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N44DJ accident description

Tennessee map... Tennessee list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Columbia, TN
35.615072°N, 87.035283°W
Tail number N44DJ
Accident date 05 Jan 1996
Aircraft type Cessna 210H
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On January 5, 1996, about 2155 central standard time, a Cessna 210H, N44DJ, was substantially damaged following a collision with trees and the terrain near Columbia, Tennessee. The private pilot was fatally injured in the accident. The airplane was being operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 by the pilot. Instrument meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident, and an instrument flight plan was in effect for the flight. The flight departed Cincinnati, Ohio about 1828.

According to the FAA air traffic (AT) report of the accident at 1007, the pilot of N44DJ telephoned the Dayton, Ohio (DAY) Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) and obtained an outlook briefing for an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight from Lunken Field Airport (LUK), Cincinnati, Ohio, to Maury County Airport (MRC), Columbia/Mount Pleasant, Tennessee. At 1625 the pilot contacted the DAY AFSS and obtained a complete weather briefing. At 1833, he called again and filed an IFR flight plan.

After departing Lunken Airport, the flight proceeded uneventfully, according to the AT report until approaching the Maury County Airport. At 2134, while in contact with Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), the flight was informed that current Maury County weather was available on Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS). According to the transcript of radio communications N44DJ obtained the AWOS weather for Maury County Airport, and requested to execute the Very high frequency Omnidirectional Range with Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR-DME) approach. The flight was directed to maintain 3,000 feet until past the initial approach fix. At 2141, the controller informed N44DJ that the airplane was 500 feet low. The pilot responded that he was climbing back to 3, 000 feet. At 2142, N44DJ was cleared for the approach. According to the local police report the initial report of the accident was 2204.

Local law enforcement personnel verbally reported that several local residents reported hearing the airplane circling in the area for several minutes prior to hearing the impact.

The airplane impacted trees and a field about 10 miles east of the Maury County Airport.


The non instrument rated pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land rating. The certificate was issued April 14, 1994. The pilot's flight log reflected a total of approximately 390 flight hours, and 100 hours in the same make and model airplane. The logbook indicated a total of nine hours actual instrument time, and eight hours simulated instrument time. His biennial flight review was given in the Cessna 210H. He held a current third class medical with no limitations or waivers. Additional personnel information can be found in this report in the section First Pilot Information.


The Cessna 210H is a six passenger, single engine, high wing, small aircraft. Additional aircraft information can be found in this report in the section Aircraft Information.


Instrument meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident. The light condition was dark night. Weather conditions were reported as: Ceiling overcast at 400 feet, visibility 1.75 miles in fog and drizzle, temperature 37 degrees fahrenheight, dew point 36 degrees fahrenheight, wind 030 degrees at four knots, and altimeter 30.21 inches of mercury.

The police report indicated that that the weather after they arrived at the accident site was drizzling rain, and fog, with visibility less than 1/2 mile. A witness who lives in the area of the accident site stated it was cold and drizzly the night of the accident.


The accident site was located about 10 miles southeast of the airport. The approach procedure heading to the airport from the initial approach fix was 137 degrees. The wreckage was scattered in an open field along a magnetic heading of 068 degrees for about 700 feet. Trees had been broken off on the northwest side of the field with ground scars and the airplane's nose wheel northeast of the broken trees. Additional debris led to the main wreckage northeast of the broken trees. The separated propeller was found northeast of the main wreckage and the engine further northeast of the propeller (see attached wreckage diagram).

The left main landing gear, the left cabin door, and the pilot's seat were separated from the airplane. The airplane was found inverted. The firewall and the instrument panel were mangled. The fuselage was broken apart just aft of the cabin compartment. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were compressed vertically and in contact with the top in contact with the ground. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator outboard half were torn away from the airplane. The leading edge of both wings exhibited accordion like, chordwise, compression damage.

There were chordwise scrapes on each propeller blade, and each blade was twisted, spanwise, toward a lower pitch position. The engine crankshaft fracture surface was rough, granular, and irregular in appearance and exhibited 45 degree fracture lines longitudinally, from the forward right to the aft left side of the crankshaft.


A toxicology examination was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The report of the examination stated that 11.0 ug/ml, ug/g butalbital was detected in the blood, and 8.000 ug/ml, ug/g butalbital was detected in liver fluid. According to the Physician's Desk Reference, butalbital has muscle relaxant properties and is usually mixed with another drug such as caffeine, aspirin, or acetaminophen, and taken as a capsule or tablet by mouth. When mixed with another drug, butalbital is indicated for the relief of the symptom complex of tension or muscle contraction headaches. The most frequent adverse reactions are drowsiness and dizziness. Less frequent adverse reactions are lightheadedness and gastrointestinal disturbances including nausea, vomiting and flatulence. Mental confusion or depression can occur due to intolerance or overdose of butalbital. Precautions when using this drug should be followed. The use of butalbital may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks, such as driving a car or operating machinery.

Dr. Dennis Canfield, FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory stated that usually there will be approximately twice as much medication found in the liver fluid as in the blood. Because there is less found in the liver fluid, he stated the pilot most likely took the drug shortly prior to flight. He could not estimate the elapsed time since ingestion of the drug. Dr. Canfield stated the amounts of butalbital found in the pilot's system were in the therapeutic range, and the pilot should not have been operating an airplane.

A post-mortem examination of the pilot was performed by Charles W. Harlan, Tennessee State Medical Examiner's Office.


The wreckage was released on January 22, 1996 to Phillip A. Powell, Insurance Adjuster, with Carson/Brooks, Atlanta, Georgia.

NTSB Probable Cause

failure of the pilot to follow procedures/directives by flying in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) without proper training/certification; and his failure (or inability) to follow proper IFR procedures and maintain proper altitude during an instrument approach, which resulted in a collision with obstacles (trees) and the ground. Factors relating to the accident were: darkness, instrument weather conditions, and pilot impairment from use of a medication that is not approved by the FAA for use while operating an aircraft.

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