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N1812A accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city New Lebanon, IN
39.040876°N, 87.471132°W

Tail number N1812A
Accident date 20 Mar 1998
Aircraft type Beech A-36
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On March 20, 1998, at 2005 eastern standard time (All times EST), a Beech A-36, N1812A, was destroyed when it impacted terrain five miles south of the Sullivan County Airport, Sullivan, Indiana. The pilot reported picking up ice and was being vectored for an instrument approach. The instrument rated private pilot, pilot rated passenger, and two passengers received fatal injuries. The 14 CFR Part 91 business flight departed Louisville, Kentucky en route to Aurora, Illinois. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and the aircraft was on an instrument flight plan.

At 1818, the pilot called the Louisville Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) by telephone and obtained a preflight pilot briefing for an IFR flight from Louisville, Kentucky, to Aurora, Illinois. The pilot indicated to the weather briefer that he was concerned about the icing conditions. The weather briefer reported the following flight precaution:

"Okay, there is an Airmet for occasional to moderate rime or mixed icing along the entire route of flight. Ah, 3,000 to 16,000 here locally. Up north, from the surface to 16,000 up there in the Aurora area. And, Airmet for an occasional IFR conditions along the entire route of flight. Turbulence, ah, occasional moderate below 8,000. That's it on the flight precautions. Low pressure currently located in ... extreme eastern Kentucky. It's moving slowly to the east. As it does, it should pull some of the moisture with it, but, what you'll be encountering affecting your route of flight is the wrap-around effect on that low pressure."

The pilot responded, "Yeh, I'm looking at it right now."

The AFSS weather briefer reported the current weather at Terre Haute, Indiana, and Aurora, Illinois.

The AFSS weather briefer gave the pilot reports concerning icing conditions encountered by airplanes near Louisville, Kentucky. A Cessna 195 had reported light to moderate rime icing that was shed when he descended from 4,000 feet to 3,000 feet mean sea level (msl). A Cessna 340 had reported moderate to severe mixed icing at 6,000 feet msl. An Aero Commander pilot had reported light rime icing at 7,500 feet msl near Lafayette, Indiana. No pilot reports of icing had been received from pilots in the Chicago, Illinois, area.

At 1852, the pilot called the Louisville AFSS by telephone and filed an IFR flight plan from Louisville, Kentucky, to Aurora, Illinois. The briefer asked the pilot if he needed a weather brief and the pilot declined.

At 1917, the pilot departed Standiford/Louisville International Airport, Louisville, Kentucky, en route to Aurora, Illinois. At 1918, the pilot was instructed to climb to the filed en route altitude of 4,000 feet msl. At 1921, the pilot was instructed to turn right on course. At 1941, the pilot was instructed to contact the Evansville Approach Control.

At 1854, Evansville Approach Control had received a pilot report from a Cessna 402. It had encountered light mixed icing about 30 miles north of Evansville, Indiana at 8,000 feet msl and that it lost the ice at 4,500 feet msl.

At 1941, N1812A (12A) contacted Evansville Approach Control and reported level at 4,000 feet msl.

At 1942, the pilot requested icing reports in the area. Evansville Approach reported negative icing reports in the area.

The controller reported that, "The aircraft [12A] was in the far north-east corner of my airspace and I had no reports in that area."

At 1945, Evansville Approach Control told 12A to contact Terre Haute Approach Control.

At 1945:37, 12A contacted Terre Haute Approach Control and reported level at 4,000 feet msl.

At 1945:58, 12A requested icing reports in the area.

At 1946:01, the controller responded, "November One Two Alpha, I haven't had any in several hours. Um, earlier they were saying at or below five with some light to moderate mixed. The last one we had about two hours ago was, um, descending into Terre Haute. Said the ice they picked up was between ten and eleven."

At 1946:17, 12A responded, "Two Alpha, thanks."

At 1946:23, the controller stated, "... If you have any pilot reports for me, I appreciate it. And, um, just let me know if you need to deviate for anything."

At 1949:13, 12A requested a descent to 3,000 feet msl and was cleared to descend at 1949:25.

At 1952:48, 12A reported, "Yah, we're starting to accumulate some ice. Don't think were gonna shed it. Any chance of, uh, getting Terre Haute tonight?"

At 1952:54, the controller reported, "... sure, you can fly heading three six zero toward Terre Haute. Ah, I'll have weather for you shortly."

At 1955:30, the controller reported, "... the Terre Haute weather: wind three six zero at one one, gust to one seven, visibility one zero, ceiling is nine hundred, broken one thousand four hundred, overcast. Altimeter two niner seven zero. And fly heading three four zero. Vectors for the ILS runway four."

At 1955:56, the controller reported, "... if you like you can descend at pilot's discretion two thousand five hundred."

At 1956:01, the 12A responded, "Down to twenty-five hundred, One Two Alpha."

At 2001:48, the 12A reported, "Is there any where else *(seems) we're losing a little more airspeed here and, ah, I don't know anything closer than Terre Haute."

At 2001:54, the controller reported, "Well, at your twelve o'clock, eleven or twelve o'clock, and five miles is Sullivan Airport."

At 2002:00, 12A responded, "You think we can get into that?"

At 2002:04, the controller responded, "Um, yah, if you'd like. Two thousand five hundred is as low as I can get you. Ya IMC?"

At 2002:08, 12A responded, "Yah, we still IMC here at twenty (unintelligible).

Between 2002:10 and 2004:07, 12A was given vectors for the VOR/DME-A approach into Sullivan County Airport, Sullivan, Indiana.

At 2004:40, the controller stated, "And, Bonanza One Two Alpha, about, ah, two and a half miles from Rodeo. Turn right heading zero two zero, maintain two thousand five hundred till established on the VOR final. Cleared DME Alpha approach."

At 2004:51, 12A responded, "Zero two zero (unintelligible)."

At 2005:42, the controlled stated, "Bonanza One Two Alpha, Hulman."

At 2005:45, 12A responded, "Heck, we're all over the place right now for One Two Alpha."

At 2005:47, the controller stated, "One Two Alpha, roger, and if you can fly heading of three two zero when able, and ah, climb and maintain two thousand five hundred, we'll try to get you back on there. Is that, ah, wind that low pretty strong?"

There were no further radio transmissions from N1812A.

The airplane was found about five miles south of the Sullivan County Airport. There were no witnesses to the accident.


The pilot was an instrument rated private pilot. He held a Third Class Medical Certificate. He had a total of 436 hours of flight time. In the last 90 days, the pilot had flown the airplane 71 hours, which included 20 hours of night flight and 10 hours of flight in actual instrument conditions. The pilot had taken his instrument checkride on February 9, 1997, and had logged about 40 hours of actual instrument flight time. He logged 6 instrument approaches in the previous month.

The pilot rated passenger in the right seat of the airplane was a private pilot. He held a Third Class Medical Certificate. He had approximately 145 hours of flight time. The pilot rated passenger was not instrument rated.

The pilot and the pilot rated passenger were two of three owners of the airplane. The other pilot who owned a third of the airplane was not on board during the accident flight.


The aircraft was a Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza, manufactured in 1981, serial number E-1878. The standard airworthiness certificate was issued on June 3, 1981.

According to the aircraft logbook, the last recorded inspection of the airplane in accordance with 14 CFR Part 43, Appendix D, was performed on October 22, 1997. On the date of the annual inspection, the aircraft had 3303.33 hours total time and 361.37 hours on the tachometer. The engine was overhauled on July 25, 1995, and had approximately 343 hours since overhaul.

The Beechcraft Bonanza A36 Flight Manual's Limitation Section contained the following Warning:



The aircraft had approximately 70 gallons of fuel onboard at the time of the accident.


At 1856, the Standiford/Louisville International Airport Surface Weather observation was: Wind 220 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 10 miles; sky condition few 600 feet scattered 2,700 feet overcast 3,300 feet; temperature 7 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 29.56; rain ended 1726.

At 1953, the Terre Haute Surface Weather observation was: Wind 360 degrees at 11 knots; visibility 10 miles; present weather light rain; sky condition overcast 1,200 feet; temperature 1 degree C; dew point 0 degree C; altimeter 29.70; rain began 1925.

The accident occurred about 26 miles south of Terre Haute, Indiana.


The airplane was in positive radar contact with Air Traffic Control during the flight until the airplane descended below 2,300 feet msl, approximately 5.5 miles south of Sullivan County Airport. The aircraft was flying the VOR/DME-A approach into Sullivan County Airport.


The airplane wreckage was located along a tree/fence row in a plowed field near the corner of South and Mill Streets in New Lebanon, Indiana. The initial impact with the ground occurred approximately 110 feet away from the tree/fence line on a 063 magnetic degree heading.

The left main landing gear appeared to have impacted the terrain first. The left wing exhibited relatively minor chordwise crushing, while the right wing exhibited substantial chordwise crushing, which correlated with the impact ground scar at the initial ground impact area. The propeller and spinner departed the airplane and came to rest approximately 50 feet away from the initial ground impact in the same relative direction that the airplane was skidding.

Debris, not with the main wreckage, included the nose wheel, nose wheel strut assembly, nose wheel door, pitot tube, left main gear, an antenna, tip tank molding, and a portion of the pilot's vent window.

The main wreckage was lodged against a tree and "jackknifed" in half just behind the back cabin wall. The cabin and wings were badly burned and no instrument readings were obtained.

The right wing was separated from the aircraft, but was laying to the right of the fuselage. The left wing was still attached to the airplane but was bent 90 degrees pointing into the air.

Throttle, mixture, prop, and cowl flap cockpit control positions were not obtained due to fire consumption. Magnetos, wing flap and landing gear switch positions were not obtained due to fire damage.

The landing gear actuator was in the gear down position. The left wing flap actuator was found with 2-1/8 inches equating to 2 to 3 degrees flap down position. The right wing flap actuator was consumed by post-impact fire. Both elevator trim tab actuators were found to be 1-1/2 inches extended, equating to approximately 8 degrees down tab deflection or nose up trim.

There was no smell of fuel at the accident site and no fuel could be found in the wing or tip tanks due to the post-impact fire. The fuel selector was found in the Left Main tank position, and all detents were evident. The main fuel strainer and bowl were found clean. The fuel pump was removed from the engine and could be rotated by hand. The fuel spider on top of the engine was found clean and moist with fuel. The throttle body was consumed by fire.

Flight control continuity was confirmed to all control surfaces.

The engine examination revealed valve and drive train gear continuity, and thumb compression was confirmed to all cylinders. The magnetos generated a spark when the engine was rotated. The spark plugs were removed and noted to be in good condition with a light brown and gray coloration. The engine driven vacuum pump and engine driven fuel pump remained attached to the engine with their respective drive couplings/shafts intact.

The propeller blades exhibited aft bending and blade twist.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Terre Haute Regional Hospital Department of Pathology, Terre Haute, Indiana.

Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Reports were prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute. The reports on the pilot and pilot rated passenger were both negative.


On the morning of March 20, 1998, the day of the accident, the accident pilot was in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The pilot filed an IFR flight plan to fly N1812A to Palwaukee, Illinois. The weather brief obtained by the pilot from the Lansing AFSS prior to departing Grand Rapids indicated there was a weather advisory which indicated light to moderate rime and/or mixed icing below 10,000 feet msl. There were numerous pilot reports of icing in the Chicago area between 2,500 to 10,000 feet msl. The advisory also indicated turbulence and low level wind shear.

The reported weather at Palwaukee was: 1,400 overcast, 10 miles visibility, Temperature 0 degrees C, winds 030 at 14 knots gusting to 23 knots.

The flight departed Grand Rapids but landed at Aurora, Illinois, the airplane's home airport, at approximately 1030 central standard time. The pilot, the pilot rated passenger, and one passenger then flew to Louisville, Kentucky.

The parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, Raytheon Aircraft Company, and Teledyne Continental Motors.

The aircraft wreckage was released to the Sullivan County Airport manager.

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