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N89X accident description

Massachusetts map... Massachusetts list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Marlborough, MA
42.345927°N, 71.552287°W
Tail number N89X
Accident date 24 Sep 1995
Aircraft type Boeing A75N1
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On September 24, 1995, about 1500 eastern daylight time, a Boeing Stearman A75N1, N89X, and a Cessna 150L, N1766Q, collided while on final approach to runway 14 at the Marlborough Airport, Marlborough, Massachusetts. The Cessna 150L was destroyed, and the Stearman received minor damage. The student pilot in the Cessna 150L was fatally injured, and the Flight Instructor received serious injuries. The Airline Transport Rated pilot of the Stearman was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. Both flights were operating under 14 CFR 91, and no flight plans had been filed. N1766Q had originated at the Marlborough Airport about 1 hour earlier, and N89X had departed Hopedale, Massachusetts, about 15 minutes prior to the accident.

Both airplanes were based at Marlborough Airport, which was an uncontrolled airport. The pilots of N1766Q were practicing full stop landings and takeoffs at Marlborough, on an instructional flight. N89X had departed Marborough earlier in the day, flown to Hopedale, and was returning.

The pilot of N89X reported that he entered the traffic pattern from the crosswind and made a left turn to downwind for a left handed traffic pattern using runway 14. He observed another airplane on downwind, ahead of him and to the right of his position. He then turned to the right to place his airplane outside of the preceding airplane. As he turned parallel to the downwind again, he reported that he had lost sight of the preceding airplane, and announced this on the radio.

When the pilot of N89X turned base, he again reported that he did not have the traffic in sight. He stated that he turned final, and after being established, he saw a flash of white from the left. He felt a thump and he initiated a climb. After determining that continued flight was possible, he overflew the airport and returned to land. He then went to the airport office, and reported the accident.

A witness, located south of the approach end of runway 14, reported that he talked to the pilot of N89X on UNICOM, and gave him the active runway. Additionally, he heard the pilot of N1766Q, which was ahead of N89X call on downwind, after which no further calls were heard from the pilot of N1766Q.

The witness then observed N89X on downwind, and N1766Q on base. The pilot of N89X was then heard to announce on UNICOM that he was on downwind, followed by his announcement that he was turning base, and did not have the traffic in sight. Both aircraft were then observed on final with N89X above and to the right of N1766Q, descending. N89X made contact with N1766Q, and parts fell to the ground. N89X then climbed, while N1766Q, rolled right, and descended nose first into a wooded area.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 42 degrees, 21 minutes North and 71 degrees, 31 minutes West.


N89X The pilot held an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with airplane single engine land and multi-engine land ratings. He was issued an FAA Airman 2nd Class Medical Certificate on February 1, 1995.

According to the NTSB Accident Report, he had in excess of 30,000 hours, with 454 hours in the accident airplane. He had flown 10 hours in the preceding 90 days, and 3 hours in the preceding 30 days.

N1766Q The right seat pilot-in-command held an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with airplane single and multi-engine land ratings. Additionally, he held a Flight Instructor Certificate for single and multi-engine airplanes, and instrument airplane. He was issued an FAA Airman 2nd Class Medical Certificate, on May 9, 1995. According to the NTSB Accident Report, he had a total time of 3585 hours, with 1937 hours in the Cessna 150, and 1600 hours as a flight instructor in the Cessna 150. He had flown 75 hours and 29 hours, in the preceding 90 and 30 days respectively.

In a statement taken immediately after the accident by the Massachusetts State Police, the flight instructor had no memory of the accident. Six months after the accident, he still had no memory of the specific events.

The left seat student pilot held an expired FAA Airman 3rd Class Medical Certificate/Student Pilot Certificate, issued on January 25, 1993.

According to the student pilot's log book, she had not soloed and had a total time of 86.7 hours, which included the 1 hour of flight on the day of the accident. She had flown 4.5 hours in the preceding 30 days.


Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. Bedford Airport which was located 13 miles east of the accident site reported a visibility of 30 miles.


N89X The airplane was examined in a hanger. There was hole in the fabric, about 1 inch in diameter, on the underside of the left wing. It was reported by the pilot of N89X, that the VHF antenna mounted on the roof of N1766Q was found lodged in that hole. Additional scrapes were found on the right side lower fuselage, behind the trailing edge of the lower wing. Both blades of the propellers had nicks about 1/4 inch deep, about 2 inches from the tip. Pieces of shredded aluminum, painted white, were found lodged in the flying wires on the left side, between the upper and lower wings.

The radio was checked on frequency 122.8 Mhz, and found operational after the accident.

N1766Q The airplane impacted inverted in a wooded area, about 1200 feet from the approach end of runway 14, and about 200 feet south the extended runway centerline.

The wing flaps were extended 37 degrees. The aileron interconnect cable and primary aileron control cable were separated from their fittings, at the right aileron bellcrank. Additionally, the right aileron was separated from the airplane, and about 50 percent was recovered. The rear of the right wing in the vicinity of the aileron and flap, was shredded. Red paint transfers were observed on the roof.

Due to impact damage to the airframe and antenna, the radio was not checked; however, frequency was set to 122.8 Mhz, and the volume control was found on and in the mid-range position.


An autopsy was conducted on the student pilot by Dr. Stanton Kessler, Medical examiner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Toxicological testing, was conducted on the 3 airmen. The findings were negative for alcohol.


Recommended Communications Procedures

According to The Airman's Information Manual; Chapter 4, Air Traffic Control; 4-9 Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports Without Operating Control Towers; Inbound Aircraft; pilots should make radio calls at the following positions, "...10 miles out. Entering downwind, base, and final...."

Additionally, "...It is essential that pilots be alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or deparing an airport without an operating control tower...."

Wreckage Release

On September 25, 1995, N89X was released to is owner, and N1766Q was released to the insurance adjustor.

NTSB Probable Cause

the Stearman, N89X, pilot's inadequate visual lookout. A factor was the failure of the flight instructor of the Cessna 150, N1766Q, to announce his position in the traffic pattern in accordance with recommended procedures.

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