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N1284S accident description

Maryland map... Maryland list
Crash location 39.500000°N, 77.500000°W
Nearest city Frederick, MD
39.414269°N, 77.410541°W
7.6 miles away
Tail number N1284S
Accident date 23 Jun 1995
Aircraft type Cessna 182P
Additional details: White/Green w/Yellow stripes

NTSB Factual Report


On June 23, 1995, at 2016 eastern daylight time (EDT), a Cessna 182P, N1284S, collided with trees in mountainous terrain in Frederick, Maryland. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed and a VFR flight plan was filed. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR 91. The flight departed Richmond, Virginia, at 1854 EDT. The intended destination was Westminster, Maryland.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicate that the pilot received two preflight weather briefings which indicated the weather en route was IFR, and that flight precautions existed along his route of flight including his destination airport.

According to one of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Specialists at the Leesburg Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS). "I asked if he could fly IFR. [He] stated...'I don't want to do it IFR... I was wondering if that ceiling was high enough...I have a standard instrument card, but I'd rather just fly underneath it.'

I stated that VFR flight was not a good idea and was not recommended." The pilot received advisories/flight following from Dulles Approach and was turned over to Baltimore Approach Control.

According to an ATC Specialist at the Baltimore Air Traffic Control Tower, "...I received an automated VFR hand off from Dulles Approach...the aircraft changed directions and headed westbound...N1284S finally turned eastbound and requested to descend through a hole. I instructed the aircraft to descend at his discretion. I advised the pilot that our Minimum Vector Altitude was 4,000 feet MSL and it was due to terrain. I advised the pilot I would probably lose radar contact with him and he said he had the ground in sight and it was no problem." The airplane collided with trees in mountainous terrain and there was a post-crash fire.

There were no witnesses to the crash. Concerned family members reported the airplane overdue, and a search was initiated using the radar positions provided by the FAA. Search personnel reported that the weather at the time of the accident was overcast, and that it was raining heavily. The wreckage was located on top of the Catoctin Mountain at the 1750 foot level the following day.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, at 39 degrees 29.85 minutes North and 77 degrees 30.16 minutes West.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single engine land rating, a commercial certificate for helicopter, and an instrument rating for helicopter. According to FAA records, the pilot's total flight time listed by him on his last FAA medical certificate was "...over 253 hours." The pilot did not possess an instrument rating for airplanes.


The 1976 year model Cessna 182P airplane, serial no. 18264852, was equipped with a Continental O-470-S engine, serial no. 463938. According to available recorded flight time obtained during the investigation, the aircraft had accumulated over 2,588 of total flight time. This information was recorded by a flight instructor who flew with the pilot on June 16, 1995.


The 2045 EDT surface weather observation for the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, in Martinsburg, West Virginia, (located about 23 nautical miles west of the accident site) was as follows:

Sky condition, ceiling 500 feet overcast; visibility, 2 miles in fog and drizzle; temperature, 67 degrees (F); dew point, 64 degrees (F); winds out of 040 degrees at 10 knots; and altimeter, 29.99 inches Hg.

Weather observations for Washington Dulles International, Baltimore-Washington International, Washington County Regional, and Eastern West Virginia Regional indicated IMC (low ceilings and reduced visibility) about the time of the accident.


The aircraft impacted trees in mountainous terrain on a magnetic heading of 120 degrees before it impacted the ground in a nose down attitude on the west side of Catoctin Mountain Ridge. During the impact sequence the outboard sections of both wings, with the ailerons, separated from the aircraft.

A piece of left wing tip was found in one of the trees along the wreckage path. The empennage was found inverted. There was evidence of forward to aft leading edge compression damage across the leading edge of the vertical fin. Both flaps remained attached to the inboard section of their respective wings, and were located with the main wreckage. Flight control continuity was confirmed to the elevator and rudder from the aft bulkhead. The flap actuator was retracted, and the elevator trim actuator measured 1.45 inches. According to Cessna this corresponds to flaps up, and 7 degrees of tab up.

The engine separated from the airplane and came to rest inverted. It was located about 20 feet to the right of the main wreckage. The propeller hub was crushed. The two propeller blades remained attached to the engine. One blade was twisted midspan and exhibited chordwise scratching. Three to four inch tree limbs in the wreckage path showed evidence of propeller cuts.

The number one cylinder sustained impact damage. The camshaft and crankshaft gears were visible through a large hole at the rear of the engine. The right magneto remained attached to the engine. The left magneto, and starter separated. The carburetor was separated from the engine, but remained attached to the intake manifold, and was located upside down. The throttle cable separated, and both the throttle arm and mixture arm moved freely. All the flight instruments were destroyed by fire.


A Medical Examination was done by Dr. King, Medical Examiner of Baltimore, Maryland, on June 24, 1995. Toxicological tests did not detect alcohol, drugs, or carbon monoxide.


The wreckage was released to John W. Cooley & Associates, Agent for AOPA insurance on December 28, 1995.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot's continued flight into known adverse weather during descent, which resulted in in-flight collision with terrain. Related factors were the pilot's disregard of a hazardous weather advisory, and the low ceilings, fog and drizzle.

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