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N34200 accident description

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Crash location 39.100833°N, 93.439722°W
Nearest city Blackburn, MO
39.106408°N, 93.483544°W
2.4 miles away
Tail number N34200
Accident date 07 Apr 2006
Aircraft type Cessna 177
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On April 7, 2006, at 1440, a Cessna 177, N34200, operated by Hawkeye Helicopters LLC, was destroyed when it hit a power line and subsequently impacted the terrain about 3 miles east of Blackburn, Missouri. The commercial pilot received fatal injuries. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial observation flight departed the Lawrence Municipal Airport (LWC), Lawrence, Kansas, at 1226 and was conducting a pipeline patrol at the time of the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

The operator reported that the pilot had flown two flights in the morning.

A witness reported that she observed the airplane flying west, paralleling Highway 20. She reported that the airplane did a 360 degree turn to the left near the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 127, and then continued flying west, paralleling Highway 20 again. She reported that the airplane's altitude was low, about two power line poles in height, and the airplane was flying slow. She reported, "All of a sudden, the left wing went down and the right wing went up." She described the angle of bank as a perpendicular position, a 90-degree vertical bank. She reported that the airplane turned left into a gully and the left wing impacted the top wire of a power line. She reported that a power line crossed Highway 20 near the location of the accident.

The airplane impacted the terrain in a harvested cornfield south of Highway 20.


The pilot held a commercial pilot's certificate with single-engine land and airplane instrument rating. He held a second-class medical certificate. His current flight logbook was not recovered. The operator reported that the pilot had over 7,000 hours of flight time and routinely flew between 30 to 35 hours a month.


The airplane was a single-engine Cessna 177, serial number 17701698. It seated four and had a maximum gross weight of 2,500 pounds. The engine was a 180 horsepower Lycoming O-360-A1F6 engine. The last annual maintenance inspection was conducted on March 12, 2006, and the airplane had accumulated 6,795 flight hours. The airplane flew about 117 hours since the last annual inspection, and had 6,912 total flight hours.


The 1353 surface weather observation at Sedalia (DMO), Missouri, located about 27 nautical miles to the southeast of the accident site was: Winds 190 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 19 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 24 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 2 degrees C, altimeter 29.47 inches of mercury.


The airplane impacted a power line and terrain about 1.4 statute miles west of Missouri Highway 127 at coordinates 39 degrees 06.054 minutes north, 093 degrees 26.285 minutes west. The power line was about 75 feet south of Highway 20. The initial ground impact mark was located about 165 feet south of Highway 20, and the main wreckage was located about 375 feet south of Highway 20.

A Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector and operations inspector conducted an on-site inspection of the accident. The inspection of the wreckage revealed that the outboard portion of the left wing at the aileron/flap juncture had separated at a 45-degree angle. A downed power line wire was found tangled in the wreckage. The remaining portion of the left wing, the center wing section, and the right wing were in one piece. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage. The engine compartment, forward cockpit, and instrument panel had separated from the fuselage. The inspection of the fuel tanks revealed that the left fuel tank was breached and contained no fuel, and the right tank was about 1/2 full. The fuel selector was positioned to the left tank. The throttle was found out about 2.2 inches, the mixture was rich, the carburetor heat was off, and the propeller was at full RPM. The inspection of the flight controls revealed cable continuity between the controls and the flight control surfaces.

The inspection of the engine revealed that the engine was partially broken away from the firewall. The engine was rotated and the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory gears exhibited continuity. Thumb compression was observed on all cylinders. Both magnetos produced spark from all towers. A borescope inspection of the cylinders revealed no defects. The carburetor was opened and the floats exhibited damage consistent with hydraulic deformation. The engine driven fuel pump was inspected and no defects were noted. The carburetor inlet screen and the gascolator screens were clean.

The propeller was separated at the propeller flange. The blade marked "A" exhibited a twist to low pitch, the tip was bent aft, and it had leading edge "polish" (pain polished off). The blade marked "B" was bent aft about mid-span, exhibited a twist to low pitch, leading edge polish, and trailing edge gouges.


An autopsy of the pilot was performed at the Boone/Callaway County Medical Examiner's Office on April 8, 2006.

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report, which indicated the following: 12 (mg/Dl, mg/hg) ethanol was detected in the brain, no ethanol was detected in the muscle, and quinine was detected in the liver. The ethanol in this case was from sources other than ingestion.

Quinine is found in tonic water, and is used to treat severe malaria. It is also commonly used to reduce the frequency of nocturnal leg cramps (a condition which may cause painful led muscle spasm at night), and is available as an over-the-counter nutritional supplement marketed for this purpose.


The hand-held global positioning system (GPS) unit that was retrieved from that accident site was sent to the manufacturer for downloading of the unit's non-volatile memory. The GPS unit was a Honeywell Skymap IIIC color GPS with the Americas Database Cartridge installed. The GPS was inspected at the Honeywell facility at Olathe, Kansas, on April 27, 2006. The GPS unit stored data every 30 seconds to the non-volatile memory.

The download of the GPS revealed that the last three flights on April 7, 2006, were recorded. The data indicated that the accident flight departed LWC at 1224. The last position was recorded at 1439:51 and it indicated the following: 1) Position: N39.06.06, W093.26.08 2) Ground speed: 125 knots 3) Magnetic ground track: 291.7 degrees 4) GPS altitude: 1,162 feet.


An on-site inspection of the accident site revealed that 35 to 40 feet tall power lines provided power to several nearby residential customers. A power line crossed Highway 20 near the site of the accident. There were no other power lines observed in the area that crossed Highway 20. The power line that the airplane impacted paralleled the south (left) side of Highway 20.

The natural gas pipeline that required observation was an east/west running pipeline, and it was located about 1.5 miles north of Highway 20.

The FAA, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Textron Lycoming were parties to the investigation.

The aircraft wreckage was released to St. Peters Recovery and Storage, Wright City, Missouri.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain obstacle clearance from the power line during low altitude maneuvering. A factor was the power line.

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