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N748CH accident description

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Crash location 37.062778°N, 84.611944°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 Somerset, KY
37.092022°N, 84.604108°W
2.1 miles away

Tail number N748CH
Accident date 20 Nov 2003
Aircraft type Beech J35
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On November 20, 2003, about 0830 eastern standard time, a Beech J35, N748CH, was substantially damaged during a forced landing, following a loss of engine power after takeoff from Somerset-Pulaski County Airport (SME), Somerset, Kentucky. The certificated flight instructor, pilot-rated passenger, and a second passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the planned flight to Blue Grass Airport (LEX), Lexington, Kentucky. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the commercial flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

A pilot, standing on the ramp at SME, witnessed the accident. He stated that during the takeoff on runway 04, about the time of rotation, the engine began "missing." The engine "missed" about six times as the airplane climbed to approximately 400 feet above the ground. During the initial climb, the landing gear retracted. The airplane then began a left turn back toward the airport, the landing gear began to extend, and the engine lost all power. The airplane subsequently descended, struck trees, and impacted terrain about 1/2-mile north of the airport.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight; located about 37 degrees, 03.77 minutes north latitude, and 84 degrees, 36.72 minutes west longitude.


The pilot in command held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate, with a rating for airplane single engine land. The pilot in command's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class medical certificate was issued on November 1, 2002.

According to his logbook, the pilot in command had accumulated approximately 1,542 hours of total flight experience. He had accumulated approximately 91 hours of flight time during the 90 days preceding the accident; of which, about 3 hours were in the accident airplane.

The pilot rated passenger held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued on March 12, 2003. The pilot rated passenger had accumulated approximately 250 hours of total flight experience.


The airplane's most recent annual inspection was performed on June 24, 2003. At that time, the complete engine fuel system was removed, overhauled, and reinstalled. According to the tachometer, the airplane had accumulated approximately 14 hours of operation since the last annual inspection was completed.

According to a pilot who previously flew the accident airplane, he had experienced several engine problems in the past. Specifically, while he was a passenger in 2001, the engine lost all power during a landing roll. In 2002, while piloting the airplane, the engine lost all power during two separate landing rolls. The pilot further stated that during the first flight after the fuel system was replaced, a fuel leak was located and corrected. However, there were no subsequent problems with the engine or airframe following the replacement of the fuel system and correction of the leakage.


The reported weather at SME, at 0856, was: wind calm; visibility 10 miles; sky clear; temperature 44 degrees F; dew point 37 degrees F; altimeter 30.13 inches Hg.


SME was serviced by runway 04/22. The runway was 5,400 feet long, 100 feet wide, and consisted of asphalt.

According to the witness pilot, the accident site was located in a field beyond the departure end of runway 4. The witness further stated that local pilots often referred to that field as an option for an emergency landing.


The wreckage was examined at the accident site on November 21, 2003. A debris path originated at a damaged tree, and extended about 160 feet on an approximate 240-degree magnetic heading. Ground scars were observed about 120 feet along the debris path. Propeller blades and portions of the right wing navigation light were found in the vicinity of the ground scars. The wreckage was situated at the end of the debris field. It was inverted and oriented about a 290-degree magnetic heading. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene.

According to witnesses, a strong odor of fuel was present after the crash, and fuel was observed leaking from the right wing. The right wing main fuel tank was compromised, and the left wing main fuel tank contained fuel consistent with 100LL aviation gasoline. Some fuel was also observed in both auxiliary fuel tanks. The selector valve fuel sump was absent of fuel and contamination. The flush vents for the left and right main fuel tanks contained some debris.

The empennage was partially separated and canted right. The right and left outboard wing sections were partially separated and folded upward. Both wings exhibited impact damage at the leading edge, but the damage to the right wing was more severe. Flight control continuity was confirmed from all control surfaces to the cockpit area. The flaps were observed in the retracted position, and the ailerons were found in an approximate neutral position. The landing gear was found in the extended position. Measurement of the elevator trim tab jackscrew corresponded to an approximate neutral trim setting.

The cockpit was equipped with a "T-bar" dual control configuration. The fuel selector was found between the "LH TANK" and "OFF" positions. The throttle and propeller levers were found about 1/2-inch from the full forward position, and the mixture lever was found in the lean position. The magneto switch was selected to "BOTH," and the auxiliary fuel pump was found "OFF." The cockpit area was crushed, and none of the seats were equipped with shoulder harnesses.

One propeller blade exhibited slight "s-bending," and the other propeller blade exhibited slight chordwise scratching. The engine remained partially attached to the airframe, and was retained for further examination.


An autopsy was performed on the pilots by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Louisville, Kentucky.

Toxicological testing was conducted on the pilots at the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicological report for the pilot in command revealed:

"0.12 (ug/ml, ug/g) DOXYLAMINE detected in Blood DOXYLAMINE present in Urine EPHEDRINE detected in Blood EPHEDRINE detected in Urine PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE detected in Blood PSEUDOEPHEDRINE detected in Blood PSEUDOEPHEDRINE detected in Urine DIPHENHYDRAMINE present in Urine DIPHENHYDRAMINE NOT detected in Blood"

The pilot in command's wife stated that he was suffering from common cold symptoms such as coughing and congestion. He was treating the cold with NyQuil at night, and non-drowsy Sudafed during the day.


On February 5, 2004, the engine was test run at the manufacturer's facility, under the supervision of an FAA inspector. Due to impact damage, the following parts were repaired or substituted for operation:

All fuel control fittings Engine mounts Ignition harness Induction system pipe Induction system risers - Number 1, 2, 3, and 5 cylinder positions Induction system throttle body - The fuel control attach bosses required weld repair to allow attachment of the fuel control unit Induction system balance tube Fuel control fuel return port fitting cap Number 1 cylinder exhaust push-rod housing Number 4 cylinder fuel injection line Number 5 cylinder intake push-rod housing and push-rod Number 5 cylinder rocker cover Remote oil cooler adapter plate Spark plugs Starter adapter Starter

In addition, the magnetos were re-timed due to impact damage.

The engine started on the first attempt and the throttle was advanced to 1,200 rpm for warm-up. The engine was then subjected to twelve rapid power advances, from idle to full throttle rpm, in which the engine accelerated normally without any hesitation or interruption in power.


The fixed based operator at SME reported that the pilot "topped off" the main fuel tanks during the evening prior to the accident flight.

The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on November 21, 2003.

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