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N34859 accident description

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Tail numberN34859
Accident dateJuly 27, 2002
Aircraft typeCessna 177B
LocationCrowheart, WY
Near 43.685 N, -109.208889 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 27, 2002, at approximately 0740 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 177B, N34859, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering in the Owl Creek Mountains (Wind River Reservation) near Crowheart, Wyoming. The commercial pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The pilot was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight which originated from Worland, Wyoming, approximately 40 minutes before the accident. The pilot had activated a VFR flight plan, with Mc Call, Idaho, as its destination.

Records found in the airplane indicated that the airplane was returning from Oshkosh, Wisconsin's Experimental Aircraft Association annual fly-in, and was bound for the pilot's home in Hillsboro, Oregon. Radar data indicates that the airplane departed Worland, Wyoming, and at 0718, was passing through 9,200 feet on a 235 degree ground track. The last radar return, at 0737, indicates that the airplane was passing through 10,500 feet on a 245 degree ground track. The last radar return was approximately 4 nautical miles (nm) from the impact point. The airplane was found approximately 100 feet below a saddle (elevation 11,200 feet) of two mountain summits.

The Wyoming Civil Air Patrol found the airplane on the next morning of July 28, 2002.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot took his last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class flight medical exam on August 2, 2001, and at that time he reported on his application that he had 2,450 of flight experience, with 40 hours during the last 6 months. The pilot's flight logbook was never located; the insurance application on the airplane indicated that the pilot's last flight review was on August 18, 2001. The pilot was a certificated flight instructor.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a single engine, variable pitch propeller, fixed gear, four seat airplane which was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft Company, in 1974. It was certificated for a maximum gross takeoff weight of 2,500 pounds; its empty weight, as of September 12, 1997, was 1,583 pounds. The airplane was powered by a Lycoming O-360-A1F6D, four cylinder, reciprocating, horizontally opposed, direct drive, air cooled, normally aspirated engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 180 horsepower at sea level. The aircraft's maintenance logbooks indicate that the last annual inspection was completed on April 12, 2002, and the airframe had 2,991 hours on it at that time.

The fixed base operator at Worland, Wyoming, reported that the airplane was "topped-off" with 16.5 gallons of fuel, on July 26, 2002. The airplane's Owner's Manual indicates the service ceiling was 14,600 feet.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 0756, the weather at Riverton Regional Airport (elevation 5,525 feet), Riverton, Wyoming, 140 degrees 30 nm from the accident site, was as follows: wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles; clear of clouds; temperature 64 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 45 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 30.34 inches. The investigative team departed Fort Washakie, Wyoming, on July 29, 2002, and the wind was nearly calm. While they were at the accident site, the wind occasionally exceeded 30 knots from the west.

The density altitude, using an elevation of 11,024 feet, an altimeter setting of 30.34 inches, and an estimated temperature of 44 degrees Fahrenheit, was calculated to be 12,278 feet at the accident site.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane was found (N43 degrees, 41.25'; W109 degrees, 12.65'; elevation 11,024 feet) approximately 100 feet below a mountain saddle on a 40 degree slope. The ridge was oriented 310-130 degrees. The airplanes longitudinal axis was approximately 105 degrees. The airplane's wings appeared to parallel the mountain's slope, and both wings exhibited symmetrical crushing of the inboard wing section and diagonal creases. The cabin section was crushed in a vertical direction. A longitudinal ground scar, approximately 3 feet long, lead to the airplane.

All of the airplane's major components were accounted for at the accident site. The flight control surfaces were all identified, and cable continuity was established to the crushed section of the fuselage. The engine's throttle, mixture, and propeller controls were found full forward. The flap actuator was found in the flaps retracted position. The heading indicator bug was found on 235 degrees.

The engine's oil reservoir was crushed and the engine was found displaced aft into the cabin area. Its mounting bracket was broken and the control cables were still connected. All cylinders were inspected using a lighted bore scope, and no defects were observed. Thumb compression was found on all cylinders, and mechanical continuity was observed throughout. The single-drive dual magneto was rotated by hand and spark was observed at all leads except the number 4 broken lead on the left magneto. One propeller bade separated from its hub, and displayed leading edge gouging and scoring. Approximately 4 inches of its tip was missing. The second propeller blade remained attached to its hub, and also displayed leading edge gouging and cordwise scratches.

No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by Fremont County Coroner, Riverton, Wyoming, on July 29, 2002.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200200195001), the pilot's blood was tested for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and drugs with negative results. His vitreous was tested for volatiles (ethanol) with negative results.

ADDITIONAL DATA

The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to the owner's insurance representative on August 30, 2002.

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