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N2932J accident description

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Tail numberN2932J
Accident dateSeptember 04, 2006
Aircraft typeCessna 150G
LocationPenhook, VA
Near 36.948889 N, -79.609444 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT

On September 4, 2006, at 1132 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150G, N2932J, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain following an in-flight breakup near Penhook, Virginia. The certificated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Smith Mountain Lake Airport (W91), Moneta, Virginia, about 1120, destined for Florence Regional Airport (FLO), Florence, South Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

A relative of the pilot drove the pilot and the passenger to the airport on the morning of the accident, and recounted the events in a telephone interview. They arrived at the airport just after it stopped raining. The pilot mentioned that he had checked the weather, that it "looked ok above 2,500 [feet]," and if he flew above that he would be able to reach the intended destination. The pilot then performed a preflight inspection of the airplane and fueled it with about 12 gallons of automotive fuel. The relative then watched as the airplane departed, and heard the pilot's radio transmissions over the loudspeaker at the airport. When asked about the weather conditions at the time, the relative stated that there was no ground fog present, but there were clouds, and the airplane was flying below them.

According to air traffic control (ATC) communication and radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot contacted Roanoke approach control about 1120, and requested visual flight rules (VFR) flight following services. Shortly thereafter, the airplane was radar identified about 2 nautical miles south of Smith Mountain Lake Airport. At 1127, the pilot asked the controller, "do you know what the uh ceiling is for these clouds we have up here?" The controller responded that the only report he had regarding cloud tops was several hours old, and that another aircraft had reported being "between layers" from 9,000 to 10,000 feet. The pilot acknowledged the transmission. At 1130, the controller told the pilot to contact the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center. The pilot acknowledged the transmission, and contacted the next controller.

The airplane tracked generally southbound, until 1131, when the pilot asked the controller for a radar vector. When queried about the request, the pilot responded, "we're kinda lost in some fog here." The controller then asked the pilot to state his present heading, to which the pilot replied, "I can't tell, I think we're upside-down." The controller instructed the pilot to turn right, and 18 seconds later advised the pilot to stop the turn. During this time the airplane had completed a left turn to a northeasterly track, and its altitude varied between 4,500 and 4,700 feet. About 10 seconds later, at 1132, the pilot stated, "we can't see, we can't see, we can't see," and ten seconds later transmitted something unintelligible. The controller advised the pilot to stay calm, that he was at an altitude of 4,500 feet, and that he should not climb or descend the airplane. No further transmissions were received from the pilot, and radar contact was lost shortly thereafter.

A witness, located near the accident site, reported that he heard "a loud pop." When he looked up, he saw the airplane descend into the woods, and then saw the wings of the airplane "floating" down to the ground.

Another witness described that she heard the airplane, and that it sounded like "it was landing in the backyard." She stepped outside and saw the wings of the airplane "twirling in the air," before they impacted the ground, but did not see the rest of the airplane.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 36 degrees 56 minutes north latitude, 74 degrees 36 minutes west longitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land, which was issued on June 17, 2006. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on February 16, 2006. He did not hold an instrument rating.

A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accrued 96 total hours of flight experience, all of which were in the accident airplane make and model, and 3.5 hours of which were in simulated instrument conditions.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was manufactured in 1966. A review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane had accumulated 5,212 total hours of operation. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on February 21, 2006.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The weather conditions reported at Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA), about 26 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, at 1154, included winds from 150 degrees at 6 knots, 3 statute miles visibility in light rain and mist, scattered clouds at 500 feet, an overcast ceiling at 700 feet, temperature 63 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.20 inches of mercury.

The weather conditions reported at Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH), about 30 nautical miles northeast of the accident site, at 1126, included variable winds at 3 knots, 2 statute miles visibility in heavy rain and mist, few clouds at 1,100 feet, an overcast ceiling at 2,600 feet, temperature 63 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.19 inches of mercury.

An AIRMET for IFR conditions was issued about 1 1/2 hours before the accident airplane departed. It warned of occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet, and visibilities below 3 statute miles due to clouds, precipitation, mist, and fog, with the conditions ending between 1100 and 1400. An AIRMET for mountain obscuration was also issued at the same time, and warned of similar conditions continuing beyond 1600 through 2200.

A review of flight service station data revealed the pilot did not contact any flight service stations or utilize the Direct User Access Terminal System (DUATS) to obtain a weather briefing, or file a flight plan, prior to commencing the flight.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene, except for a portion of the right side doorpost, which was not recovered. The wreckage path was oriented on a heading about 080 degrees magnetic, and was about 3,500 feet long. The wings had separated from the fuselage, and were located along the wreckage path, along with numerous small pieces from the airplane. The left and right wings separated near the wing root, and a portion of the cabin roof and both the fore and aft carry-through spars remained attached to the left wing. Examination of both wings revealed signatures consistent with an in-flight separation in the positive, or upward, direction. All of the fracture surfaces examined on both wings, and their respective wing struts, were consistent with overload.

The right aileron, its associated bellcrank, and a portion of the supporting structure separated from the right wing, and were found with the control cable still attached. The aileron was separated into an inboard and outboard portion near the pushrod. The lower surface of the right wing had a longitudinal cut, consistent in size and position with the aileron cable, extending from the wing root to the aileron bellcrank attachment point. The remaining flight control surfaces remained attached to their respective locations. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces. All control cable breaks exhibited signatures consistent with overload. The horizontal stabilizer, elevator, and trim tab were bent upward about 45 degrees near their mid-span. The position of the flap actuator was consistent with the flaps being in the retracted position, and the elevator trim tab was in the 10-degree tab up position.

Fuel similar in color to automotive fuel was found in both wing fuel tanks, and in the carburetor. The fuel selector handle was found in the on position. The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand at the propeller, which remained attached, and valvetrain continuity was confirmed. Compression was obtained on all cylinders, except for cylinder number 3, which was dislodged from the crankcase. The impact damaged magneto leads were cut from the magnetos, and rotation of both magnetos produced spark on all towers. The spark plugs were removed, and their electrodes were black in color.

The vacuum pump was removed, and rotation of the drive produced pressure and suction on the respective ports. Disassembly of both the attitude and heading indicators revealed that neither gyro housings exhibited rotational scoring nor static impact marks.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Virginia Department of Health, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on October 6, 2006.

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