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N7965V accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Excelsior Sprgs, MO
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Tail number N7965V
Accident date 05 Jul 1994
Aircraft type Aero Commander Calair A-9B
Additional details: None
No position found

NTSB Factual Report


On July 5, 1994, at 1650 central daylight time (CDT), an Aero Commander, Calair A-9B, N7965V, owned and operated by Air Cover, Inc., of Chilhowee, Missouri, was destroyed when it impacted terrain after striking powerlines during a practice swath run at McCanles Farm Airstrip, five miles east-southeast of Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

The Airline Transport certificated pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed upon impact; there was no fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The airplane, which was approved for use under 14 CFR Part 137, was being flown at the time of the accident to test its spray nozzles.

Independence Memorial Airport (31P), Independence, Missouri, was the operations base for Air Cover, Inc., the agricultural aircraft operating business owned by the pilot. Earlier in the day, the pilot departed 31P for McCanles Farm Airstrip. Upon his arrival, the pilot and the farm owner flushed and cleaned the spray tank, screens and nozzles and loaded twenty to thirty gallons of water into the aircraft spray tank.

The farm owner, who was the primary witness, stated that the pilot made a normal takeoff from his farm airstrip to the southeast. About three minutes after takeoff, he heard engine RPM increase for a few seconds, and then a sudden stoppage of the engine and impact. Due to numerous trees between his vantage point and the accident site, he did not observe the aircraft hit the powerline or impact the terrain.

Another witness, who lives within one mile of the crash site, stated that he heard an aircraft fly over his property and then observed the powerline near his residence shake and sway.


The pilot held Airline Transport Pilot certificate Number 1502470, with privileges for airplane multi-engine land. He held type ratings in the DC-9 and B-727. He held commercial and flight instructor ratings for airplane single-engine land. His flight instructor certificate was last issued on August 16, 1992, and his flight engineer certificate for turbojet-powered aircraft was issued May 31, 1966. He was a retired major airline pilot.

His second class medical certificate was issued May 27, 1994, with a restriction that he must wear corrective lenses. His medical certificate was valid for aerial application operations for compensation under 14 CFR Part 137.

The pilot had accumulated a total of 16,400 civil flight hours according to records on file in the Civil Aviation Registry, AVN- 400, and the Aeromedical Certification Division, AAM-300, at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. No personal pilot records or logbooks were available except for a pilot logbook excerpt from August 16, 1992, which shows flight time in a Champ 8-KCAB and which illustrates that Mr. Coleman had satisfactorily completed a biennial flight review equivalent.


The airplane was an Aero Commander Calair A-9B, serial number 1574, certificated in the restricted category. The FAA Aircraft registry indicates that the airplane was registered to Air Cover, Inc., on August 13, 1993.

Maintenance records have not been available since the date of the accident. Air Safety Inspectors from the FAA Flight Standards District Office in Kansas City, Missouri, conducted an inspection of the airplane and maintenance records on January 7, 1994, for the purpose of approving N7965V for operations under 14 CFR Part 137.

The total time on the airplane on September 2, 1993, when the pilot applied for an amendment to use N7965V in 14 CFR Part 137 operations was 3,353 hours, and the tachometer reading was 1,856 hours. The tachometer reading on July 5, 1994, was 1,862.5 hours, and airframe total time 3,360.0 hours.

Fueling records at 31P establish that 8.8 gallons of 100LL fuel was purchased by N7965V on July 5, 1994.


McCanles Farm Airstrip is a private airstrip and is not depicted on VFR aeronautical charts. According to its owner, the runway is oriented on a heading of approximately 150 degrees by 330 degrees, and is 2,000 feet long. The runway was dry on the day of the accident.

The runway is located on generally level terrain, but slopes slightly downhill to the southeast. South and southeast of the runway, the terrain slopes downhill more abruptly. Powerlines, 68 feet high, are located 950 feet southeast of the approach end of runway 33, and angle from east-northeast to west-southwest. These powerlines do not contain any type of markings. The power pole bases are 20 feet below the runway threshold. The angle from the threshold to the power lines 2.89 degrees.


The airplane impacted an open grassy field 500 to 600 feet southeast of the approach end of the northwest runway, and approximately 200 feet left of the extended centerline. The terrain is a farm field which slopes uphill from southeast to northwest, toward the approach end of the runway. The field is partially covered in tall grass, and partially harvested vegetation.

The wreckage sequence swath was approximately 200 feet long. The outboard section of the left wing struck a single powerline and exhibited leading edge and structural damage. The left wing and landing gear separated from the main part of the airplane. The left wing and landing gear separated when the airplane contacted the terrain.

A prop strike in the ground indicates that the engine was developing power when it impacted the terrain. The propeller exhibits leading edge polishing and forward bending along the inboard half of its radius. The tips are curled aft almost 180 degrees. The position of the left wing impact point and prop strike shows that contact by both was nearly simultaneous.

Additional ground scars indicate that after the initial ground contact by the left wing and propeller, the airplane became airborne and impacted terrain a second time. Damage to the upper fuselage and canopy indicate inverted ground contact before the airplane came to rest upright.

The flaps were in the fully extended position (24 degrees). The fuel tanks and sumps were ruptured and void of fuel. Upon arrival at the accident site, a strong fuel smell was evident.


An autopsy was performed by Bonita J. Peterson, M.D., of Kansas City, Missouri, on July 6, 1994. The autopsy report detailed multiple trauma injuries. Toxicological samples were forwarded to the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The results were negative for all substances tested.

The pilot had a restriction on his medical certificate that he "must wear corrective lenses." There was no evidence of lenses being worn nor were any eyeglasses found at the accident site, or in the personal effects that accompanied him to the coroners office.


The pilot was ejected from the airplane and was found approximately 35 feet from the main part of the wreckage. The lap belt restraint webbing was found frayed and severed on the right side. The base attachment points for both the left and right side of the lap belt loops remained attached at their anchor points. The buckle was found buckled in the closed position. The shoulder harness straps were found behind the seat with the lugs not locked in the worn position.


The aircraft wreckage was released to the owners representative on July 11, 1994.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain altitude clearance above the powerlines during his maintenance test application run.

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