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N1909K accident description

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Crash location 42.990277°N, 96.062778°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 Orange City, IA
43.007209°N, 96.058352°W
1.2 miles away

Tail number N1909K
Accident date 03 Oct 2003
Aircraft type Luscombe 8E
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On October 3, 2003, approximately 1500 central daylight time, a Luscombe 8E, N1909K, was destroyed after impacting trees about 6 nautical miles northwest of Orange City, Iowa. The pilot and passenger received fatal injuries. There were no witnesses to the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight departed from the Orange City Municipal Airport (ORC), Orange City, Iowa, at an unconfirmed time. According to the Civil Air Patrol, an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) was reported to be transmitting about 1500. The aircraft wreckage was located at 1800. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating. The pilot was issued a Third Class medical certificate on April 29, 2002, with "Must wear corrective lenses" printed in the limitations section. The pilot had a total flight time of approximately 360 hours, and approximately 335 were logged as pilot-in-command. The pilot accumulated approximately 190 hours in a Luscombe.

The passenger had an expired student pilot certificate.


The accident airplane was a Luscombe 8E, N1909K, serial number 4636. At the time of the accident, the airplane had a total airframe time of 1,533.4 hours. An annual inspection was performed on May, 2, 2003, at which time the airplane had a total time of 1,521 hours. The airplane was in use for approximately 12.4 hours since the time of the last inspection. All applicable Airworthiness Directives had been complied with. The ELT was inspected and the battery was replaced on May 2, 2003.

N1909K was manufactured as a Luscombe 8E in January 1947. In 1983, the airplane was dismantled for storage. In June 1985, the airplane was removed from storage, and underwent restoration as a model 8D at 591 total hours. On June 22, 1989, the airplane was converted back to a model 8E in accordance with Luscombe Service letter dated August 4, 1947. A Continental engine model C-85-12F, serial number 25630-6-12 was installed. The engine had 670.3 hours since major overhaul, and the airplane had 871 hours total time.


The weather at Orange City Municipal Airport (ORC), located approximately six nautical miles southeast of the accident, recorded weather at 1455 central daylight time as:

Winds: 330 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 22 knots Visibility: 10 statue miles Ceiling: Clear Temperature: 18 degrees Celsius Dew Point: 2 degrees Celsius Altimeter: 29.81 inches of Mercury


The aircraft was found approximately 6 nautical miles northwest of Orange City, Iowa, in the northwest corner of a small field about 75 yards away from two farm buildings and a silo. The pilot's father owned the property. The destroyed aircraft was found in a near vertical position with the wreckage contained in a single area, except for a three-foot portion of the left wing, which was found in a grove of trees approximately 10 yards from the wreckage. A small piece of sheet metal from the tail of the aircraft lodged in a tree approximately 40 feet above ground level (AGL). Several trees located approximately 10 yards to the west of the wreckage were missing branches at an estimated height of 10-40 feet AGL. Several branches were found under or adjacent to the wreckage.

The entire empennage was separated from the fuselage, and was located next to the main wreckage. The left wing spar was bent in a "U" shape starting at about mid-wingspan. The leading edge of the right wing was crushed along its entire span. Flight control cables were still attached to the control surfaces.

One of the propeller blades was bent aft. At approximately mid-span, the blade was bent rearward and had a forward twist. It had "S" shape bending near the tip. There were chordwise abrasions on the chambered side of the propeller blade. The propeller spinner was crushed aft and exhibited a torsional bend.

The altimeter was indicating approximately 1,520 feet. The fuel selector was set to the LEFT TANK position. Engine controls were in the full forward position.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Broadlands Hospital Morgue, Des Moines, Iowa, on October 4, 2003.

The Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report.

The toxicology results for the pilot were:

No Carbon Monoxide detected in Blood No Cyanide detected in Blood No Ethanol detected in Urine 0.039 (ug/ml, ug/g) Diphenhydramine detected in Blood Diphenhydramine detected in Liver Quinine detected in Blood Quinine detected in Liver

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine, often known by the trade name Benadryl, and commonly used in over-the-counter cold/allergy preparations. In therapeutic doses, the medication commonly results in drowsiness, and has measurable effects on performance of complex cognitive and motor tasks (e.g. flying an aircraft). Reduced performance has been demonstrated even in individuals who feel normal after ingesting the drug. Over-the-counter antihistamines may also interfere with the normal function of the inner ear, potentially increasing susceptibility to spatial disorientation. Warnings in the small print on packaging of medications containing diphenhydramine indicate the possibility of drowsiness with its use.

Quinine is an anti-malarial used in the treatment of malaria and leg cramps. It is an additive in tonic water.


The Federal Aviation Administration was a party to the investigation.

The aircraft records were released to the co-owner of the airplane.

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