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N615JA accident description

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Crash location 38.288055°N, 75.091944°W
Nearest city Ocean City, MD
38.336503°N, 75.084906°W
3.4 miles away
Tail number N615JA
Accident date 28 Feb 2018
Aircraft type Cessna 172
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On February 28, 2018, about 1930 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172S, N615JA, was destroyed when it impacted the Atlantic Ocean about 1 mile east of Ocean City Municipal Airport (OXB), Ocean City, Maryland. The private pilot was fatally injured. The passenger has not been located and was presumed fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Middle River Aviation and was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed Martin State Airport (MTN), Baltimore, Maryland, about 1755.

According to flight school personnel at MTN, the pilot rented the airplane on the day of the accident for a short cross-country flight to OXB. Preliminary information from air traffic control revealed that the pilot flew direct and obtained flight following en route to OXB. He cancelled flight following during the approach to OXB and there were no further radio communications from the pilot. A review of preliminary radar data showed the airplane descended from 2,000 ft to 700 ft above ground level before radar coverage was lost. Witnesses at OXB reported seeing the airplane conduct a touch-and-go landing before departing the traffic pattern. According to the flight school, the airplane was not rented for an overnight trip and the pilot was expected to return to MTN.

The following morning, when the flight school office manager arrived at work, she noticed that the airplane had not returned, and reported it missing to her manager. She contacted OXB and was informed that the airplane was not at the airport. The office manager called surrounding airports and the Coast Guard to attempt to locate the missing airplane. After the airplane was not accounted for at any of the airports, the flight school initiated a search flight along the pilot's last known flight route. About 1030, they reported seeing an oil slick 2 miles off the end of runway 14, at OXB. The GPS coordinates were shared with the Civil Air Patrol and the Coast Guard.

According to the Maryland Natural Resources Police, they received a call of a missing airplane that was conducting touch-and-go landings at OXB. A search of the shoreline ensued, and debris was sighted. During the search, a fuel oil slick was discovered that was still bubbling to the surface. They positioned their vessel around the highest concentration of fuel and oil and anchored. Divers subsequently discovered a wing and the fuselage of the airplane. Shortly after, the pilot was found within the wreckage.

The wreckage was located in the Atlantic Ocean about 1 mile from the shoreline, at depth of 50 ft.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, and a Federal Aviation Administration first-class airman medical certificate issued August 24, 2017, with no limitations. According to flight school records, the pilot had accumulated about 81 hours of total flight experience.

At 1853, the recorded weather at OXB, about 1 mile west of the accident site, included winds 230 at 6 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, and overcast clouds at 12,000 ft above ground level. The temperature was 11 degrees° (C), the dew point was 5° C, and the altimeter setting was 29.99 inches of mercury.

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