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N787TV accident description

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Crash location 38.959167°N, 92.681389°W
Nearest city Boonville, MO
38.962250°N, 92.747131°W
3.5 miles away
Tail number N787TV
Accident date 24 Apr 2017
Aircraft type Bellanca 17 31ATC
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On April 24, 2017, at 1339 central daylight time, a Bellanca 17-31-ATC airplane, N787TV, collided with high tension power lines and impacted terrain during final approach to land at the Jesse Viertel Memorial Airport (VER), Boonville, Missouri. The commercial rated pilot and the passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to Select Airplane, LLC, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight that operated without a flight plan. The airplane departed VER that morning for an unknown destination and was returning when the accident occurred.

The airport manager at VER reported that he had seen the pilot fly in and out of the airport on numerous occasions and that the pilot often flew a low final approach. On the day of the accident, he saw the airplane "lower than usual" on final approach for runway 18. As the airplane continued toward the airport, he saw it contact power lines, abruptly pitch nose-low, and descend into the terrain. He immediately contacted emergency service and responded to the accident site.


The pilot's logbook was not available during the investigation. The pilot's total flight experience and date of last flight review are not known. On February 28, 2013, the pilot applied for a third-class medical certificate and reported having accrued 4,840 hours of total flight experience with 0 hours flown in the preceding 6 months. Due to pilot reported medical conditions, to include blood pressure, hypothyroidism, history of migraines and fibromyalgia, he was not issued a medical certificate, and, when he did not provide requested medical information to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), he was sent a denial letter in July 2013. Before the 2013 application for a medical certificate, his previous certificate was issued on April 29, 1996.


The airplane had been modified via supplemental type certificate by the installation of a Main Turbo System turbocharger.


At 1135, an automated weather reporting facility located at VER reported wind from 160° at 13 knots gusting to 20 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear sky, temperature 75°F, dew point 27°F, and an altimeter setting of 29.79 inches of mercury.


VER is located xx miles southeast of Boonville, Missouri. It has one runway, runway 18/36. Runway 18 has a precision approach path indicator (PAPI) lighting system that coincides with a 3° glideslope.


Examination of the accident site revealed damage to a single line in a set of unmarked power lines about 75 ft above ground level and about 0.5 mile north of the approach end of runway 18. Additional damage was noted to two power lines that were about 15 ft above ground level and about 110 ft south of the first power line. There was an impact crater on the north shoulder of a two-lane road located about 8 ft south of the second set of power lines.

Numerous fragments of acrylic glass were located near the impact crater. Scuffing on the road led to the main wreckage, which came to rest inverted on the south side of the two-lane road. The main wreckage consisted of the entire airplane. A portion of wire from one of the power lines was entangled with the lower portion of the fuselage and both wings. The landing gear was extended, and the flaps were partially down. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to the ailerons, elevators, and rudder. The fuel selector was in the right tank detent. The flap gauge displayed flaps at the "TAKE OFF" setting. The left wing exhibited damage and scuffing consistent from contact with a large gauge wire. The right wing was largely destroyed and shattered in multiple places.

An unmeasured amount of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank and collected in a container; the fuel appeared clear with a blue tint and tested negative for the presence of water using a water-detecting paste. The right fuel tank was breached, and an odor of fuel was present at the accident site the day after the accident.

The propeller remained attached to the engine. All blades displayed chord-wise scratches and leading-edge gouges. The propeller nose cone exhibited a strike mark consistent with a large gauge wire. Engine valve train continuity and compression were confirmed by turning the propeller by hand. All screens were clean of debris. No defects were noted with the turbocharger, magnetos, or engine-driven fuel pump. The fuel injection nozzles were examined, and the Nos. 4 and 5 injectors were partially obstructed with an unknown substance. No anomalies were detected with the engine.


The Boone/Callaway County Medical Examiner's Office, Boone, Missouri, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The autopsy report noted significant coronary artery disease with stenosis of 60-70% in the left main, 40% in the circumflex, 60% in the left obtuse marginal, and 90% in both the left anterior descending and the right coronary arteries. The myocardium did not show any gross evidence of previous or acute ischemia. No microscopic evaluation of the heart was performed.

The autopsy report also noted scarring from previous brain contusions in the tips of both frontal lobes and the left temporal horn. The left optic nerve was severely scarred, and the neuropathologist who examined the pilot's brain stated that the pilot was nearly blind in that eye.

Investigators from the medical examiner's office reported that the pilot routinely wore an eye patch on the left eye; his strabismus (crossed eyes) was quite significant, and the patch apparently controlled the resulting vertigo. There was a benign arachnoid cyst in the left anterior and middle fossae, which was large enough to indent the surrounding brain tissue. Finally, there was acute cerebral edema (swelling) sufficient to cause early herniation of the cerebellar tonsils into the foramen magnum. This was specified further as acute hypoxic/ischemic damage in the hippocampus, medial left frontal cortex, medial-inferior left temporal cortex, and bilateral entorhinal cortex. The neuropathologist commented that it would have taken "a few hours" for these findings to develop after the injury began. However the pilot was found 10 minutes after the accident occurred by first reponders.

Toxicology testing performed by the St. Louis University Toxicology Laboratory, St. Louis, Missouri, identified methamphetamine (0.16 ug/ml) and its metabolite amphetamine and cocaine and its metabolite benzoylecgonine in the pilot's blood. Cocaine (0.050 ug/ml) and benzoylecgonine were also found in vitreous fluid.

Toxicology testing performed by the FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, identified clonazepam (0.011 ug/ml) and its active metabolite 7-aminoclonazepam (0.126 ug/ml); methamphetamine (0.22 ug/ml) and its active metabolite amphetamine (0.023 ug/ml); cocaine (0.033 ug/ml) and its three metabolites (benzoylecgonine, anhydroecgonine methyl ester, and ecgonine methyl ester); phenylpropanolamine; paroxetine (0.464 ug/ml); diphenhydramine (0.04 ug/ml); and quinine in the pilot's blood. 7-aminoclonazepam and ibuprofen were found in urine. Methamphetamine, amphetamine, benzoylecgonine, ecgonine methyl ester, paroxetine, and quinine were also identified in liver tissue.

Clonazepam is used to treat certain types of seizures or for panic disorder. This medication has the potential to impair the mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., flying, driving, and operating heavy machinery).

Methamphetamine is a schedule II stimulant drug used in the treatment of narcolepsy and obesity. Oral does used to medically treat these illnesses typically produce blood level in the range of 0.02 to 0.05 ug/ml. Those misusing the drug may reach levels of 2.0 ug/ml or higher.

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug. Anhydroecgonine methyl ester is formed when cocaine is smoked and is often an indicator of the use of "crack cocaine."

Phenylpropanolamine is a synthetic sympathomimetic medication that is approximately equivalent to ephedrine in its pharmacologic properties and is used as a stimulant, decongestant, and anorectic (weight loss) agent. Potential adverse side-effects include dizziness, heart palpitations, increased heart rate, and nervousness. It is also an integral ingredient used in the production of illegally-produced methamphetamine.

Paroxetine is a prescription medication used to treat depression, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. This medication has the potential to impair the mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., flying, driving, and operating heavy machinery).

Diphenhydramine is an over-the-counter antihistamine used to treat allergic conditions and as a sleep aid. This medication has the potential to impair the mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., flying, driving, and operating heavy machinery).

Quinine is a prescription medication used alone or with other medications to treat malaria. It is also available in non-prescription strength in tonic water. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's impairment, due to his use of a combination of psychoactive drugs and a vision deficiency in his left eye, which resulted in a failure to maintain adequate altitude during final approach to landing and subsequent collision with power lines.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.