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N69350 accident description

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Tail numberN69350
Accident dateOctober 26, 1994
Aircraft typeCessna 310R
LocationRawlins, WY
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On October 26, 1994, approximately 2028 hours mountain daylight time (mdt), a Cessna 310R, N69350, registered to Aviation Alive, Inc., and being flown by a commercially rated instrument pilot, was destroyed when it collided with terrain moments after taking off on runway 22 at the Rawlins airport, Rawlins, Wyoming. The aircraft impacted a ridge 20,000 feet west of the airport in dark night conditions. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The flight, which was personal in nature, was to have been operated under 14CFR91, and originated from Bismarck, North Dakota, arriving in Rawlins after dark. The flight was destined for Hayden, Colorado. At 1934 hours the pilot contacted Casper Automated Flight Service (AFSS) and requested a weather brief from Rawlins to Hayden, Colorado. The pilot then filed an IFR flight plan with a routing from Rawlins, victor six, Cherokee, victor twenty-six, Celia, victor three-twenty-eight, Hayden at 10,000 feet (refer to CHART I). On the evening of October 26, N8978R, an aircraft destined for Steamboat Springs, landed at Rawlins and the pilot, who was familiar with the terrain surrounding Rawlins, had a brief conversation with the pilot of N69350. The pilot of N8978R reported that he advised the pilot of N69350 of high terrain around the airport and indicated to him that he planned to fly "over the interstate and go west at 10,000 feet to Baggs to avoid the hills immediately outside of Rawlins" (refer to attached statement and CHART I). At 2008 hours, Casper AFSS relayed the IFR clearance "as filed" to N69350 and the pilot confirmed 10,000 feet as the assigned altitude. At 2026:25 hours, the pilot contacted Casper AFSS reporting "off Rawlins, climbing through seventy-three hundred" and no further transmission were received from the aircraft (refer to attached communication transcriptions). According to the fueling agent at France Flying Service, the aircraft arrived at Rawlins shortly before 1930 and the pilot purchased fuel. After approximately one hour the aircraft departed and the fueler observed that it took off on runway 22 towards Rawlins and then "turned and headed north following the ridge" (refer to attached statement). Shortly thereafter, as he followed the aircraft's progress, he observed an explosion.


A copy of the pilot's personal flight log was reviewed. The logbook was opened with entries from June 5, 1989, and showed the acquisition of an airplane single-engine land rating on July 18, 1990. Additionally, the flights entered were all conducted within the midwest, and there were no flights logged in the state of Wyoming nor any apparent flights in mountainous terrain.


Upon arrival at Rawlins, the aircraft was fueled with 23.8 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel. According to the fueler, the pilot requested that he "top off" the main (tip) tanks, which was done. Each main tank holds 50 gallons of usable fuel. Additionally, the aircraft was equipped with two 31.5 gallon (usable) auxiliary fuel tanks, one in each wing. It was not known how much fuel was in either of these tanks when the aircraft departed Rawlins. According to the Cessna 310 owner's manual, the multi-engine climb rate of the aircraft (5,500 pounds gross takeoff weight) at 10,000 feet, 23 degrees Fahrenheit, would be 870 feet/minute at a climb speed of 99 KIAS (refer to Table I). The vertical difference between the accident site and the Rawlins airport elevation was approximately 800 feet and the lateral distance from midfield to the accident site was approximately 20,000 feet.


The 2030 hours observation taken at the Rawlins airport recorded an estimated ceiling of 10,000 feet broken, 15 miles visibility and winds from 240 degrees (true) at 12 knots. Dark night conditions existed at the time of the accident.


The aircraft impacted a ridge at a location bearing approximately 270 degrees magnetic and 20,000 feet from the center of the Rawlins airport. The latitude and longitude of the crash site was 41 degrees 48.90 minutes north and 107 degrees 16.51 minutes west respectively, and the elevation of the initial ground impact site was approximately 7,600 feet above mean sea level {MSL} (refer to CHART II). The axis of the ridge line was oriented along a 313/133 degree magnetic bearing line and the gradient of the slope on the east face was +25 degrees. The elevation of the crest of the saddle on the ridge line near the accident site was approximately 7,650 feet MSL (refer to photograph 01). The first evidence of ground impact was an area of fragments associated with the left wingtip, including small shards of red glass, the curvature of which was similar in shape and size to the left navigation lens from the aircraft. The empennage was observed upslope a short distance to the west and the magnetic bearing line from this initial impact site to the tail was 274 degrees (refer to photographs 2 and 3). The wreckage distribution was oriented generally along a 274/094 degree magnetic bearing line with the largest pieces of wreckage furthest west. The bearing line, when extrapolated from the site towards the east passed in close proximity to the Rawlins airport (refer to photograph 04). The aircraft was extremely fragmented and there was evidence of an extensive ground fire up the east face of the ridge. The empennage/aft fuselage, with the vertical stabilizer/rudder and portions of the horizontal stabilizers/elevators, were the only major recognizable components (refer to photographs 5 through 7). The right propeller was observed early in the wreckage distribution. The blade tips had been torn off and a number of sizable blade fragments were located throughout the crash site. These blade fragments all matched the separation surfaces of the right propeller. The right engine was located in the vicinity of the empennage (refer to photographs 8 and 9). The left engine and propeller were located beyond the apex of the ridge and downslope on the west face of the ridge line. The propeller was intact and was missing only small pieces of its blade tips (refer to photographs 10 and 11). Diagram I depicts the general wreckage distribution and shows the location of a series of impact marks slightly northeast of the 274 degree distribution line (photograph 02). Fragments of right propeller tips were observed near these marks and the tip fragments showed chordwise gouging and scratching consistent with rock impacts (refer to DIAGRAM I). The aircraft was extremely fragmented and fire-damaged and no significant cockpit control/instrumentation documentation could be documented. The Cherokee VORTAC lies 18 nautical miles from the Rawlins airport on a 243 degree magnetic bearing.


No post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted due to the fire damage and extensive fragmentation of the body. Toxicological samples, however, were retrieved and evaluated by the Department of Defense, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Tests for carbon monoxide and cyanide were not performed and tests for volatiles and drugs were negative (refer to attached toxicology report).


The wreckage, with the exception of the engines, was verbally released to Mr. Steve Mitchell, AIG Aviation, on the afternoon of October 28th following the on-site examination. The engines were shipped to the facilities of Teledyne/Continental where they were disassembled and inspected on January 19, 1995. The disassembly revealed "extensive damage" and displayed "normal operational signatures internally." The engines were returned to AIG Aviation and formal wreckage release is documented on NTSB Form 6120.15 (attached).

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