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N3187G accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Elk Park, NC
36.157346°N, 81.978172°W

Tail number N3187G
Accident date 28 Apr 2000
Aircraft type North American SNJ-5
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On April 28, 2000, about 1612 eastern daylight time, a North American SNJ-5, N3187G, registered to a private individual, crashed on Beech Mountain, Elk Park, North Carolina, while on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight from Hickory, North Carolina, to Indianapolis, Indiana. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed and the private-rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated from Hickory, the same day, about 1549.

Transcripts of communications showed that at about 1357, a person identifying himself as the pilot of N3187G, called the FAA, Raleigh, North Carolina, Automated Flight Service Station, requesting to file an instrument flight rules flight plan, from Hickory, North Carolina, to Indianapolis, Indiana. The person also requested a weather briefing. The pilot filed his flight plan and requested an altitude of 10,000 feet. The pilot was given the weather briefing and told that "airmet sierra in effect across North Carolina and Virginia until you get up to the on the other side of the mountains and obscurations over the Appalachians Range over North Carolina moderate turbulence below one zero thousand ah just to the east of Hickory out over the coast you'll be going away from that area as you go up to Indianapolis and over North Carolina to the Tennessee line and across ah all but the western portion of Virginia occasional moderate rime or mixed icing from niner thousand to flight level one eight zero." The weather briefer went on to say "currently radar is showing off to the northwest of Hickory light to moderate precip across North Carolina and Virginia I do show an area of ah heavy possibly very heavy precip oh up north of the Elkins area." The weather briefer continued "forty miles southwest of tri-cities at one seven one five zulu an ATR reported the bases at seven thousand five hundred tops to one two thousand five hundred and don't see any other pireps for you are you deicing equipped." The pilot replied "ah negative we will probably just stay down to eight thousand until we get out of into Kentucky." The briefing concluded at about 1410.

Information from the Hickory Regional Airport, Control Tower show that at 1514, the pilot of N3187G was cleared to taxi to runway 6. At 1545, the pilot was given an instrument flight rules clearance, and at 1549, the pilot was cleared for takeoff. At 1551, the pilot was instructed to contact the FAA Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center.

Transcripts of communications show that at 1551, the pilot made contact with the Atlanta Center, radar controller, reporting that he was off Hickory and requesting an instrument flight rules clearance to Indianapolis. The pilot was told to put in transponder code 5270. The pilot reported he had been given transponder code 7132. The controller asked the pilot to standby. About 5 minutes later, another flight, which was flying into Hickory from the northwest, at 7,500 feet, reported he was "picking up a little ice here." At 1558, the pilot of N3187G was told he is radar contact 15 miles west of Barretts Mountain VORTAC, cleared to Holston Mountain VORTAC, and told to climb and maintain 8,000 feet. A short time later, the pilot was cleared to Indianapolis after Holston Mountain. At 1559, the controller again asked the pilot to put in transponder code 5270. The pilot replied that is what he is showing. The controller replied, he is receiving code 5277. At 1601, the controller told the pilot to put in transponder code 5230. The pilot acknowledged.

At 1602, the FAA Tri-Cities, Tennessee Approach reported to the Atlanta Center radar associate controller that "I got uh icing reports for you anybody comin to us uh northwest bound at uh seven eight or nine thousand is almost unusable for these little guys uh icing moderate rime icing at about all altitudes." At 1603, the radar controller asked the pilot of N3187G to put in transponder code 5327. The pilot did not reply. At 1605, the controller again makes contact with the pilot and tells him to put in transponder code 5327, and that they are still receiving code 5277. A short time later the controller began receiving code 5327. At 1609:29, the controller verified the flights clearance. The pilot responded. No further transmissions were received from the flight.

A pilot at the Lower Creek Airport, which is located about 15 miles north-northwest of the Hickory Airport, between the Hickory Airport and the crash site, reported " On Friday, April 28, 2000, between 4:00 pm and 4:05 pm, I heard a radial engine airplane cross above or near Lower Creek Airport. I took particular note that the prop was cycling back and forth from high pitch to low pitch. I never saw the airplane because the conditions were low IFR at Lower Creek at that time."

A police officer located about 1.5 miles south of the crash site reported hearing the aircraft fly over his house toward the north. The aircraft sounded low and he thought it had just taken off from the nearby Elk River Airport. As the aircraft flew over his house, the engine started to cut out and was spitting and sputtering. He ran outside and could not see the aircraft. He could still hear the aircraft's engine and it would "rev" up and then cut out again. The aircraft then sounded like it was turned around and coming back toward the Elk River Airport. The engine "revved" up again, cut off completely, and he then heard the sound of the aircraft crashing. He stated the clouds were overcast, just above the treetops, with visibility 1-1.5 miles, at the crash site.

Recorded radar data from the FAA, Atlanta Center and the Tri-Cities Approach Control showed the flight passed just to the north of the Lower Creek Airport, at about 1559, while climbing through 6,600 feet. The flight arrived at the cruising altitude of 8,000 feet at 1601. The final transponder code of 5327 was set at 1605:41. The flight continued on a northwesterly heading after reaching 8,000 feet. The airplanes groundspeed averaged around 140 knots during this time and altitude varied between 7,800 and 8,000 feet. At 1609:29, when the last transmission was received from the pilot, the airplane had turned left, to a westerly heading, and altitude had dropped to 7,700 feet. The airplane then turned right, to a northerly heading, and at 1610:29, was at 8,100 feet. The airplane then turned right toward the east and then southeast, and at 1610:42, is at 7,500 feet. Radar contact is lost until 1611:15, when the airplane is flying northeasterly, at 5,300 feet. At 1611:20, the airplane is at 5,500 feet. At 1611:25, the airplane is at 5,500 feet heading northeasterly. Radar contact is then lost. The last radar position was about one mile east of the crash site. The radar data also showed that the crash site was 16 miles southwest of the point another airplane reported encountering icing conditions at 7,500 feet, about 13 minutes before the accident. See Recorded Radar Study and Recorded Radar Data.


The pilot held a FAA private pilot certificate with airplane single engine, multiengine, and instrument airplane ratings. The certificate was last issued on June 22, 1987, when the multiengine rating was added. The pilot held a FAA second-class medical certificate, issued on July 10, 1999, with the limitation that holder shall wear correcting lenses. The pilot held a FAA waiver, issued on May 20,1993; authorizing issuance of a second-class medical certificate and with the limitation that holder must wear correcting lenses. On the July 10, 1999, application for the second-class medical certificate, the pilot reported having 1,600 total flight hours and 50 flight hours in the past 6 months.

Review of the pilot's logbook showed the last date that flight time was entered in the logbook was on July 15, 1999. The pilot had accumulated 1,552 total flight hours, 1,257 hours in single engine airplanes, 189 flight hours in actual instrument conditions, and 52 flight hours of simulated instrument time. The pilot's brother estimated the pilot had accumulated about 400 to 500 flight hours in the SNJ-5. The logbook had an entry for a biennial flight review, which was performed on December 20, 1999. The amount of flying hours and the type of airplane used for the review was not entered. The logbook had no entries, which would show the pilot met FAA currency requirements for pilot-in-command and for instrument flight.


The airplane was a North American SNJ-5, serial number 52022, registration number N3187G. The airplane was registered to the pilot in 1995. Logbook records showed the airplane received an annual inspection on August 12, 1999, about 20 flight hours before the accident. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated about 6,426 total flight hours. The airplane's engine was a Pratt and Whitney, R-1340-AN1, serial number 41-9691. The engine and accessories were overhauled on March 3, 1997, 159 flight hours before the accident. The propeller was a Hamilton Standard 12D40-211; serial number 4846-CPL.The propeller was overhauled on April 21, 1997, 159 flight hours before the accident. Logbook records show the last altimeter, pressure static system, transponder, and altitude encoder tests and inspections were performed on July 12, 1990. FAA regulations require these be checked each 24 calendar months before the airplane may be operated under instrument flight rules. See logbook pages.


The Watauga County Hospital Helipad, Boone North Carolina, 1550 surface weather observation was, winds 000 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 miles, clouds 1,600 feet scattered, 2,100 feet scattered, temperature 45 degrees F, dew point temperature 45 degrees F, altimeter 29.82 inches of Hg. The hospital is located 14 nautical miles east of the accident site and is at an elevation of 2,988 feet.

Upper air data recorded at Greensboro, North Carolina, about 4 hours after the accident showed the freezing level was at 7,000 feet, and winds at 8,000 feet were from 355 degrees at 7 knots. Greensboro is located about 100 miles east of the accident site.

Weather radar data recorded at Knoxville, Tennessee, showed no weather echoes were located within 5 nautical miles of the accident site at the time of the accident.

The area forecast for the accident site, at the time of the accident called for clouds 5,000 to 6,000 feet broken to overcast. Cloud tops to 10,000 feet.

Airmet Sierra Update 4, which was in effect at the time of the accident and for the accident area, called for mountains occasionally obscured by clouds and scattered precipitation.

Airmet Zulu Update 3, which was in effect at the time of the accident and for the accident area, called for occasional moderate rime/mixed icing in clouds and in precipitation between 9,000 feet and 18,000 feet. Freezing level 7,500 feet to 9,500 feet in North Carolina. See NTSB Meteorological Factual Report.

A carburetor icing probability chart shows the airplane was operating in conditions conducive to serious carburetor icing at cruise power. See carburetor icing probability chart.


The airplane crashed in front of a house located at 3974 Beech Mountain Road, Elk Park, North Carolina. The main wreckage of the airplane was located across Beech Mountain Road, at coordinates 36 12 3.4 North, 81 56 21.6 West. The elevation of the crash site was about 3,925 feet. Examination of the crash site showed the airplane passed over 50-foot agl power lines on the up sloping mountainside and collided with 75-foot trees near the 50-foot level. The crash line was oriented along a 150-degree direction. The left wing tip was found near the base of the trees and a piece of the left aileron remained in a tree. The airplane traveled another 30 feet, where the top 40 feet of a 1.5 foot diameter, 70-foot tall tree was severed, about 30 feet above the ground. More portions of the left outboard wing were found in this area along with branches from trees that had been severed by the propeller.

After colliding with the trees on the up sloping mountainside, the airplane collided with the terrain on the north side of Beech Mountain Road. The engine, propeller, and left horizontal stabilizer and elevator remained at the initial point of ground impact. The right wing, inboard left wing, remaining tail section, and fuselage continued across the road and into the yard of the house. The fuselage came to rest between the road and the driveway, about 75 feet from initial tree impact. The inboard left wing and left main landing gear was found south of the fuselage. The right wing and right main landing gear continued up the sloping terrain into the yard of the house. Fuel from the right wing ignited and caused fire damage to the yard and the house.

Post crash examination of the aircraft wreckage showed that all components of the airplane necessary for flight were located on the wreckage or around the wreckage of the airplane. All separation points within the flight control systems were consistent with overstress separation. The wing flaps and main landing gear were found retracted. The rudder trim tab was found in the neutral position. The right elevator trim tab was found in the full tab down position and it had received impact damage.

Examination of the engine showed the engine had sustained extensive impact damage. Most of the cylinders had impact damage and the cylinder heads were separated. Internal examination of the engine showed the connecting rods and crankshaft were in place. The spark plugs and spark plug leads were found to be hand tight. The spark plugs had deposits with coloring consistent with normal engine operation. The engine magnetos and distributor were destroyed in the accident and could not be examined. The propeller was still attached to the engine and the blades had twisting and bending damage consistent with rotation at a high engine power at the time of the accident.

Post accident examination of the carburetor at the manufacturer's facility under NTSB supervision showed no evidence of mechanical failure or malfunction of the carburetor. See Precision Report.

Examination of the engine-driven fuel pump showed the pump was still installed on the engine after the accident and the drive shaft was still in place. The pump rotated freely when turned by hand. Testing of the pump showed it pumped fuel normally when rotated.

Examination of the vacuum pump showed the pump was separated from the engine after the accident and the drive shaft was separated. Disassembly of the pump showed no internal damage, which would prevent the pump from operating. The NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, D.C., performed an examination of the separated drive shaft. The fracture surface had features typical of an overstress separation.

Examination of the front cockpit instrument panel showed the directional gyro read 120 degrees. Impact forces destroyed all other front cockpit flight and engine instruments. The throttle was set to the maximum power position, the mixture was in the full rich position, and the propeller control was set just short of the full low pitch position. The fuel selector was on the right fuel tank. The carburetor heat control was destroyed in the accident and the position at impact could not be determined. Examination of the rear cockpit instrument panel showed the altimeter read 3,200 feet and was set to 30.28 inches of Hg. The manifold pressure read 22 inches Hg. The electric engine tachometer read 2,550 rpm.


Postmortem examination of the pilot and passenger was performed by Brent Hall, M.D., Pathologist, Boone, North Carolina. The cause of death for each was attributed to multiple trauma. Additional findings for the pilot were atheroclerosis of the coronary arteries, severe; cardiomegaly, mild, with left ventricular hypertrophy; and hepatic steatosis, mild.

Postmortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the pilot was performed by Dr. Hall, and by Dennis V. Canfield, Ph.D, Manager Toxicology Laboratory, FAA, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test

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