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N6225E accident description

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Crash location 37.766389°N, 86.874445°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 Knottsville, KY
37.771718°N, 86.904158°W
1.7 miles away

Tail number N6225E
Accident date 31 Dec 2004
Aircraft type Cessna 172
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On December 31, 2004, at 1835 central standard time (CST), a Cessna 172, N6225E, was destroyed when it collided with terrain following an uncontrolled descent in Knottsville, Kentucky. The certificated private pilot/owner and the passenger were fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that departed Louisiana Regional Airport (L38), Gonzales, Louisiana, about 1410. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, and destined for Paoli Municipal Airport (I42), Paoli, Indiana.

According to witnesses, the pilot serviced his airplane with automotive gasoline prior to departure. The pilot transferred the gasoline from cans in the back of his truck. When the cans were empty, the airplane was not yet full, so the pilot taxied to the self-service 100 low-lead fuel pumps at Louisiana Airport, where other customers waited in line. The pilot was not observed pumping fuel, nor was there any record of a fuel purchase by the pilot.

Radar and voice communication data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the initial and final portions of the airplane's flight. The airplane departed Louisiana Regional Airport around 1410, and proceeded on a northerly course at 3,300 feet for about 50 minutes until radar coverage was lost.

At 1757, the pilot contacted Evansville approach control, and was offered flight following services. The airplane was assigned a transponder code, and was issued the altimeter setting. At 1808, the pilot announced, "…we're going to sit down at Owensboro here." The pilot was told the weather conditions at Owensboro, and at 1810, he stated his intention to continue to Paoli Airport.

The airplane's radar target was reacquired at 1815.

At 1816, the controller offered the pilot weather observations for the area surrounding his intended destination. The pilot replied, "That's a roger, we're very interested or we need to go back south or west or where we can get out of this overcast." At that time, the airplane was traveling eastbound at 6,200 feet. Over the next two minutes, and over a distance of about 4 miles in an easterly direction, the airplane completed a 90-degree turn to the left, then a 360-degree turn to the right. The airplane initially descended to 6,000 feet at the beginning of the left turn, but had climbed to 7,200 feet by the completion of the right 360-degree turn.

The conversation between the pilot and the controller continued for several minutes as they discussed weather conditions at various destinations along and around the pilot's intended course. During the conversations, the airplane completed a series of left and right 360-degree turns, and figure-8 maneuvers, as the airplane climbed and descended between 7,000 feet and 10,200 feet.

At 1826, the controller issued a 195-degree heading to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, and the pilot acknowledged the call.

At 1830, as the airplane continued to circle, the controller issued a 200-degree heading for Ft. Campbell and suggested the pilot check his heading indicator in relation to his magnetic compass.

The pilot replied, "...we're trying to keep it under control and get back to the stars here so we got a reference point."

At that time, the airplane was heading eastbound, at 9,500 feet. Over the next 5 minutes, the airplane completed three 360-degree right turns. The final radar plots depicted a descending turn to the right.

At 1835, radar contact was lost, and the controller attempted to contact the pilot but received no reply.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The certificate was issued June 16, 2004. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued December 9, 2004.

A review of the pilot's logbook revealed 125 total hours of flight experience, with 86 hours of pilot-in-command time, 2.5 hours of simulated instrument experience, and 1 hour of actual instrument experience. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating.


The airplane was a 1959 Cessna 172, with approximately 3,800 total flight hours. The pilot purchased the airplane in August 2004, and it's most recent annual inspection was completed on October 16, 2004, at 3,783 aircraft hours. The airplane had a supplemental type certificate (STC) for automotive gasoline use.

The airplane had a fuel capacity of 42 gallons, 37 gallons of which was usable.


At 1820, the weather reported at Owensboro, about 13 miles east of the crash site, included an overcast ceiling at 100 feet with 2 miles visibility in light drizzle and fog. The wind was variable at 5 knots. The temperature was 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the dewpoint was not issued. The altimeter setting was 29.76 inches of mercury.

Information provided by the FAA revealed that the pilot did not contact any FAA flight service facility for a preflight weather briefing, nor did he file a flight plan.


The airplane was examined at the crash site by an FAA aviation safety inspector. All major components, with the exception of the vertical fin and rudder, were found at the scene. There was no evidence of fire. There was an odor of fuel, but no evidence of fuel or fuel spillage. Both fuel tanks were split open due to impact.

The cockpit was destroyed. Control cable continuity was established from the cockpit area to the aileron bellcranks, and from the wing roots to the flap bellcranks. Elevator control continuity was established from the elevator bellcrank to the forward tailcone area.

Rudder control cable continuity was established from the rudder bellcrank to the forward tailcone. The aft vertical fin attachment and associated sheet metal remained attached to tailcone structure, and was bent and torn to the airplane's left.

The cockpit instruments were destroyed. The directional gyro was disassembled and rotational scoring was exhibited on the rotor and case.

A hunter found a portion of the rudder an unknown distance from the crash site.


The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Louisville, Kentucky, performed the autopsy on the pilot.

Toxicological testing was done at the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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