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N546B accident description

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Crash location 32.108056°N, 84.189444°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 Americus, GA
32.072386°N, 84.232688°W
3.5 miles away

Tail number N546B
Accident date 03 May 2008
Aircraft type Beech A35
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 3, 2008, at 1835 eastern daylight time (EDT), a Beech A35, N546B, was substantially damaged after it impacted the ground shortly after takeoff in Americus, Georgia. The certificated private pilot and two passengers were killed. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which departed the Souther Field Airport (ACJ), Americus, Georgia and had a destination of Bessemer Airport (EKY), Bessemer, Alabama. The flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a lineman employed by the fixed base operator (FBO) located on the airport the accident pilot had flown into the airport, on the day prior, to attend a convention in the local area. He returned to the airport about 1400, on the day of the accident, and asked if there was a tie-down spot available on the airport. The pilot stated that he was planning to depart for his return trip; however, he did not think he would be able to at that time, due to the weather. The airplane was secured and the pilot left the airport again for the local convention.

The lineman stated that about 1830, the pilot returned to the airport and prepared to takeoff. He observed the airplane taxi directly from the tie-down spot, to runway 23, without performing a run-up inspection on the airplane and stated that the pilot appeared to be "in a hurry."

According to another eyewitness, the airplane departed runway 23, became airborne, and at approximately 100 feet above ground level (agl), "the airplane began to make a left bank." He further stated that the engine never faltered and sounded as though it was at takeoff power until impact. The airplane continued the left bank until the wings were almost perpendicular to the ground, lost altitude, and impacted the ground adjacent to the parallel taxiway.


The pilot, age 42, held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land, with a restriction of night flying prohibited, issued September 12, 1984. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued May 18, 2007, at which time he reported having 1,430 hours of total flight experience and 100 hours of flight experience in the previous 6 months.


The 1948-model airplane, a Beech A35, serial number D-1564, was a four-seat, single-engine airplane that was constructed primarily of metal and equipped with a tricycle-retractable type landing gear. The airplane was powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors E-185-8 engine that was manufactured in October 1955 and was installed on the airplane January 5, 2004. The maximum gross weight at takeoff for the airplane is 2,650 pounds and the estimated weight at takeoff was 2,613 pounds and was within the center of gravity limits, provided by Beechcraft in Section IV of the Pilot's Operating Handbook. The airplane was issued an airworthiness certificate June 4, 1948, was bought by the owner on March 25, 2006, and was registered to the owner on June 15, 2006.

An annual inspection was completed on the aircraft and engine on June 5, 2007. At the time of the inspection, the total aircraft time was 4,155 total hours of operation. The engine total time in service (TIS) was 2,418 hours. It had accrued 1,295 hours total TIS since major overhaul.


The 1835 recorded weather at Columbus Regional Airport (CSG), Columbus, Georgia, located approximately 45 nautical miles from the accident site, included winds from 210 degrees at 7 knots, with wind gusts of 15 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 27 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 10 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.78 inches of mercury. According to the United States Naval Observatory official sunset for Americus, Georgia on the day of the accident was 2019 EDT and the official sunset for Bessemer, Alabama on that same day was 2032 EDT.


Souther Field Airport (ACJ) was located about 4 miles to northeast of Americus, Georgia. The airport had two runways, 5/23 and 9/27. The accident flight departed from runway 23 which is a 6,021-foot-long by 100-foot-wide, asphalt runway. The airport had no air traffic control (ATC) tower on the field and utilized a common traffic advisory frequency. No evidence of the aircraft contacting any ATC facility or Flight Service Station was found.


The airplane initially impacted the ground to the east of the parallel taxiway in a nose down attitude. The airplane displayed impact and post impact fire damage. Control continuity was confirmed to all control surfaces from an area near the control column; however due to extensive fire damage, continuity to the control column was unable to be verified.

The nose of the airplane came to rest on a heading of 285 degrees. The outboard section of the right wing exhibited leading edge damage and remained attached to the fuselage. The right flap actuator was measured and correlated to the flaps zero, fully retracted position. The inboard section of the left wing and cabin were consumed by post impact fire. The tail section, which consisted of the ruddervator control surface, was attached and sustained impact damage. The pitch trim actuator was measured and correlated to a five degree, tab trailing edge up position. The gust lock was never located however the opening where it would be placed into the control column exhibited no deformations.

The propeller hub remained attached to the crankshaft and the spinner was crushed. One propeller blade was detached and located at the initial impact point, approximately three feet forward of the main wreckage. It exhibited chordwise scratches and was bent in the direction opposite of rotation. The other propeller blade remained attached and displayed slight S-bending.

The engine displayed evidence of fire damage. The top spark plugs were removed and their electrodes were grayish in color. The engine crankshaft was rotated using the propeller; continuity of the crankshaft was confirmed on all cylinders and to the rear of the engine. Thumb compression and suction was produced on all six cylinders. The interior of all cylinders where inspected using a lighted boroscope; normal combustion deposits were observed on the piston heads and cylinder domes. Most of the carburetor was destroyed by fire but the inlet fuel screen was located and was free of debris. The throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat controls were all attached to their respective actuating arms; however due to fire damage the position was unable to be confirmed. The oil filter displayed impact and fire damage. No metallic debris was noted on the oil filter element. The magnetos exhibited fire damage and were destroyed. The fuel selector was selected to the left tank.

The entry door was located approximately 15 feet from the main wreckage. The upper hook latch and upper hook receiver were deformed due to impact forces.


According to the Division of Forensic Sciences Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the cause of death was "generalized blunt force injuries."

The FAA's Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed forensic toxicology testing. The tests were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs.


The accident flight was 156 nautical miles in length going directly to EKY. Taking into consideration time to climb to cruise altitude, descent to land, and utilizing average cruise speeds the flight would have been approximately 1 hour 11 minutes in duration.

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