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N2142S accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Meridianville, AL
34.851478°N, 86.572215°W

Tail number N2142S
Accident date 05 Mar 1997
Aircraft type Cessna T210L
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On March 5, 1997, about 1830 central standard time, a Cessna T210L, N2142S, registered to a private owner, operating as a Title 14 CFR Part 91, personal flight, crashed during the takeoff roll near Meridianville, Alabama. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an IFR flight plan was filed, but not opened. The airplane was destroyed. The commercial pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time, and was en route to Tunic, Mississippi.

The pilot of Cessna N2142S telephoned the Air Traffic Control Specialist at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Anniston Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), Oxford, Alabama, at 0716. He requested and received an area weather briefing. The same pilot called again and received another area briefing at 1038.

At 1732, the pilot called the AFSS again, and according to the specialist asked, "for the weather en route from M82 [Meridianville] to M97 [Tunic]." The specialist said he gave the pilot the "weather advisories for occasional IFR conditions, en route, turbulence, and icing conditions...[a] tornado watch area just east of the Huntsville, Alabama, area moving east." The rest of the briefing included current, en route, and forecasted weather conditions, along with winds aloft [see transcript of radio communications]. The pilot filed an IFR flight plan, and the telephone call ended at 1749.

Two witnesses, who were pilots, observed the airplane take off to the south, on runway 18, and witnessed the accident. According to one witness, he helped the pilot of N2142S untie the airplane and push it onto the taxi ramp. The witness said, "...while we were pushing the plane back, I asked the [pilot], who seemed to be in a rush, if he was in hurry to avoid missing a clearance void time. He commented that you have 2 hours on a flight plan. The male passenger commented that they had a limo rented for 7:30 [1930]...I did not witness any action I would consider [a] pre flight." The witness did not see the pilot or the male passenger board the airplane and he walked back to the FBO, and went inside. In addition, the witness said; "...I then noticed the wind was shaking the FBO front door....the wind was blowing hard-maybe 20 gusting 30-35 kts. [knots] from about 310 degrees." He heard the pilot on the UNICOM frequency call for a "radio check" and the witness replied "loud and clear." Both witnesses then walked outside and watched the takeoff. The witness who helped the pilot move the airplane said, "...N2142S taxied toward [runway] 18...after running up the engine for what seemed to be sufficient time for mag [magneto] check, vac [vacuum] etc...N2142S pulled onto 18- stopped- ran up the engine- released brakes. The plane accelerated and the engine sounded smooth...after passing the second taxiway the plane began to hop as if rotation was attempted too early, it then lifted off immediately, banked at least 45 degrees left-nose high- veered left. I then heard a loud cracking sound...seconds later it exploded into a huge fireball."

The other witness, a certified flight instructor (CFI), said that he noticed that the two passengers had arrived at the airport about "20 minutes" before the pilot, and that when the pilot arrived he went to the phone to check on the weather. The CFI stated, "...the aircraft had a good sound as it went through it's run up. At this point I realized the aircraft was going to takeoff with a tailwind. The wind was out of the north somewhere between 310 degrees and 330 degrees with a full [wind]sock. The aircraft taxied on to the runway and started it's takeoff the aircraft was accelerating down the runway it appeared that he was drifting to the left, he did not have any flaps in for takeoff. [It] looked to me like he tried to force the aircraft off the runway. This is when the aircraft started into a porpoise and bounced a few times as he went into a left bank turn, the engine was still at a takeoff power setting. This is when I realized the aircraft was out of a slight nose high, left turn, close to stall configuration, looked real mushy...." Other witnesses said the flight lifted off the ground about 5 feet, the right wing dropped, almost striking the runway, then the left wing dropped. The airplane departed the runway to the left, proceeded over the grass between the runway and the taxiway, struck a runway light, a tree, and burst into flames.

The accident occurred during the hours of darkness approximately 34 degrees, 51 minutes north, and 086 degrees, 33 minutes west.


Information on the pilot is contained in this report on page 3, under First Pilot Information. The pilot's personal logbook containing his flight hours was not found.


Meteorological information is contained in this report on page 3, under Weather Information. The reported winds at Huntsville, Alabama, 12 miles southeast of the crash site, about the time of the accident were from 300 degrees, at 23 knots, with gusts to 30 knots.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on March 7, 1997, at the Medical Examiner's Office, Birmingham, Alabama, by Dr. Joseph H. Emery.

Toxicological tests were conducted at the Federal Aviation Administration, Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and revealed, that drugs were detected in the pilot's blood and liver fluids [see FAA toxicological report]. It must be noted that the pilot had been transported from the crash site to a local hospital, where toxicological tests showed no drugs. He was then transported by helicopter to a burn center in Birmingham, Alabama. While in the helicopter, EMS personnel administered several drugs to reduce the pilot's pain. The FAA, Research Laboratory report reflects the results of samples taken from the pilot after he was transported to the hospital in Birmingham.


Tire tracks in the grass on the left side of the runway showed that the airplane had departed the runway 1,004 feet from the departure end of runway 18. The airplane continued on a heading of 160 degrees, and struck a runway light. The left wing tip was the first piece of wreckage found on the wreckage path 2,134 feet from the departure end, at the south end of a row of trees, in the vicinity of a tree that displayed impact marks. The first ground scar observed was 2,470 feet from the departure end of the runway, at a location where the propeller was found buried in the ground. The main wreckage came to rest 2,570 feet from the runway's departure end, inverted, and consumed by fire.

Control cable routing was destroyed by fire damage, however, control continuity was established to all the flight controls. The landing gear was found in the down and locked position. The flaps were destroyed by fire damage, and their position could not be determined. The elevator trim actuator was measured at 1.65 inches, which equated to, 0 to 5 degrees tab up, or neutral. Fragments of seat frames were observed in the wreckage, however fire damage was too extensive to allow for identification of each seat's location.

The engine had separated from the airframe and was found 50 feet south of the main wreckage. The engine was removed from the crash site and shipped to Continental Motor's facilities at Mobile, Alabama. At the request of the NTSB, and under the supervision of the FAA, the engine was disassembled on March 30, 1997. The engine disassembly revealed no discrepancies (see engine disassembly report attached).

The propeller had separated from the engine, and was found buried in the ground 100 feet north of the main wreckage. All three blades displayed twisting at the tips, rearward bending, and chordwise scratches.


The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Daniel A. Simmons, the owner of the airplane, on March 7, 1997.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.