Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cessna 172B Skyhawk, N8059X: Accident occurred September 23, 2012 in the Atlantic Ocean

NTSB Identification: ERA12LA578 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 23, 2012 in
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/09/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 172B, registration: N8059X
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot had been experiencing difficulties in his personal life and had joked with a clergyman about 2 days before the accident that he should, “just fly his plane into the ocean.” The pilot was subsequently reported missing. The investigation revealed that he arrived at the airport where his airplane was kept about 2 o’clock in the morning the day of the accident. Radar data showed that a primary radar target departed the airport vicinity about 45 minutes later and flew east. After a brief period of maneuvering over the open ocean about 21 nautical miles from shore, radar contact with the target was lost. A portion of airplane wreckage was recovered from the ocean later that day by a commercial diving vessel and was subsequently identified as being of the same make, model, and vintage as the accident airplane. No further wreckage was recovered, nor were the remains of the pilot. A hand-written suicide note was found inside the pilot’s vehicle, which was parked in the airplane’s hangar.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s suicidal act.

On September 23, 2012, about 0430 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172B, N8059X, was substantially damaged following impact with the Atlantic Ocean. The certificated commercial pilot was not found and presumed fatally injured. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed from Herlong Recreational Airport (HEG), Jacksonville, Florida, about 0242. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to information provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the pilot was reported missing by a clergyman on September 25, 2012. According to the clergyman, he had last spoken with the pilot about two days before the accident flight, and during the conversation the pilot confided difficulties he was undergoing in his personal life. The pilot also joked during the conversation, “I should just fly my plane into the ocean.” During a subsequent investigation by the Sheriff’s Office it was revealed that the pilot’s airplane was also missing, and his vehicle was parked in the airplane’s hangar at HEG. Review of electronic access records at showed that the pilot last entered the airport on September 23 at 0204. Additionally, upon searching the pilot’s vehicle, the officers discovered a hand-written suicide note that was dated September 23, 2012 at 0225.

Radar information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Jacksonville Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), showed a primary radar target with no associated transponder beacon departing the vicinity of HEG about 0242. The target tracked northeast over the city of Jacksonville, Florida, before it turned southeast bound and headed out over the Atlantic Ocean. About 22 nautical miles east of Saint Augustine, Florida, the target began tracking north. About 0422, the target began maneuvering until the final radar target was observed at 0429, about 21 nautical miles east of Mayport Naval Station (NRB), Mayport, Florida (30 degrees 23.219 minutes north by 81 degrees 0.378 minutes west).

Radar tracks recorded by three other radar facilities showed a similar primary radar target departing from HEG and terminating over the Atlantic Ocean within 20 seconds of the data recorded by Jacksonville TRACON.

About 1230, a commercial diving vessel recovered an approximate 4-foot by 4-foot section of aircraft debris at 30 degrees 22.764 minutes north by 80 degrees 59.140 minutes west, about 1.2 nautical miles southeast of the final recorded radar target. After receiving notification from the FAA regarding a missing aircraft on September 25, the US Coast Guard undertook a search for the pilot and the airplane in the vicinity of the last observed radar target and where the aircraft debris was recovered. The search subsequently ceased on September 26, and neither the pilot nor any additional wreckage was recovered.

Photographs of the recovered debris were forwarded to the airframe manufacturer and later identified as exhibiting features consistent with those of the inboard wing section and fuel tank of a model year 1961 Cessna 172B. Additionally, a placard allowing for the use of unleaded automotive gasoline was observed adjacent to the fuel filler port. Review of FAA airworthiness records for the accident airplane showed that a supplemental type certificate allowing for the use of unleaded automotive gasoline was filed in January 1988.


 NTSB Identification: ERA12LA578
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 23, 2012 in
Aircraft: CESSNA 172B, registration: N8059X
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 23, 2012, about 0430 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172B, N8059X, was presumed substantially damaged following impact with the Atlantic Ocean. The certificated commercial pilot was not found and presumed fatally injured. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed from Herlong Recreational Airport (HEG), Jacksonville, Florida, about 0242. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to information provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the pilot was reported missing on September 25, 2012, and during a subsequent investigation it was revealed that the pilot’s airplane was also missing, and his car was parked in the airplane’s hangar. Review of electronic access records at HEG showed that the pilot last entered the airport on September 23 at 0204.

Review of preliminary air traffic control information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), showed a radar target with a 1200 transponder code departing the vicinity of HEG about 0242. The target tracked roughly eastbound, before it crossed the shoreline and proceeded southeast over the Atlantic Ocean. The target began tracking north before the final radar target was observed at 0429, about 21 nautical miles east of Mayport Naval Station (NRB), Mayport, Florida. The position of the last radar target was 30 degrees 23.219 minutes north by 81 degrees 0.378 minutes west.

Later that day, about 1230, a commercial diving vessel recovered an approximate 4-foot by 4-foot section of aircraft debris at 30 degrees 22.764 minutes north by 80 degrees 59.140 minutes west. After receiving notification from the FAA regarding a missing aircraft on September 25, the US Coast Guard undertook a search for the pilot and the airplane in the vicinity of the last observed radar target and where the aircraft debris was recovered. The search subsequently ceased on September 26, and neither the pilot nor any additional wreckage was recovered.

Photographs of the recovered debris were forwarded to the airframe manufacturer and later identified as exhibiting features consistent with those of the inboard wing section and fuel tank of a Cessna 172B. Additionally, a placard allowing for the use of unleaded automotive gasoline was observed adjacent to the fuel filler port. Review of FAA airworthiness records for the accident airplane showed that a supplemental type certificate allowing for the use of unleaded automotive gasoline was filed in January 1988.




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