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N6511N accident description

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Crash location 35.288889°N, 118.593611°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Caliente, CA
35.291071°N, 118.627869°W
1.9 miles away

Tail number N6511N
Accident date 20 May 2005
Aircraft type Bellanca 14-13-3
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 20, 2005, at an undetermined time between 1030 and 1500 Pacific daylight time a Bellanca 14-13-3, N6511N, impacted a hilltop while cruising about 1.7 nautical miles (nm) east of Caliente, California. The airplane was destroyed. The two occupants on board were fatally injured, and they both held commercial pilot certificates. The airplane was owned and operated by one of the pilots. The second pilot was also an aviation mechanic. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site. The personal flight was performed under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, and no flight plan had been filed. The pilots' intended destination was Tehachapi, California, about 75 nm southeast of Exeter, California. The flight originated from the Thunderhawk Field, Exeter, at an undetermined time between 1015 and 1315. (The departure and accident times listed in the National Transportation Safety Board's Accident Data Management System (ADMS) form are estimated.)

A certified flight instructor (CFI) reported to the Safety Board investigator that she co-owned the Exeter Airport, which was uncontrolled. On May 20, at 1015, she had observed the airplane at Exeter, and she spoke with its owner. Thereafter, she took off for a flight to San Diego. The CFI stated that the accident airplane was no longer at Exeter upon her return at 1315.

According to the CFI, since October 24, 2004, the airplane had been located at Exeter for repairs resulting from the pilot-owner's gear up landing at the airport. The CFI stated the mishap occurred when the pilot-owner was low on fuel and mistook Exeter for Porterville, a neighboring airport. During the following months, the pilot and his mechanic had made several trips from Tehachapi, where the airplane was based, to Exeter. The purpose of the trips was to perform repairs to the pilot's airplane. The accident flight was the first following the repairs.

No witnesses reported observing the accident. When the accident pilots did not arrive home, concerned parties initiated a search. The wreckage was located the following day on upsloping hilly terrain, about 12 nm northwest of Tehachapi.


Pilot, Airplane Owner.

The pilot was the registered owner of the airplane, and he held a commercial pilot certificate with the following ratings and limitations: airplane single and multiengine land, airplane single engine sea.

The only logbook provided to the Safety Board investigator for review was a logbook entitled "#3." It bore the pilot's name. The logbook included a record of the pilot's flying activities from February 28, 1998, through October 24, 2004, which was the last entry. No evidence of a flight review or any flying endorsement was listed.

Regarding the "Type of Pilot Time" listing, all flights were logged in this section as either having been performed as "Pilot In Command Including Solo" or the type of flying was left blank. All entries from January 10, 1999, through June 30, 2002, were logged as being "Pilot In Command." No "Dual Received" flight hours or certified flight instructor certificate numbers/names were listed in the logbook.

The last 45 entries recorded in the logbook covered the timeframe from June 20, 2004, through October 24, 2004. During this period, the pilot logged about 30 hours of flight time. All of the entries indicated the airplane used was N6511N.

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical records indicated that on December 16, 1992, the pilot reported to the FAA that his total flight time was 775 hours. He indicated having flown 50 hours during the previous 6 months. No more recent record indicating the pilot's flight time or currency was located.

An acquaintance of the pilot reported to the Safety Board investigator that during the 2-year period immediately preceding the May 20, 2005, airplane accident, she had ridden in the pilot's airplane as a passenger while he flew it. No other persons were in the airplane during the flight. The flight was performed from the Tehachapi Airport. The acquaintance further reported that the pilot had also taken her son flying on two occasions during the past couple of years.

According to FAA airman records, the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate in 1957. In the pilot's personal effects found at the crash site were the following items: (1) the pilot's FAA commercial pilot certificate bearing a last issuance date of April 13, 1959; (2) a biennial flight review card indicating completion of a BFR on November 12, 1990, and a third-class aviation medical certificate bearing a December 16, 1992, examination date and the statement "not valid for any class after May 31, 1994."

The pilot's flight hours listed in the Safety Board's "Accident Data Management System" (ADMS) Flight Time Matrix for this factual report was estimated.

Pilot, Airplane Mechanic.

In 1970, the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate. Subsequently, the pilot obtained a commercial pilot certificate with the following ratings: airplane single engine land, and airplane multiengine land. In addition, the pilot held a mechanic certificate with an airframe and powerplant rating, issued in 1992.

On applications for FAA medical certificates, the pilot reported that his total flight time was 2,000 hours in 1979. In 1983, he reported that his total flight time was 3,000 hours, and he indicated having flown 10 hours during the preceding 6 months.

In 1991, the pilot again reported that his total flight time was 2,000 hours. Between 1992 and 2000, the pilot's flight time was variously reported as being between 2,040 and 3,500 hours. However, during this period he indicated that his flying time during each of the 6-month periods that preceded his medical certificate application ranged from zero to a maximum of 20 hours. The pilot's recent flying experience was not ascertained. The pilot's flight hours listed in the Safety Board's ADMS Flight Time Matrix for this factual report was estimated.


The Bellanca model 14-13-3 airplane, serial number 1630, was manufactured in 1949. The airplane was equipped with dual flight controls. It could be flown from either of the front seats.

No maintenance records were provided to the Safety Board investigator for examination. According to the CFI at the Exeter Airport, the pilot's airplane had been parked there for several months while undergoing maintenance.


According to the CFI, when she departed Exeter at 1015, and upon her return at 1315, the weather over Exeter was essentially the same. The airport's elevation is 340 feet mean sea level (msl). There was a broken sky condition with clouds based between 2,000 and 3,000 feet msl. The visibility was between 8 and 10 miles.

Another pilot reported to the Safety Board investigator that about 1400 he had landed at Tehachapi. At the time, the sky condition (overhead) was clear. There appeared to be an overcast cloud layer in the Bakersfield area of the San Joaquin Valley, and scattered clouds were approaching the Tehachapi airport from the west. The pilot additionally reported that within 10 minutes of securing his airplane, he was unable to see the end of the runway. At this time another airplane that had been approaching to land diverted to a nearby airport. During the next 2 hours, the haze and scattered cloud layer moved over and then away from the airport environment.

About 1500, a motorist was driving in a northwesterly direction on Highway 58 and was located between 5 and 12 miles northwest of Tehachapi. The motorist reported that he held a private pilot certificate and was employed as a civil engineer. According to the motorist the roadway "was foggy," and his visibility was at most 1 mile. The motorist stated his approximate elevation was 3,000 feet msl. The motorist stated that he heard a low flying airplane, with a "normal" sounding engine cruise over his vehicle. The motorist estimated that the airplane was about 200 feet above the highway, but he did not see it because of the weather condition.

The closest aviation weather observation station to the accident site was located at the Bakersfield Meadows Field, about 24 nm west of the accident site. The elevation at Bakersfield is 507 feet msl. In pertinent part, the following sky condition was reported during the 7-hour period from 0954 through 1654 Pdt:

0954 Overcast at 1,700 feet, above ground level (agl) 1054 Overcast at 1,700 feet, agl 1154 Overcast at 1,700 feet, agl 1254 Overcast at 1,900 feet, agl 1354 Overcast at 2,700 feet, agl 1454 Overcast at 3,100 feet, agl 1554 Overcast at 3,900 feet, agl 1654 Overcast at 4,300 feet, agl

Airports located east and south of Tehachapi reported a clear sky condition during the 7-hour period from 0954 through 1654.


The FAA reported that it reviewed facility records along the flight route between Exeter and Tehachapi. No evidence was found of any communications or services rendered to the accident airplane/pilots.


The Safety Board investigator's on-scene examination of the accident site and airplane wreckage revealed evidence of an initial point of impact (IPI) on near level hilly terrain, at an approximate elevation of 2,380 feet msl. The GPS coordinates for the IPI are approximately 33 degrees 17.335 minutes north latitude by 118 degrees 35.622 minutes west longitude. The IPI was within a few feet from the hilltop.

The IPI was noted by the presence of an approximate 6-inch wide by 10 feet long and 4-inch deep (maximum) depression in the firm grass-covered dirt terrain. The depression was oriented in a westerly direction toward the main wreckage area. An estimated 3-inch-deep laceration in the soil, perpendicular to the westerly ground swath was observed a few yards southwest of the IPI. The laceration in the soil was consistent in appearance with a propeller blade cut.

Imbedded in this ground swath were wood fragments from the airplane's right wing tip. Additional wing fragments including the push-pull control rod for the right aileron, were also located in this area.

The left wing was located about 50 feet southwest of the IPI. One of the airplane's vertical stabilizers and a main landing gear strut, as well as the oil filter housing, were located between 50 and 75 feet southwest of the IPI.

The main wreckage was located in an upright attitude, partially entangled in a wire fence, about 136 feet southwest of the IPI. The airplane's left wing spar was observed broken about 3 feet outboard of the side of the fuselage. The empennage was attached to the fuselage, with its respective intact flight control surfaces.

The instrument panel was partially intertwined in the wire fence. The panel appeared to have been ripped from the fuselage, and it was next to the main wreckage. The engine was separated from the firewall, and it was located several yards from the fuselage.

The pilot-mechanic was found in front of the main wreckage. The pilot-owner was found about 93 feet west-northwest of the wreckage. A tire and rim assembly was located about 660 feet south-southwest from the main location, and about 796 feet from the IPI. No other wreckage was found at a more distant location. There was no evidence of fire.

The magnetic bearing from the IPI ground scar signature to the most distant piece of wreckage was about 224 degrees.

Airframe Examination.

All of the airplane's flight controls were found in the vicinity of the main wreckage. There was no evidence of preimpact separation of fabric skin. The magneto switch was in the "both" position. The vacuum pump was not found. No evidence of a preimpact oil spray residue was observed on the airframe.

Propeller Assembly Examination.

The propeller assembly was found broken from the crankshaft. The propeller was found with one blade partially penetrating the side of the fuselage, aft of the cockpit. The blades exhibited torsional deformation, abrasions in a chordwise direction, and "S" bending.

Engine and Accessory Examination.

The engine's case exhibited impact-related damage signatures. Both magnetos were found broken from their respective mounting pads. The magnetos' drive gears were rotated by hand. Spark was observed on all terminal posts.

Several spark plugs were similarly observed separated from the engine. The spark plugs exhibited signatures consistent with normal wear, as compared to the Champion Aviation "Check-a-Plug" chart.

A pool of oil was noted beneath the engine. The oil pan was observed broken open.


Pilot, Airplane Owner.

FAA records indicated that on January 27, 1993, the pilot's application for an aviation medical certificate was denied because of "uncontrolled diabetes mellitus." After the pilot responded to the FAA's request for additional information, on June 16, 1993, he was issued a third-class medical certificate. The certificate's expiration date was May 31, 1994.

A review of the FAA's files revealed that no additional medical certificate was issued to the pilot after 1994.

Pilot, Mechanic.

FAA records indicated that on May 6, 2005, the pilot was issued a second-class medical certificate with the restriction that he wear corrective lenses. Members of the pilot's family did not report that the pilot's recent health was impaired.

Autopsy and Toxicology Data.

On May 23, 2005, the Sheriff-Coroner-Public Administrator, Bakersfield, California, performed autopsies on both pilots.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Forensic Toxicology Research Team, performed toxicology tests from specimens of both pilots. Also, toxicology tests were performed on both pilots by the Kern Regional Criminalistic Laboratory. No evidence of carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, or screened drugs was detected in either pilot.


The airplane wreckage was released to the owner of Aircraft Recovery Service, Littlerock, California, on July 27, 2005. No parts were retained.

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