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N305NR accident description

Minnesota map... Minnesota list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Baudette, MN
48.712474°N, 94.599930°W
Tail number N305NR
Accident date 11 Jun 1999
Aircraft type Piper PA-18-150
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

History of Flight

On June 11, 1999, at approximately 0812 central daylight time (All times cdt), a Piper PA-18-150, N305NR, operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), was destroyed when the airplane impacted the ground about 22 miles south of Baudette, Minnesota. The commercial pilot and other crewmember received fatal injuries. The 14 CFR Part 91 public use flight departed the private DNR airstrip near the Red Lake Wildlife Management Area, Baudette, Minnesota, at 0700 on a wildlife observation flight. The Bemidji/Beltrami County Airport (BJI), Bemidji, Minnesota, was the destination. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

Records indicated N305NR was last fueled with 16.2 gallons of fuel at BJI where it was based. On June 11, 1999, the DNR pilot contacted the Automated Flight Service Station at Princeton, Minnesota, and received a weather brief. The pilot departed BJI at 0556 en route to the DNR's private airstrip near Baudette, Minnesota, and landed at 0644.

The other crewmember, who operated the telemetry equipment used for tracking wildlife, boarded N305NR and it departed at 0700. The exact route of flight flown by N305NR during the accident flight is not known. The purpose of the flight was to conduct a moose telemetry survey that tracked electronically collared moose calves.

There were no witnesses to the accident. An emergency locator transmitter beacon was heard by a Canadian aircraft at approximately 1000. A search was conducted for the airplane and it was located in a marsh at coordinates N 48 degrees 21.983 minutes, W 94 degrees 39.048 minutes. The airplane's nose was found in about two to three feet of water and mud. The airplane's fuselage and tail were found in a near vertical position. The airplane's electrically powered clock had stopped at 8:12.

The left wing fuel tank was ruptured. The right fuel tank was intact but the vented fuel cap was submerged in water prior to the recovery. Fuel and water were found in the right fuel tank. A line of blue residue was found along the span of the right wing at the waterline. Fuel could be smelled at the accident site.

Personnel Information

The pilot was a commercially rated pilot with single engine land and helicopter ratings. He was instrument rated in both single engine airplanes and helicopters. He held a Second Class medical certificate. He had a total of about 2,399 flight hours, of which 1,590 hours were in helicopters, 794 hours were in single engine airplanes, and 15 hours were in multi-engine airplanes. He had flown N305NR approximately 167 hours. He had flown 62 total hours in the last 30 days of which 14 hours were in N305NR.

The pilot started flying for the Minnesota DNR in October 1996. He principally flew a Cessna 185 and N305NR for his work as a DNR pilot. He also was a helicopter pilot and Safety Officer for the Minnesota National Guard.

The pilot's most recent pilot's flight log was not obtained. The most recent entry in the pilot's logbook that was obtained was on February 5, 1998.

The DNR required each pilot to maintain a Pilot's Monthly Flight Log. The flight logs dating from October 1996 to May 1999 were obtained. The entries in the DNR flight logs indicated that the pilot and the other crewmember had flown together five times dating back to April 3, 1998. The pilot and other crewmember flew 9.3 hours in the Cessna 185 and 8.3 hours in N305NR doing moose telemetry surveys. The flight logs indicated the last flight they had together was on April 9, 1999.

The pilot completed a Biennial Flight Review on April 25, 1999, in N305NR. The DNR Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) who gave the checkride reported the BFR included practicing stalls, accelerated stalls, and cross control stalls. The CFI reported the pilot performed the stall maneuvers adequately and that his performance was up to commercial test standards.

Aircraft Information

The airplane was a single engine Piper PA-18-150, Super Cub, serial number 18-7709127. The airplane seated two and had a maximum gross weight of 1,750 pounds. The engine was a 150 horsepower Lycoming O-320-A2B engine. The last annual inspection was conducted on February 1, 1999. The airplane had flown 48 hours since the last inspection and had a total time of 7,067 hours. The Minnesota DNR had equipped the airplane with wildlife tracking telemetry equipment.

The Minnesota DNR had purchased N305NR new from the Piper Aircraft Company in 1977. The Chief Pilot for the DNR reported that the stall warning horn was deactivated on the airplane soon after it was obtained in 1977, because it gave inaccurate stall warning indications. Late 1973 was the first year that PA-18-150's were equipped with stall warning horns as standard equipment. The PA-18 Super Cubs were first introduced in 1949.

The Chief Pilot for the DNR reported the airplane was operated as a Public Aircraft by the Minnesota DNR. The FAA Order 8130.2D, 19.c. states, "A U.S. registered public aircraft operating within the territorial limits of the U.S. is not required to have an airworthiness certificate." The Chief Pilot reported that the airplane underwent Annual Inspections and was maintained to FAA Part 91 standards.

Meteorological Conditions

At 0853, the weather conditions reported at Baudette, Minnesota, were winds 080 degrees at 3 knots, sky clear, visibility 10 miles, temperature 62 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 55 degrees Fahrenheit, altimeter 30.11.

Wreckage and Impact Information

The airplane was found in a marsh in a nearly vertical nose down attitude. The propeller and engine were buried in two to three feet of water and mud. The wings and tail cone remained attached to the fuselage and were in a nearly vertical position.

The leading edges of the left and right wings exhibited a leading edge crush angle of about 90 degrees along the entire span of the wings. The tail cone was buckled forward. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit to the flight controls. The examination of the engine revealed no pre-impact anomalies. The propeller blades exhibited chordwise scratching and nicks in the leading edges of the blades.

Medical and Pathological Information

An autopsy of the pilot was performed at Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute. The report indicated the following substances were present in the blood, vitreous fluids, and kidneys: ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine. The substances are commonly found in over-the-counter cold medications.

Additional Information

The DNR's operating instructions for telemetry operations stated, "Searches are generally conducted at low altitudes, 200 to 500 ft. AGL." The operating instructions stated, "Once a transmitter is heard a slow flight configuration should be set up to enhance close in maneuvering and passenger comfort." The instructions further stated, "When visual contact with the animal wearing a transmitter is desired the circling method of search is recommended, once the approximate location has been determined. Once the animal has been spotted break out of the circle to make a straight and level pass over it to capture the GPS location."

The DNR's CFI reported he had flown approximately 800 to 900 hours in N305NR. He reported that he never felt the need for a stall warning horn and that no one expressed any concern about it. He reported the airplane was maintained in excellent condition and only DNR pilots flew it.

A DNR pilot who was based in Bemidji, Minnesota, along with the accident pilot, reported the accident pilot, "...felt good about the Super Cub." He reported that, "...we always talked about being down low and being careful." He reported that the lack of a stall warning horn never presented him a problem and it did not affect his flying. He reported that he had flown with the other crewmember doing moose telemetry, and that he had never had a problem with the other crewmember in the backseat.

Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, Textron Lycoming, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Unison Industries.

The aircraft wreckage was released to the Minnesota DNR.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot inadvertently stalled the airplane. A factor was the low altitude.

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