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N422G accident description

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Crash location 24.696944°N, 81.498333°W
Nearest city Cudjoe Key, FL
24.671532°N, 81.498418°W
1.8 miles away
Tail number N422G
Accident date 20 Apr 2007
Aircraft type Cessna 182Q
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On April 20, 2007, about 2313 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 182Q, N422G, registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed in Cudjoe Key, Florida. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the flight to Leesburg, Florida. The certificated private pilot and the two passengers were killed, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The flight originated in Key West, Florida, the same night, about 2300.

According to information received from officials with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, two witnesses who were on shore at the boat ramp at the end of Blimp Road, in Cudjoe Key, said they saw the accident airplane impact the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) aerostat cable. According to the witnesses, when the airplane impacted the aerostat cable, a wing went "flying off", and the remainder of the airplane went tumbling into the water near a group of islands, about 1/4 mile from where they were located.

In response to notification of the accident, elements including the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the U.S Coast Guard responded. The accident airplane was located in the vicinity of Cudjoe Key, in Kemp Channel on the bay side, in about 3 to 4 feet of water.

According to information obtained from Naval Air Station Key West, the accident airplane departed from Key West International Airport on runway 27, then turned to an easterly heading, and was last seen on radar as it merged with the aerostat. At the time of the accident, the airplane had been in radio communications contact with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), and according to an official at Miami ARTCC, the pilot had been informed of the restricted area at Cudjoe Key.

The aerostat whose tether the airplane impacted was being operating normally, and was on station as published. Restricted Area R-2916, which protects the TARS, is 4 statute miles (SM) in diameter and effective up to 14,000 feet mean sea level. The TARS flight director on duty stated that the aerostat had a cable payout of 8,000 feet, was on a pitch of 9.2 degrees, and had a tension of 2.4K pounds tether force. According to the flight director's log, the log entry directly preceding the accident showed no irregularities. At 2315, the flight director logged "an airplane may have crashed off the north pad into the channel", and at 2328, the log showed that the flight director initiated cable retraction at a rate of 25 feet per minute. During the course of the retraction it was discovered that the tether had incurred damage at its 4,533-feet cable payout level.

A video record from the camera mounted on the TARS flight control building, which monitors the aerostat while aloft, showed the aerostat's position lights, and at 2312:55, the video record showed the position lights of the accident airplane as it approached the tether. The video record showed the airplane striking the tether, and the airplane entering a spin, and descending seemingly uncontrolled, departing the camera's field of view.

The pilot, age 56, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings. He was issued a third class medical certificate on June 22, 2006, with a restriction to possess lenses to correct near vision. According to the pilot's latest FAA medical certificate application, he reported 750 hours of flight time, including 80 hours during the past 6 months.

FAA records indicate that the airplane was manufactured in 1977 and was originally powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) O-470-U engine. The FAA supplied a Form 337, dated June 25, 2004, which indicated that the engine was modified to a Texas Skyways O-520-U/TS under Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SE09773SC and issued a new serial number of 5U086. The airplane was equipped with a Century autopilot and compass system and an Insight Avionics Strike Finder. The aircraft and engine logbooks were not recovered.

The weather, about the time of the accident, at Key West International Airport (EYW), Key West, Florida, approximately 14 NM southwest of the accident site included the following: winds from 010 degrees at 7 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 75 degrees F, dew point 59 degrees F, and altimeter 29.98 inches of mercury. Sunset was at 1951, and the moonset was at 2351 with approximately 14 percent of the moon's visible disk illuminated.

The pilot made the following comment to ATC while airborne, "I have plenty of ceiling."

The wreckage was recovered and transported to Air and Sea Recovery, Fort Pierce, Florida, for an examination under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-in-Charge. During the examination, all the major components of the airplane were accounted for and no preimpact failures or malfunctions were identified.

Postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner, District 16, Ramrod Key, Florida. The cause of death was listed as, "Multiple blunt force injuries."

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report was negative for ethanol and the following drugs: amphetamine, opiates, marihuana, cocaine, phencyclidine, benzsodiazeprines, barbiturates, antidepressants, antihistamines, meprobamate, methaqualone, and nicotine.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from an active restricted area, which resulted in the airplane colliding with the tether of an aerostat.

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