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N6059C accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Lagrange, WI
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Tail number N6059C
Accident date 15 May 1998
Aircraft type Commander 114-B
Additional details: None
No position found

NTSB Factual Report


On May 15, 1998, at 0910 central daylight time (cdt), a Commander 114-B, N6059C, operated by an instrument rated private pilot, was destroyed during an in-flight break-up and collision with the ground. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating on an instrument flight plan. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The flight departed Waukesha, Wisconsin, at 0850 cdt.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records showed N6059C's pilot filed two IFR flight plans at 2120 cdt on May 14, 1998, with the FAA's Greenbay, Wisconsin, Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS). The first IFR flight plan was from Madison, Wisconsin, to Waukesha, Wisconsin. The second IFR flight plan was from Waukesha, Wisconsin, to Columbus, Ohio.

While filing the first flight plan the pilot said N6059C's airspeed was planned at 154 knots at 5,000 feet above mean sea level (msl). The pilot said, "...we're going to get there in a hurry." The AFSS specialist said, "...that's red line on any airplane." N6059C's pilot replied, "ya that's true... ."

While speaking with the AFSS specialist the pilot asked for the next day's winds aloft forecast. The AFSS specialist replied, "...starting out... it's not as bad... as I thought it'd be, it's two one zero in the... eighteen knot range at seven thousand feet... ." The AFSS specialist advised the pilot that he would be "...flying basically into a high pressure ridge aloft... ." He told the pilot there would be "...significant thunderstorm activity..." in Wisconsin after 1200 cdt. There is no record of the pilot obtaining a weather briefing before his flight from Madison, Wisconsin, to Waukesha, Wisconsin, or before the accident flight.

At 0859:27 cdt, the pilot of N6059C contacted FAA Approach Control at the Greater Rockford Airport, Rockford, Illinois. The pilot said, "Rockford approach, Commander six zero five nine charlie six thousand three hundred up to seven." The approach controller acknowledged the radio call and issued the pilot an altimeter setting of 29.95 inches of mercury. The pilot acknowledged the altimeter setting at 0859:40 cdt. That was the last radio transmission from N6059C. The approach controller called N6059C two additional times without a response from the airplane's pilot. At 0910:46 cdt the controller said he did not see N6059C on his radar screen.

The FAA's Chicago, Illinois, TRACON radar track data showed N6059C's altitude was 6,200 feet above mean sea level (msl) at 0859:25. The radar data showed N6059C had continued to climb and leveled off at 6,900 feet msl at 0901:03 cdt. The airplane maintained that altitude until 0903:26 cdt. Four seconds later the radar data showed N6059C's altitude was 6,800 feet msl. N6059C's altitude varied between 6,800 and 7,000 feet msl until 0906:26 cdt. Thirteen seconds later its altitude was 6,600 feet msl. The airplane maintained this altitude for eleven seconds. At 0907:08 cdt the radar data showed N6059C's altitude was 4,500 feet msl. The 4,500 feet msl altitude report was the last radar identification of N6059C.

The radar data showed N6059C's ground track heading (heading) was 223 degrees magnetic at 0859:25 cdt. At 0901:03 cdt the radar data showed its heading was 209 degrees magnetic. According to the radar data, N6059C's heading changed eleven times while it was flying at 6,900 feet msl. The headings changed from 209 to 193 degrees magnetic and then to a maximum of 274 degrees magnetic at 0906:26 cdt. N6059C's heading and altitude's had continued to change until its last radar identification at 0907:08 cdt. At that time the reported heading was 045 degrees magnetic. According to the TRACON radar data, the airplane's ground speed varied between 274 and 182 knots during the 0859:25 and 0906:26 cdt period. Excerpts of the FAA's Rockford Air Traffic Control Tower Aircraft Accident Package and the Chicago, Illinois, TRACON radar data are appended to this report.

Witnesses reported hearing between one and three loud bangs coming from the clouds above them after they heard an airplane engine increasing its RPM. The Walworth County Sheriff's Department, Walworth County, Wisconsin, report showed one witness said he "...heard the roaring of an airplane engine, and then he heard, what sounded like a 'ka-boom'... ." The report showed that another witness said "...he [heard] loud revs of an engine up and down, similar to a stunt plane. The witness said that he looked southwest and saw a plane come out of the fog nose first. He said that it was nose first toward the ground, with the wings rotating slowly. He heard three loud bangs before the plane came out of the clouds... ." The report presented another witness who said, " approximately 9:05 A.M., he heard an engine rev very, very fast, as if it were racing. He observed pieces of an airplane falling from the sky from very high up. He heard and saw this before he saw the plane crash."

The Walworth County Sheriff's report said that one witness "...heard the noise of an engine revving. He stated he saw one plane, and no debris, coming from the sky, going straight down in the area of the crash site. He said that the airplane had wings when it was going down, and again emphasized that it was going straight down, however he did say that it was tumbling nose over tail, stopped its rotation and then fell straight down from the sky... ." The report showed that another witness, located about 3/4 mile west-northwest of the accident site said "...the plane suddenly did a forward barrel roll, the right wing ripped off the plane and then she observed it crash."


The pilot obtained his airplane, single-engine land, private pilot certificate on April 14, 1997. According to the FAA's Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application, he had received 142.9 hours of dual flight instruction and had 28.8 hours of solo flight time before obtaining his pilot's certificate. The pilot's logbook confirms these hours. According to his logbook, the pilot had 5.1 hours and 2.7 hours of actual instrument and simulated instrument time respectively as of April 14, 1997.

According to FAA records, the pilot obtained his airplane instrument rating on November 5, 1997, after receiving 77.2 hours of dual. His logbook showed he had 34.9 hours of simulated instrument and 9.6 hours of actual instrument flight time respectively as of November 5, 1997. Between August 12, 1997, and August 22, 1997, the pilot obtained 18.1 hours of synthetic trainer experience, according to his logbook.

The pilot's logbook showed he had 340.6 hours total time and 196.7 hours pilot-in-command flight time as of May 9, 1998. The logbook showed he had received 241.5 hours of dual flight instruction as of this date. Of the total time shown for this date, 18.5 and 41.4 hours were shown as actual instrument and simulated flight time respectively. His total time in the Commander 114-B was 23.2 hours. Of this time 11.9 hours were shown as pilot-in-command.

The logbook showed the pilot had .3 hour instrument time in N6059C between the time he received his pilot-in-command endorsement and the accident flight. Before receiving flight training in N6059C the most recent instrument flight time was logged on February 16, 1998. On that date the logbook showed he had 3.0 hours simulated instrument flight time and .5 hour of actual instrument flight time.

The instructor who transitioned the pilot to the airplane had used an FAA Form entitled, "Sample Training Plan for Transition to High Performance Airplanes." This form is part of an FAA Advisory Circular AC 61.98A entitled, "Currency and Additional Qualifications Requirements for Certificated Pilots." The form showed the instructor had given the pilot 10.5 hours of ground instruction related to the accident airplane, and 11.6 hours of flight instruction in the airplane. The form showed the pilot had demonstrated unusual attitude recovery by reference to instruments during his transition training to N6059C. The form is appended to this report.

The pilot's logbook showed he had flown a Cessna 172 and Piper PA-28-181 during his instrument flight training. The logbook showed he had flown the Commander 114-B 6.3 hours before receiving an endorsement authorizing him to fly the airplane as pilot-in-command. The logbook showed the pilot had .8 hour of simulated instrument flight time while receiving the checkout in N6059C.


N6059C was a Commander 114-B, serial number 14649. According to the airframe maintenance records N6059C, had "...been inspected and found to conform to the Type Certificate therefore, to be in condition for safe operation..." on February 24, 1997. At that time N6059C had a total of 4.2 hours of flight time on its airframe. A Standard Airworthiness Certificate was issued for the airplane on this date. The maintenance records showed its next annual inspection was due on February 28, 1998.

The maintenance records showed N6059C had 58.7 hours time in service when it received an annual inspection on March 11, 1998. This entry showed that a "...[3 1/2 inch] crack in [the] inboard wing skin..." had been repaired. The crack was located on the right wing's lower wing skin near the wheel well. Copies of the airframe logbook entry, repair station work order, and company's repair description are appended to this report.

According to the Commander 114-B Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), the airplane's maximum structural cruise speed is 148 knots calibrated and indicated airspeed. The POH states that the significance of this speed is: "Do not exceed this speed except in smooth air, and then only with caution." This airspeed is shown on the airspeed indicator by the end of the green arc at the high airspeed range. The POH said that the green arc represents the airspeeds within the airplane's Normal Operating Range. The Normal Operating Range for this airplane goes from 60 to 148 knots calibrated airspeed. The never exceed airspeed, Vne, is 186 knots calibrated and 187 knots indicated airspeeds respectively.


The FAA's surface weather reports for General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, showed an overcast sky with bases at 20,000 feet msl and an altimeter setting of 29.97 inches of mercury at 0856 cdt. The weather at Waukesha County Airport, Waukesha, Wisconsin, was a clear sky with an altimeter setting of 29.98 inches of mercury at 0855 cdt. Dane County Regional Airport, Madison, Wisconsin, showed a broken layer of clouds at 5,500 feet above ground level (agl) and an altimeter setting of 29.94 at 0853 cdt. Weather at the Greater Rockford Airport, Rockford, Illinois, was reported as scattered clouds at 25,000 feet agl and an altimeter setting of 29.96 at 0854 cdt.

The FAA's winds aloft forecast for Greenbay, Wisconsin, showed the winds at 3,000 feet msl were forecast to be 220 degrees magnetic at 20 knots and 220 degrees magnetic at 22 knots for 3,0000 and 6,000 feet msl respectively. The Joliet, Illinois, forecast winds aloft showed the winds forecast were for wind to be at 230 degrees at 23 knots and 220 degrees at 21 knots for 3,000 and 6,000 feet respectively. The accident flight occurred during the valid time for these forecast winds.

The NTSB's Senior Meteorologists Factual Report showed visual meteorological conditions reported in the area of the flight and accident site. The report showed "Selected PIREPS, [pilot reports], relevant to Wisconsin... showed scattered to broken cirrus clouds and haze tops at 6,000 feet msl about 10 miles east of Madison, Wisconsin." The report states, "...haze tops 6,000 feet [msl]; turbulence smooth [about 12 miles east of Janesville, Wisconsin." The accident site is about 25 nautical miles northeast of the Rock County Airport, Janesville, Wisconsin.

The report shows there was an AIRMET issued for the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Chicago, Illinois, that advised the pilot there could be "...occasional visibility below 3 miles [due to] haze." The report stated there were "No SIGMETS or Convective SIGMETS [that] were valid for the accident area. No Center Weather Advisories... were valid for the accident area." According to report information, the cloud bases were about 6,000 feet msl. The Doppler radar data showed the cloud tops were about 10,000 feet msl. The Doppler data did not show measurable turbulence during the time period of the accident flight. The wind speed at N6059C's altitude was about 35 knots from a south-southwest direction. A copy of the Meteorological Factual Report is appended to this document.


N6059C's wreckage was located about 1/2 statute mile south of U.S. Route 12 and about 1/4 mile east of Walworth County Road "H." The wreckage trail was about 1-1/2 statute miles in length. A wreckage diagram is appended to this report.

N6059C's main wreckage was laying on its right side on a magnetic heading of about 330 degrees. The main wreckage consisted of the airplane's fuselage and left wing. The inboard section of the right wing was located about 900 feet northwest of N6059C's location. The upper half of the airplane's vertical stabilizer was located about 2,000 feet north-northwest of the main wreckage site. The horizontal stabilizer and elevator were located about 1/2 statute mile north-northwest of N6059C's location. Both elevator balance tabs had separated from the elevator. One was found about 1,500 feet northwest of the wreckage. The second elevator balance tab was found about 1/2 statute mile north-northwest of N6059C. The outboard third of the right wing was located about 100 feet north of the horizontal stabilizer/elevator assembly. Smaller pieces of N6059C's wreckage were scattered north of the right wing section.

N6059C's fuselage was crushed inward on its right side, along its longitudinal axis. The top aft section of the fuselage was ruptured open from the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer forward to about the dorsal fin's midspan location. The left wing was angled about 90 degrees forward from its normal position and had pressed into the forward fuselage.

The left main landing gear was in the extended position. The bottom of N6059C's fuselage was ruptured open and crushed in toward the fuselage center. The tail cone was bent about 20 degrees toward the left. The nose landing gear was in the extended position.

The cockpit annunciator panel located on N6059C's instrument panel had light bulbs whose filaments were distorted. Two of the four "Lamp Test" bulbs were distorted. The two "Day" bulbs had distorted filaments. The remaining light bulb filaments were not distorted. The autopilot annunciator panel had two indicator light bulbs with distorted filaments. The bulbs that had distorted filaments were: Flight Director and Autopilot.

The right wing was fragmented into various-sized pieces from its root outboard to its wingtip. The inboard, forward section of the wing, from the root to about six feet outboard of the main landing gear strut mount was the largest piece of the right wing. The main landing gear was retracted. This section of the wing was separated from the main spar. This wing section had an inverted bow in it that began at the main landing gear attach point. The forward wing root attach fitting had separated from its fuselage mounting. The rivet holes in the flanges of the fitting were torn, distorted and lipped toward its fuselage attach point. The top and bottom surface of this wing section were oil-canned.

The second largest piece of the right wing began about eight feet from the wing root to the wingtip. This section had part of the main spar attached to it. The inboard fracture shape of this section matched the shape of the previously described wing section's outboard fracture. Examination of the fractures on the spar end and separated metal showed shear lips and a grainy surface appearance that are consistent with an overload fracture.

The section of the rig

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot not maintaining aircraft control during cruise flight and exceeding the airplane's design stress limits. Factors in this accident was the pilot's lack of total experience in the airplane and the clouds.

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