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N50385 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Parowan, UT
37.842197°N, 112.828000°W

Tail number N50385
Accident date 23 Apr 1998
Aircraft type Cessna 150H
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On April 23, 1998, at 1110 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 150H, N50385, was destroyed following a loss of control and subsequent impact with terrain during initial climb following takeoff from Parowan Airport, Parowan, Utah. The flight instructor and his student received fatal injuries. The airplane was being operated by a private individual under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight which was originating at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed, but witnesses reported that the eventual destination was Chino, California.

A witness reported that the flight instructor and his wife arrived from California on April 20, 1998. The witness further stated that the flight instructor took him for a local flight on Monday, and the witness' wife for a local flight on Thursday morning before the accident. The witness reported that after the airplane landed on Thursday morning, the flight instructor topped the fuel tanks off with fuel and loaded the airplane for the trip back to California (see attached weight and balance calculations).

The flight instructor telephoned the airplane's owner (also his employer) to notify him that he was preparing for departure to return to California. His employer reported to the Investigator-In-Charge (IIC) that "he told the flight instructor that he did not need the airplane for a couple of days and for him to feel free to stay longer." A witness reported to the IIC that "he suggested to the flight instructor that he delay his departure because of the very high gusty wind conditions." The witness further reported that the flight instructor's wife said "she wanted to get back to California, because she had a hair appointment the next morning."

The same witness reported that the flight instructor departed from runway 22 (5,000 ft. x 60 ft., elevation 5,930 feet), and deviated to the right of runway heading over the general aviation parking ramp in front of the hangar at approximately 200 to 300 feet agl. One witness said the airplane "appeared to be flying very slow with its nose high." The flight instructor was seen waving to the people standing in front of the hangar. The witness further stated that the "airplane's nose pitched even higher, then the left wing stalled, and he spun to the ground." Several witnesses reported hearing the airplane's engine "running strong" until the airplane impacted the ground. According to another witness who was standing in front of the hangar, the "engine was putting out everything it had at full RPM and it was smooth." He further described the airplane as "wobbling, struggling and mushing; then the left wing dropped and the airplane spun to the ground."


The flight instructor had been employed by Tom King Aerial Enterprises in California to tow banners for approximately 3 years prior to the accident. While employed in this position, he had been flying a modified Cessna 150, powered by a Lycoming O-360-A4A, 180 horse engine. That airplane had been modified with a STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) kit that consisted of adding a cuff to the leading edge of the wing. The flight instructor's employer estimated that the pilot had approximately 500 hours flight experience in that modified Cessna 150. The flight instructor's flight log book was never located, it was not determined how much time he had in non-modified Cessna 150s or when he flew them last (prior to this trip.)

FAA records indicate that the flight instructor received his Flight Instructors Certificate on December 29, 1997.

The student pilot (the instructor pilot's wife) obtained her original student pilot certificate on April 15, 1992. A student pilot certificate is good for two years, but is only required for solo flight. Her pilot log book, which was found in the airplane, indicated that she had approximately 30 hours of flight experience.


The accident airplane was built in 1968 and was powered by a Continental O-200-A 100 horse power engine. The airplane had accumulated 4,515 total flight hours by the time of the accident.

The Cessna Aircraft Company's published Owner's Manual for the airplane indicated, in the performance chapter, that N50385 (at maximum gross weight) required 2,684 feet for takeoff distance to clear a 50 foot obstacle with a density altitude of 7,944 feet, a temperature of 70 degrees F., and zero head wind. The maximum rate-of-climb for N50385, under the same weather conditions was calculated to be 277 feet per minute.


The wind at Cedar City, Utah, (approximately 15 nm southwest of the Parowan Airport) at 1046 was 220 degrees, 15 knots gusting to 21 knots; the wind at 1150 was 180 degrees, 26 knots gusting to 35 knots. A witness reported that as the airplane was taxiing for takeoff, the wind changed direction from north to south several times and was calm at times. He further reported that during the airplane's takeoff, the wind was out of the south 20 to 25 knots gusting 30 to 35 knots. Several other witnesses reported that at the time of the airplane's departure, "the wind was blowing loose dirt parallel to the ground."

The density altitude at the time of the accident was 7,944 feet.


The wreckage was located on the southwest corner of the Parowan Airport (N37 degrees 51.40 minutes, W112 degrees 49.51 minutes) on a dirt tie-down area of the ramp. The airplane impacted the terrain in a near vertical orientation with wings level to the horizon; the airplane came to rest on its back in a scorpion shaped manner oriented approximately 205 degrees. The nose of the airplane was compressed aft, the engine had been pushed up and aft, and the leading edges of both wings were crushed straight back to the main spar.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for, and control cable continuity was established from each primary control surface and the elevator trim tab. The engine controls were found in the following positions: throttle, full forward; mixture, 2 inches out; and carburetor heat, full in. The fuel selector was found in the On position. The propeller blades had extensive cordwise striations with blade A (see photographs) bowed aft near the mid-span approximately 10 to 20 degrees with a "small degree of S" bending. Blade B (see photographs) was bent aft approximately 45 degrees from the blade root. The spinner was crushed to the propeller hub with incipient spiral deformation.

Both the flaps and flap selector switch were found in the up position. The left seat control yoke was intact and the right seat control yoke's right horn was separated from the yoke. The crankshaft was rotated by hand to confirm engine continuity, and cylinder thumb compression checks did not identify any anomalies. The magnetos were tested by rotating the crankshaft and spark was observed from each lead. No preimpact engine anomalies, which might have affected engine operation, were identified.

No evidence of preimpact or postimpact fire were observed.


Autopsies and toxicological tests were ordered and performed. The autopsies was performed by Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City, Utah, on April 25, 1998. Toxicology test results were negative.


The airplane was released to the owner's representative on April 24, 1998.

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