for the route of flight up to Waco, Texas, were reported as suitable for VFR flight. Both briefers stated that VFR flight was not recommended into the Dallas-Fort Worth area. During the first briefing the pilot stated that they needed to be in Arlington "by in the morning," and during the second briefing, he stated that they needed to try and "make it back." Subsequently, the airplane departed Houston for Waco.

At 1543, while in-flight, the pilot of N5357M contacted Houston Flight Watch. He received updated weather for his route of flight and, subsequently, diverted to the Easterwood Field Airport.

At 1625, while on the ground at the Easterwood Field Airport, the pilot of N5357M contacted the CXO AFSS, and requested weather for a VFR flight to the Arlington Municipal Airport. The weather briefer informed the pilot that VFR flight was not recommended and that a front was passing over the Easterwood Field Airport at that time. The briefer added that a VFR flight would not be possible behind the front; however, if the pilot held off "three hours and [departed] after dark behind this frontal system [he would] probably have some lower clouds, but at least [he wouldn't] have the convective activity to deal with."

At 1645, according to a fuel log sheet from the Easterwood Field Airport, the airplane was fueled with 7.1 gallons of 100LL fuel. Airport personnel reported that the airplane's fuel tanks were topped off.

At 2118, the pilot of N5357M contacted the CXO AFSS and received a standard weather briefing for a flight from the Easterwood Airport to the Arlington Municipal Airport. The briefer informed the pilot of rain, 40-knot winds at the 3,000-foot level, and a convective sigmet along the route of flight. The pilot stated that the airport would be closing in 45 minutes and that he had no place to stay. The briefer offered the possibility of a hotel or a cot at the airport; however, the pilot responded that he would "probably have to try to get out."

At 2357, the pilot of N5357M contacted the CXO AFSS and filed an IFR flight plan from the Easterwood Field Airport to the Arlington Municipal Airport. The pilot did not request additional weather; however, after the pilot filed the flight plan, the briefer asked the pilot if he was aware of the thunderstorm activity along the route of flight. The pilot responded that he was and added that "we've been sitting here for like five hours." Subsequently, the pilot asked for a "quick briefing." The briefer reported VFR conditions at the weather reporting stations along the route of flight.

On September 25, 2000, at 0037, the pilot of N5357M contacted the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center and received an IFR clearance to the Arlington Municipal Airport. At 0052, the pilot reported that the "vacuum system [was] gone" and that he was disoriented. The air traffic controller asked the pilot if he wanted to return to the airport and fly the VOR 28 approach; the pilot responded in the affirmative. The controller provided radar vectors to the pilot and instructed the pilot to intercept the 100 degree radial inbound to College Station. The controller then observed the airplane fly through the radial and instructed the pilot to fly a heading of 050 degrees to re-intercept the radial.

At 0107, the pilot reported that it was "getting a little rough" and said "there's a problem I need some help." The pilot stated that he was "losing it," and the controller issued a new heading to the pilot. The pilot then stated that he was "losing altitude like crazy" and that he was having difficulty maintaining a heading. The controller then informed the pilot that the approach would be a "no gyro" approach (Airport Surveillance Approach) and instructed the pilot to turn left. The pilot acknowledged, and according to the radar controller, the airplane appeared to be in a left turn. The controller then asked the pilot if he recalled what the cloud bases were near the airport; the pilot responded 1,200 feet. The controller informed the pilot that he would set him up for the VOR 28 approach and asked the pilot if he had the approach plate. The pilot responded negative.

Between 0111 and 0115, the controller continued the no gyro approach. At 0114:15, the controller instructed the pilot to turn left and the pilot acknowledged. At 0114:58, the controller asked the pilot to confirm that he was making a left turn, and the pilot responded affirmative. At 0115:00, the controller informed the pilot that it appeared as if he were making a right turn. Subsequently, the airplane disappeared from radar and radio calls to the pilot were unanswered.

At 0900, the airplane was located by the Civil Air Patrol in a pasture on a private ranch, 15.6 miles southeast of the College Station VOR navigational facility.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot and passenger were students at the Airline Training Academy Inc., based in Arlington, Texas.

On June 22, 2000, the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate (airplane single-engine land), and on August 18, 2000, he was issued an instrument rating (airplane). As of September 21, 2000, the pilot had accumulated a total of 140.8 flight hours, of which 138.2 hours were in a Cessna 152. According to the pilot's flight logbook, he had accumulated a total of 16.1 hours at night, 30.4 hours in simulated instrument conditions, and 2.5 hours in actual instrument flight conditions. At the time of the accident, the pilot was accumulating flight time to meet the requirements for a commercial pilot certificate. He held an FAA second class medical certificate with no limitations or waivers, which was issued on April 18, 2000.

The passenger had successfully completed the FAA written test for the private pilot certificate; however, he had not obtained a student pilot certificate at the time of the accident.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1981 model, red and white, Cessna 152, was equipped with a 115-horsepower Lycoming O-235-N2C engine and a 2-bladed McCauley fixed pitch propeller. On April 14, 2000, the altimeter and static pressure system underwent its most recent inspection. On June 2, 2000, the airplane underwent its most recent annual inspection at a total time of 6,506.3 flight hours. On August 29, 2000, the airplane underwent its most recent 100-hour inspection at a total time of 6,607.2 hours. At the time of the accident, the engine had accumulated a total of 966.8 hours since its last overhaul, and the airframe had accumulated a total of 6,647.1 flight hours.

The airplane was equipped with a dry-air vacuum pump that was manufactured by Airborne, Inc. (part number 211CC). The pump underwent its last overhaul on October 8, 1998, 966.8 hours prior to the accident.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 0053, the weather observation facility at the Easterwood Field Airport (located 15.6 miles northwest of the accident site) reported the visibility as 10 statue miles, an overcast sky at 1,900 feet agl, wind from 320 degrees at 8 knots, temperature 63 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of Mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

A GPS receiver recorded the accident location at 030 degrees 29.470 minutes north latitude and 096 degrees 09.407 west longitude. The linear energy path measured 550 feet from the initial impact point and was oriented 349 degrees magnetic. The initial impact scar consisted of a central crater surrounded by a pattern of indentations corresponding to landing gear and wing leading edges. The left and right wings separated from the airframe and came to rest 45 feet and 100 feet from the initial impact scar, respectively. The main wreckage, which consisted of the propeller, cabin area, instrument panel, empennage, and tail section was located 200 feet from the initial impact scar. The engine came to rest 251 feet from the initial impact scar. The final airplane components located along the distribution path were the left and right main landing gear wheels, which were 460 feet and 550 feet from the initial impact scar, respectively.

The cockpit fuel selector was found in the ON position. The flaps were found in the retracted position; however, the cockpit flap control lever and indicator were found indicating 10 degrees extended. The engine tachometer was recovered and its needle was found indicating 2,525 RPM. All other cockpit instruments and switches sustained damage.

The propeller assembly separated from the engine's crankshaft flange and all of the propeller attachment bolts were sheared off. One propeller blade was bent aft 10 degrees at the mid-point of the blade and exhibited leading edge polishing and "S" type bending. The second propeller blade was bent aft 150 degrees at the mid-point of the blade and exhibited leading edge polishing, chordwise scratching and "S" type bending.

The engine was found in the inverted position. Rotation of the crankshaft and a compression check were not possible due to impact damage to the engine. The exhaust and engine accessories, except for a portion of the right magneto and the vacuum pump's housing, separated from the engine.

The aft section of the vacuum pump housing separated along with the internal rotor and vane components. Five vanes were recovered from the accident site and were undamaged. The rotor was found fractured in four pieces. The vacuum pump drive shaft was intact and undamaged. The vacuum system air filter was clean; however, it sustained impact damage.

The attitude indicator and heading indicator (vacuum driven gyroscopic flight instruments) were recovered and disassembled at the accident site. Their internal rotor housings and brass mass rotors displayed rotational scoring. The turn and slip indicator (electrically driven gyroscopic flight instrument) was also disassembled at the accident site. Rotational scoring was observed on the rotor mass and its housing.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Autopsies were performed on the pilot and passenger by the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office of San Antonio, Texas. Toxicological testing on the pilot was performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test results revealed that the pilot was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and drugs. The report revealed 45 mg/dl, mg/hg ethanol detected in blood and 4 mg/dl, mg/hg acetaldehyde detected in blood; however, according to the report, the ethanol detected was "the result of postmortem ethanol formation and not from the ingestion of alcohol."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on March 12, 2001.

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