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N9388G accident description

West Virginia map... West Virginia list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Morgantown, WV
39.629526°N, 79.955897°W
Tail number N9388G
Accident date 20 Oct 1997
Aircraft type Cessna 182P
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 20, 1997, at 1305 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 182P, N9388G, was destroyed during a forced landing near Morgantown, West Virginia. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at Rochester, New York (ROC), approximately 1100. An IFR flight plan was filed for the flight to Morgantown (MGW) and conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the Air Traffic Control records, the pilot filed an instrument flight plan from ROC to MGW. Approximately 1250, the pilot radioed Clarksburg Approach Control and amended his destination to Charleston, West Virginia. At 1252, N9388G was instructed to climb from 5,000 feet and to maintain 6,000 feet.

At 1301, the pilot called Clarksburg Approach and reported that he had "...lost power." The airplane was approximately 5,500 feet heading 220 degrees. The controller advised the pilot that Morgantown Airport was " your 6 o'clock and 5 miles." The controller advised the pilot to turn left to a heading of 020 degrees and repeated the instructions. The pilot responded, "I hear you and I'm making a left turn to ...what heading?" The controller repeated the instructions and the pilot acknowledged, "...020."

Approximately 2 minutes after the pilot reported the power loss, the controller called and asked the pilot if he was able to turn around to a heading of 020. The pilot responded, "I'm heading 220...and I'm 3,000 feet." The controller again advised a left turn to 020 degrees. The controller then issued a low altitude alert and a heading change to avoid a tower. After a delay, the pilot responded, "I cannot make the airport...I've got a field picked out if I can make it." No further calls were received from N9388G.

The airplane struck trees before impacting an open field, approximately 9 miles south of MGW.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 39 degrees, 33 minutes north latitude, and 79 degrees, 55 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot's certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued August 18, 1997. The pilot's total flight experience was approximately 2,000 hours.

The last 6 years of the pilot's logbook were provided. Examination of the logbook pages revealed that from October 20, 1991, until the date of the accident, the pilot had accumulated 117 hours of flight experience, all of which was in N9388G.

The pilot's last instrument competency check was completed June 12, 1996, during a biennial flight review (BFR). The pilot accrued another 10 hours of flight experience before completing another BFR on March 17, 1997. During those 10 hours, the pilot noted instrument flight maneuvers, but recorded no actual or simulated instrument flight experience.

The same Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) that administered the pilot's BFR and instrument check in 1996 administered the BFR in 1997. He said the review was limited to mostly VFR work. The CFI said they did not complete an instrument competency check because "[the pilot]'s performance under the hood indicated a need for instrument training." The CFI said that the pilot did not return to him for additional instrument training and he was not aware of the pilot receiving any instrument training subsequent to their flight.


Weather reported at MGW, 9 miles north of the accident site, at 1145 was: scattered clouds at 3,500 feet with ceilings broken at 4,500 feet and 6,500 feet respectively. Winds were from 210 degrees at 6 knots. The temperature was 51 degrees and the dewpoint was 46 degrees.

According to a Carburetor Icing Probability Chart published by the FAA, atmospheric conditions were conducive to "...serious icing at cruise power."


On October 19, 1997, at 2143, the pilot called the Buffalo Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) and obtained a preflight pilot briefing for a flight from ROC to CRW. On October 20, 1997, at 0616, 0720 and at 0846, the pilot contacted the Buffalo AFSS by telephone and obtained preflight pilot briefings for a flight from ROC to CRW. When the pilot requested the brief at 0616 he said, "I would like to go to CRW today and I need to go VFR."

During the latter two telephonic briefs, the pilot said, "I'd rather go VFR but I can go IFR." At 0846, the pilot filed an IFR flight plan. At 0926, the pilot contacted the Buffalo AFSS by radio, obtained a preflight pilot brief for a flight from ROC to CRW, and again filed an IFR flight plan.


The Morgantown Municipal Airport was 1,248 feet msl. The two intersecting runways were oriented 18-36 and 05-23. The main runway oriented 18-36 was 5,199 feet long, 150 feet wide, and constructed of grooved asphalt. The airport was attended by a control tower attached to a large passenger terminal on the west side of the airport. A large parking ramp ran in front of the tower and passenger terminal toward the north end of the airport. The ramp was bordered by hangers on the west side and had two helipads at the base of the tower.


The airplane wreckage was examined at the site on October 21, 1997. There was a large quantity of fuel and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented 070 degrees on rising terrain and divided into one foot increments called wreckage points (WP).

The initial impact scars were noted in a tree approximately 45 feet above the ground and identified as WP zero. Impact scars were noted in a tree at WP 59, approximately 25 feet above the ground, but at approximately the same altitude mean sea level as those scars at WP zero.

Initial ground scars were at WP 149. The propeller was separated from the engine and located at WP 160, 19 feet left of centerline. The propeller was scratched diagonally across the blades from root to tip. One blade was bent aft at a point approximately12 inches out from the hub. The nose gear was at WP 180, 16 feet left of centerline.

The fuselage was at WP 187, 34 feet left of centerline, and came to rest facing uphill oriented 148 degrees magnetic. Control cable continuity was established to all flight control surfaces. The left wing was separated from the fuselage but still attached by cables. The empennage and tail section were folded forward over the roof of the airplane. The engine and firewall were pushed up and aft. The instrument panel was destroyed and forced aft into the cockpit area. The right hand-grip of the left control yoke was broken off. The forward cabin floor in the area of the rudder pedals at both pilot stations was forced aft into the cockpit.

The copilot's shoulder harness was stowed. The pilot's shoulder harness was not stowed but showed no signs of distress.

The wreckage was moved to the Morgantown Airport for further examination.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on October 21, by Dr. Hugh A. Lindsey of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Morgantown, West Virginia.

The toxicological testing report from the medical examiner's office revealed negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.

Toxicological testing samples were not forwarded to the FAA laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


The Teledyne-Continental O-470-R engine was examined at the Morgantown Municipal Airport on October 22, 1997. The carburetor was separated due to impact. The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand and continuity was established through the powertrain, valvetrain, and accessory section. Compression was confirmed on all cylinders. Magneto timing was verified and both magnetos produced spark through all terminal leads.

The carburetor throat was free of obstructions and the one-piece venturi was intact. The spark plugs were intact and the electrodes were light tan and gray in color. The electrodes on the spark plugs from the #2 cylinder were dark with a light coating of oil.


According to the Cessna Owner's Manual, the glide ratio for the Model 182 and Skylane was approximately 10 to 1.

In a written statement, the Air Traffic Manager at the Clarksburg Air Traffic Control Tower said:

"I heard the radar controller on position trying to get the aircraft to make a turn towards the Morgantown Airport. I never observed the aircraft turn."

The airplane wreckage was released on October 22, 1997 to a representative of the owners insurance company.

NTSB Probable Cause

The loss of engine power due to carburetor ice and the pilot's failure to follow ATC instructions during the emergency descent.

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