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N5459U accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Shawnee, OK
35.327293°N, 96.925300°W

Tail number N5459U
Accident date 23 May 1997
Aircraft type Beech V35
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 23, 1997, approximately 1648 central daylight time, a Beech V35, N5459U, was destroyed following a loss of control while on departure climb from Shawnee Municipal Airport, near Shawnee, Oklahoma. The non-instrument rated private pilot and his two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was operated by a private individual under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the departure airport, but the FAA Flight Service Station (FSS) recommended IFR for the cross country personal flight which originated approximately 5 minutes before the accident. A flight plan had not been filed, but witnesses stated that the proposed destination was Minot, North Dakota.

According to witnesses, the pilot and his family had departed Minot, North Dakota, on May 19, 1997, for the flight to Shawnee, Oklahoma. On May 23, FAA records indicate that the pilot called the McAlester FSS, at approximately 0855, for a weather briefing. The FAA weather briefer gave the pilot a detailed weather briefing, which included the recommendation to "not fly VFR." The pilot stated to the briefer that he wanted to get home for his daughter's high school graduation ceremony on Sunday, but, "I'm not going to fly with those [weather] conditions."

Witnesses reported, to the Investigator-In-Charge (IIC), that the pilot arrived at the airport, at approximately 1315, to take friends and relatives for rides in the local area. One witness stated that the pilot then asked him, at approximately 1400, to "top off the fuel tanks"; which he did with approximately 42 gallons of fuel. The witness further stated that "the pilot left the airport with his friends and did not return until approximately 1630." The witness reported to the IIC that the pilot paid for fuel and services, and departed on runway 17 with two passengers, approximately 1645.

FAA radar data indicated that the airplane departed the airport to the south and made a right climbing turn to a northbound heading. The radar data further indicated that the airplane climbed to approximately 3,000 feet msl (approximately 2,000 feet agl) before it began descending. Several witnesses observed the airplane "spinning very rapidly out of the clouds to the ground," or as one witness said, "the airplane was spinning in a cork screw fashion."

The airplane impacted the ground approximately 0.5 mile east of Acme Road and approximately 0.3 of a mile south of Interstate 40 (North 35 degrees 23.04 minutes longitude by West 96 degrees 57.38 minutes latitude).


The pilot received his private pilot certificate on September 7, 1985, and he had accumulated approximately 433 flight hours since he started flying. The pilot's personal flight logbook indicated that he had flown approximately 29 hours in the last 90 days prior to the accident. His records indicated that he had approximately 197 hours of flight time in this make and model of airplane. His records also indicated that he had flown, with a flight instructor, 6.6 hours of actual instrument time and 7.3 hours of simulated instrument time.


The airplane was built in 1967 and had acquired approximately 3600 hours of flight time. The airplane did not have any weather radar or a Stormscope. The airplane was fully equipped and certified for instrument flight. The airplane's airframe and engine logbooks were reviewed, and the last annual inspection was done on December 1, 1996.


During the pilot's morning weather briefing, the FAA FSS weather briefer had reported flight precautions for IFR over most of the route of flight. The briefer also reported an AIRMET for moderate turbulence below 8,000 feet msl. He further stated that "weather conditions would remain generally the same for a couple of days."

A witness reported to the IIC that he (the witness) departed from Shawnee Municipal Airport, on an IFR clearance, approximately 20 to 30 minutes before the accident. He stated that the local area weather was: visibility 5 miles with haze, cloud condition generally overcast with some areas of occasional broken clouds, cloud base was at 2,500 feet msl (approximately 1,500 feet agl), and the cloud tops, of this deck, were 3,200 feet msl (approximately 2,200 feet agl).


The airplane was found upright with wings attached, the engine's longitudinal axis was approximately 30 degrees down, and with no identifiable horizontal ground scar (see attached wreckage diagram). The cabin area and wings were destroyed by postimpact fire. The engine was intact with moderate fire damage (see attached manufacturer's report). Two of the propeller blades showed "S" bending and cord-wise striations; the third blade was bent approximately 10 degrees to the aft position. The empennage was intact with minor damage. All structural components were accounted for.

The landing gear and flaps were found in the up position. The pilot's throw-over control yoke was on the left side, in the full aft position, and bent down approximately 30 degrees. The elevator was found in the full up position, the elevator trim was found in the 3 degrees down position, and the rudder control bell crank (below the pilot's rudder pedals) was found in the full left position. Continuity of all the flight control cables was established to the cockpit area where impact damage prevented further verification. The throttle, mixture, and propeller controls were all found in the full forward position.

The fuel selector escutchion (cover plate) was found crushed upward, and the fuel selector was found between the off and the left position.


An autopsy and toxicological tests, on the pilot, were ordered and performed. The autopsy was performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on May 24, 1997. Toxicology test found the blood and urine contained an "insignificant" amount of Pseudoephedrine (decongestant). However, Dr. Canfield, CAMI Toxicology Laboratory, stated that "the underlying medical condition for which this medication was taken may have caused discomfort or a distraction in the cockpit, and may also have been associated with vestibular symptoms."


The airplane was released to the owner's representative on June 18, 1997.

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