Plane crash map Locate crash sites, wreckage and more

N6413J accident description

Kentucky map... Kentucky list
Crash location 38.098333°N, 83.945277°W
Nearest city Mount Sterling, KY
38.056468°N, 83.943256°W
2.9 miles away
Tail number N6413J
Accident date 15 Oct 2002
Aircraft type Cessna 172N
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 15, 2002, about 1720 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N6413J, was destroyed during an approach to Mount Sterling-Montgomery County Airport (IOB), Mount Sterling, Kentucky. The certificated private pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Greenwood Municipal Airport (HFY), Greenwood, Indiana, and was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot had been cleared for the Mount Sterling GPS RWY 21 approach. The final four fixes were: FELPO, the intermediate approach fix; ISFUR, the final approach fix; an unnamed step-down fix 2.3 nautical miles from the missed approach point; and RW21, the missed approach point. The inbound course from FELPO through RW21 was 211 degrees magnetic. The minimum descent altitude at FELPO was 3,000 feet above mean sea level (msl). The minimum descent altitude between FELPO and ISFUR was 2,600 feet msl, and between ISFUR and the unnamed step-down fix was 1,800 feet msl. The minimum descent altitude between the unnamed step-down fix and RW21, for the airspeed flown, was 1,460 feet msl.

A review of Air Traffic Control (ATC) voice communications and radar data revealed that, at 1650, the pilot contacted the Lexington Terminal Radar Approach Control, advised that he was in level flight at 5,100 feet, and requested the GPS RWY 21 approach. The controller acknowledged the call, and advised the pilot that the Lexington altimeter setting was 29.85. The pilot did not acknowledge the altimeter setting.

At 1652, the controller cleared the pilot to fly direct to URFAX, an initial approach fix. The pilot then requested, and was subsequently cleared, to fly direct to FELPO.

At 1701, the controller cleared the pilot to descend from 5,000 feet to 3,000 feet. At 1704, the controller asked the pilot to report when he reached FELPO. At 1712, about 1.5 nautical miles from FELPO, the controller cleared the pilot for the approach and advised him to maintain 3,000 feet until established on the approach.

On two occasions during the approach, at 1715, and 1717, the controller advised the pilot of an approved radio frequency change to the Mount Sterling common traffic advisory frequency. Each time, the pilot asked to remain on the approach control frequency, and once stated, "i'd like to stay on this frequency in case we have to go missed and come over there to lexington to do the i-l-s."

A review of radar data revealed that the airplane passed abeam FELPO about 1 nautical mile to the right of the approach course, at 2,700 feet. The airplane then tracked toward the approach course between FELPO and ISFUR, and its altitude fluctuated between 2,500 and 2,300 feet. At 1718, the airplane was almost abeam ISFUR, about 1/2 mile to the right of the approach course, at 2,300 feet. At that time, the controller advised the pilot that radar contact was lost, and the pilot acknowledged the radio call. There were no further communications from the pilot.

The accident occurred during daylight hours, in the vicinity of 38 degrees, 05 minutes north latitude, 83 degrees, 56 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued July 16, 2001. On that date he reported 351 total hours of flight experience.

An examination of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had logged 478 total hours of flight experience, 2.6 hours of which were in the Cessna 172. The pilot had also logged 106 hours of instrument flight experience, 52 hours of which were in actual instrument conditions.

The pilot owned a Piper PA-32-260, and due to the fact that it was at a maintenance facility for repairs, he had rented the accident airplane.

In written statement, the certificated flight instructor who performed the checkout of the pilot in the accident airplane the night before the accident flight, reported that the pilot had demonstrated multiple IFR tasks to standard, and described the pilot as "very competent." The instructor also stated that the pilot used a hand-held personal computer with a GPS antenna, and that during the checkout he asked the pilot to turn the computer off because the display was very bright, and it made night eye adaptation difficult.


The accident airplane was a 1980 Cessna 172N, and at the time of the accident, it had accrued 7,406 hours of operating time. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on September 27, 2002, and it had accrued 34 hours of time since that date. The airplane was certified for IFR operations; however, it was not equipped with an IFR-certified GPS receiver.


Mount Sterling Airport runway 21 was 5,002 feet long and 75 feet wide, with a 0.7 percent upslope. The runway touchdown zone elevation was 1,006 feet.


At 1645, the weather reported at Mount Sterling Airport included a broken ceiling at 500 feet above ground level (agl), a broken cloud layer at 1,600 feet agl, visibility 3 statute miles, temperature 58 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 53 degrees Fahrenheit, visibility 3 statute miles, altimeter setting of 29.87 inches of mercury. Wind speed and direction were broadcast, but not recorded.

At 1745, the weather reported at Mount Sterling Airport included an overcast ceiling at 500 feet agl, visibility 3 statute miles, temperature 58 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point of 54 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.86 inches of mercury. Wind speed and direction were broadcast, but not recorded.

At 1654, the weather reported at Lexington-Bluegrass Airport (LEX), Lexington, Kentucky, elevation 979 feet, located about 30 nautical miles west of Mount Sterling, included winds from 340 degrees true at 3 knots, rain and mist, a broken ceiling at 300 feet, visibility 1 3/4 statute miles, temperature and dew point 54 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.84 inches of mercury.

A witness, who lived next to the crash site, stated that he became aware of the accident within minutes of its occurrence, and that when he looked up at the tower to check for damage he saw that "the top of the tower was just in the bottom of the clouds or fog."


On October 16, 2002, the GPS RWY 21 approach at Mount Sterling was flight-checked by the Federal Aviation Administration. According to the flight inspector's report, the waypoints, approach evaluation, and facility operation were all "satisfactory".


The wreckage was examined at the accident site on October 16, 2002, and all major components were accounted for at the scene.

The initial point of impact was about 75 feet from the top of a 415-foot orange and white tower that rose to 1,426 feet above mean sea level. The tower was located at 38 degrees, 05.9 minutes north latitude, 83 degrees, 56.7 minutes west longitude, just slightly left of the approach course centerline, about 3 miles northeast of Mount Sterling Airport. Guy wires supported the tower, and two of those wires, on the western side of the tower, were broken and lay on the ground.

Airplane parts and components were scattered beneath the tower and along the wreckage path that was 634 feet long, and oriented in a direction of 217 degrees magnetic. The wreckage path was divided into 1-foot increments, labeled wreckage points (WP).

The outboard section of the left wing, outboard section of the left horizontal stabilizer with elevator attached, and another portion of the left horizontal stabilizer, were found beneath the tower. The pieces were grouped between WP 18 and WP 42, about 45 to 60 feet to the right of the wreckage path centerline

The outboard section of the left wing was crushed aft, and bent 90 degrees around a rectangular indentation with orange paint transfers. The boundaries of the dent were straight, and perpendicular to the leading edge of the wing.

The inboard section of the left elevator was located at WP 106, 113 feet left of the centerline. The left wing tip and aileron were located at WP 141, and 22 feet left of the centerline and 186 feet right of the centerline respectively.

The outboard 4 feet of the right wing, with aileron attached, was located at WP 174, 7 feet left of the centerline. There was a straight-line chordwise cut at the point of separation that ran perpendicular to the leading edge. The fracture surfaces revealed peeling and curling of the sheet metal.

The inboard section of the left wing with the cabin roof attached was located at WP 525, 38 feet left of the centerline.

The main wreckage was located at WP 634, and oriented in a direction of 192 degrees magnetic. The main wreckage consisted of the engine, cockpit, cabin area, empennage, vertical stabilizer, and right horizontal stabilizer. The right elevator and the rudder were attached.

The engine was crushed upward and aft into the firewall, instrument panel, and floorboards. The instrument panel, control quadrant, pilot's yoke, and both sets of rudder pedals were destroyed by impact.

The windshield and cabin posts were sheared off at their respective bases, and the cockpit and cabin areas were completely exposed. The cockpit doors remained attached. A personal hand-held computer, with yoke mount and an antenna with an integrated GPS receiver, were found in the cockpit and just outside the main wreckage.

An examination of the engine tachometer revealed that the needle indicated 2,675 rpm. The airspeed indicator needle was broken. The altimeter indicated 1,070 feet, with an altimeter setting of 29.96 displayed in the Kolsman window.

The empennage and tail curved forward and to the right, and the empennage was split open down a riveted seam.

The propeller, with the propeller flange attached, was separated from the crankshaft, and was buried in the ground just forward of the engine. Both blades exhibited similar twisting, bending, leading edge gouging. and chordwise scratching.

Both propeller blades exhibited spiraled gouges on the leading edge that were the same approximate diameter as the tower guy wires. Spiraled striations across the face of the blades emanated from those gouges.

Control cable continuity was established from the forward elevator bellcrank to the aft elevator bellcrank. The rudder was attached and cable continuity was established to the cockpit area.

Aileron cable continuity could not be established due to several cable breaks. The cable breaks were "broomstrawed." The cable ends were attached at each bellcrank, but each aileron push pull rod was separated from the aileron in overload. Elevator trim cable continuity was established from the elevator to the pedestal. Flap cable continuity could not be established from the actuator to the left flap. Examination of the flap actuator revealed that the jackscrew position was consistent with retracted flaps.

The engine was removed from the wreckage and placed on a stand. It was rotated through the accessory drive, and continuity was established through the accessory section to the powertrain and valvetrain. Compression was confirmed on all cylinders. The impulse coupling of the single-drive, dual magneto "snapped" when rotated, and spark was produced at all terminal towers. The spark plugs exhibited uniform wear, and were light tan and gray in color.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Kentucky State Medical Examiners Office, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Toxicological testing was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Control Vision Corporation, that produced the software loaded on to the hand-held computer found at the accident site, had posted a warning on its website which stated, "The system is not tested or approved by the FAA or any governmental agency and should not be used as a primary flight instrument."

According to the Aeronautical information Manual, section 7-2-3, "If you do not set your altimeter when flying from an area of high pressure into an area of low pressure, your aircraft will be closer to the surface than your altimeter indicates."

On October 17, 2002, the airplane wreckage was released to the owner's representatives.

NTSB Probable Cause

The failure of the pilot to follow the published instrument approach procedure, which resulted in an early descent into an antenna tower. A factor was the low ceiling.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.