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N3721J accident description

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Tail numberN3721J
Accident dateJanuary 07, 2000
Aircraft typeCessna 150G
LocationMarysville, WA
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 7, 2000, approximately 0630 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 150G, N3721J, collided with power lines during an attempted emergency landing on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 about four miles north of Marysville, Washington. The sole occupant of the aircraft, who was not a certificated pilot, received fatal injuries, and the aircraft, which was owned and operated by a private individual, sustained substantial damage. According to the owner, the aircraft was stolen, and according to witnesses, it appeared to have departed Arlington Municipal Airport, Arlington, Washington, about three to five minutes prior to the accident. There was no report of an ELT activation, and no flight plan had been filed.

Although no witnesses were located who had seen the aircraft take off, a pilot-rated witness spotted it flying very low just west of the Arlington Airport about three to five minutes before the accident. This witness initially thought the aircraft was on a close-in left downwind in preparation for landing on runway 34 at Arlington. But instead of turning left (east), which would have brought the aircraft onto a base leg; it turned right (west) and disappeared in the light drizzle that was falling at the time. About the same time, numerous witnesses saw the aircraft appear over Interstate Highway 5, which runs north-south about a mile and a-half west of the airport. Most of these witnesses estimated the aircraft's altitude to be around 500 to 800 feet above the ground. Almost immediately after being spotted over the highway, the aircraft turned to the south and began to descend. During the descent, the aircraft's landing light came on, and it appeared to many witnesses that the pilot was preparing to land on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5. When the aircraft reached the area of the Stimson Road/136th Street Northeast overpass of the highway, it collided with a high-tension power line that crosses the highway about 80 feet north of the overpass. One witness who had been watching the aircraft descend, said that he saw the nose gear of the aircraft catch on the line, causing the line to snap, and the aircraft to descend nose-first into the highway. After hitting the asphalt surface, the aircraft fell over on its back and slid underneath the overpass.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The individual who was "piloting" the aircraft did not hold a current FAA pilot certificate. FAA records show that this individual was issued a Student Pilot Certificate on 01/09/84, but that certificate expired on 01/31/86 and was not renewed.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 0627, approximately three minutes prior to the accident, the automated surface observation at Arlington Airport reported winds from 140 degrees at three knots, three statute miles visibility, few clouds at 100 feet, a broken ceiling at 800 feet, overcast at 1,200 feet, a temperature of five degrees and a dew point of five degrees.

The surface observation taken at 0653, at Paine Field, Everett, Washington, located about 11 miles south of the accident site, showed winds from 170 degrees at 10 knots, 500 foot overcast, temperature five degrees, and a dewpoint of five degrees.

The pilot-rated witness who saw the aircraft just west of the field reported that there was an overcast ceiling of 800 feet or less, and that there was light drizzle with visibility about five miles.

Most of the other witnesses estimated the ceiling to be between 500 and 800 feet above the ground, and all reported that it was drizzling and still quite dark.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The aircraft collided with a set of four power lines, each of which was about three-quarters of an inch thick, suspended perpendicular to the highway approximately 40 feet above the surface. All four power lines separated and fell to the ground during the impact sequence. The vertical fin of the aircraft also contacted the very bottom edge of an exit identification sign that was attached to the north side of the overpass above the southbound lanes. There were a clearly defined set of impact marks on the asphalt surface about 20 feet north of the overpass. The scratches and paint scrapes at this impact point clearly outlined the leading edge of both wings, with deeper gouges where the propeller had made contact with the asphalt. After impacting the road, the aircraft slid about 30 feet to the south, and ultimately came to rest inverted underneath the overpass near the center of the three southbound lanes. The power lines, the exit sign, and the overpass were not illuminated.

Except for portions of the Plexiglas from the front windscreen, and pieces of plastic from a navigational light and the rotating beacon, the aircraft was intact, although extensively damaged. The propeller spinner was crushed almost directly rearward around the propeller hub, and showed no signs of rotational scaring. The propeller itself showed no chord-wise scaring, leading edge indentations, or "S"-curving. Both blades were bent back about 10 degrees starting at the hub. One of the blades had no scars on its face, but the face of the other blade contained about 30 small pits consistent with the propeller impacting the surface of the asphalt highway during a time when it was not rotating. The propeller hub, in the area normally covered by the spinner, contained two areas where there were a series of small parallel scallop marks consistent with the propeller bolt safety wire being forced back into the face of the propeller during non-rotational contact with a solid surface. The engine had been pushed back toward the firewall, and the front portion of the top engine cowl had partially folded over the center of the propeller. Most of the front windscreen had broken out, and portions of the aft window had also broken off. The top of the leading edge of the wing showed a minimal amount of crushing along its entire span. Neither of the fuel tanks were breached, and the fuel filler cap on the left wing was undamaged. The fuel filler cap on the right wing had fractured, creating an opening of about one square inch in the cap surface. Although the aircraft lay inverted for nearly two hours, there was no evidence that any fuel had drained from either tank. The nose gear strut was bent backward at about a 45 degree angle, and the aft half of the fuselage had torn loose along the top part of a seam located just aft of the rear window.

During a post-accident inspection of the aircraft, the right wing fuel tank was found to be empty and the left tank contained less than one gallon of fuel. The fuel sender rheostat units were removed from both wings, and neither showed any sign of sticking, unusual ware or anomaly. Mechanical continuity was established throughout the engine power train. The valve train operated normally, and compression was present in all cylinders upon rotation of the crankshaft. Both magnetos produced spark, and the spark plugs showed normal operating signatures with no unusual buildups or contamination. The carburetor had fractured during the impact, but the throttle valve was found in the open position. The carburetor heat valve was in the cold (off) position.

SURVIVAL ASPECTS

When the medics arrived at the scene, they found that neither the seatbelt nor the shoulder harness was fastened around the pilot. Although the two halves of the seatbelt were fastened together, the belt was laying across the seat. Neither of the shoulder harnesses were attached to the seatbelt.

ADDITIONAL DATA AND INFORMATION

According to the owner, the aircraft had not been flown for over five months. On its last flight, the owner had flown it from Hillsboro, Oregon to Arlington, Washington after filling the tanks to approximately the 3/4-full point. The owner said that from what he could remember, that flight had taken around two hours. The engine was not run again until the day before the accident, when the owner performed a ground run of about 20 minutes.

An autopsy was performed by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner, with the death being classified as a probable accident and attributed to blunt force impact to the head.

The Washington State Toxicology Laboratory conducted an investigative toxicology test, and found that the urine tested positive for benodiazepines, cannabinoids, and amphetamine. The same test found the following substances in the blood:

Amphetamine (0.05 mg/L) Methamphetamine (0.79 mg/L) Diazepam (<0.05 mg/L) Nordiazepam (<0.05 mg/L)

A separate toxicology test series was completed by the Federal Aviation Administration's Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. That test found no carbon monoxide nor cyanide in the blood, and no ethanol in the urine. Positive results from this test series were as follows:

>>0.097(ug/ml, ug/g) amphetamine detected in the blood >>3.702(ug/ml, ug/g) amphetamine detected in urine >>1.177(ug/ml, ug/g) methamphetamine detected in blood >>47.692(ug/ml, ug/g) methamphetamine detected in urine >>Nordiazepam detected in blood >>Nordiazepam detected in urine >>0.013(ug/ml, ug/g) tetrahydrocannabinol detected in blood >>Tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid present in blood >>0.028(ug/ml, ug/g) tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid detected in urine >>Tramadol detected in blood >>Tramadol detected in urine

The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Bob Cole, regional manager for Universal Loss Management, on March 2, 2000, at Arlington, Washington.

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