N24JT accident descriptionGo to the Utah map...
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|Accident date||October 11, 1999|
|Aircraft type||Watkins CHRISTEN EAGLE|
|Location||Brigham City, UT|
HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On October 11, 1999, at 1040 mountain daylight time, a Watkins Christen Eagle, N24JT, was destroyed following impact with water near Brigham City, Utah. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant in the airplane, was fatally injured. The aircraft was being operated by the owner/pilot under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight which originated from Ogden-Hinckley Airport, Ogden, Utah, 21 minutes before the accident. No flight plan had been filed.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control tower at Ogden, Utah, reported that the pilot departed Ogden-Hinckley Airport at 1019. The pilot's wife said that the pilot was planning to fly to Promontory Point to practice aerobatics. A friend of the pilot said that when he flew aerobatics with the pilot, the pilot flew: inside loops, hammer heads, aileron rolls, four point rolls, barrel rolls, and cuban 8's. The pilot's wife said that the pilot was "a man of habit," and he generally flew a 20 minute aerobatic routine.
The radar data indicates that the pilot began his aerobatic routine at 1030:03 at a location of N41 degrees 21.60 minutes, W112 degrees 23.93 minutes. At 1038:18, the pilot flew an approximate 100 degree heading towards Ogden. At 1040:00, the pilot entered a descending right hand turn. The last radar return was from Salt Lake City Approach Control, and the airplane was at 2,100 feet above the water and descending 4,000 to 5,000 feet per minute.
The accident occurred in a location where the pilot would have had good radio communication with several FAA ATC organizations. No communications were received.
According to FAA record, the pilot received his airline transport pilot certificate on September 5, 1974, and he had accumulated approximately 27,000 hours of flight experience by the time of the accident. The United Airline personnel official stated that he was one of their retired pilots. His personal flight logbook indicates that his last required FAA Part 61 flight review was on August 29, 1998. The pilot's logbook and a statement from the pilot's wife suggest that he had flown 30 hours during the previous 90 days.
The pilot's wife said that during the previous year, the 78 year old pilot had been rendered unconscious on two separate occasions by blows to his head. The first event occurred in October of 1998, when the pilot fell in his hangar hitting his head on the cement floor. He reported experiencing headaches after the fall, and was given an MRI by a doctor with negative results. The second event was also a fall to the hangar floor, in May of 1999, but the wife said she was not aware of any subsequent medical examinations of the pilot. Soon after the first fall she said that the pilot began to tell her and his friends that he commonly "felt very tired" for no apparent reason.
The airplane was an aerobatic, bi-winged, single engine, propeller-driven, two seat airplane, which was manufactured in 1986, by Mitchell Watkins, from a kit produced by Aviat Aircraft, Inc., in Afton, Wyoming. It was powered by a Textron Lycoming AEIO-360, four cylinder, reciprocating, horizontally opposed, direct drive, air cooled, normally aspirated, fuel-injected engine which had a maximum takeoff rating of 205 horsepower at sea level. The last annual inspection was on April 5, 1999. At the time of the accident, the tachometer indicated that the engine and airframe had accumulated 860 hours of time.
The airplane's canopy was equipped with a quick release for emergency airborne jettisoning. The pilot was found wearing a parachute.
The pilot purchased the airplane on December 10, 1992, with 402.5 hours on the tachometer.
At 1050, the weather conditions at Salt Lake City International Airport (elevation 4,227 feet), Salt Lake City, Utah, 165 degrees 38 nautical miles from the accident site, were as follows: wind 160 degrees at 16 knots; clear of clouds; temperature 72 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 27 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.73 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was found in 4 to 5 feet of water approximately 1.8 nautical miles (nm) east of Black Rocky Point on Promontory Point, in the Great Salt Lake (N41 degrees 23.77 minutes, W112 degrees 21.95 minutes; elevation 4,206 feet). The airplane's debris field on the bottom of the lake was oriented on a 220 degree track. The engine (with firewall and mount still attached) was found in the mud on the lake's bottom in a vertical orientation. The propeller had separated from the engine, and the lower half of the propeller's flange was bent aft (see photographs). Other deformational signatures on the engine's manifold system suggest that the airplane impacted the water 35 to 45 degrees nose down. The empennage exhibited compressional telescoping near the base of the vertical stabilizer.
All of the airplane's major components were accounted for at the accident site. Flight control cable continuity could only be established in the empennage section and between ailerons on each side of the airplane because of impact damage. The fuselage, the cockpit area, and instrument panel were damaged beyond recognition.
The engine's oil sump, fuel injector servo, starter, alternator, and a portion of the engine-driven fuel pump had separated. The engine's crankshaft was rotated by hand to confirm engine continuity, and cylinder "thumb" compression checks on all 4 cylinders did not identify any anomalies. The valve train continuity was visually confirmed, and all accessory gears rotated. The two propeller blades remained attached to their hub, and they were bent aft. One blade exhibited a deep gouge, which an engine technician said was sustained from impacting a front cylinder. One blade exhibited "S" type bending.
No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified. There was no evidence of preimpact fire.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the State of Utah, Department of Health, Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 13, 1999.
Toxicology tests were performed on the pilot by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to CAMI's report (#9900274001), the pilot's carbon monoxide and cyanide tests were not performed. No volatiles were detected in the muscle samples or kidney samples; no drugs were detected in the kidney samples.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The original radar study, completed by the National Transportation Safety Board on January 7, 2000, had been provided with incorrect airplane impact coordinates. When this error was identified, the study was amended on June 21, 2000, with the correct coordinates (see both attached reports).
The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to the owner's insurance representative on November 8, 1999.