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N3862V accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city S Padre Island, TX
26.110900°N, 97.168000°W

Tail number N3862V
Accident date 16 Dec 1995
Aircraft type Cessna 150M
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On December 16, 1995, approximately 1150 central standard time, a Cessna 150M, N3862V, registered to, and operated by a private owner as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, was destroyed during impact with water near South Padre Island, Texas. The non-instrument rated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions were reported by witnesses for the area and a flight plan was not filed. The flight originated from Harlingen, Texas, about 50 minutes before the accident.

Two witnesses observed the airplane descend out of the "broken fog" at approximately 500-550 feet above the water. The airplane circled (360 degrees) as though trying to "avoid flying into the fog." As the airplane turned towards the south, it began a gentle descent and slight left turn as it disappeared below their line of sight. The witnesses reported the engine was "running fine."

A witness reported to a FAA inspector and Coast Guard personnel that he heard an explosion and when he looked in the direction of the sound he saw what he thought was a boat breaking up and sinking. The witness proceeded to the area of the crash to search for survivors. He recovered a wheel that was later identified as belonging to the accident airplane.

The Coast Guard was notified of a possible aircraft accident, and divers were transported to the site to search for survivors. The Coast Guard also dispatched a helicopter; however, it was unable to conduct a visual search due to fog.


According to the non-instrument rated private pilot's log book, he had accumulated 3.1 hours of simulated instrument time (hood) prior to August 1, 1980. The only hood time logged since 1980 was 0.3 hours on April 24, 1993. See the enclosed copy of the pilot's log book.


The aircraft's airframe and engine log books were not located. The owner of the airplane reported the log books were kept in the airplane. The airplane was fueled prior to departing Harlingen, Texas. An employee of Gulf Aviation reported that the pilot had called and requested the airplane be "pulled out and topped off by 10:30 - 11:00 AM on Saturday December 16, 1995." The fuel invoice indicated 7.7 gallons of 100 octane low lead fuel was purchased.


Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed along the coastal areas. One of the witnesses who is a retired air traffic controller, estimated the weather to be broken fog, ceiling partially obscured, and visibility ranging from 100 feet to 3/4 mile. See the enclosed witness statement.

The Coast Guard reported the weather as: seas 1 to 2 feet, wind southeast at 10 knots, visibility 0 to 1/2 nm in fog. When the Coast Guard helicopter arrived on site the weather was less than 100 feet overcast, wind 150 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 1/4 nm in fog. See the enclosed report.


The airplane was initially located approximately 300 yards east of the Port Isabel's north jetty in the Gulf of Mexico at latitude 26 degrees 04.04 minutes north and longitude 97 degrees 08.54 minutes west. Recovery of the aircraft was not possible due to hazardous water conditions. However, the divers recovered the nose landing gear, and a piece of aileron. Although the Coast Guard attached a marker buoy to the airplane, the salvage company was unable to locate it.

On December 23, 1995, three Mexican fishermen recovered portions of the fuselage and empennage in their nets. The recovered items were taken to the airport in Matamoros, Mexico, where they were stored and secured. The Mexican authorities released the items on January 9, 1996, and they were transported to Port Isabel, Texas.

The recovered portions of the airplane were examined by the investigator-in-charge on January 9, 1996, at the Marine Savage and Service facility, Port Isabel, Texas. The empennage was partially attached to the fuselage by cables. The top portion of the rudder and both elevators were separated from the empennage. The area forward of the seat rail was partially attached by control cables. The left seat was still attached to the seat rail and the right seat was not recovered. Both lap belts remained attached to the airframe. Neither lap belt buckle or their attachment points exhibited deformation. The main landing gear was still attached to the fuselage, however, the left wheel was separated from the strut. The fuel selector valve was found in the "On" position. The instrument panel, both wings, and the engine and propeller were not recovered.

Control continuity was established for the rudder and elevator from the aft cabin section to their respective attachment points. According to Marine Salvage and Service, "a lot of the cables were cut by the Mexican officials in their recovery."


There was no autopsy performed or toxicological testing accomplished due to the pilot not being recovered.


The airplane wreckage was released to the owner's representative.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.