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N84546 accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location 43.458056°N, 83.446944°W
Nearest city Caro, MI
43.491132°N, 83.396897°W
3.4 miles away
Tail number N84546
Accident date 03 Aug 2002
Aircraft type Aeronca 7AC
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On August 3, 2002, at 1000 eastern daylight time, an Aeronca 7AC, N84546, impacted the terrain following a loss of control during an initial takeoff climb from runway 05 (3,965 feet by 75 feet, dry asphalt) at the Tuscola Area Airport (78D), in Caro, Michigan. The private pilot received serious injuries and a private pilot rated passenger received fatal injuries. The Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal local flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The airport manager reported the airplane had been refueled with 13 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel just prior to the flight. Witnesses reported hearing the airplane's engine power increase for the takeoff on runway 05. One witness reported the airplane reached an altitude of about 75 feet above the runway prior to it veering to the left and impacting the terrain. Another witness reported that the engine sounded normal until it stopped immediately upon impact.

The pilot's wife stated due to his injuries, the pilot has no recall of the accident.


The pilot, age 65, holds a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane operations. The pilot's last airman medical examination was conducted on May 15, 2002, and he was issued a second-class medical certificate with the limitation, "Holder shall possess glasses for near & intermediate vision."

On his last application for an airmen medical examination the pilot reported having a total flight time of 6,600 hours. The pilot's wife forwarded a pilot logbook that she was able to locate. This logbook indicates that he flew 2.5 hours since his last medical examination. The starting date in the logbook is May 19, 1999 and the last flight logged was on June 1, 2002. The pilot logged a total of 47 hours of flight time in the logbook. All of the flight time was in the accident airplane. The pilot was in the front seat of the airplane.

The passenger, age 85, was seated in the rear seat of the airplane. He held a private pilot certificate with a rating for single engine land airplanes. His last airman medical examination was on June 20, 1974, and he was issued a third-class limited medical certificate. The certificate contained the limitation "Must wear corrective lenses."


Aircraft registration records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the pilot and passenger were co-owners of the airplane. N84546 was an Aeronca 7AC Champ, serial number 7AC-3242. The airplane is a tandem seat, dual flight control, high wing, tail dragger. All the flight instruments were in the forward cockpit.

A Continental A-65 engine powered the airplane. The engine showed a tachometer time of 681.5 hours at the time of the accident. The last annual inspection on the airframe and engine was completed on October 1, 2001, at a tachometer time of 674 hours.


A weather observation station, located at Saginaw (MSB), Michigan, about 24 nautical miles (nm) west of the accident site, recorded the weather at 0953 as:

Wind: 180 degrees magnetic at 7 knots

Visibility: 10 statute miles

Sky Condition: Sky Clear

Temperature: 22 degrees Celsius

Dew Point: 18 degrees Celsius

Pressure: 30.25 inches of mercury


The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) on-scene investigation began on August 3, 2002.

The main wreckage was on the airport property, approximately 150 feet off the north side and 2,000 feet from the approach end of runway 05. The wreckage was located on the top of a 6-foot tall berm and it was facing a magnetic heading of approximately 230 degrees.

All the flight controls were still attached and control continuity was confirmed from the control surfaces to the cockpit controls. The elevator trim was set to a slight nose up trim setting. The windshield was broken out. The entry door on the right side of the cockpit was open and the forward hinge was broken off. The firewall was bent forward around the rear of the engine. The lower portion of the engine cowling was crushed upward. The engine was pulled forward and down from its' mounts. The outboard half of one propeller blade was bent and twisted rearward. The other propeller blade exhibited minor damage. The right wing and right wing struts were intact. Wrinkling was visible on top of the wing and the leading edge contained a minor amount of crush damage. The right main landing gear was bent rearward. The empennage of the airplane was intact and no visible damage was noted. The left main landing gear was intact. The rear strut on the left wing was bent. An outboard section of the left wing, approximately 2 feet in length, was bent up at an approximate 45-degree angle.

The magneto switch was found on the "both" position, and both the front and rear throttles controls were in the full open throttle position. The fuel primer line was fractured at the firewall and clean 100LL aviation fuel was leaking from the line.

Inspection of the engine revealed thumb compression was achieved on all the cylinders. Continuity was established throughout the engine. The top spark plugs were removed and they were light gray in color and no deposits were noted. Fuel was present in the carburetor fuel bowl and the carburetor fuel screen was clean. The p-leads were damaged near the magnetos. The magnetos were removed from the engine and both sparked when turned by hand.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot-rated passenger by the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office on August 4, 2002.

The pathologist who performed the autopsy reported the passenger "…died of multiple blunt force injuries sustained as a passenger in a crashed plane. The hypertensive arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease complicated by acute cerebral infarct (stroke) was contributory."

A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the pilot-rated passenger. The toxicology results were negative for all tests performed with the exception of Atropine, which was detected in the blood. Atropine is an acetylcholine muscarinic receptor antagonist used in clinical applications.

Both occupants were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. Shoulder harnesses were not installed in the airplane.


The Tuscola Area Airport manager reported that the passenger had been living in a nursing home after having had a series of strokes. He stated that on occasion, the pilot would take the passenger from the nursing home and bring him out to the airport. Since the passenger was no longer able to fly, the pilot would take him for a ride around the local area in N84546. The manager stated that on the day of the accident, the passenger showed the airport manager a picture of an airplane and stated that he was going to buy it. The picture was of an airplane that the airport manager had previously purchased from the passenger

A party to the investigation was the Federal Aviation Administration.

The main wreckage was released to Tuscola Area Airport Manager on August 3, 2002.

NTSB Probable Cause

The passenger became incapacitated as a result of a stroke which lead to the inadvertent interference with the flight controls.

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