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N5787J accident description

Minnesota map... Minnesota list
Crash location 48.629445°N, 94.726667°W
Nearest city Baudette, MN
48.712474°N, 94.599930°W
8.1 miles away
Tail number N5787J
Accident date 10 Jan 2004
Aircraft type Cessna 182P
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On January 10, 2004, about 1840 central standard time, a Cessna 182P, N5787J, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with trees and terrain 7-1/2 miles southwest of the Baudette International Airport (BDE), Baudette, Minnesota. The flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at BDE at the time of the accident. The non-instrument rated pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. The flight reportedly departed BDE approximately 1835 with an intended destination of Anoka County-Blaine Airport (ANE), Minneapolis, Minnesota.

At 0349 on the morning of the accident, the pilot contacted the Princeton Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) and requested a standard weather briefing for the route from ANE to BDE. The pilot told the briefer that he was planning to leave in 1-1/2 hours and the flight would be conducted under visual flight rules (VFR). The pilot requested no information concerning a return flight that evening. Princeton AFSS recorded no further contact with the accident pilot or aircraft.

The BDE airport manager reported that he arrived at the airport approximately 0650 that morning. He stated that the accident aircraft was parked on the ramp when he arrived. The pilot had left a note requesting the fuel tanks be topped off and informing him that they planned to leave that evening between 1730 and 1800. He noted that the engine was still warm and observed an ice build-up on the leading edges of the wings and propeller.

The airport manager reported that about mid-day the pilot left a phone message requesting the aircraft be put in a hangar. The manager complied with the request. At 1600, immediately before the manager was leaving for the day, he stated that he pulled the aircraft out of the hangar and parked it on the ramp. About 1730, the pilot contacted him on his cellular phone to provide payment information for his fuel.

The airport manager, who was also a local pilot, commented that the bog area south and west of BDE is "just a big black hole." He added that a pilot could become disoriented even on a clear night because the few ground lights that are present can easily be confused with stars.

The owner/manager of a local resort reported that the pilot and his passenger had spent the day ice fishing at the resort. She recalled that they had flown in that morning but was not sure of the time.

She stated that she gave the pilot and passenger a ride to the airport about 1730. She reported that during the drive, the pilot had commented that his passenger needed to get home. She recalled some conversation about the weather and that the pilot commented that the decision to fly was his alone.

An individual who was plowing snow on the airport taxiway that evening stated he saw a Cessna 182 on the ramp. He reported that about 1835 the aircraft taxied to runway 30. He noted the aircraft paused shortly at the end of the taxiway, and then it taxied onto the runway and took off. He stated the aircraft climbed out shallower than normal and was out of sight before it reached the end of the runway. Based on the engine sound he thought the aircraft's initial turn after takeoff was to the left, westbound. He commented that the engine seemed to be running fine.

A witness located about 3-1/2 miles southwest of BDE reported seeing an aircraft approximately 3/4 mile west of his location. He stated that it appeared to be flying toward the southwest. He added that it seemed to be in a controlled right turn toward the west. He also noted that the aircraft's nose was lit up, which he believed was the landing light.

This witness recalled light snow flurries at his location during the time he saw the aircraft. He reported observing a slight glow around the plane, which he believed was from the plane's lights. He noted that, at the time, he did not think anything was wrong.

An Alert Notice (ALNOT) was issued for the aircraft on January 11, 2004, at 1130, when a family member of the passenger reported the aircraft overdue. It was subsequently located January 13, 2004, approximately 1130, by a State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources search aircraft.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating issued on October 23, 2003. He held a third class airman medical certificate with no limitations, which was issued on June 24, 2003. A logbook endorsement authorizing him to act as pilot-in-command of a high performance airplane was dated July 29, 2003.

A flight logbook belonging to the pilot was found with the aircraft. Entries in the logbook indicated the pilot had accumulated 128.9 hours total time. This included 5.9 hours of night flight time, 3.7 hours of simulated instrument time and 44.0 hours of cross-country time.

He had logged over 90 hours flight time in the accident aircraft, which included his private pilot practical test. The initial logbook entry was dated February 12, 2003, and the final entry was dated December 30, 2003.


The accident aircraft was a 1975 Cessna 182P, serial number 18263535. It was a four-place, high-wing, single-engine airplane, with a fixed tricycle landing gear configuration. The airplane was powered by a Continental O-470-S engine, serial number 98640-5-S. This was installed in a carbureted, normally aspirated, air-cooled configuration.

According to the maintenance logbook, an annual inspection was completed on July 19, 2003, at a total airframe time of 6,116.3 hours and a tachometer time of 739.0 hours. A pitot-static system inspection was completed on July 18, 2003.

The airplane was registered to T D Air Inc. of Coon Rapids, Minnesota. This was reportedly a partnership, which included the accident pilot.


An Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) was located at BDE. Routine aviation surface weather observations (METARs) recorded by the BDE ASOS about the time of the accident were as follows:

Time: 1753;

Wind: Calm;

Visibility: 5 statute miles in mist;

Sky Condition: Overcast at 800 feet above ground level (agl);

Temperature/Dew Point: -04 degrees Celsius / -06 degrees Celsius;

Altimeter setting: 29.92 inches of mercury.

Time: 1853;

Wind: Variable at 3 knots;

Visibility: 7 statute miles;

Sky Condition: Overcast at 800 feet agl;

Temperature/Dew Point: -04 degrees Celsius / -06 degrees Celsius;

Altimeter setting: 29.91 inches of mercury.

AIRMET Sierra, Update 7, for IFR conditions was issued at 1445 and was valid until 2100. This AIRMET included the return route of flight from BDE to ANE. It warned of occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet agl and visibilities below 3 statute miles in mist and fog.

AIRMET Sierra, Update 8, was issued at 1829 and remained in effect until 2100. The geographical area covered by the AIRMET was modified from that in update 7. However, it still included the departure airport and the return route of flight. Again, it specifically mentioned the possibility of occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet agl and visibilities below 3 statute miles in mist and fog.

AIRMET Zulu, Update 4, for icing was issued at 1651 and remained valid until 2100. It warned of occasional moderate rime or mixed icing in clouds and/or precipitation below 12,000 feet mean sea level (msl), east of a line from Nodine (ODI), Minnesota, to International Falls (INL), Minnesota. This was about 60 miles east of the BDE-ANE route of flight.

The AIRMET also included a warning of icing conditions in clouds and/or precipitation between 10,000 feet msl and 18,000 feet msl, beginning at a line from ODI to INL and extending west as far as Minot, North Dakota. This included the BDE-ANE route of flight.

The most recent area forecast for northern Minnesota was issued at 1345. Conditions over northwest Minnesota were expected to include broken clouds at 1,000 feet agl. Northeast Minnesota was forecast to have broken clouds at 1,500 to 2,000 feet agl. The outlook for both areas was for IFR conditions due to low ceilings and mist.

According to data obtained from the U. S. Naval Observatory, sunset was at 1643 and civil twilight ended at 1719.


The aircraft wreckage was located in a level, wooded area, 7-1/2 nautical miles southwest of BDE. A handheld global positioning system (GPS) receiver was used to determine the coordinates and elevation of the accident site. The fuselage was located at 48 degrees 37.77 minutes north latitude, 094 degrees 43.61 minutes west longitude. Elevation at the main wreckage site was 1,144 feet msl. The impact and debris path was approximately 300 feet long and was oriented on a 240-degree magnetic heading.

Multiple tree strikes were observed beginning about 300 feet from the main wreckage. Tree heights in the area were estimated at 40 feet. The initial tree strike was located at 48 degrees 37.79 minutes north latitude, 094 degrees 43.54 minutes west longitude. This break was about 30 feet above ground level.

Tree strike heights decreased from the initial point toward the location of the main wreckage over a distance of about 175 feet prior to ground impact. The angle formed by the tree strikes relative to the terrain was approximately 10 degrees.

Each wing was separated from the fuselage. The right wing was located about 130 feet from the main wreckage, along the debris path centerline, and was inverted. The flap and aileron were attached, although the aileron hinges had failed at several of the wing attachment fasteners. The wing strut remained secured to the wing. The wing tip was bent upward, relative to the root, at a point about mid-span. At this mid-span location, the leading edge was crushed and the upper skin was torn. An additional impact mark was located near the root, with a crease running aft along the upper skin.

The left wing was located about 40 feet from the main wreckage, immediately to the left of the debris path centerline. It was also inverted. The flap and aileron were attached. The wing was bent downward along entire span, relative to the root. The aileron skin was torn adjacent to the hinges. The wing strut was secured to the wing fitting. The flap remained attached. It exhibited some deformation but otherwise appeared intact.

The flap actuator was retracted, which was consistent with 0-degree deflection (flaps up). Aileron control continuity was verified from the each control surface inboard to the wing root. Both fuel caps were in place and secure.

The fuselage and empennage, from the cabin aft, was resting on its right side. Relative to a normal, vertical attitude, it was rotated approximately 110 degrees to the right. The aft fuselage, beginning immediately forward of the horizontal stabilizers, was bent to the right and creased. The outboard portion of both horizontal stabilizers exhibited impact damage. The right horizontal stabilizer was torn at the leading edge beginning about mid-span. The upper half of the vertical stabilizer leading edge was crushed aft. Each stabilizer tip fairing had been torn off.

The elevators and rudder remained attached to the corresponding stabilizers. Control cable continuity was verified from each control surface forward to the cabin area. The elevator trim tab was secured to the right elevator. The actuator link was intact.

The aircraft nose section, which comprised the engine, cowling and instrument panel, was rotated approximately 100 degrees to the right, relative to the fuselage. The left side of the cabin had been destroyed exposing the interior of the cabin area.

The propeller and spinner remained attached to the engine. The blades were arbitrarily labeled "A" and "B". Blade "A" was bent aft approximately 15 degrees from about the one-quarter span point and exhibited bending toward low pitch. Blade "B" was bent aft approximately 30 degrees about a point near the hub.

The engine was dislocated from the engine mount. Packed snow and ice were present between the engine cowling and the top of engine. Examination of the engine confirmed internal continuity through rotation of the crankshaft. Compression was observed at each cylinder. Both magnetos provided a spark at the ignition harness leads when the crankshaft was rotated. The spark plugs exhibited a light gray appearance consistent with normal wear. The fuel strainer screen and bowl were clean and free of contaminants.

The carburetor was broken off its mount. The butterfly valve was intact and free to pivot. The fuel screen was clean and unobstructed. The mixture control cable remained attached. The arm of the throttle control valve was broken off.

The vacuum pump was removed. The drive was intact and the pump rotated freely. Upon disassembly, the vanes were intact. No damage was observed.

The artificial horizon was removed and disassembled. The glass face of the instrument was broken out. The gyro cage was intact. The gyro appeared undamaged and was free to rotate.

The altimeter indicated 1,320 feet msl. The glass face of the instrument was broken. The pressure window setting was 29.91 inches of mercury.

The Hobbs meter read 1077.3 hours and the tachometer indicated 925.9 hours.


An autopsy of the pilot was performed in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, on January 15, 2004.

The FAA Civil Aero Medical Institute toxicology report for the pilot listed the following:

0.070 (ug/ml, ug/g) CITALOPRAM detected in Blood

CITALOPRAM present in Urine



0.031 (ug/mL, ug/g) DI-N-DESMETHYLCITALOPRAM detected in Blood


Citalopram is a prescription antidepressant also known by the trade name Celexa. Citalopram is used to treat depression. Di-n-desmethylcitalopram and N-desmethylcitalopram are metabolites of citalopram.

On his application for an Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate, dated June 24, 2003, the pilot checked the "No" box adjacent to "Mental disorders of any sort; depression, anxiety, etc." in the medical history section. Following the question "Do you currently use any medication (prescription or nonprescription)?", the pilot checked the "No" box.


A service invoice obtained from the BDE fixed base operator noted that the accident aircraft was fueled with 30.5 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gasoline. The invoice included a second line item stating: "Hangar to De-Ice."


The National Transportation Safety Board released the aircraft wreckage at the conclusion of the on-scene investigation, which was acknowledged by the Chief Deputy, Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota.

Parties to the investigation were the Federal Aviation Administration, Teledyne-Continental Motors and Cessna Aircraft Company.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's intentional flight into adverse weather conditions, and his failure to maintain adequate terrain clearance. Contributing factors were the pilot's lack of an instrument rating, low ceiling, low altitude, and the dark night conditions.

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