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N3657A accident description

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Tail numberN3657A
Accident dateMarch 15, 1997
Aircraft typeBeech A36
LocationNewton, WI
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 15, 1997, at 1528 central standard time (cst), a Douglas DC-3C/BT-67R, TZ389, operated by an airline transport pilot, was destroyed when during cruise formation flight with a Beechcraft A-36, N3657A, the two airplanes collided. Both airplanes subsequently departed controlled flight and impacted the terrain. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The aerial photography flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Neither pilot had filed a flight plan. Both pilots on the DC-3C/BT-67R, and the pilot and passenger on the A-36 were fatally injured. The flight originated at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at 1400 cst.

An employee of Basler Turbo Conversions, Incorporated, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the company which employed the three pilots and passenger of the two airplanes, stated that when he arrived at the company on the day of the accident, the passenger was already there. The witness said that the first officer arrived at 1015 cst and began a pre-flight inspection of the DC-3C. The pilot-in-command arrived at 1030 cst. The DC-3C was scheduled for two flights that day. The first flight was scheduled to takeoff at 1100 cst. The purpose of the flight was to put some flying hours on the DC-3C. The purpose of the second flight was to fly in formation with the A-36 and allow the passenger on the A-36 to take aerial photographs of the DC-3C. The witness said that the DC-3C took off on its first flight at 1100 cst. He said that the airplane flew for approximately one hour and a half before landing back at Oshkosh, Wisconsin at approximately 1230 cst. The witness said that the DC-3C was scheduled to take off on its second flight at approximately 1400 cst.

At approximately 1525 cst, a witness standing in his yard just off of CTH F road, was talking to a friend when he saw the DC-3C and the A-36 airplanes "flying close together heading north." The witness said they were east of his house and approximately 500 to 700 feet above the ground. The witness said "the big plane [DC-3C] was flying straight and level. The little plane [A-36] was just to the west of the big plane. The little plane then hit the big plane near the middle." The witness said that after the airplanes hit, he saw pieces of the airplanes falling to the ground. "The little plane headed east going down." The big plane headed west.

Another witness was traveling eastbound on a snowmobile trail southwest of Newton, Wisconsin, with his girlfriend and daughter when he saw the two airplanes heading north. He stopped his snowmobile on the trail to show his daughter the airplanes. The witness said that the large airplane (DC-3) was heading north and the small airplane (A-36) was circling it above and below. On its last pass, the small airplane circled behind the large airplane, then it crossed over the top of the large airplane hitting the top of the large airplane. The small airplane continued west after the collision. The large airplane continued north for five seconds then turned westbound in a gentle turn. The left wing then came off while in the turn, followed by the right wing two seconds later. The large airplane then went straight down with the top of the airplane facing west.

Another witness was traveling south on Interstate 43 just north of the Highway C off ramp when he saw an airplane. The witness stated that it was "barrel rolling in different directions on the east side of Interstate 43. At one point it came down straight as an arrow. Then at a point, it leveled off." As the witness exited the interstate he saw "objects and debris falling out of the sky."

At approximately 1530 cst, another witness traveling south on Interstate 43, observed pieces of an airplane falling to the ground very quickly. A few seconds later, she saw a large plane banking and beginning to descend. "At the moment that it turned I could see the entire plane falling perpendicular to the earth. The witness said that she noticed that the airplane was missing its left wing. "The large wing was floating down very slowly." The witness also stated, "A few moments before the plane hit, the nose seemed to come up slightly." The witness then lost sight of the airplane.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The captain of the DC-3C had 5,350 hours total flying time, 4,430 hours in multi-engine airplanes, and 3,772 hours of pilot-in- command time in DC-3s. The captain had undergone a biennial flight review in a DC-3, on February 6, 1997.

The first officer of the DC-3C had 1,793 hours total flying time, 693 hours in multi-engine airplanes, and 693 hours in DC-3s. The first officer had undergone a biennial flight review in a DC-3, on November 25, 1996.

The pilot of the A-36 had 28,600 hours total flying time, 8,600 hours in single-engine airplanes, and 2,330 hours in the A-36. The pilot had undergone a biennial flight review in a DC-3, on October 28, 1996.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The DC-3C/BT-67R airplane, serial number 26002, was a turboprop- engine conversion of a Douglas DC-3C military airplane. The original airplane was manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company, Incorporated, for the United States Army in 1943. Basler Turbo Conversions, Incorporated, obtained the airplane from the Canadian government in 1991. At the time of the purchase, the airplane was being used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as a transport. The airframe's total time at the time of purchase was 17,606.0 hours.

Basler Turbo Conversions, Incorporated, began conversion work on the airplane, N29BF, in 1993. The Republic of Mali, Ministry of Armed Forces and Veterans placed the purchase order for the airplane on November 17, 1996. The airplane's conversion, covered under several FAA supplemental type certificates (STC), included replacement of the two Pratt and Whitney R-1830 radial- piston engines with Pratt and Whitney PT-6A-67R turboprop engines, addition of five-bladed Hartzell HC-B5MA-3 feathering and reversing propellers, structural strengthening of the center wing section, addition of a 40-inch long plug to the fuselage just forward of the wings from station 155.5 to station 195.5, and addition of long-range outer wing fuel tanks. The conversion was completed and the airplane was certified for return to service on February 5, 1997. The airplane was flown to Huron Park, Ontario, on March 10, 1997, where it was stripped and painted, and affixed with insignia of the Republic of Mali. The Mali registration number, TZ389, was put on the airplane at that time. The airplane had flown approximately 10.0 hours following its return to service when the accident occurred.

The A-36 airplane was owned and operated by Basler Turbo Conversions, Inc., Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The airplane had undergone an annual inspection on June 1, 1996. At the time of the accident, the airframe had 5,776 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

At 1445 cst, the Flight Service Station at Green Bay, Wisconsin, put out a weather advisory (AIRMET) calling for light to occasional moderate turbulence below 8,000 feet mean sea level (MSL).

At 1528 cst, the weather reporting station at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, reported winds aloft at 3,000 feet MSL to be 280- degrees magnetic at 15 knots, gusting to 20 knots.

At 1614 cst, the weather reporting station at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, reported clear skies, 10 miles visibility, temperature 16-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point zero, altimeter setting 30.30, and winds 280-degrees at 15 knots, gusting to 20 knots.

No evidence was found that the pilot of the DC-3C or the pilot of the A-36 obtained a weather briefing prior to departing Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The NTSB on scene investigation began on March 15, 1997, at 2130 cst.

DC-3C

The DC-3C airplane's main wreckage was resting inverted at the east edge of a small grove of trees, 150 feet south of Newton Road, an east-west running paved road, one-half mile west of the town of Newton, Wisconsin. The fuselage was oriented on a magnetic heading of 180 degrees. There was a ground scar in the wooded area 48 feet aft and right of main wreckage. The ground scar was approximately 9 feet long and 4 feet wide. The airplane's vertical stabilizer rested at the west edge of the ground scar. At the north end of the ground scar, five trees were severed at or near their bases. A debris field 55 feet long and 25 feet wide at its widest point, fanned outward along a 140 degree heading and ended at the empennage area of the main wreckage. Parts of the airplane including interior bulkheads, floor panels, cargo harnesses, lavatory, plexiglass windows, fuselage skin, tree debris, and earth was scattered throughout the debris field. A tree at the south edge of the debris field was severed at the base. Several trees in and around the periphery of the debris field showed trunk and branch damage ranging in height from 15 to 40 feet up from their bases. Trees damaged through the trunks showed shears in the wood of 60 to 70 degrees. Other airplane components, including the left and right outboard wing sections, the left and right wing ailerons, the right elevator, the rudder, and the left main cargo door frame, were located within one-quarter mile of the main wreckage on a 135-degree mean heading.

The DC-3C's main wreckage consisted of the airplane's fuselage, the left and right horizontal stabilizers, the left elevator, the vertical stabilizer, and the center wing section to include both main landing gear, both engines and both propellers. The fuselage from station 372.5 forward to the cockpit and nose area of the airplane rested inverted in a field just south of the tree grove.

The fuselage aft of station 372.5 rested on its right side. The forward fuselage including the nose, cockpit area, and cabin area forward of the leading edge of the center wing section at station 191 was broken open, crushed inward, twisted left and aft. The fuselage over the center wing section was broken open longitudinally along the top of the airplane from station 191 aft to station 372.5. The sides of the fuselage over the center wing section were bent outward, crushed down and aft. The fuselage was broken laterally and separated at station 390.5. The fuselage from the fracture at station 390.5, aft to the empennage and tailcone area was crushed inward, broken open and bent aft. The top of the fuselage from station 390.5 aft to station 465.5 was broken out and crushed inward. The aft fracture on the top of the fuselage at station 465.5 was an 18-inch long lateral tear running at a 10 degree angle from the lateral axis. The tear ran into the cabin ceiling. Cabin ceiling material and wiring were severed. Metal skin along the tear was jagged. It had been pulled outward, twisted to the right and bent back. Laterally running black marks and scratches were found along the length of the metal tear. The sides of the fuselage between station 390.5 and 465.5 were bent outward and aft. Several small sections of the fuselage skin in this area around the passenger windows were broken out. The fuselage aft of station 465.5 to the tail position light at station 773.5 was twisted right and crushed inward slightly. A lateral fracture was found at station 651 running from the top of the fuselage down through the tailwheel area, and ending at the bottom of the right side. The tailwheel was undamaged. The aft cargo door was broken up and aft at the hinges. It was crushed inward and aft and was found resting just aft of the fuselage. The forward cargo plug door and frame were buckled outward and broken up and aft at the hinges. The plug door frame was located in a wooded area 3,168 feet from the main wreckage on a 135-degree heading. The frame was broken and bent forward 30 degrees at the upper hinge. The plug door was located just south of the wooded area. The plug door was undamaged. The upper latches were in the open position. The "flip-up" upper cargo door was broken laterally at station 465.5.

The forward part of the door was broken off at the hinge line and at the lateral break. Black paint and longitudinally running scratches were noted along the edge of the lateral fracture. The remaining part of the "flip-up" upper cargo door was partially separated along the forward part of the hinge line. The metal at the fracture was bent upward and aft. The top of the aft fuselage at station 465.5 showed a 24-inch long lateral tear running at a 10 degree angle from the hinge line of the upper cargo door across the top of the airplane. The tear ran into the cabin ceiling. Electrical wires and cabin material were severed.

Metal skin along the tear was jagged. It had been pulled outward, twisted to the right and bent back. Laterally running black marks and scratches were found along the entire length of the metal tear. Light yellow paint scratches were found running longitudinally along the top and upper left side of the aft fuselage section beginning just aft of the lateral tear and ending near the vertical stabilizer.

The empennage area of the DC-3C was crushed inward on the left side. Light yellow paint scratches were found running longitudinally on the upper left side of the empennage area. The vertical stabilizer, rudder, right horizontal stabilizer and both elevators had broken off at the roots. The metal on top of the empennage area where the vertical stabilizer had broken off was bent left and aft. The left horizontal stabilizer was bent up and twisted aft, but remained attached to the empennage at the spar. Metal skin aft of the left horizontal stabilizer spar was torn and bent upward and aft. The remaining metal skin and spar where the right horizontal stabilizer attached were bent upward and aft.

The vertical stabilizer of the DC-3C was found 55 feet aft of the fuselage at the west edge of the ground scar at the beginning of the debris field. It had separated from the empennage at the root and was bent to the left and aft. The skin showed buckling across the left side running 60 degrees to the vertical axis beginning at the leading edge and running aft to the rudder hinge line. The spar at the rudder hinge line was twisted left. The lower rudder hinge attachment was broken out aft and up. The upper hinge attachment was intact. The "c" clamp was elongated aft and broken open. The top aft portion of the vertical stabilizer which aligns with the top forward part of the rudder was bent upward and to the left. The metal forming 30 inches of the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer beginning 24 inches down from the top was pinched together and buckled. The antennae on the upper left side of the vertical stabilizer had been broken off. A 5-inch long, 3-inch wide "v-shaped" puncture in the left side skin of the vertical stabilizer was found 32 inches down from the top and 12 inches aft of the leading edge. Light yellow paint scratches were found around the puncture. Several light yellow paint scratches were observed running along the forward left side of the vertical stabilizer beginning at the base and running upward and forward from the rudder hinge line to the "v- shaped" puncture. The skin of the right side of the vertical stabilizer was buckled vertically across the span of the surface. The rotating beacon at the top of the vertical stabilizer was intact.

The left horizontal stabilizer of the DC-3C remained attached to the empennage at the spar. The leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer was bent upward approximately 70 degrees and twisted aft beginning at the root leading edge and extending outboard 24 inches. The twisting extended aft from the leading edge approximately 12 inches. A 10-inch long, 5-inch wide puncture was observed in the center of the upper skin, 48 inches inboard from the tip. A similar, but smaller puncture was found in the lower skin. Leaves and wood debris was found in the puncture. The lower surface of the left horizontal stabilizer was buckled down and bent aft. A 20-inch long tear in the lower skin was observed running along the center rivet line beginning 24 inches inboard of the tip. A 13-inch long, 8-inch wide tear was found running aft and inboard along the lower leading edge of the stabilizer be

SEE NARRATIVE FOR CHI97FA084A

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