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N73CE accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Marthas Vineyrd, MA
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Tail number N73CE
Accident date 18 Jun 1993
Aircraft type Cessna P210
Additional details: None
No position found

NTSB Factual Report

On June 18, 1993, about 1550 eastern daylight time, a Cessna P210, N73CE, piloted by Mr. Charles H. Ehlers, collided with the terrain shortly after take off from Martha's Vineyard Airport, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The airplane was destroyed. The pilot and the two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an IFR flight plan had been filed. The flight was being conducted under 14 CFR 91.

At 1047, the pilot of N73CE telephoned the Bridgeport Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), Bridgeport, Connecticut, and obtained a weather briefing for a flight from Martha's Vineyard (MVY), to Bedford, Massachusetts (BED). The telephone call ended at 1057.

At 1435, the pilot of N73CE telephoned the Bridgeport AFSS again and filed an IFR flight plan, and received the current BED weather. The telephone call ended at 1442.

N73CE was cleared for takeoff at 1546:56, and at 1548:42, the pilot of N73CE made radio contact with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Specialist at the Cape Terminal RADAR Approach Control, and said, "...departure seven three Charlie Echo [73CE] is with you at four hundred [feet]."

At 1548:47, the ATC Specialist said, "...Radar contact turn right heading zero two zero climb and maintain two thousand."

The pilot of N73CE acknowledged the clearance at 1548:58, radio and radar contact was lost.

Starting at 1549:58 to 1550:21, the ATC Specialist attempted to make radio contact with the pilot of N73CE to ascertain his altitude, but was not successful.

At 1550:11, the driver of an Airport Crash Vehicle called Martha's Vineyard, Ground Control, and reported the crash.

Several witnesses in the area saw the airplane flying low, and heading in the direction of the airport. Most of the witnesses agreed that at the time of the accident the weather was foggy. One witness wrote, "The plane came out of the fog about 100 feet above the ground banked to the right back to the airport...."

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 41 degrees, 24 minutes north, and 70 degrees, 37 minutes west.


Mr. Charles H. Ehlers was born on July 3, 1930. He held Private Pilot Certificate, No. 126227876, with airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane ratings.

Mr. Ehlers was issued a Third Class Airman Medical Certificate on March 24, 1992, with limitations, must wear corrective lenses.

Mr. Ehlers' records showing his flight hours were not found. Information provided by the pilot's son, and FAA Medical records revealed that at the time of the accident Mr. Ehlers had logged approximately 690 total flight hours, and approximately 200 instrument flights hours.


The Martha's Vineyard, 1545 special weather observation was; indefinite ceiling 300 feet, sky obscured, visibility 1.5 miles, fog, temperature 67 degrees F, dew point missing, wind 240 degrees, 12 knots, altimeter 30.15 inches Hg.


The wreckage was examined at the accident site on June 19-20, 1993. The airplane impacted in an area of trees and brush approximately 3/4 of a mile west of the departure end of runway 24. A pine tree was the first object that showed any damage at the start of the impact path. The tree was damaged about 10 feet above the ground. The wreckage path continued for approximately 600 feet on heading of 029 degrees. The engine separated from the airframe, and was found approximately 45 feet north of the main wreckage. The engine was removed from the accident site for further examination, and tear down. The ground surrounding the main wreckage was burnt, and the wreckage was completely consumed and destroyed by fire. The ground fire rendered the instruments and switches unreadable.

Flight control continuity was not confirmed due to the fire damage. It was determined that the landing gear was extended and the flaps were set at 10 degrees.


An autopsy was performed on Mr. Charles Ehlers, on June 19, 1993, at the Medical Examiner's Office, in Worcester, Massachusetts by Dr. Michael Jacobs.

Toxicological tests were conducted at the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA), Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tests of the pilot's blood revealed 0.367 mcg/ml Chlordiazepoxide (a prescription tranquilizer) and 0.511 mcg/ml Nordiazepam (a metabolite of Chlordiazepoxide). Also, a positive concentration of ethanol (38 mg/dl) was detected in the pilot's blood. However, according to Dr. John W. Soper, a toxicologist at the Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) Laboratory, notes indicated that the tissue and fluid samples had been received by CAMI on 6/21/93 in a putrefied condition. The samples, he stated, were noted to have been extremely odiferous, the tops had been extruded from several of the tubes, and the temperature of the contents was 25 degrees C (room temperature).

A toxicology report from the Massachusetts, Department of State Police, Crime Laboratory, Boston, Massachusetts, dated June 30, 1993, revealed, "...Blood Alcohol: none detected...."


The engine from N73CE was disassembled under the supervision of the NTSB, at Teledyne Continental Motor's facilities, Mobile, Alabama, on July 20, 1993.

External examination of the engine revealed that the fuel injector nozzles were out of cylinders one and five. A complete tear down of the engine revealed no discrepancies.

The injector nozzles and sections of the cylinder boss from cylinders numbers one and five were removed from the engine and examined at the NTSB Material Laboratory, Washington, DC.

Examination of the nozzles and the nozzle hole revealed that approximately the first two complete threads of the #5 cylinder nozzle hole and the first three complete threads of the #1 cylinder nozzle hole were stripped. The remaining threads within the hole were undamaged.


The wreckage was released to the owner's son, Mr. John Ehlers, on June 19, 1993. The engine was released to Continental Motors for shipment to the owner's insurance company, on July 21, 1993. The injector nozzles were mailed directly to the owner's insurance adjuster Mr. David Malhall.

NTSB Probable Cause


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