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N65463 accident description

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Crash location 35.686111°N, 91.770278°W
Nearest city Batesville, AR
35.769799°N, 91.640972°W
9.3 miles away
Tail number N65463
Accident date 02 Apr 2015
Aircraft type Cessna 152
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On April 2, 2015, about 0600 central daylight time, a Cessna 152, N65463, collided with terrain near Batesville, Arkansas. The student rated pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Dark night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site. The flight operated without a flight plan and departed the Salem Airport (7M9), Salem, Arkansas, at an undetermined time and was en route to an Carlisle Municipal Airport (4M3), Carlisle, Arkansas.

Local law enforcement reported that the pilot and a passenger departed Carlisle Municipal Airport (4M3), Carlisle, Arkansas, about 0200. The pilot intended to fly to 7M9 and then return solo to 4M3. The accident occurred during his return flight.

About 0600, a resident called the Independence County Sheriff to report a possible airplane crash. The resident heard an airplane's engine rev up and then heard what she thought was a crash. When the deputies arrived to her resident and began investigating the area, they reported heavy, patchy fog. The airplane's wreckage was located on April 3, 2015, in a wooded area of Brock Mountain, Arkansas.


The pilot, age 52, held a combined student pilot certificate-third class medical issued on March 5, 2014. On the application for the medical certificate the pilot did not fill out his total pilot time to date or his time for the past 6 months. The pilot had been previously issued combined student pilot-medical certificates in 1990 and 1984. On June 21, 1990, application, he also left his pilot time blank, but on July 16, 1984, application, he reported his total time as 200 hours with 100 in the preceding six months.

Pilot log books were made available to the local Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Standards District Office in Little Rock, Arkansas, by a family member and a summary was provided to the NTSB investigator-in-charge. The FAA inspectors documented that the pilot logged flight time in January 1984 which ended with a total time of 302 hours. A new pilot log book was started on March 26, 2014. The pilot logged four flights of dual instruction for a total of 5.5 hours with the last dual flight logged on May 19, 2014. From May 19, 2014, to July 22, 2014, the pilot logged 14 flights for a total of 25 hours of solo/pilot-in-commander. July 22, 2014 was the last log book entries. As of that date he accrued approximately 332.5 hours of total time. No other entries were found. However, using maintenance log book entries and the tachometer reading at the accident site, the pilot likely accumulated an additional 43.3 hours for a total of 365.8 hours.

There was no evidence of recent flight instruction or flight instructor endorsements. There was also no night time logged. The pilot's night flying experience could not be determined.


The single engine, high wing, fixed tricycle landing gear, two seat airplane was manufactured in 1978. It was powered by a normally aspirated, four cylinder, 118-horsepower Lycoming O-235-L2C engine driving a metal, two blade, fixed pitch, Sensenich S72CK-0-54 propeller. The propeller was installed under Supplemental Type Certificate SA1219EA on October 1, 2008. The airplane's most recent inspection was an annual type completed on March 26, 2014, at a total airframe time of 14,774 hours, tachometer time of 4,774.0 hours, and 1,129 hours since the engine's last major overhaul. The airplane was equipped for and was authorized to be operated at night.


At 0555, an automated weather reporting facility located at the Batesville Regional Airport (BVX), Batesville, Arkansas, about 6.5 nautical miles northeast of the accident site, reported wind from 190° at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 1,000 feet, a broken layer at 1,900 feet, and an overcast layer at 3,200 feet, temperature 18° Celsius (C), dew point 16° C, and a barometric pressure of 29.87 inches of mercury. Of note, this reporting facility did not have a precipitation discriminator and could not report any weather phenomena. The reporting facility's elevation is 463 and the accident site was located on a bluff of higher terrain approximately 1,025 mean sea level.

A weather study of the accident area was conducted by an National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Senior Meteorologist. A review of National Weather Service data found no significant radar echoes in the vicinity of the accident. The Low-Level Significant Weather Prognostic Chart valid showed that there was the potential for marginal visual flight rules ceiling and visibilities for the accident area. Infrared satellite imagery recorded cloud tops near 7,000 feet msl at the time of the accident. Astronomical conditions recorded by the U.S. Naval Observatory showed that both the sun and the moon were below the horizon at the time of the accident.

At 0535, an automated weather reporting facility located at the Clinton Municipal Airport (CCA), Clinton, Arkansas, located 34 nautical miles west of the accident site, reported a calm wind, visibility 5 miles, mist, an overcast ceiling at 700 feet, temperature 16°C, dew point 16° C, and a barometric pressure of 29.88 inches of mercury.

There is no evidence that the pilot received a weather briefing.


Batesville Regional Airport (KBVX) is located near Batesville, Arkansas, at an elevation of 465 feet mean sea level (msl). It is serviced by two runways aligned 08/26 and 18/36. Runway 8 is a 6,002 foot by 150 foot asphalt runway in good condition. It is lit by medium intensity runway lights and runway end identifier lights which is pilot controlled on the airport's common traffic advisory frequency. In addition, it has a 2-light precision approach path indicator (PAPI) system on the left side of the runway configured for a 3.0° glide path.


The accident site was located in a heavily wooded area of Brock Mountain, about 7 nautical west of the Batesville Regional Airport. The initial impact point consisted of downed tree tops on 45-foot tall trees. Elevation at the accident site ranged between 1,025 and 1,035 feet mean sea level. The debris field was aligned along a 255° heading, but the initial damage to the trees followed a 038° heading. Portions of both wings are found in the debris field along with downed trees. Elevator and rudder pieces were scattered leading to the airplane's empennage. The empennage separated just aft of the aft bulkhead. The seats and floorboards were fractured and broken. The engine and cockpit instrument panel was found at the end of the debris field. The total debris field was approximately 115 yards long and 25 yards wide. Multiple areas of the wreckage contained semi-circular impacts with imbedded tree matter consistent with tree strikes.

The control cables to all surfaces were broken in multiple locations. When laid out, all breaks displayed broomstrawing on the cable ends consistent with overload. All control cables appeared to be continuous prior to the accident. The propeller separated from the engine at the propeller hub. The leading edge of both blades contained nicks and gouges. The outboard 1/3 of one of the blades fractured from the blade and was located near the beginning the of tree strikes. The cockpit instruments and gauges were largely impact destroyed. The magneto switch was positioned to both. The throttle was full forward and the mixture was near the full forward position. No anomalies were detected with the airframe and engine that would have precluded normal operation.

In addition, an open and empty bottle of hydrocodone/acetaminophen prescribed to the pilot was found in a compartment in the cockpit. No pills were found at the accident site.


An autopsy was conducted on the pilot by The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Little Rock, Arkansas. The autopsy noted the cause of death as a result of multiple blunt force injuries and the manner of death was an accident.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The specimens were putrefied. Testing was positive for the following:

82 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Liver

66 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Muscle

Desmethylsertraline detected in Liver

Desmethylsertraline detected in Muscle

0.22 (ug/mL, ug/g) Dihydrocodeine detected in Liver

0.027 (ug/mL, ug/g) Dihydrocodeine detected in Muscle

2.08 (ug/ml, ug/g) Hydrocodone detected in Liver

0.473 (ug/ml, ug/g) Hydrocodone detected in Muscle

Phentermine detected in Liver

Sertraline detected in Liver

Sertraline detected in Muscle

1.196 (ug/mL, ug/g) Trazodone detected in Liver

0.155 (ug/mL, ug/g) Trazodone detected in Muscle

Sertraline is a prescription antidepressant used for a variety of conditions to include depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder. The FAA reports that a Special Issuance Medical Certificate would be necessary for its use by airmen on this medication.

Hydrocodone, and its metabolite dihydrocodeine, were found. Hydrocodone is a prescription semisynthetic narcotic prepared from codeine. It is widely prescribed as an antitussive in cough syrups and is also used to relieve severe pain. This medication has the potential to impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery). The FAA reports that this medication is disqualifying for FAA aeromedical certification.

Phentermine is a Schedule IV, short-term use, prescription appetite suppressant used together with diet and exercise to treat obesity. The FAA reports that this medication is not acceptable for use while performing airman duties.

Trazodone is a prescription medication used to treat depression. Trazodone is in a class of medications called serotonin modulators. This medication has the potential to impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery). The FAA reports that use of this medication is disqualifying for aeromedical certification.

The levels of ethanol found could be from decomposition, however ingestion could not be fully ruled out.

On his most recent application for medical certificate, the pilot only reported the use of Lisinopril to treat high blood pressure.


Garmin AERA 560 GPS

A Garmin AERA 560 was found at the accident site and sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington D.C. for data download. The device powered on, but no recorded data was found.

NTSB Probable Cause

The noninstrument-rated pilot's controlled flight into terrain due to an inadvertent encounter with clouds in dark night conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to fly at night in marginal visual meteorological conditions without the proper training and without obtaining a weather briefing.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.