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N1254Z accident description

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Tail numberN1254Z
Accident dateJanuary 02, 2006
Aircraft typeBeech 35-A33
LocationHeber City, UT
Near 40.660278 N, -111.457778 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 2, 2006, about 1230 mountain standard time, a Beech 35-A33, N1254Z, impacted terrain while maneuvering about 10 nautical miles north of Heber City, Utah. The non-instrument rated commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. A visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane departed Billings, Montana, about 0910 with an intended destination of Spanish Fork, Utah. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the departure from Billings, and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site.

According to information provided by Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), the flight was receiving VFR flight following services. About 1119, the controller working the flight advised the pilot that there was a storm system in the Salt Lake valley and to the south. The pilot acknowledged receiving the information. About 1138, the pilot was again advised of deteriorating weather conditions along his route of flight. Again, the pilot acknowledged receiving the information. About 1151, the pilot reported that he was over Evanston, Wyoming, at 8,000 feet mean sea level (msl), following I-80 south, and that if needed, he would turn around and land at Fort Bridger, Wyoming. About 1209, relaying through another aircraft, the pilot was informed that radar contact was lost. About 1214, again relaying through another aircraft, the pilot reported that he planned to go through "either Heber City or Provo canyon." About 1217, another relay was attempted to inform the pilot about level 2 and 3 precipitation in those canyons, and no reply was received. Several other attempts were made to relay without success. Further attempts were made to contact the airplane, and no reply was received.

Radar data provided by Salt Lake City ARTCC indicated that radar contact with the airplane was lost about 1206. The last minute of continuous recorded radar data shows the airplane proceeding southbound along I-80 near the town of Wahsatch, Utah, located about 37 nautical miles north-northeast of the accident site. Between 1204:45 and 1205:45, the airplane traveled a distance of 2.6 miles, consistent with a ground speed of approximately 135 knots, and descended from 7,300 to 7,100 feet msl. (The elevation of Wahsatch is 6,742 feet.)

A witness, who was a private pilot, reported to the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) that about 1215, he observed a single-engine, retractable gear airplane flying south along I-80 through the town of Coalville, Utah, located about 16 nautical miles north of the accident site. The witness stated the ceiling was about 500 feet, and there was light snow and sleet falling. He estimated the airplane was about 300 feet above ground level (agl), "going fairly slow," about 100 to 120 mph. He later saw pictures of the accident airplane and realized it was the same airplane he had seen.

A witness reported to the Summit County Sheriff's Office that at 1226, she was near mile marker 2 on State Road 40, located about 4 nautical miles north of the accident site, and observed a "white plane with what she thought were red letters" flying overhead. (The accident airplane was painted white with blue and red trim.) According to the witness, "it was snowing hard and there was little visibility." The airplane was heading south, following State Road 40, "flying low" at an altitude of "approximately 300 feet off of the ground."

At 1229:02, one radar return was recorded from the airplane. This last return showed the airplane located approximately 1/2 mile north of the accident site at an altitude of 7,000 feet msl.

According to a report prepared by the Summit County Sheriff's Office, at 1230, the Summit County Dispatch Center received an emergency call in regards to a low flying airplane near mile marker 8 on State Road 40. At the time of the call, officers working in the area were unable to locate the low flying airplane. They reported that "the weather in the area was extreme. Visibility was less than 500 feet with heavy snow." About 1530, Summit Dispatch received a report that an airplane was down near mile marker 6 on State Road 40. The caller advised that the airplane was approximately 500 feet east of the roadway. Officers responded to the scene and identified the airplane as N1254Z.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. He did not hold an instrument rating. His most recent medical certificate was a second class medical issued on December 22, 2004, with the limitation, must wear corrective lenses. On the application for this medical certificate, the pilot reported that he had accumulated 1,090 hours total flight time. The pilot's flight logbooks were not examined during the investigation.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Examination of the airplane's maintenance records indicated that the 1961 model Beech Debonair received its most recent annual inspection on March 1, 2005, at a total time of 3,823.2 hours. As of that date, the engine, a Continental IO-470-K, S/N 86029, had accumulated 394.5 hours since major overhaul. Review of the maintenance records revealed no evidence of any uncorrected maintenance discrepancies.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The following weather conditions were reported at Heber City, Utah, located approximately 10 nautical miles south of the accident site, elevation 5,637 feet:

At 1155, wind from 320 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, rain, sky conditions: broken clouds at 1,600 feet, overcast at 2,300 feet, temperature 2 degrees C, dew point 1 degree C, and altimeter 29.83 inches.

At 1255, wind from 280 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 7 statute miles, light rain, sky conditions: scattered clouds at 1,700 feet, broken clouds at 3,300 feet, overcast at 4,200 feet, temperature 2 degrees C, dew point 1 degree C, and altimeter 29.81 inches.

The following weather conditions were reported at Evanston, Wyoming, located approximately 41 nautical miles north-northeast of the accident site, elevation 7,163 feet:

At 1153, wind from 210 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky conditions: few clouds at 1,500 feet, broken clouds at 3,100 feet, overcast at 4,800 feet, temperature 1 degree C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.81 inches.

At 1207, wind from 250 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, snow and mist, sky conditions: few clouds at 900 feet, scattered clouds at 1,300 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.80 inches.

At 1223, wind from 240 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, snow and mist, sky conditions: broken clouds at 900 feet, broken clouds at 2,000 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.80 inches.

At 1230, wind from 240 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, snow and mist, sky condition: scattered clouds at 600 feet, broken clouds at 1,000 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.80 inches.

At 1234, wind from 230 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 1 3/4 miles, snow and mist, sky condition: broken clouds at 600 feet, broken clouds at 1,000 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.80 inches.

At 1238, wind from 220 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 1 1/2 miles, snow and mist, sky condition: broken clouds at 400 feet, broken clouds at 1,300 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.79 inches.

At 1253, wind from 210 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 1 mile, snow and mist, sky condition: overcast at 400 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.78 inches.

According to information provided by Cedar City Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), at 0741, the pilot received a weather briefing from Great Falls AFSS for a VFR flight from Billings, Montana to Spanish Fork, Utah. The pilot stated that the flight would take about 3 and 1/2 hours and that his planned route was "through the basin down to Lander...then west [to] Fort Bridger...Heber City then through the Provo canyon." The briefer began the briefing by stating "for western Wyoming and the rest of the route airmet for occasional mountain obscuration, clouds, precipitation, mist and fog, VFR not recommended into that area." While en route, the pilot twice contacted Cedar City AFSS, at 1121 and 1140, requested and was given current and forecast weather conditions along the route from Fort Bridger to Evanston to Provo. During each contact, he was told that VFR flight was not recommended along the route.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Summit County Sheriff's Office personnel examined the accident site and reported the main wreckage was located at 40:39.375 North latitude and 11:27.291 West longitude at an elevation of 6,933 feet. According to the Summit County Sheriff's Office report, when officers reached the scene about 1600, there was approximately 1 inch of new snow on the airplane. The airplane was facing north, and there was a ground scar marking the initial impact point about 100 feet south of the airplane. Branches were broken from the oak brush located between the ground scar and the airplane. The outboard third of the right wing separated and was found at the initial impact point.

The wreckage was recovered from the accident site and moved to the Heber City Municipal Airport. On February 21, 2006, the wreckage was examined by the NTSB IIC and representatives from the FAA and Teledyne Continental Motors. The engine was separated from the airframe. The propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft. One of the blades was bent aft approximately 8 inches from the propeller hub and exhibited chordwise scratching and gouging throughout the span of the blade. The other blade was bent aft and exhibited blade twisting with chordwise scratching on the outboard 12 inches of the forward side of the blade. The rocker arm covers and the top spark plugs were removed. The engine was rotated by hand using the propeller, and engine continuity was confirmed. "Thumb" compression was obtained on all cylinders. Both magnetos sparked at all leads during hand rotation of the propeller. The cylinder combustion chambers were examined through the spark plug holes using a lighted borescope. There was no visible evidence of foreign object ingestion or detonation, and the valves appeared to be intact and undamaged. The fuel pump turned freely and was not damaged. The fuel pump drive was intact and undamaged. The fuel manifold valve was disassembled and the screen was free of debris; the diaphragm and spring were undamaged. Inspection of the engine did not reveal any abnormalities that would have prevented normal operation and production of rated horsepower.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the State of Utah's Office of the Medical Examiner in Salt Lake City, Utah. Toxicology tests conducted by the FAA's Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol and drugs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The NTSB did not take custody of the wreckage.

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