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N58GH accident description

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Crash location 34.497777°N, 83.557778°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 Cornelia, GA
34.511488°N, 83.527117°W
2.0 miles away
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Tail number N58GH
Accident date 19 Nov 2002
Aircraft type Cessna 182Q
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 19, 2002, at 2152 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182Q, N58GH, registered to a private owner and operated by the commercial pilot, collided with trees and terrain during approach to runway 6 at the Habersham County Airport in Cornelia, Georgia. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with an instrument flight plan filed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight departed Tallahassee Regional Airport in Tallahassee, Florida, at 1948 on November 19, 2002.

A review of flight service station records revealed the pilot telephoned Gainesville Automated Flight Service Station at 1901 and filed an instrument flight plan for a direct flight from Tallahassee, Florida, to Cornelia, Georgia. The pilot reported he had six hours of fuel on board. At 1938, the pilot contacted the Tallahassee Regional Airport ground controller and received clearance to the destination airport; at 1948, the flight was cleared for takeoff. Air traffic control records revealed the flight climbed to its assigned altitude of 9,000 feet and proceeded on course.

At 2114, the pilot contacted an Atlanta Center controller and reported level at 9,000 feet. The controller reported the Athens altimeter setting was 30.26 inches, and the pilot acknowledged. At 2146, the flight was cleared for the GPS runway 6 approach to Habersham County Airport, and the controller approved a radio frequency change to the airport's common traffic advisory frequency. The pilot acknowledged, and the controller received no further radio contact. When the airplane failed to arrive as scheduled at its destination, a search was initiated, and the wreckage was found in a wooded area approximately 400 feet southeast of the runway at Habersham County Airport on November 20, 2002.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, instrument airplane issued on October 29, 1960. The pilot held a second class medical certificate issued on December 17, 2001 with the limitation, "airman restricted to corrective lenses for near and far vision while exercising the privileges of the certificate; SODA [Statement of Demonstrated Ability] for color vision." The pilot completed a flight review as required by FAR 61.56 on October 27, 2002. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed the pilot recorded 1623 flight hours, which included 1534 hours pilot-in-command, 1193 hours in the Cessna 182Q, and 94 hours actual instrument time.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was equipped with a Continental IO-550-D, 300-hp engine and an instrument-certified GPS. A review of maintenance logs revealed the transponder, altimeter, and static system tests were performed on October 10, 2001. An annual inspection was performed on October 8, 2002 at a tachometer time of 305.0 hours. The tachometer time displayed on the instrument at the accident site was 317.6 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport, Gainesville, Georgia, automated surface observation system, located 19 miles southeast of the accident site, reported at 2153 winds calm, visibility 1/4 statute mile with fog, ceiling indefinite 100 feet, temperature 6 degrees Celsius, dew point 6 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 30.26 inches.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Examination of the accident site revealed the fuselage was located approximately 400 feet southeast of the runway 6 centerline and approximately 720 feet east of the runway 6 displaced threshold. Wreckage and tree debris were found scattered approximately 780 feet along a magnetic heading of 068 degrees from a group of freshly broken trees. The trees were located approximately 245 feet south of the runway 6 displaced threshold and were broken at a height approximately 15 feet above the runway elevation. The fuselage was found inverted and resting across a ditch in a wooded area with the vertical stabilizer, rudder, and portions of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator attached. The front of the airplane was crush damaged, and the propeller was found separated. Both wings were found separated and displayed crush damage. Fuel was observed leaking from the fuel tanks.

Examination of the airframe revealed the elevator and rudder control cables were continuous from the control surfaces to the cockpit yoke and rudder controls. The aileron and flap cables were separated near the center of the fuselage. The flap actuator was found in a position consistent with 15 degrees of flap extension. No evidence of airframe malfunction.

Examination of the engine and accessories revealed the engine crankshaft could be rotated through the magneto accessory drive and engine continuity was established. Movement was observed on all valves, and all cylinders developed compression. Magneto timing was found to be within limits. Both the left and right magnetos developed sparks on all towers when turned by hand. The fuel pump drive was intact. The oil filter paper element displayed no evidence of metallic debris. No evidence of engine malfunction was observed. The engine-driven vacuum pump was removed for examination and the drive and vanes were intact. The vacuum system filter was clean, white, and free of debris. The electric standby vacuum pump was damaged, the toggle switch was damaged, and the drive was intact. The electric standby vacuum pump operated when connected to a battery. The attitude indicator was damaged, and examination revealed the rotor could spin freely and displayed no visible scoring. The encoding altimeter was damaged with the glass broken, and the Kollsman window as set to 30.27 inches.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Division of Forensic Sciences, performed an autopsy on the pilot on November 21, 2002. The cause of death was reported as, "blunt force trauma ... ."

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The report stated no carbon monoxide nor cyanide were detected in the blood, and no ethanol was detected in the urine. The report stated 0.67 (ug/mL, ug/g) Tramadol was detected in the blood, and Tramadol was present in the urine.

Tramadol is a prescription narcotic-like painkiller used for the management of moderate to severe pain. According to the Habersham County Coroner's report, the pilot's medical history included back pain with a prior surgery, and the pilot was taking the medication Ultram, which is the brand name for Tramadol Hydrochloride. A review of FAA airman medical records revealed no evidence the pilot reported the Tramadol usage to the FAA.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The published approach minimums for the GPS runway 6 straight-in approach at Habersham County Airport for Category A and B aircraft were ceiling 600 feet and visibility one statute mile. The published minimum descent altitude was 533 feet above ground level at the runway touchdown zone.

An acquaintance of the pilot searched the ground near the accident site after the airplane was recovered and later overflew the area. The acquaintance reported finding the pilot's prescription eyeglasses, which were damaged, in the muddy ditch where the wreckage was found. The acquaintance also reported what appeared to be broken trees further southwest of the broken trees observed off the approach end of runway 6.

Title 14 CFR Part 91.17 states, "(a) No person may act ... as a crewmember of a civil aircraft ... (3) While using any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety."

The wreckage was released to an owner's representative on December 26, 2002.

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