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N742BM accident description

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Crash location 40.335277°N, 106.688055°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 Steamboat Sprng, CO
40.484977°N, 106.831716°W
12.8 miles away

Tail number N742BM
Accident date 19 Jul 2003
Aircraft type Grumman American AA-5B
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 19, 2003, at approximately 1100 mountain daylight time, a Grumman American AA-5B, N742BM, operated by the pilot, was destroyed when it impacted mountainous terrain near Rabbit Ears Pass, approximately 15 miles southeast of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A post impact fire ensued. The private pilot and his two passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. No flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91.

According to one witness, an airplane, matching the description of the accident airplane, departed the Fort Collins Downtown Airport (3V5), Fort Collins, Colorado, at approximately 0900. A second witness reported that an airplane, matching that same description, landed at Steamboat Springs/Bob Adams Field (SBS), Steamboat Springs, Colorado. According to the second witness, the airplane was on the ground for a short time. During this time, the second witness assisted the pilot in servicing one of the airplane's main landing gear tires with air while one of the passengers took a bathroom break. The pilot did not purchase fuel for the aircraft at SBS. The airplane departed at approximately 1045.

According to the Routt County Sheriff's Office, at 1116, they received a report of vertically rising black smoke near Rabbit Ears Pass. At approximately 1330, a crew in a firefighting helicopter dispatched to the scene to contain the fire, reported that there was aircraft wreckage in the fire. At approximately 1630, a search and rescue team reported an unknown number of fatalities. Due to the post impact fire, the immediate identification of the aircraft and its occupants was not possible. A serial number, obtained from the airplane's engine, was later used to identify the wreckage as N742BM.


According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, dated September 10, 2001. The pilot held a third class airman medical certificate, dated August 17, 2001, with the limitation: "Must wear corrective lenses. Miscellaneous restriction assigned, not valid for any class after August 31, 2003."

According to the pilot's logbook, which included entries dated from June 8, 1990, to August 4, 2002, as of August 4, 2002, he had logged a total flight time of 199.1 hours in all aircraft, and 119.5 hours as pilot-in-command, of which a total of 20.0 hours of flight time was logged in N742BM. According to the pilot's son, on or about August 4, 2002, the pilot started a new logbook. The pilot's current flight logbook was not located.


The accident airplane was a 1975 Grumman American model AA-5B (s/n AA-5B-0202). The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming model O-360-A4K reciprocating engine (s/n L-26919-36A). The engine was equipped with a Sensenich Corporation model 76EM8S10-0-63 two-bladed propeller (s/n 30679K).

According to airplane logbooks, a 100-hour/annual inspection was completed on July 12, 2002, at a total airframe and engine time of 4,159.7 and 2,524.2 hours respectively.


At 1115, the reported weather conditions at Yampa Valley Airport (HDN), Hayden, Colorado, (approximately 27 nautical miles at 290 degrees from the accident site and at an elevation of 6,602 feet msl) was: wind 060 degrees at 5 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; sky condition, clear; temperature 81 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 47 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 30.38 inches. The calculated density altitude was 9,152 feet msl.


The National Transportation Safety Board's on-scene investigation began on July 21, 2003. The accident site was located approximately 5 miles southwest of Rabbit Ears Pass, and 3 ½ miles south of U.S. Highway 40, in mountainous wooded terrain at an elevation of approximately 9,500 feet msl. The on-site investigation revealed that the airplane struck several trees along a 200-foot debris path near the crest of a heavily forested mountain valley. The debris path, which included several large branches, tree tops, and fractured pieces of the left and right wings, was on a heading of approximately 075 degrees. The airplane impacted one 50-foot conifer tree at approximately 30 feet above the ground, uprooting the tree as the airplane descended to the ground. A post impact fire ensued which destroyed the airplane and burned an area of approximately 1/8 of an acre surrounding the site.

During the on-site examination of the wreckage, the altimeter's faceplate was located with a 30.08 indication in the kollsman window. All other instruments and gauges exhibited heat damage and their readings and indications were not legible. Three seat belt buckle assemblies were located. Although the seat belt was destroyed by fire, each of the three seat belt buckle assemblies remained connected. Two of the seat belt buckle assemblies had the shoulder harness connecting link engaged.

The engine and propeller assembly, with attached engine mount, was separated from the fuselage. The engine and propeller assembly exhibited heat damage. One side of the propeller spinner was crushed. Although one propeller blade was bent aft approximately 5 degrees, beginning at a point approximately 6 inches from the tip, no rotational scratches, or scoring was noted on the propeller blades or on the propeller spinner.

Due to the post impact fire, flight control continuity could not be determined. The wreckage was recovered and removed from the site for further examination.


The Jefferson County Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy on the pilot on July 22, 2003, in Golden, Colorado.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on samples taken from the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200300222001), carbon monoxide, and cyanide testing was not performed. Ethanol was not detected in the brain or liver. No drugs, as listed, were detected in the liver.


On August 20, 2003, a manufacturer's representative from Textron Lycoming examined the engine. The examination revealed that the engine exhibited extensive fire damage and several engine components were damaged by impact forces. Although there was extensive damage to the engine, he stated that, "nothing was found during the engine examination that would have precluded the engine from making power prior to impact."

No preimpact airframe anomalies were identified.


Parties to the investigation were the FAA Flight Standards District Office, Denver, Colorado, and Textron Lycoming.

The airplane wreckage was released to the owner's representative on Feb 24, 2004.

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