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N9439S accident description

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Crash location 43.128334°N, 85.677223°W
Nearest city Sparta, MI
43.160858°N, 85.710039°W
2.8 miles away
Tail number N9439S
Accident date 18 Feb 2003
Aircraft type Beech V35
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

On February 18, 2003, about 1000 eastern standard time, a Beech V35, N9439S, piloted by a private pilot sustained substantial damage when it landed hard, collapsed the left main landing gear, and hit a snowbank during landing on runway 24 at the Paul C. Miller-Sparta Airport (8D4), Sparta, Michigan. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The pilot and his one passenger were not injured. The flight originated from Pontiac, Michigan, at 0900.

The pilot reported he received two preflight briefings and decided to make the flight under visual flight rules (VFR) due to reports of icing conditions in the clouds. The pilot noted he encountered freezing rain between Lansing, Michigan, and 8D4. The pilot stated he received an instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance from air traffic control (ATC). The pilot indicated he subsequently climbed above the clouds and was cleared for the VOR approach to runway 24 at 8D4. The pilot reported he did not observe any ice on the wings once above the clouds at 3,500 feet mean sea level (MSL). The pilot stated he delayed his decent to the final approach fix to avoid further icing of the airplane. The pilot indicated he reached the minimum descent altitude and did not notice any ice on the airplane's wings or windshield. The pilot also stated, "the plane felt like it was flying normally." The pilot noted he added flaps and the airplane began to descend rapidly, the pilot indicated he added power. The pilot reported the airplane landed hard and the left main landing gear collapsed, the airplane turned right, the nose landing gear collapsed, and the airplane subsequently slid into a snowbank.

The pilot reported no malfunctions with the airplane or the airplane's engine prior to the accident.

The airport manager who witnessed the accident reported the airplane had "1/2 inch to 3/4 inch of ice accumulation on [the] leading edges of the tail surface and wings."

The weather reported by the weather observation facility at Muskegon County Airport (MKG), 24 miles to the west of the accident site, were:

Time: 0955

Wind: 210 degrees magnetic at 15 knots

Visibility: 10 statute miles

Sky Condition: Overcast 1,300 feet above ground level (AGL)

Temperature: -1 degrees Celsius

Dew Point: -3 degrees Celsius

Pressure: 29.98 inches of mercury

Time: 1055

Wind: 210 degrees magnetic at 15 knots

Visibility: 8 statute miles

Sky Condition: Overcast 1,100 feet AGL

Temperature: -1 degrees Celsius

Dew Point: -3 degrees Celsius

Pressure: 29.98 inches of mercury

The weather reported by the weather observation facility at Gerald Ford International Airport (GRR), 18 miles to the southeast of the accident site, were:

Time: 0956

Wind: 200 degrees magnetic at 8 knots

Visibility: 2 statute miles

Sky Condition: Overcast 500 feet AGL, freezing drizzle

Temperature: -3 degrees Celsius

Dew Point: -4 degrees Celsius

Pressure: 29.98 inches of mercury

Time: 1056

Wind: 220 degrees magnetic at 12 knots

Visibility: 2 statute miles

Sky Condition: Overcast 500 feet AGL, freezing drizzle

Temperature: -3 degrees Celsius

Dew Point: -4 degrees Celsius

Pressure: 30.00 inches of mercury

The winds and temperatures aloft forecast for MKG was:

Altitude: 3,000 feet MSL

Wind: 250 degrees magnetic at 25 knots

Temperature: N/A

Altitude: 6,000 feet MSL

Wind: 270 degrees at 27 knots

Temperature: -5 degrees Celsius

Altitude: 9,000 feet MSL

Wind: 280 degrees at 33 knots

Temperature: -8 degrees Celsius

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilots improper decision to fly into known adverse weather, and his failure to maintain airspeed which resulted in an inadvertent stall. A contributing factor was airframe icing.

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