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N5392E accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location 35.941944°N, 114.841944°W
Nearest city Boulder City, NV
35.978591°N, 114.832485°W
2.6 miles away
Tail number N5392E
Accident date 12 Mar 2010
Aircraft type Beech K35
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On March 12, 2010, at 1624 Pacific standard time, a Beech K35, N5392E, collided with power lines near Boulder City, Nevada. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, wings, and left stabilator from impact forces. The cross-country personal flight departed Queens Creek, Arizona, at an undetermined time, with a planned destination of Henderson, Nevada. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

At 1602:30, recorded radar data displayed a secondary 1200 visual flight rules (VFR) beacon code at a mode C reported altitude of 8,500 feet mean sea level (msl). The ensuing radar target matched the projected flight path of the accident airplane. This target was heading 317 degrees; it proceeded on the northwesterly heading and began descending at 1614:31.

Recordings of the Boulder City airport universal communications frequency (UNICOM) indicated that runway 15 was the active runway. Boulder City airport was about 13 nautical miles (nm) east of Henderson. The pilot contacted UNICOM; he stated that he was low on fuel, and needed to get on the ground right away. He did not see the airport, and needed some help in locating it. He indicated that he was by a lake. The radar data indicated that the target was over Lake Mojave at 1616:07. It was at 7,800 feet; the heading was 319 degrees, and its ground speed was 164 knots. At 1617:20, the ground speed began decreasing, and went down to 90 knots in less than a minute. Routine aviation weather reports for Henderson that included the accident time frame indicated that winds were from 160-190 degrees at 6 to 8 knots.

About 4 minutes 20 seconds later, the pilot stated that he would like a straight in landing, and that he was gliding. A little over 30 seconds later, he said that he was passing through 5,000 feet, and had the airport in sight. At 1620:56, the radar data indicated that the target was at 5,000 feet, heading 327 degrees, and the speed was 83 knots.

Fifty seconds later, the pilot reported that he was about 5 miles from the airport at 4,000 feet. At 1622:20, the target was at 4,000 feet, and heading 321 degrees at 77 knots.

About 3 minutes later, a witness in another aircraft reported that he saw the airplane strike power lines, and then descend directly to the ground east of the airport on final for runway 27 left. He estimated that the crash site was about 1/2 mile from the runway numbers for 27.

The last target with altitude and airspeed was at 1624:44; it was at 2,300 feet, and heading 306 degrees at 76 knots. Boulder Municipal Airport's elevation was 2,201 feet.


A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 45-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and rotorcraft-helicopter. His third-class medical certificate was issued on May 13, 2004. It had the limitations that the pilot must wear corrective lenses. The application for that medical certificate noted a total time of 800 hours.

Investigators found one of the pilot's logbooks in the airplane. The last entry was on April 6, 2007. Total time at this point was about 542 hours. An entry dated March 1, 1999, was the first flight that was logged in N5392E. He logged 301 hours in this airplane. The logbook contained at least one entry to Henderson or the immediate area for 6 of the 7 years prior to the last entry in 2007.

A certified copy of the airman's records from the FAA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, indicated that the pilot obtained a rotorcraft rating on August 7, 2001. There was no rotorcraft time recorded in the logbook found in the wreckage, which indicated a total time of 399 hours in airplanes as of that date. The application for the rotorcraft certificate indicated 97.4 hours total time; 87.3 hours of instruction received (35.7 hours of cross-country solo instruction), 10.1 hours pilot-in-command (PIC) solo (3 hours cross-country PIC solo), 3.6 hours night instruction, and 12 night landings. No other pilot logbooks were located.


The airplane was serial number D-5883. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed a total airframe time of 3,164 hours at the last annual inspection. The logbooks contained an entry for an annual inspection dated January 15, 2007. The tachometer read 3,164.29 at the last inspection; the tachometer read 3,190 at the accident scene.

The engine was a Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) IO-470-C(1), serial number 242115-R. Total time recorded on the engine at the last annual inspection was 462 hours.


The pilot was in contact with Boulder City UNICOM on frequency 122.7.


The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) examined the wreckage on site.

The airplane came to rest on an easterly heading about 1/2 mile from the approach end of runway 27L. Three parallel sets of power lines ran from the northeast to the southwest. The closest point from the middle power line to the numbers for runway 27L was about 0.7 mile. One of the two top static wires on the middle power line appeared shiny in several spots that aligned with the debris path.

The paint markings and material for the first identified piece of debris were similar to the markings and material from the junction of the right tip tank and the right wing. This piece was about 100 feet from the middle power line wires, and in the direction of the main wreckage.

The debris path consisted of paint shards and Plexiglas. The right tip tank separated; it was on the left side of the debris field and about 200 feet from beyond the wires. The tank contained an angled semicircular indentation approximately the diameter of the power lines, and numerous striation marks.

The main wreckage came to rest upright about 260 feet beyond the wires. The debris path was along a magnetic bearing of 306 degrees. The engine partially separated from the airframe; it twisted and rotated about 80 degrees to the left. The nose landing gear remained attached to the airframe, and was in the extended position.

About 5 to 6 feet from the outboard edge of the right wing was an angled semicircular indentation with dimensions similar to the power lines. This portion of the leading edge exhibited aft crush damage, and striations went along the length of the crush area toward the tip.

One propeller blade bent forward 90 degrees beginning about 1/3 of the span from the hub. The other blade exhibited leading edge gouges on the outboard third, and striation marks consistent with power line contact on the cambered side at the midpoint.

The IIC established control continuity for the flight controls. The gear and flap switches were in the up position. The main landing gear were in the up position.


Sun calculations from the US Naval Observatory indicate that at 1620, the sun was 16 degrees above the horizon at 269 degrees magnetic from the accident site.


The Clark County Coroner completed an autopsy. The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.

Analysis of the specimens contained no findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs.


The airplane's flight manual (AFM) indicated that the best glide speed was 105 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS), and the emergency landing approach speed was 78 KIAS.

Fuel System

The AFM describes the fuel system. It consists of two 25-gallon (22 usable) main fuel tanks. Fuel feeds from each tank to a main fuel selector valve (FSV), which is located just forward of and to the left of the left front seat. It then feeds through a strainer to the fuel pump and the engine. The instrument panel contains subpanels on both sides that contain various systems switches. Two switches, which are not spring loaded, allow the pilot to select which main and auxiliary fuel tank is displayed on their respective quantity gauges.

This airplane was equipped with the two optional 10-gallon (19 gallons usable) auxiliary wing tanks. Both auxiliary wing tanks connected to a common port on the main FSV. Both fed simultaneously when the main FSV was set to AUX. This airplane's main FSV had four positions. OFF, LH TANK 22 GAL, AUX, and RH TANK 22 GAL.

The airplane had a 20-gallon tip tank installed on each wing in accordance with supplemental type certificate (STC) SA4-1629. The schematic of the tip tank system discussed fuel management. It noted that two additional FSVs were installed to select the tip tanks. The left tip FSV applied to the left tip tank, and the right tip FSV applied to the right tip tank. The left tip FSV was a two-position switch, OFF and LEFT. The right tip FSV was a three-position switch, OFF, RIGHT, and AUX.

The AFM notes that the fuel injection system returns about 10 gallons per hour of excess fuel. The excess is returned to whichever main tank is being used. When the auxiliary tanks are being used, the excess goes into the left main tank only.

The system description noted that the pilot should use at least 10 gallons of fuel from the left main fuel tank prior to using fuel from the auxiliary system. To use fuel from the tips, it instructed the pilot to turn the tip tank selectors to LH or RH tip tank. It advised the pilot to check the left main fuel tank quantity periodically, and return to the left main whenever it indicated 3/4 full. It stated that fuel could be used from both tip tanks simultaneously, but one could be turned off if an unsymmetrical load developed.

The description instructed the pilot to turn the main FSV to a main tank when the tip tank fuel had been exhausted. It then stated that the LH tip tank FSV should be turned to the OFF position. It indicated that to use the wing auxiliary fuel tanks, the pilot should position the RH tip tank FSV to the AUX position, and turn the main FSV to AUX. A note stated that the tip tanks selectors must be off when not in use except for the RH FSV when using the wing auxiliary tanks. It indicated that the main FSV should be set to a main tank, and all other tank selectors should be turned off, after all auxiliary fuel had been used.

The AFM directed the pilot to use the left main tank for takeoffs, and the main tank that was more full for landings. Investigators observed the main FSV in the AUX position. They observed the left tip tank FSV in the OFF position; the right tip tank FSV was in the AUX position. The main fuel quantity indicator switch was on the right position, and the auxiliary fuel quantity indicator switch was on the left position.

Investigators drained 5 gallons of a blue fluid that smelled like aviation gasoline from the left main fuel tank, and a short dribble of fluid from the left auxiliary tank. Just enough fuel was visible in the left auxiliary tank to cover the pickup tube. The left tip tank was breached on the bottom; it leaked as it was lifted up, and the ground was wet underneath. Some blue fluid was observed, but not a measurable amount was drained. No liquid was observed in the right main tank, which had not been breached, and drained a few drops from it. A blue fluid was observed that was above the level of the pickup tube in the right auxiliary tank, and drained 1/2 gallon from it. The right tip tank separated, and contained no fluid.

The Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) investigator examined the engine under the supervision of the FAA at Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, on March 22, 2010. He observed no anomalies of the engine that would have precluded normal operation.

NTSB Probable Cause

A loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of the pilot's inadequate fuel management; also causal was his subsequent failure to maintain clearance from power lines.

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