Plane crash map Find crash sites, wreckage and more

N855DA accident description

Go to the Washington map...
Go to the Washington list...

Tail numberN855DA
Accident dateMay 06, 1995
Aircraft typeCessna 152
LocationSnoqualmie Pass, WA
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 6, 1995, about 1145 hours Pacific daylight time, N855DA, a Cessna 152, operated by Davis Aviation, Inc., Gig Harbor, Washington, collided with trees while turning to reverse direction near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. The commercial pilot and his passenger were fatally injured, and the aircraft was destroyed. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight departed from Monroe, Washington, and was en route to Tonasket, Washington. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR 91.

According to an acquaintance of the pilot, the pilot "felt fine" on the morning of the accident after receiving a "good night's sleep." The pilot stated to her that he was going to fly his mother to Tonasket, Washington, and return about 1430.

According to an aircraft dispatcher at Davis Aviation, Inc., located at the Tacoma Narrows Airport in Gig Harbor, the pilot had telephoned about 0900 on the day of the accident to reserve a rental airplane. The pilot then arrived at the airport about 0930 and checked out the airplane. He stated that he needed the airplane until 1400 to fly to Monroe and back. The dispatcher stated that another person in the office telephoned for pre-recorded weather information for western Washington, and utilized the speaker phone so that the pilot could hear. The dispatcher stated that the pilot "was not real interested in getting the details" of the weather, and that the pilot "seemed anxious to get going." Weather conditions were reported as marginal visual flight rules (VFR) to IMC near the Tacoma Narrows Airport, and VFR toward Monroe.

The pilot completed and signed a rental form (attached) indicating that he was going to fly to Monroe by himself and return by 1400. According to the Davis Aviation flight school manager, the pilot was permitted to proceed with the flight because the weather appeared to be VFR along his route, he had met all of the requirements, and the pilot was instrument-rated and "experienced." The flight school manager also stated that the pilot was familiar with the airplane, because he had ferried it from California several days prior to the accident.

The pilot then began to perform a preflight inspection on the airplane. No discrepancies were reported. He then requested that the airplane be "topped off" with aviation gasoline. A fuel receipt (attached) indicated that the airplane had been topped off with 9.7 gallons of 100 octane low lead aviation gasoline.

The pilot was observed by dispatch personnel to depart from the Tacoma Narrows Airport about 1000. No problems were reported by the pilot during the flight to Monroe.

According to the husband of the passenger, the passenger drove to the Monroe airport to meet the pilot. The passenger, who was the mother of the pilot, wanted the pilot to fly to a private grass strip in Tonasket, located in eastern Washington across the Cascade Mountain Range, so that she could return a video tape and visit friends.

No witnesses were found to testify as to the activities of the pilot, passenger, and airplane at the Monroe Airport.

About 1145, numerous witnesses driving along Interstate 90 in the Snoqualmie Pass area, located about 35 nautical miles southeast of Monroe, observed the airplane flying east into the pass about 100 to 300 feet above the ground and just below the clouds. The witnesses also stated that low clouds and fog were present throughout the pass at that time.

One witness, a private pilot, observed the airplane flying eastbound over the interstate highway about 5 to 10 miles from Snoqualmie Summit. He stated that the airplane was "skimming below the clouds" then entered a cloud bank. He stated that the airplane then "came out of a 90 degree turn" and began to fly westbound. He then saw the airplane enter the clouds once more, and he did not see it again.

Another witness, a student pilot, also observed the airplane following the interstate highway eastbound. The witness stated that the airplane was "no more than 300 feet above the ground with no clearance between him and the [cloud] ceiling." He stated that the weather was "foggy and drizzling" and he lost sight of the airplane as it disappeared behind trees as the interstate highway curved around to the left.

Another witness was driving with her husband along the interstate when she saw an airplane "just barely above us...no more that 100 feet higher than the roadway" heading eastbound. She stated that she was about 2 miles west of Snoqualmie Summit. She observed the airplane enter a cloud and disappear about the time the interstate highway curved to the right.

The airplane impacted trees about 2 miles west of Snoqualmie Summit. About 1145, a signal from an emergency locator transmitter was received. King County Search and Rescue personnel responded to the scene and located the wreckage.

No evidence was found to indicate that the pilot had received a weather briefing prior to the flight, and no distress calls were received by any FAA facility prior to the accident.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight and was located at 047 degrees 25.30 minutes North, and 121 degrees 26.27 minutes West.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The aircraft, a 1980 Cessna 152, was owned and operated as a rental aircraft by Davis Aviation, Inc. The airplane was not equipped for flight into IMC. An examination of the airplane's maintenance log books and "squawk" sheet did not reveal any unresolved discrepancies prior to departure on the day of the accident.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 34, held an FAA commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multi- engine land and instrument airplane. According to his personal log book, the pilot had logged a total of 1,774 hours of flight time, including 146 hours of instrument flight. The pilot also held a valid FAA Second Class Medical Certificate with no limitations.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

According to numerous witnesses, who were driving along Interstate 90 near the time and location of the accident, low clouds, fog and drizzle prevailed along the Snoqualmie Pass. Some witnesses reported that the mountain tops were shrouded in fog and clouds, and visibility was reduced.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on the day of the accident, and again on May 24, 1995, after the wreckage had been removed for salvage.

The airplane's fuselage, cabin area, and tailcone were found upside down in heavily wooded, steeply rising, mountainous terrain. The airplane's left wing was found about 140 feet from the fuselage along a magnetic bearing of 200 degrees from the left wing to the fuselage. The wing strut and left door remained attached to the left wing; the assembly was found at the base of a 75-foot tall fir tree that measured 6 feet in diameter. The top of the tree had been sheared off, and a strong odor of fuel was present.

Pieces of Plexiglas, the right wingtip, and freshly separated tree branches were distributed from the left wing to the fuselage. No evidence of fire was found.

All primary and secondary flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The right wing was partially separated from the remainder of the airframe and was found adjacent to it. No evidence was found to indicate a flight control deficiency. The leading edges of both wings of the airplane exhibited evidence of "accordion" crush damage. The engine was crushed upward into the cockpit. The engine remained attached to the airframe and the propeller was found separated and lying next to the engine.

The electrically-driven flap actuator mechanism was examined; three threads from the mechanism's jackscrew were exposed. According to engineering data from the Cessna Aircraft Company, the amount of exposed threads corresponds to a flap setting of about a 3-degree extension.

The instrument panel was partially destroyed. The flap actuator switch and indicator was found in about the 3-degree extended position. The primer was in and locked. The engine oil temperature gauge read 200 degrees F (in the green arc), and the oil pressure gauge read 50 pounds per square inch (in the green arc). The mixture and throttle controls were in the full forward position. The Hobbs hour meter read 18.0 hours. The recorded meter time prior to departure was 16.6 hours.

A current Seattle aeronautical chart was found in the cockpit area. No evidence of course lines were found on the chart.

Both wing fuel tanks and associated fuel lines were compromised. Fuel was found in the gascolator.

The engine, a Lycoming O-235-L2C, was examined and partially disassembled. Crankshaft drive continuity, valve train continuity, and compression were verified for all four cylinders during crankshaft rotation. Oil was found in the oil sump. No evidence of heat distress or catastrophic mechanical engine failure was found.

Both of the magnetos could be freely rotated and the impulse couplings could be engaged. Both magnetos produced a spark through all ignition harness leads when rotated.

The two-blade McCauley metal propeller was examined. One blade exhibited evidence of "S" bending beginning about 16 inches from the blade shank and continuing throughout the remainder of the blade to the tip. The other blade was bent aft about 20 degrees beginning about 16 inches from the blade shank.

The examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of pre-impact mechanical malfunction.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by Dr. Terry Haddix, M.D., of the King County Medical Examiners Office, Seattle, Washington, on May 8, 1995. A toxicological analysis (attached) was performed on specimens taken from the pilot by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute,Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Tracy Barrus, Barrus & Steiger Adjustors, Bellevue, Washington, on May 24, 1995. Mr. Barrus is representing the owner of the aircraft.

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