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N736KL accident description

Maryland map... Maryland list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Bowie, MD
39.006777°N, 76.779137°W
Tail number N736KL
Accident date 13 Oct 1998
Aircraft type Cessna R172K
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 13, 1998, at 0700 eastern daylight time, N736KL, a Cessna R172K, was destroyed when it collided with a residence while attempting to land at the Freeway Airport, Bowie, Maryland. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the passenger was seriously injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The observation flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at 0600, at Gaithersburg, Maryland. The intended destination was Bowie, Maryland.

The pilot was scheduled to fly the early morning traffic watch with a traffic reporter, for about 3 hours, to provide traffic coverage in the Washington/Virginia area. The reporter said:

"...We left Montgomery Air Park at approximately 6:00 a.m. on October 13, 1998. I was aware that the weather was foggy, but I do not recall any conversation about not going up. We were airborne for almost an hour and it was apparent that the low fog would prevent me from providing any meaningful traffic news. We were going to land and learned that the airport at College Park, Maryland was fogged in. We approached Freeway in Bowie, Maryland. Doug was apparently going to make a pass to determine the visibility. I recall that there was patchy fog, but I could see the runway although it was partially obscured. We were about 400 feet in the air and he started to power up. I noticed that the wind flaps were down at least 40 percent and I informed Doug of this. The plane stalled and the last thing I heard Doug say was 'Oh no'. The next thing I remember I was on the ground about 20 feet from the plane, trying to put the flames out. I do not remember opening the door of the plane nor unbuckling my safety straps."

A witness about a 1/4 mile from the accident site, said he heard an airplane circle overhead, but he was unable to see it through the dense fog. Shortly thereafter, through the broken clouds, he saw a blue and white airplane, followed by an engine surge, and then he heard an impact. The airplane struck the patio of a residence. The airplane and the rear section of the residence was destroyed as a result of the collision and post-crash fire.

One of the occupants in the house said that about 5:50 a.m. she looked outside and remarked how foggy it was, the fog was below the tree line. She said it was about 6:50 a.m. and she was getting ready for work. Shortly thereafter, she heard what appeared to be an airplane heading straight at her. She said the airplane struck the patio cover, and then an explosion followed. She said that the fire was coming towards her and she was able to exit the house with the family pets.

A helicopter pilot who was in the area of the Freeway Airport reporting traffic, said that the accident airplane pilot reported that he was going to land due to the fog. The helicopter pilot asked the pilot what the weather was like at College Park, and the pilot responded that it was fogged in as well. The helicopter pilot said that was the last radio communication he had with the accident airplane pilot. The helicopter pilot said he flew to College Park, and he was unable to land so he returned to Freeway. On his return, the ceiling was about 300 feet, and there was " forward visibility... ."

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 38 degrees, 56 minutes north latitude, and 76 degrees, 46 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine and multiengine land and, instrument airplane. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot reported over 750 hours of total flight experience when he applied for a second class medical certificate issued on January 30, 1998. The pilot's log book was not located.


According to the airplane log books, the airframe accumulated over 8,499 hours, of which 100 hours had been since the annual inspection that was completed on September 28, 1998.


The 0655 local weather observation from Andrews Air Force Base about 17 miles south of the accident site was as follows:

Sky condition, 5,000 feet scattered; visibility, 3 miles; temperature, 57 degrees Fahrenheit (F); dew point, 54 F; wind condition, 200 degrees at 4 knots; and altimeter, 30.10 inches Hg.

The 0654 local weather observation from Baltimore Washington International Airport about 38 miles north of the accident site was as follows:

Sky condition, 2,000 feet overcast; visibility, 5 miles in mist; temperature, 57 degrees Fahrenheit (F); dew point, 55 F; wind condition, calm; and altimeter, 30.11 inches Hg.

The 0651 local weather observation from Dulles Airport about 70 miles west of the accident site was as follows:

Sky condition, 100 feet sky broken; visibility, 1/4 mile in fog; temperature, 55 degrees Fahrenheit (F); dew point, 55 F; wind condition, calm; and altimeter, 30.11 inches Hg.


The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on October 13, 1998. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene.

Examination of the accident site revealed impact scars on trees west of the residence. Numerous broken tree limbs and branches were observed on the trees. The wreckage was oriented on a magnetic heading of 040 degrees, and came to rest 276 feet east of runway 36. The residence was located to the right of runway 36, 723 feet from the approach end of the runway.

The airplane struck the rear section of the residence, and the patio then collapsed on top of the airplane. The inboard sections of the left and right wings also exhibited evidence of fire damage. The elevator and vertical stabilizer also sustained fire damage. Due to the fire damage cable continuity was not determined. According to a Cessna Investigator, examination of the flap actuator corresponded to a 10 degree flap extension.

The engine was buried in a 2 foot crater. The cockpit, all flight instruments, fuselage and left hand stabilizer were destroyed by fire.

The engine was examined at the accident site under the supervision of the National Transportation Safety Board on October 13, 1998.

The engine was intact and all the cylinders were attached and secured to the crankcase. There were no evidence of puncture of the crankcase. One of the two propeller blades displayed chordwise twisting and scratches. The other blade's tip had several nicks and indentations.

The propeller was manually rotated and it resulted in operation of the accessory gear drives, pistons, and valve operating mechanisms. Compression of each cylinder was confirmed. The top spark plugs were examined and their electrodes exhibited normal operating conditions.

The throttle stop was noted at idle. The mixture and propeller settings at the engine were destroyed by fire. The engine had sustained fire damage. The fuel pump was removed and the coupling was intact. The fuel pump was rotated by hand, and there was no restriction. The fuel manifold screen had extensive fire damage as well as both magnetos.

Examination of the engine and airframe did not disclose any evidence of mechanical malfunction.


An autopsy of the pilot was performed by Dr. Marlon O. Aquino, on October 14, 1998, of the State of Maryland Medical Examiners Office, Baltimore, Maryland.

The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.


According to the President of Congressional Air Charters, Inc., the pilot would not initiate the flight if the conditions would not permit the traffic reporter to perform his function which was to report traffic conditions around the D.C. Metro area.

He further stated that if a flight was initiated and the weather became a factor, the pilots would either return to base or go to any other field that they could legally land at. He stated that all the pilots were commercial pilots and possessed an instrument rating. If necessary they would file an IFR flight plan and go to whatever airport they could, then call in and advise him that they had landed.

According to an FAA Inspector, a review of air traffic records revealed that there was no radio communication with the accident airplane.


The airplane wreckage was released on October 13, 1998, to a representative of Peter J. McBreen & Associates, the owner's insurance company.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed which resulted in an inadvertent stall. Also causal was the pilot's poor in-flight planning/decision, and his continued VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions. A related factor was the fog.

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