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N121BG accident description

Connecticut map... Connecticut list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Killingworth, CT
41.380654°N, 72.576480°W
Tail number N121BG
Accident date 04 Oct 1999
Aircraft type Cessna 182R
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 4, 1999, about 1750 Eastern Daylight Time, a Cessna 182R, N121BG, was destroyed during a collision with a communications tower near Killingworth, Connecticut. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and a instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the personal flight that originated at the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport (BDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut, conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

During an interview, the owner of the accident airplane stated that he flew the airplane to Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York, on the morning of October 4, 1999, with the accident pilot. Upon arrival at FRG, the owner exited the airplane and the accident pilot remarked that he was going to fly the airplane to BDR and "shoot" an approach before returning to the Chester Airport (3B9), Chester, Connecticut.

The accident pilot proceeded to BDR, landed, and picked up a passenger. The accident pilot and passenger conducted several instrument approaches at BDR, before landing about 1630. The passenger exited the airplane and the accident pilot walked to the Flight Service Station (FSS,)located at BDR, to receive a current weather briefing and file an IFR flight plan to 3B9. About 1721, the airplane departed BDR and proceeded to 3B9.

According to Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel, at 1724, the airplane was instructed to climb and maintain 3,000 feet, and proceed direct to the Madison (MAD) VOR.

When the accident pilot arrived in the area of 3B9, a second Cessna was executing the VOR approach to the airport. At 1728, the second Cessna's pilot radioed the controller and stated that he was "missed approach" at 3B9. The controller queried the second Cessna pilot about why he conducted a missed approach, which the second Cessna pilot replied, "we couldn't see a whole lot there," "low ceilings." The second Cessna proceeded to the Griswold Airport, Madison, Connecticut, executed the VOR A approach, and the pilot advised "landing assured" at 1743.

The accident pilot was then issued a clearance to execute the VOR approach to 3B9, at 1743. The pilot acknowledged the clearance. The controller then terminated radar service, and approved a frequency change. At 1745 the controller also instructed the accident pilot to report canceling his IFR clearance in the air or on the ground with the FSS. At 1746, the accident pilot responded "one bravo gulf uh ok we'll cancel with you if possible." There were no further transmissions from the accident pilot.

The operator of the communications tower received a notification of interrupted service on several broadcast stations, and dispatched a technician to the tower. When the technician arrived at the tower he noticed a gauge on the ground and determined that it was from an airplane. The technician then discovered several other pieces of airplane wreckage and called the local authorities.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight about 41 degrees, 23 minutes north latitude, and 72 degrees, 33 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single and multi engine land, instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate for single engine and multi engine land, instrument airplane.

The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first class medical certificate was issued on September 3, 1999.

Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated about 751 hours of total flight experience. The pilot also accumulated about 18 hours in the accident airplane since July 16, 1999, and had logged about 17 hours of flight experience in actual instrument conditions.

The logbook also revealed that the pilot had also executed the VOR approach to 3B9 a total of three times, once in June 1998 and twice in August 1999.


The Chester Airport was located about 2.6 miles southeast of the 370-foot antenna. The airport field elevation was 416 feet MSL, and the recommended traffic pattern altitude was 1,400 feet MSL. The standard traffic pattern for the airport was left-hand traffic. Runway 35/17 was the only lighted runway, and there was no visual glideslope indicator available for either runway.


The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on October 5, 1999, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The main fuselage and engine came to rest nose down, at a ground elevation of about 450 feet MSL, about 850 feet southeast of the tower. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the tail surfaces to the cockpit area. The control cables to the wing sections were found broken in the main fuselage. The cable breaks were consistent with stress overload. The flap actuator jackscrew was measured and confirmed the flaps were in the retracted position. Further control continuity was not confirmed due to impact damage.

The left wing was separated from the fuselage. The inboard section of the wing was located about 100 feet north of the tower, and the flap was still attached. The wingtip, and about a 3-foot section of the wing, was located about 75 feet east of the tower.

The right wing was also separated from the fuselage. An outboard section of the wing, about 6 feet in length, was located about 80 feet north of the tower. The wing section was damaged along the leading edge and displayed orange paint transfer that was similar to the type of paint applied to the tower. The inboard section of the wing was located about 75 feet southeast of the tower, and displayed damage to the leading edge, with orange paint transfer. A section of the wingtip, about 4 feet in length, was located about 45 feet northeast of the tower, and had rearward tears, with orange paint transfer along the separation point. A center section piece of the leading edge was located about 25 feet from the tower, alongside a dirt road, and it displayed severe inward crushing with orange paint transfer.

The right main wheel, tire, and wheel pant assembly was located about 5 feet from the immediate base of the tower.

The engine remained attached to the airframe, and was removed at the accident site for examination. Due to the impact damage to the number 5 and number 1 cylinders, the engine could not be rotated by hand. The oil cooler was destroyed. The vacuum pump was detached from the accessory case, and inspected with no abnormalities noted.

The fuel selector was positioned to the left fuel tank. The carburetor was removed from the engine, and inspected. Fuel was present in the bowl of the carburetor. The engine primer was in and locked. The throttle, propeller control, and mixture control were found in the full forward position.

The left magneto received impact damage, and was separated from the accessory case. The right magneto was found attached to the accessory gear case, and was removed for testing. Both magnetos, when rotated by hand, produced spark on all towers. All spark plugs except the number 5 bottom spark plug were removed; their electrodes were intact and light gray in color. The propeller was found detached from the engine at the hub assembly, lying next to the main fuselage. Both propeller blades exhibited slight rearward bending and chordwise scratches. One propeller blade had three distinct gouges that curled rearward on the leading edge tip. The second propeller blade was damaged along the leading edge from the tip, to a point 14 inches inward.

The airplanes heading indicator bug was found selected to 075 degrees. The number one navigational OMNI head OBS was selected to 055 degrees, with course deviation indicator centered.


The weather reported by an airport located 19 miles to the west, at 1745 was, winds from 010 degrees at 10 knots, 7 statute miles of visibility, and a broken cloud layer at 700 feet above ground level.

The weather reported by an airport located 15 miles to the north, at 1753 was, winds from 360 degrees at 8 knots, 8 statute miles of visibility, and overcast cloud layer at 600 feet above ground level.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on October 5, 1999, by the State of Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Farmington, Connecticut.

Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


According to a transcript of communications, provided by the FAA, the pilot contacted the BDR AFSS by telephone at 1700. He requested an update to a previous weather briefing from BDR to 3B9, and to file an IFR flight plan. The pilot filed the IFR flight plan from BDR to 3B9 and during the weather briefing, had the following conversation with the AFSS briefer:

At 1702:23, the briefer stated, "uh *(che) uh three b nine has no weather either new haven new haven right now is wind zero two zero at one five seven hundred what do you need to get into chester"

At 1702:36, the pilot stated, "uh i need um I need four forty over the ground a g l." The briefer replied, "alright."

At 1702:41, the pilot stated, "(unintelligible) m s l"

At 1702:43, the briefer stated, "alright that's what that seven hundred feet is that uh all these are a g l altitudes." The pilot replied, "okay."

At 1702:48, the briefer stated, "uh overcast at seven hundred and uh altimeter three zero zero five hartford is ten miles they're overcast at eight hundred with uh wind three six zero at niner and groton is broken at six hundred and overcast at one thousand five hundred looks like fairly good visibility for the most part throughout the area"

At 1703:06, the pilot stated, "*(beneath) the deck we were just up flying too." The briefer replied, "yeah"

At 1703:09, the pilot stated, "beneath the deck it's not too bad"

At 1703:11, the briefer stated, "yeah but you just got to figure out how to get down to it:

At 1703:13, the pilot stated, "yeah that's gonna be *(the part) the tricky part"

At 1703:15, the briefer stated, "uh let's see bridgeport uh let's which one of these weathers we need here uh we gave you the seven hundred bridgeport right now is nine miles and a overcast layer at seven hundred and the wind zero three zero at eight that is the uh the new hourly weather"

At 1703:31, the pilot stated, "okay and new haven was (unintelligible) overcast"

At 1703:35, the briefer stated, "at uh new haven let me go back and find them again new haven is overcast at seven hundred." The pilot responded, "okay."

At 1703:41, the briefer stated, "so right here along the coast it looks like we're looking uh um just about it it's fairly level out here you know it's between six and uh eight hundred feet overcast." The pilot replied, "yeah yeah."


The MAD VOR operated on a frequency of 110.4 MHz.

The FAA conducted a flight check of the MAD VOR on October 5, 1999. The test results were satisfactory.


The tower was owned and operated by Comcast Cablevision of Middletown, Inc., Middletown, Connecticut. The tower was located about 2.6 miles northwest of 3B9, on top of a hill that had a ground elevation of about 497 feet msl. The top of the tower was about 370 feet above the ground. The airplane struck the tower about the 330-foot level. The tower was equipped with lighting. A witness, who recorded the condition of the tower lighting daily, stated that the illumination of the top light on the tower, on the day of the accident, could not be determined due to fog. The three previous recordings for the month of October stated that the lights were operating. Pieces of clear and red glass were found scattered on the ground north of the tower. The glass was consistent to the type used for navigational lights installed on fixed objects.


The airplane's dual navigational and communication radios, and GPS receiver were retained and forwarded to AlliedSignal Flight Operations, New Century, Kansas, for further examination. Under the supervision of a FAA inspector, the examination revealed that the number 1 communication radio active frequency channel was tuned to 122.72, and the standby communication frequency channel was selected to 120.90. The number 1 navigation radio active frequency channel was tuned to 110.40, and the standby navigation frequency channel was selected to 109.10. The number 2 communication radio active frequency channel was tuned to 126.95, and the standby communication frequency channel was selected to 122.25. The number 2 navigation radio active frequency channel was tuned to 110.40, and the standby navigation frequency channel was selected to 116.65.

The GPS receiver was also retained and examined at Northeaster Technologies, Acton, Massachusetts. The examination revealed that the non-volatile memory to the PC board was "excessively" damaged and no information was available for download.


A plot was drawn from the MAD VOR to the tower. The distance from the VOR to the tower was about 8.6 statute miles, on a course of about 050 degrees true.

On October 8, 1999, the wreckage was released to Phoenix Aviation Managers, Incorporated, in New Jersey.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure follow the published instrument approach procedure. A factor in the accident was the low cloud ceiling.

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