Monday, November 9, 2015

Cessna 441 Conquest II, N164GP, Legal Airways LLC: Fatal accident occurred November 09, 2015 in Climax, Decatur County, Georgia

R. Gene Odom


Lester Hathcox



The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.


Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office
FAA/AVP-100; Washington, District of Columbia
Honeywell Aerospace; Phoenix, Arizona
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Legal Airways LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N164GP


NTSB Identification: ERA16FA035
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 09, 2015 in Climax, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/05/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 441, registration: N164GP
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The purpose of the flight was for the commercial pilot/owner to pick up passengers at the destination airport and return to the departure airport. The airplane was 33 miles from its destination in cruise flight at 3,300 ft mean sea level (msl) and above a solid cloud layer when the pilot declared to air traffic control (ATC) that he had the destination airport “in sight” and cancelled his instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance. During the 13 minutes after cancellation of the IFR clearance, the airplane’s radar track made an erratic sequence of left, right, and 360° turns that moved the airplane away from the destination airport in a westerly direction. The altitudes varied between about 4,000 and 900 ft msl. Later, the pilot reestablished communication with ATC, reported he had lost visual contact with the airport, and requested an instrument approach to the destination airport. The controller then provided a sequence of heading and altitude assignments to vector the airplane onto the approach, but the pilot did not maintain these assignments, and the controller provided several corrections. The pilot expressed his inability to identify the initial approach fix (IAF) and asked the controller for the correct spelling. The radar target then climbed and subsequently entered a descending right turn at 2,500 ft msl and 180 knots groundspeed near the IAF, before radar contact with the airplane was lost. 

Although a review of airplane maintenance records revealed that the airplane was overdue for several required inspections, examination of the wreckage revealed signatures consistent with both engines being at high power at impact, and no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomalies were found that would have precluded normal operation. Examination of the airplane’s panel-mounted GPS, which the pilot was using to navigate the flight, revealed that the navigation and obstruction databases were expired.

During a weather briefing before the flight, the pilot was warned of low ceilings and visibility. The weather conditions reported near the destination airport about the time of the accident also included low ceilings and visibilities. The restricted visibility conditions and the high likelihood of inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions were conducive to the development of spatial disorientation. The flight’s erratic track, which included altitude and directional changes inconsistent with progress toward the airport, were likely the result of spatial disorientation. After reestablishing contact with ATC and being cleared to conduct an instrument approach to the destination, the airplane’s flight track indicated that the pilot was not adequately prepared to execute the controller’s instructions. The pilot’s subsequent loss of control was likely the result of spatial disorientation due to his increased workload and operational distractions associated with his attempts to configure his navigation radios or reference charts.

Postaccident toxicological testing of samples obtained from the pilot revealed the presence of ethanol; however, it could not be determined what percentage was ingested or produced postmortem. The testing also revealed the presence of amphetamine, an opioid painkiller, two sedating antihistamines, and marijuana. Although blood level quantifications of these medications and drugs could not be made from the samples provided, their combined effects would have directly impacted the pilot’s decision-making and ability to fly the airplane, even if each individual substance was only present in small amounts.

Based on the reported weather conditions at the time the pilot reported the airport in sight and canceled his IFR clearance, he likely was not in a position to have seen the destination airport even though he may have been flying between cloud layers or may have momentarily observed the ground. His decision to cancel his IFR clearance so far from the destination, in an area characterized by widespread low ceilings and reduced visibility, increased the pilot’s exposure to the hazards those conditions posed to the successful completion of his flight. The pilot showed other lapses in judgment associated with conducting this flight at the operational, aircraft, and the personal level. For example, 1) the pilot did not appear to recognize the significance of widespread low ceilings and visibility along his route of flight and at his destination (nor did he file an alternate airport even though conditions warranted); 2) the accident airplane was being operated beyond mandatory inspection intervals; and 3) toxicological testing showed the pilot had taken a combination of multiple medications and drugs that would have likely been impairing and contraindicated for the safe operation of an airplane. The pilot’s decision-making was likely affected by the medications and drugs.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s loss of airplane control due to spatial disorientation. Also causal to the accident was the pilot’s impairment by the combined effects of multiple medications and drugs. 

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 9, 2015, at 1016 eastern standard time, a Cessna 441, N164GP, was destroyed during collision with trees, terrain, and a post-crash fire following a loss of control while maneuvering near Climax, Georgia. The commercial pilot/owner and the commercial pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), Lakeland, Florida, at 0906, and was destined for Cairo-Grady County Airport (70J), Cairo, Georgia. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The purpose of the flight was to pick up two passengers employed by the pilot's firm and return to LAL. Radar and voice communication information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the pilot contacted Tallahassee Approach Control at 0948:42 while he was descending the airplane from 5,200 to 4,000 ft mean sea level (msl). The airplane was 62 nautical miles (nm) from and flying direct to 70J. The pilot informed the controller that he was trying to "get to" visual meteorological conditions (VMC) and that, if he could not get to VMC, he would request the RNAV RWY 31 approach at 70J.

The controller advised the pilot that weather was not available for the destination airport but that two airports in the vicinity were both reporting instrument meteorological conditions. The pilot acknowledged and requested the RNAV RWY 31 approach at 70J, and the controller then instructed him to maintain 3,200 ft msl. The controller asked the pilot if he could proceed directly to the Greenville VOR, which was the initial approach fix (IAF) for the RNAV RWY 31 approach, and the pilot responded that he was "loading it."

At 0953:43, while the airplane was at 3,300 ft msl and 33 nm from 70J, the pilot reported that he had the destination airport in sight and cancelled his IFR flight plan. The controller then issued a frequency change to the common traffic advisory (CTAF) frequency at 70J but offered the pilot the option to stay on the approach frequency until the airplane got closer to its destination. The pilot reported that he was "VFR" and changed radio frequencies to the CTAF.

Radar data showed that, during the next 13 minutes, the airplane's radar track displayed an erratic sequence of left, right, and 360° turns that took the it away from the destination airport in a westerly direction at altitudes between about 4,000 and 900 ft msl.

At 1006:16, the pilot contacted air traffic control (ATC) on the approach control frequency, reported that he had lost visual contact with the airport, and requested the RNAV RWY 13 approach at 70J. The controller then provided a sequence of heading and altitude assignments to vector the airplane to the OCAPE waypoint, which was the IAF for the requested approach. The airplane did not maintain its heading and altitude assignments, and ATC provided several corrections to the pilot.

At 1012:31, the controller instructed the pilot to proceed directly to OCAPE and join the approach. Over the next 3 minutes, the pilot stated that he was unable to identify OCAPE and asked the controller for the correct spelling so he could "load it." At 1015:37, the pilot acknowledged the approach clearance. No further transmissions were received from the pilot.

Subsequently, radar data showed that the airplane climb and descend in the vicinity of OCAPE, and at 1016:40, the airplane entered a descending right turn at 2,500 ft msl and 180 knots groundspeed, at which point radar contact was lost.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot/owner held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on May 30, 2013. At that time, the pilot reported 1,150 total hours of flight experience.

The pilot-rated passenger held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane and helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on December 4, 2014. At that time, he reported 9,500 total hours of flight experience.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1980 and was equipped with two 715-horsepower Garrett Research TPE331-8-402S turboprop engines. The most recent phase inspections were completed on April 25, 2014, at 18,422.8 total aircraft hours. The airframe logbook entry documenting those phase inspections noted that 3 subsequent phase inspections were due in September 2014, with an additional phase inspection due in September 2015. No additional phase inspections had been logged. The final airframe logbook entry dated September 22, 2015, indicated that the airplane had accrued 18,513.7 total aircraft hours.

An aircraft maintenance facility at the pilot's home airport (LAL) maintained the accident airplane, the other airplanes in the pilot's fleet, and their collective maintenance records. The owner and president of the maintenance company, an airframe and powerplant mechanic, provided a detailed maintenance and event history on the accident airplane and the rest of the pilot's fleet.

The airplane was purchased from Australia, and the engines were on an approved operator's maintenance program there. Once purchased and brought to the United States, the airplane's engines were due for overhaul. They were subsequently removed at LAL, overhauled in Ohio, then reinstalled at LAL. The engine overhauls were not completed at the same time, so the pilot/owner requested that the overhauled engine be installed along with a rental engine.

On the first flight after installation, the pilot aborted the first takeoff, closed the throttles, feathered the propellers, and then attempted an engine restart. The pilot's actions were contrary to the checklist and resulted in damage to the compressor section of the overhauled engine.

In June 2014, new, metal, four-bladed propellers were installed on the airplane at the owner's request. No one was immediately available to conduct the mandatory postinstallation test flight, so he chose to start and taxi the airplane forward and backward by himself over the course of 2 days. At one point, he attempted to move a propeller out of the feather position by motoring the starter, which destroyed the starter and melted its wiring harness.

On another occasion, the pilot identified an engine exhaust gas temperature (EGT) gauge as inoperative, and requested troubleshooting from the mechanic. The mechanic arrived "several times" to investigate, and each time the pilot was flying the airplane. When asked about why the airplane was operating with an inoperative EGT gauge, the pilot's assistant, who was also the copilot on the accident flight, told the mechanic that the pilot "knows" the EGT based on fuel flow.

The mechanic reported that the pilot often taxied the airplane out of its hangar using reverse thrust because the use of a tug was "too much trouble."

Lastly, the mechanic advised the pilot through his copilot/assistant of the due dates for mandatory inspections on the airplane, but the airplane was operated continuously for several months, and about 100 flight hours, beyond the due dates up to the day of the accident. When asked why the mandatory inspections were not conducted, the copilot/assistant explained that because the pilot's other twin-engine airplane was down for maintenance, he would not have both "down for maintenance at the same time."

When asked if the database in the panel-mounted GPS was up to date on the airplane at the time of the accident, the mechanic responded that "nothing on that airplane was up to date."

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1015 weather observation at Decatur County Industrial Airpark (BGE), 8 miles west of the accident site, included wind from 050°at 10 knots, an overcast ceiling at 400 ft, 2 miles visibility in fog, temperature 16°C, dew point was 15°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of mercury.

Weather observations at airports surrounding the accident site reported cloud ceilings between 200 and 800 ft above ground level (agl). Photographs taken a few minutes before the accident by a passenger waiting at the destination airport showed a ceiling estimated to be between 200 and 250 ft agl with mist and fog in the treetops.

The pilot received an official weather briefing from Lockheed Martin Flight Service (LMFS) by phone at 0830. During his weather briefing, the pilot and the briefer discussed how the pilot had "looked up" the latest weather conditions, a SIGMET along his route of flight, a center weather advisory for rain, embedded thunderstorms, and low IMC. The LMFS weather briefer told the accident pilot that "it's pretty bad out there." The pilot then requested the closest terminal area forecast and mentioned that he might "give it an hour before taking off, as it sounds like things are clearing out." Instead, the pilot departed about 30 minutes later. The pilot did not file an alternate airport in his flight plan.

A center weather advisory for IFR conditions was in effect for the area surrounding the destination airport at the time of the accident, and upper air balloon data showed a solid cloud layer that reached about 2,500 ft msl over the southeastern United States. Clouds above that layer were likely between 5,000 and 12,000 ft msl.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The wreckage was examined at the accident site on November 10, 2015. There was a strong odor of fuel, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented along a magnetic heading of about 175° and was about 150 ft long and about 45 ft wide. The initial impact point was in a 60-ft-tall tree, and the airplane impacted several other trees before impacting the ground about 24 ft beyond the first tree strike. Several pieces of angularly cut wood were found throughout the length of the debris field.

The airplane was fragmented and scattered along the length of the wreckage path. Control continuity to the wings, rudder, and elevator was confirmed through the control cables and bellcranks to the cockpit area.

The cockpit, cabin area, and empennage were destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire and were found entangled about 48 ft down the wreckage path. The engines and their respective propeller assemblies were entangled with the main wreckage and were severely damaged by impact and fire. All four propeller blades exhibited similar twisting, bending, leading and trailing edge gouging, and chordwise scratching. The tips of each blade on one propeller system were melted away by fire. One propeller blade tip was fractured and found 215 ft southeast of the main wreckage. The compressor and power turbine sections of both engines were exposed, and the compressor tips were all bent opposite the direction of rotation. Metal spray deposits were observed on the suction side of the third-stage stator vanes.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The field elevation at 70J was 264 ft msl. The single runway, oriented 13/31, was 4,000 ft long by 75 ft wide. The airport was not tower-controlled. The lateral navigation minimum descent altitude for the RNAV GPS RWY 13 approach was 860 ft msl.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Division of Forensic Sciences, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The autopsy report stated that the cause of death was "blunt force injuries."

The FAA Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The testing identified 0.203 gm/dl of ethanol, N-propanol, amphetamine, 0.6 ug/g of tramadol, and its active metabolite O-desmethyltramadol in the muscle tissue. In addition, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in marijuana, and its metabolite, tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THC-COOH) were found in the lung tissue. Cetirizine and THC-COOH were identified in the kidney tissue. Finally, 0.044 gm/dl of ethanol, doxylamine, 1.976 ug/g of tramadol, O-desmethyltramadol, and THC-COOH were found in the liver tissue.

Ethanol may be detected due to ingestion, or it may be produced in body tissues by postmortem microbial activity. Ethanol significantly impairs pilots' performance even at very low levels. Federal Aviation Administration regulations prohibits any person from acting or attempting to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.040 gm/dl or more ethanol in the blood. N-propanol is another type of alcohol that is produced in body tissues after death.

Amphetamine is a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. It is often marketed with the name Adderall. It carries a warning regarding the high likelihood for abuse. Tramadol is an opioid analgesic available by prescription, commonly marketed with the name Ultram. O-desmethyltramadol is created in the body by the metabolism of tramadol and has psychoactive effects. Cetirizine and doxylamine are both sedating antihistamines available in several over-the-counter products. Doxylamine is so sedating, it is primarily used as a sleep aid. Tramadol, cetirizine, and doxylamine all carry warnings regarding sleepiness and hazards to driving safety.

Medical, pharmacy, and drug rehabilitation records were requested from three different law firms handling affairs for the pilot and his estate and none were provided. 

TESTS AND RESEARCH

A Garmin Aera 796 portable GPS and a Samsung Galaxy Note II personal electronic device were recovered and examined at the NTSB Recorders Laboratory in Washington, DC. Each had sustained catastrophic impact damage, and no useful data were recovered from either device.

A Garmin GNS 530 panel-mounted GPS receiver, which was the only GPS device on board the airplane that was certified for IFR navigation, was recovered and had also sustained catastrophic impact damage. The database cards were removed and placed into a surrogate receiver. On startup, the database information displayed revealed that the obstacle database expired April 8, 2010, and that the aviation database expired March 5, 2015.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Maintenance and Event History of Pilot's Other Aircraft

Maintenance and event history for the pilot's Cessna 414 airplane revealed that the airplane was purchased about January 2010, and within 23 total aircraft hours, that "several" tires and broken engine mounts were replaced and that the engines were overhauled due to metal in the oil. In November 2010, both propellers were replaced due to strike damage and separated blade tips.

In July 2014, the airplane was towed from "mud" adjacent to the owner's hangar. In September 2014, the airplane was again towed from the mud adjacent to the hangar, and the airplane had again sustained propeller damage. An engine was removed and repaired due to "internal damage." Both propellers were removed and replaced with composite propellers.

The composite propellers were installed in April 2015, and in July 2015, 6.3 total aircraft hours later, the left propeller was removed and shipped to the manufacturer for repair due to tip damage. The pilot/owner would not authorize the mandatory sudden-stoppage inspection for the engine because he decided that the inspection was not required given the propellers were of composite construction.

The pilot also asked the mechanic on multiple occasions to inspect and repair damage to the airplane that included broken rudder caps, separated landing gear fairings, separated tires and tubes, and eroded propeller blades.

Spatial Disorientation

The FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3) described some hazards associated with flying when visual references, such as the ground or horizon, are obscured. The handbook stated that "The vestibular sense (motion sensing by the inner ear) in particular tends to confuse the pilot. Because of inertia, the sensory areas of the inner ear cannot detect slight changes in the attitude of the airplane, nor can they accurately sense attitude changes that occur at a uniform rate over a period of time. On the other hand, false sensations are often generated; leading the pilot to believe the attitude of the airplane has changed when in fact, it has not. These false sensations result in the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation."

Pilot Judgement 

FAA-H-8083-2, Risk Management Handbook, identified five "hazardous attitudes" that may contribute to poor pilot judgment: antiauthority, impulsivity, invulnerability, macho, and resignation. The publication also stated,

In an attempt to discover what makes a pilot accident prone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversaw an extensive research study on the similarities and dissimilarities of pilots who were accident free and those who were not. The project surveyed over 4,000 pilots, half of whom had "clean" records while the other half had been involved in an accident. Five traits were discovered in pilots prone to having accidents:

1. Disdain toward rules
2. High correlation between accidents in their flying records and safety violations in their driving records
3. Frequently falling into the personality category of "thrill and adventure seeking"
4. Impulsive rather than methodical and disciplined in information gathering and in the speed and selection of actions taken
5. Disregard for or underutilization of outside sources of information, including copilots, flight attendants, flight service personnel, flight instructors, and air traffic controllers.



Lester Hathcox was a longtime pilot for WFLA-TV and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.


NTSB Identification: ERA16FA035 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 09, 2015 in Climax, GA
Aircraft: CESSNA 441, registration: N164GP
Injuries: 2 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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On November 9, 2015, at 1016 eastern standard time, a Cessna 441, N164GP, was destroyed by collision with trees, terrain and a post-crash fire following a loss of control while maneuvering near Climax, Georgia. The commercial pilot/owner and the commercial pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), Lakeland, Florida, at 0906, and was destined for the Cairo-Grady County Airport (70J), in Cairo, Georgia. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The purpose of the flight was to pick up two passengers employed by the pilot/owner's firm, and return to LAL. Preliminary radar and voice information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the flight contacted Tallahassee Approach Control at 0948:42 while descending from 5,200 feet msl to 4,000 feet msl. The flight was 62 miles from and flying "direct to" 70J. The pilot informed the controller he was trying to "get to" visual meteorological conditions (VFR) and if he couldn't, he would request the RNAV RWY 31 approach at 70J.

The controller advised the pilot that weather was not available for the destination airport, but that two airports in the vicinity were each reporting IFR conditions. The pilot acknowledged and requested the RNAV RWY 31 approach at 70J, and was then instructed to maintain 3,200 feet. The controller asked if the pilot was able to proceed direct to the Greenville VOR, which was the initial approach fix (IAF) for the RNAV RWY 31 approach, and the pilot responded that he was "loading it."

At 0953:43, while the airplane was at 3,300 feet and 36 miles from 70J, the pilot reported the destination airport in sight, and cancelled his IFR flight plan. The controller then issued a frequency change to the UNICOM frequency at 70J, but offered the pilot the option to stay on the approach frequency until the airplane got closer to its destination. Instead, the pilot reported he was "VFR" and switched to UNICOM.

During the 13 minutes that transpired after cancellation of the IFR clearance and the frequency change, the radar track for the accident airplane displayed an erratic sequence of left, right, and overlapping 360-degree turns that moved the airplane away from the destination airport in a westerly direction. The altitudes varied between about 4,000 feet and 900 feet.

At 1006:16, the pilot contacted ATC on the approach control frequency, reported that he had lost visual contact with the airport, and requested the RNAV RWY 13 approach at 70J. The controller then provided a sequence of heading and altitude assignments in order to vector the airplane to the OCAPE waypoint, which was the IAF for the requested approach. The airplane did not maintain its heading and altitude assignments and several corrections were provided to the accident pilot by the controller.

At 1012:31, the pilot was instructed to proceed directly to OCAPE and join the approach. Over the next three minutes, the pilot expressed his inability to identify OCAPE and asked the controller for the correct spelling so he could "load it." At 1015:37, the pilot acknowledged the approach clearance. There were no further transmissions from the pilot.

The radar target then climbed and descended in the vicinity of OCAPE, and at 1016:40, the airplane was in a descending right turn at 2,500 feet and 180 knots groundspeed when radar contact was lost.

The pilot/owner held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA Class 3 medical certificate was issued on May 30, 2013. The pilot reported 1,150 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The pilot-rated passenger held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane and helicopter. His most recent FAA Class 2 medical certificate was issued on December 4, 2014. The passenger reported 9,500 total hours of flight experience on that date.

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1980, and was equipped with two Garrett Research TPE331-10, 715-hp turboprop engines. The airplane's most recent Phase II and III inspections were completed April 25, 2014, at 18,422.8 total aircraft hours. While review of the logbooks revealed no subsequent phase inspections, an airframe log entry dated September 22, 2015 reflected the airplane had accrued 18,513.7 total aircraft hours.

The 1035 weather observation at Decatur County Industrial Airpark, 8 miles west of the accident site, included an overcast ceiling at 400 feet and 2 miles visibility in fog. The wind was from 050 degrees at 8 knots. The temperature was 15 degrees C, the dew point was 15 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.04 inches of mercury.

A center weather advisory for IFR conditions was in effect for the area surrounding the destination airport at the time of the accident. Upper air balloon imagery displayed a solid cloud layer over the southeastern United States around the time of the accident.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site on November 10, 2015. There was a strong odor of fuel, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented on a heading of 175 degrees magnetic and was approximately 150 feet in length, and 45 feet wide.
The initial impact point was in a tree approximately 60 feet high, and the airplane impacted several other trees before impacting the ground about 24 feet beyond the first tree strike. Several pieces of angularly-cut wood were found the length of the debris field.

The cockpit, cabin area, empennage, both engines and their respective propeller assemblies were destroyed by impact and post-crash fire and were entangled about 48 feet down the wreckage path. Control continuity was established from the cockpit area to the flight control surfaces.

The propeller blades of each assembly exhibited similar twisting, bending, leading and trailing edge gouging, and chord-wise scratching. The tips of each blade on one propeller system were melted away by fire. One propeller blade tip was fractured and found 215 feet southeast of the main wreckage. The compressor and power turbine sections of both engines were exposed, and the blade tips were all bent opposite the direction of rotation.

Attorney Gene Odom and pilot Lester Hathcox 


Lester Hathcox 




 
This is the hangar the plane departed from.






BRANDON -- Funeral services were held Wednesday for the Bay area pilot who died in a small plane crash in Georgia last week.

Family and friends gathered at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon to remember Lester Hathcox. Hathcox was a retired pilot for the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office. He also flew for Fox 13, News Channel 8 and the Odom Law Group.

Hathcox and attorney Gene Odom were killed when their small plane went down on November 9. Hathcox was the co-pilot.

During his memorial, friends described Hathcox as one of a kind.

"If you were with Lester for very long, very quickly you became a friend and then you transitioned into family," said Reserve HCSO deputy and pilot Robert Templeman.

Friends said Hathcox loved life and was known for his huge smile.


He was 58 years old.

TAMPA — Family and friends are grieving the loss of a longtime pilot and a local attorney who died Monday after the plane they were flying went down in Georgia.

The Federal Aviation Administration said an alert notice was issued Monday morning after air traffic controllers lost contact with the Cessna 441 aircraft being flown by Lester Hathcox, a longtime pilot for WFLA TV and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Also in the plane was Gene Odom, an attorney at Martinez-Odom Law Group in Tampa.

The plane had taken off Monday morning from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida and was on its way to Grady County Airport in Cairo, Georgia.

The wreckage of the plane was located around 4 p.m. in Climax, Georgia, Captain Jones from the Thomas County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Office told News Channel 8. Eric Weiss at the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that investigators were still trying to identify what caused the crash.

Hathcox spent 31 years with the sheriff’s office and retired in 2014. He flew hundreds of missions for the sheriff’s office, directing deputies to the location of criminals.

“Lester was the perfect combination of deputy and pilot,’’ Sheriff David Gee said in a statement released by the sheriff’s office. “He had the instincts of a cop and the skills to fly. His old gentle Southern boy style and demeanor belied a toughness that served his fellow deputies and the citizens of Hillsborough County so well.’’

Pilot Frank Stott has been with the sheriff’s office since 2003. He and Hathcox flew together for about six years.

“I spent most of my training with him,” Stott said.

Stott said everyone at the sheriff’s office admired Hathcox, who would help his co-workers with car problems and other mechanical issues.

“He had a love for people,” Stott said. “He believed you should live life to the fullest and make the most of it.”

Paul Lamison, chief photojournalist and Eagle 8 reporter at WFLA TV, flew with Hathcox twice a week for 15 years.

“We would talk about everything,” he said. “He was the easiest guy to talk to.”

Everyone at the news station was shocked by the announcement of Hathcox’s death, Lamison said, because he was a flying trainer who epitomized safety.

“With Lester, when I’d fly with him, I knew everything would work out,” he said.

Gene Odom and his ex-wife, Jessica Odom, were married for 10 years and had two children together. She said Odom began flying as a teenager.


“He’s the father of my children,” she said. “He was a great pilot and a great lawyer.”


CLIMAX, Ga. -- The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what caused a plane to crash in South Georgia on Monday, killing both people on board.

FAA officials arrived at the crash site in a wooded area in Climax, Georgia on Tuesday.

The twin-engine Cessna was scheduled to land at the Cairo-Grady County Airport around 10 a.m. According to the FAA, air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight when it was about 13 miles west of Cairo-Grady County Airport.

Search crews located the crashed plane around 4 p.m. Monday near Salem Church Road in Climax.

Two people on board the plane did not survive.

Our newsgathering partners WTVT in Tampa have identified the plane's pilot as Gene Odom and the co-pilot as Lester Hathcox.

Hathcox was a former helicopter pilot for WFLA in Tampa and for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

A spokesperson for the NTSB says it could take up to a year to determine the cause of the crash.

Investigators were able to determine that the plane crashed at a nearly 90 degree bank.

Precision Aviation Group in Cairo operates the Cairo-Grady County Airport. Precision Aviation released the following statement Tuesday:

"The tragic events surrounding the crash of N164GP/Cessna 441 Conquest on its approach into 70J/Cairo Grady County Airport where our business, Precision Aviation is located brought out the best First Responders of South Georgia and North Florida have to offer. As soon as we realized that N164GP was overdue, we were in immediate contact the FAA, the local Grady County Sheriff's Department, and the Cairo Police Department. We began to collect and correlate the known facts to help coordinate the search effort to find the missing aircraft.

"Larry and Steven Bible at Precision Aviation would particularly like to recognize and thank the Sheriff Departments of Grady, Decatur and Leon Counties, the Cairo Police Department, FAA and all the collective First Responders, EMTs, and other Law Enforcement Officers who rapidly and diligently helped in locating the wreck site near Climax, GA. The Civil Air Patrol was instrumental in providing very helpful location information. We had plenty of resources, including local pilots and drone operators who volunteered to help in the search effort, but the weather conditions during the day precluded these types of search options.

"All those who played a part in the search effort proved once again, that this community is well served, and really pulls together when the going is roughest. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those lost in the tragic accident."


TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office employees are mourning the death of a longtime sheriff’s pilot who was killed in a plane crash in Georgia on Monday. 

Lester Hathcox, who was also a News Channel 8 helicopter pilot, was killed when the plane he was in crashed in Climax, Georgia. Tampa Bay area attorney Gene Odom was also on the plane and died in the crash.

The plane left Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on Monday and then disappeared from radar. The plane’s wreckage was found around 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

Hathcox was a sheriff’s pilot who worked for Hillsborough County for 31 years. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement on Tuesday:

“The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and our extended family of retirees were saddened to learn of the tragic death of Lester Hathcox. Lester was a sheriff’s pilot who served his county for 31 years.

Lester was as comfortable and confident at the controls of a helicopter as he was on terra firma. Over the years, Lester flew hundreds of missions and directed countless deputies to the location of the bad guys as well as missing children and adults.

“Lester was the perfect combination of deputy and pilot,” Sheriff David Gee said. “He had the instincts of a cop and the skills to fly. His old gentle Southern boy style and demeanor belied a toughness that served his fellow deputies and the citizens of Hillsborough County so well. His family can forever be proud. We will miss him very much. Godspeed, Lester Hatchox.”

Details about funeral arrangements have not been announced.

The crash is under investigation. The Cessna was registered to Legal Airways, LLC, an entity of Odom’s firm, Martinez and Odom Law Group in Brandon.

Cirrus SR22, N752C, Linkup Aviation LLC: Fatal accident occurred November 09, 2015 near Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (KCOS), El Paso County, Colorado

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA034
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 09, 2015 in Colorado Springs, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/26/2017
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N752C
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot and his passenger departed on a cross-country flight. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported to the controller that he was having an engine problem and wanted to return to the airport. One witness heard the engine surge during the takeoff roll. Another witness stated that the airplane was on the ground longer than he expected but did not report hearing anything abnormal with the engine. A third witness stated that the engine sounded normal and a fourth witness reported seeing the airplane in a steep bank.

The airplane was damaged by impact and a postimpact fire. An examination of the engine, propeller, airframe, and related systems revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation prior to the accident. The damage to the airplane and the witness marks on the ground were consistent with the airplane being in a flat spin at the time of impact.

The density altitude at the time of the accident was 7,446 ft mean sea level. The majority of the pilot's flight experience was conducted at airports with a lower field elevation and he had flown to the accident airport on only two other occasions. It is likely that, after takeoff, the pilot misinterpreted the airplane's reduced engine power and decreased climb performance, due to the high density altitude conditions, as an engine malfunction. During the turn back to the airport the pilot exceeded the airplane's critical angle of attack and experienced an aerodynamic stall and spin.

Although there was evidence that the pilot had used marijuana at some time prior, it is unlikely that the pilot was impaired by marijuana at the time of the accident. The pilot had been diagnosed with mild depression two months before the accident and had started treatment with sertraline. The pilot had not yet followed-up with his physician after starting treatment. Therefore, the investigation was unable to determine if the pilot may have been impaired by the symptoms of his depression.

The pilot was using diphenhydramine, cetirizine, and sertraline, which in combination significantly increased the risk of impairment over each medication alone. The experienced pilot was exposed to a high workload environment following the degradation of airplane performance, but would have been expected to safely fly the airplane. Therefore, it is likely that when the pilot was exposed to a high workload environment, due to the airplane's degraded takeoff performance, the combination of multiple medications likely impaired his ability to respond safely and, therefore contributed to the subsequent loss of control.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's loss of airplane control during the turn back to the airport after takeoff in high density altitude conditions, which resulted in an inadvertent aerodynamic stall and subsequent spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's impaired performance due to his use of a combination of potentially impairing medications.


Mike and Paula Fritzel


The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado
Cirrus Aircraft; Duluth, Minnesota 
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 
Hartzell Propeller Inc; Piqua, Ohio

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Linkup Aviation LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N752C




NTSB Identification: CEN16FA034 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 09, 2015 in Colorado Springs, CO
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N752C
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


"The following is an INTERIM FACTUAL SUMMARY of this accident investigation. A final report that includes all pertinent facts, conditions, and circumstances of the accident will be issued upon completion, along with the Safety Board's analysis and probable cause of the accident:"


HISTORY OF FLIGHT


On November 9, 2015, about 1052 mountain standard time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22 airplane, N752C, was destroyed when it impacted terrain north of the City of Colorado Springs M
unicipal Airport (COS), Colorado Springs, Colorado. A postimpact fire ensued. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Linkup Aviation LLC and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The personal flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Roanoke, Texas.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control transcripts, the accident airplane contacted COS ground control frequency at 1046:41, reported that they were ready to taxi, and requested an intersection departure from alpha three. The controller responded "…fly runway heading maintain v f r at or below eight thousand five hundred…" and provided the departure frequency, and transponder setting. The pilot responded "alright we'll maintain eight thousand or below and ah departure is one two four." The controller cleared the pilot to taxi to runway 35L via alpha three.

At 1050:12 the pilot reported to COS air traffic control tower frequency that he was holding short of runway 35L at alpha three, ready for departure. The controller cleared the pilot for takeoff and later instructed the pilot to fly runway heading. At 1051:44 the pilot reported to the controller that he was "having engine problems we'd like to turn around." The controller instructed the pilot to enter a left downwind for runway 35L. No other transmissions were recorded from the accident flight.

One witness described hearing the engine surge during the takeoff. A second witness watched the airplane take off from the intersection. When he looked back to the airplane, he expected it to be airborne and observed it still on the ground. He estimated that the airplane was on the ground for several thousand feet before it became airborne and was between 100 and 150 feet above the ground when it passed him.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 63, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings, last issued on November 4, 2004. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate on November 4, 2013. The certificate contained the limitation "Not valid for night flying or by color signal control. Must wear corrective lenses."

Remains of a Taxlog Tax record flight log were found adjacent to the main wreckage. The start date on the first page of the log could not be determined due to fire damage. The first flight appeared to be a business flight with the duration of 6.6 hours. The start tach time was 1,309.8 and the stop tach time was 1,316.4. There were 19 pages of records with the first discernable date starting on page 6 of the record in 2009. All of the flights recorded in the log were in the accident airplane. The last entry on the 19th page was dated March 17, 2015, and was from 52F to AEE/VGT, with a start time of 3,095 and end time of 3,108.2. Two flights prior to that, dated February 19, 2015, the pilot successfully completed the requirements of a flight review and an instrument proficiency check in the accident airplane. The flight was 2.7 hours in duration and included 3 landings and 3 instrument approaches.

On the pilot's medical certificate application, dated October 4, 2011, he reported a total pilot time of 2,350 hours. He did not report this information on the more recent application dated November 4, 2013.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane, a Cirrus SR22 (serial number 0421), was manufactured in 2002. It was registered with the FAA on a standard airworthiness certificate for normal operations. A Teledyne Continental Motors IO-550-N27B engine (serial number 688902) rated at 310 horsepower at 2,700 rpm powered the airplane. The engine was equipped with a Hartzell three-blade, variable pitched propeller.

The airplane was registered to Linkup Aviation LLC., operated by the pilot, and was maintained under an annual inspection program. The maintenance records were not recovered. An invoice provided by the family indicated that an annual inspection had been completed on October 23, 2015, at a Hobbs meter reading of 3,204.5 hours. During the inspection the sparkplugs were replaced and the 500-hour inspection was completed on the magnetos.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The closest official weather reporting station was COS located just south of the accident site. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for COS recorded the wind at 200 degrees at 8 knots, sky condition broken clouds at 23,000 feet, temperature 14 degrees Celsius, dewpoint temperature -13 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.99 inches.

Calculations of relevant meteorological data indicated that the density altitude was 7,446 feet.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS), is a public, controlled (Class C) airport located 6 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, Colorado, at a surveyed elevation of 6,187 feet. The airport had 3 open runways, runway 17L/35R (13,501 feet by 150 feet, concrete), 17R/35L (11,022 feet by 150 feet, asphalt), and 13/31 (8,270 feet by 150 feet, asphalt).

The available runway for an alpha 3 intersection departure on runway 35L is 6,000 feet. 

FLIGHT RECORDERS

The accident airplane was equipped with an Avidyne Primary Flight Display (PFD) and an Avidyne Multi-Function Display (MFD). The flash memory device from the MFD was recovered and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Lab in Washington, D.C., for download.

The MFD was heat damaged in the postimpact fire. The card was not read under normal procedures but rather examined using forensic software. The card contained Global Positioning System (GPS) track data and 61 engine log files – 1 associated with the accident flight. The data file was 11 minutes and 6 seconds in duration.

The recording began at 10:34:06 where GPS track data showed the aircraft was located near a tie down area between taxiways alpha 2 and alpha 3 at COS. Manifold Pressure was recorded as 12 inHg and RPM was recorded as 920 RPM immediately after engine start. For the first three minutes of the recording, values for exhaust gas temperature (EGT) cylinder #5 ranged from 0 deg. F to approximately 1,000 deg. F. The data could not be validated as a true reading of EGT for that cylinder or an anomalous reading due to a sensor issue. Additionally, anomalous values for EGT for cylinder #4 were recorded over the course of the entire event.

As the recording continued, values for EGT (aside from cylinder #4) and cylinder head temperature (CHT) rose as expected as the engine warmed up. Around 10:41:18, manifold pressure was increased slightly to 13 inHg and RPM also increased to a local maximum of around 1,560 RPM. Two RPM drops were present in the recording between 10:41:12 and 10:42:12. During this time, the GPS data showed the aircraft was taxiing to Runway 35L at COS. By 10:44:24, manifold pressure was increased to a value around 22 and 23 inHg. and RPM reached a maximum of 2,620 rpm. The recording ended at 10:45:12 where GPS data showed the aircraft was near the departure end of Runway 35L at COS.

The time stamp of the data from the MFD and the FAA ATC transcripts were not correlated or corrected for any error. For additional details on the recovery of the data from the MFD and illustrations of the recovered data please refer to the Cockpit Display – Recorded Flight Data Specialist's Factual Report in the docket for this investigation.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest in a field ½ mile north of the departure end of runway 35L. The accident site was located in an open field at an elevation of 6,200 feet mean sea level (msl) and the airplane came to rest on an approximate heading of 270°. A large ground scar was located just to the east of the main wreckage. The scar was approximately 30 feet in length with three prominent craters consistent in location/position with the main landing gear and the engine. Fragments of fiberglass were located in each of the three craters. The field where the airplane crashed was burned in a radius immediately surrounding the wreckage and then to the north at least a half mile.

The airplane was upright, and the wreckage included the fuselage, engine and propeller assembly, both wings, and the empennage. The entire wreckage was charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire.

The fuselage included four seats, personal effects, and the instrument panel. The left cabin door separated from the airframe and was located 45 feet to the west of the wreckage. The right cabin door separated from the airframe and was located 45 feet to the north and the wreckage. The instrument panel was impact and fire damaged and provided the following information:

Kolsman window 30.01
Attitude indicator 20 degrees nose down
Airspeed indicator 0 knots

Engine gauges and remaining instruments did not provide any reliable readings.

Both the fuel mixture control and the throttle control were forward. Impact and fire damage precluded the functional check of these control cables. The throttle was idle at the engine and the cable was stretched in tension. The mixture was close to full rich at the engine and the control cable rod end was impact damaged. The fuel selector valve handle was in the left detent and the shaft was separated. The fuel selector valve assembly was disassembled and the valves were in a position consistent with the right fuel tank being selected.

Seatbelt assemblies consistent with lap belts and shoulder harnesses were found latched for both front seat occupants. Pilot and passenger seat energy absorption modules were crushed flat.

The right wing remained partially attached to the fuselage and included the right aileron and right flap. The right wing, right aileron, and right flap were charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire. Control continuity to the aileron was confirmed from the right aileron actuation pulley inboard the center portion of the fuselage. The right main landing gear separated and came to rest directly under the right wing. The main landing gear assembly was charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire.

The left wing remained partially attached to the fuselage and included the left aileron and left flap. The left wing, aileron, and flap were charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire. Control continuity to the aileron was confirmed from the left aileron actuation pulley inboard to the center portion of the fuselage. The left main landing gear remained partially attached and came to rest directly beneath the left wing. The main landing gear assembly exhibited exposure to heat and fire.

The flap actuator jack screw was extended about 2 inches consistent with 50 percent or 16 degrees of flap extension.

The empennage included the horizontal and vertical stabilizer, the rudder, and the elevator. The left and right sides of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator were impact damage and exhibited exposure to heat and fire. The vertical fin and rudder were impact damaged. Control continuity to the rudder and elevator was confirmed from the control surface forward to the center portion of the fuselage. The rudder and aileron interconnect Airworthiness Directive 2008-03-16 was not complied with.

The engine and propeller assembly separated partially from the fuselage at the firewall. The engine cowling was mostly consumed by fire. The propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade came to rest directly beneath the engine.

The engine assembly exhibited exposure to heat and fire. The upper bank of spark plugs was removed and exhibited normal wear signatures as compared to a Champion Spark Plug chart. The number 3 spark plug was clean and the remaining plugs had sooty signatures. The cylinders were borescoped and exhibited normal signatures. The fuel pump was removed and the drive coupling was intact. The fuel pump could not be actuated by hand and exhibited fire damage.

The propeller blades were labeled A, B, and C for identification purposes in the report. Blade A was bent approximately 45° and exhibited leading edge scoring and abrasions at the bend. The tip of the blade was curled. Blade B was bent greater than 90° and exhibited leading-edge scoring. Blade C was bent nearly 180° and exhibited leading edge and blade face scoring. The pitch change knobs for blades A and B remain attached. The pitch change knob for blade C was no longer attached.

The Kevlar straps from the ballistic recovery parachute extended aft of the wreckage to the south. The parachute remained in its packed state. The rocket was located to the south of the parachute pack and remained attached to the pack and bridle. The propellant was expended. The enclosure cover was located adjacent to the wreckage.

No preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures were found that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The El Paso County Coroner performed the autopsy on the pilot on November 10, 2015. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries and the report listed the specific injuries.

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological tests on specimens that were collected during the autopsy (CAMI Reference #201500262001). Results were negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. Testing of the blood and tissue revealed cetirizine, diphenhydramine, rosuvastatin, sertraline, and tetrahydrocannabinol.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The engine was relocated to a laboratory for further examination.

The fuel injector nozzles were free of contamination. The plunger on the fuel manifold was free to move and the internal screen was unremarkable. The spark plugs were dark and sooted and exhibited normal signatures when compared to a Champion Spark Plug Chart.

The left magneto exhibited impact damage, exposure to heat and fire, and would not rotate when actuated by hand. Further examination revealed that the internal gear was partially melted along the gear teeth. Once the gear was removed the unit could be actuated by hand – further examination revealed no anomalies.

The right magneto exhibited impact damage, exposure to heat and fire, and would rotate with resistance when actuated by hand. Further examination revealed no anomalies.

The fuel pump exhibited impact damage and exposure to heat and fire. The spline was intact and the unit would not rotate when actuated by hand, but rotated with resistance when force was applied. Further examination revealed internal heat damage and was otherwise unremarkable.

The oil pump exhibited impact damage and exposure to heat and fire. The spline was bent and twisted consistent with rotation at the time of impact. Internal examination exhibited a witness mark consist with impact damage and was otherwise unremarkable.

The timing gear on the cam shaft was impact damaged and the piston head on the number three cylinder exhibited a witness mark consistent with a valve strike. The engine was otherwise unremarkable.

Propeller Exam

The propeller was examined at the wreckage storage facility.

Blade A was bent forward and the damage and scoring was consistent with impact at a positive angle under power. The blade B was bent aft and the pressure plate witness mark was consistent with high pitch at the time of impact. Blade C bent forward.

The pitch change knob for blade C was broken. The pitch change rod was broken on the non-pressurized side of the piston and the assembly contained oil and grease. Separation signatures were consistent with overload. The other two pitch change knobs were not broken.

Excessive amounts of grease were documented inside the hub cavity. Damage inside of the hub cavity and scoring on the propeller blades was consistent with power at the time of impact.


Michael P. Fritzel and Paula J. Johnson Fritzel


Cirrus SR22, N752C


NTSB Identification: CEN16FA034 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 09, 2015 in Colorado Springs, CO
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N752C
Injuries: 2 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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On November 9, 2015, about 1055 mountain standard time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22, N752C, was destroyed when it impacted terrain north of the City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (KCOS), Colorado Springs, Colorado. A post impact fire ensued. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Linkup Aviation LLC and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Roanoke, Texas.


According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilot had received clearance to depart from runway 35L. Shortly after takeoff the pilot reported that he had lost engine power. One witness described hearing the engine surge during the takeoff. Several other witnesses described seeing the airplane wing's rock back and forth before the airplane "spiraled" to the ground.


The airplane came to rest in a field ½ mile north of the departure end of runway 35L. The wreckage included the fuselage, empennage, both wings, and the engine and propeller assembly. The airplane was damaged by the impact and the post-crash fire.


The closest official weather reporting station, located at KCOS, recorded the wind at 200 degrees at 8 knots, sky condition broken clouds at 2,300 feet, temperature 14 degrees Celsius, dewpoint -13 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.99.
Mike and Paula Fritzel


The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado
Cirrus Aircraft; Duluth, Minnesota 
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 
Hartzell Propeller Inc; Piqua, Ohio

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Linkup Aviation LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N752C


NTSB Identification: CEN16FA034 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 09, 2015 in Colorado Springs, CO
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N752C
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


"The following is an INTERIM FACTUAL SUMMARY of this accident investigation. A final report that includes all pertinent facts, conditions, and circumstances of the accident will be issued upon completion, along with the Safety Board's analysis and probable cause of the accident:"


HISTORY OF FLIGHT


On November 9, 2015, about 1052 mountain standard time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22 airplane, N752C, was destroyed when it impacted terrain north of the City of Colorado Springs M
unicipal Airport (COS), Colorado Springs, Colorado. A postimpact fire ensued. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Linkup Aviation LLC and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The personal flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Roanoke, Texas.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control transcripts, the accident airplane contacted COS ground control frequency at 1046:41, reported that they were ready to taxi, and requested an intersection departure from alpha three. The controller responded "…fly runway heading maintain v f r at or below eight thousand five hundred…" and provided the departure frequency, and transponder setting. The pilot responded "alright we'll maintain eight thousand or below and ah departure is one two four." The controller cleared the pilot to taxi to runway 35L via alpha three.

At 1050:12 the pilot reported to COS air traffic control tower frequency that he was holding short of runway 35L at alpha three, ready for departure. The controller cleared the pilot for takeoff and later instructed the pilot to fly runway heading. At 1051:44 the pilot reported to the controller that he was "having engine problems we'd like to turn around." The controller instructed the pilot to enter a left downwind for runway 35L. No other transmissions were recorded from the accident flight.

One witness described hearing the engine surge during the takeoff. A second witness watched the airplane take off from the intersection. When he looked back to the airplane, he expected it to be airborne and observed it still on the ground. He estimated that the airplane was on the ground for several thousand feet before it became airborne and was between 100 and 150 feet above the ground when it passed him.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 63, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings, last issued on November 4, 2004. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate on November 4, 2013. The certificate contained the limitation "Not valid for night flying or by color signal control. Must wear corrective lenses."

Remains of a Taxlog Tax record flight log were found adjacent to the main wreckage. The start date on the first page of the log could not be determined due to fire damage. The first flight appeared to be a business flight with the duration of 6.6 hours. The start tach time was 1,309.8 and the stop tach time was 1,316.4. There were 19 pages of records with the first discernable date starting on page 6 of the record in 2009. All of the flights recorded in the log were in the accident airplane. The last entry on the 19th page was dated March 17, 2015, and was from 52F to AEE/VGT, with a start time of 3,095 and end time of 3,108.2. Two flights prior to that, dated February 19, 2015, the pilot successfully completed the requirements of a flight review and an instrument proficiency check in the accident airplane. The flight was 2.7 hours in duration and included 3 landings and 3 instrument approaches.

On the pilot's medical certificate application, dated October 4, 2011, he reported a total pilot time of 2,350 hours. He did not report this information on the more recent application dated November 4, 2013.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane, a Cirrus SR22 (serial number 0421), was manufactured in 2002. It was registered with the FAA on a standard airworthiness certificate for normal operations. A Teledyne Continental Motors IO-550-N27B engine (serial number 688902) rated at 310 horsepower at 2,700 rpm powered the airplane. The engine was equipped with a Hartzell three-blade, variable pitched propeller.

The airplane was registered to Linkup Aviation LLC., operated by the pilot, and was maintained under an annual inspection program. The maintenance records were not recovered. An invoice provided by the family indicated that an annual inspection had been completed on October 23, 2015, at a Hobbs meter reading of 3,204.5 hours. During the inspection the sparkplugs were replaced and the 500-hour inspection was completed on the magnetos.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The closest official weather reporting station was COS located just south of the accident site. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for COS recorded the wind at 200 degrees at 8 knots, sky condition broken clouds at 23,000 feet, temperature 14 degrees Celsius, dewpoint temperature -13 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.99 inches.

Calculations of relevant meteorological data indicated that the density altitude was 7,446 feet.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS), is a public, controlled (Class C) airport located 6 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, Colorado, at a surveyed elevation of 6,187 feet. The airport had 3 open runways, runway 17L/35R (13,501 feet by 150 feet, concrete), 17R/35L (11,022 feet by 150 feet, asphalt), and 13/31 (8,270 feet by 150 feet, asphalt).

The available runway for an alpha 3 intersection departure on runway 35L is 6,000 feet. 

FLIGHT RECORDERS

The accident airplane was equipped with an Avidyne Primary Flight Display (PFD) and an Avidyne Multi-Function Display (MFD). The flash memory device from the MFD was recovered and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Lab in Washington, D.C., for download.

The MFD was heat damaged in the postimpact fire. The card was not read under normal procedures but rather examined using forensic software. The card contained Global Positioning System (GPS) track data and 61 engine log files – 1 associated with the accident flight. The data file was 11 minutes and 6 seconds in duration.

The recording began at 10:34:06 where GPS track data showed the aircraft was located near a tie down area between taxiways alpha 2 and alpha 3 at COS. Manifold Pressure was recorded as 12 inHg and RPM was recorded as 920 RPM immediately after engine start. For the first three minutes of the recording, values for exhaust gas temperature (EGT) cylinder #5 ranged from 0 deg. F to approximately 1,000 deg. F. The data could not be validated as a true reading of EGT for that cylinder or an anomalous reading due to a sensor issue. Additionally, anomalous values for EGT for cylinder #4 were recorded over the course of the entire event.

As the recording continued, values for EGT (aside from cylinder #4) and cylinder head temperature (CHT) rose as expected as the engine warmed up. Around 10:41:18, manifold pressure was increased slightly to 13 inHg and RPM also increased to a local maximum of around 1,560 RPM. Two RPM drops were present in the recording between 10:41:12 and 10:42:12. During this time, the GPS data showed the aircraft was taxiing to Runway 35L at COS. By 10:44:24, manifold pressure was increased to a value around 22 and 23 inHg. and RPM reached a maximum of 2,620 rpm. The recording ended at 10:45:12 where GPS data showed the aircraft was near the departure end of Runway 35L at COS.

The time stamp of the data from the MFD and the FAA ATC transcripts were not correlated or corrected for any error. For additional details on the recovery of the data from the MFD and illustrations of the recovered data please refer to the Cockpit Display – Recorded Flight Data Specialist's Factual Report in the docket for this investigation.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest in a field ½ mile north of the departure end of runway 35L. The accident site was located in an open field at an elevation of 6,200 feet mean sea level (msl) and the airplane came to rest on an approximate heading of 270°. A large ground scar was located just to the east of the main wreckage. The scar was approximately 30 feet in length with three prominent craters consistent in location/position with the main landing gear and the engine. Fragments of fiberglass were located in each of the three craters. The field where the airplane crashed was burned in a radius immediately surrounding the wreckage and then to the north at least a half mile.

The airplane was upright, and the wreckage included the fuselage, engine and propeller assembly, both wings, and the empennage. The entire wreckage was charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire.

The fuselage included four seats, personal effects, and the instrument panel. The left cabin door separated from the airframe and was located 45 feet to the west of the wreckage. The right cabin door separated from the airframe and was located 45 feet to the north and the wreckage. The instrument panel was impact and fire damaged and provided the following information:

Kolsman window 30.01
Attitude indicator 20 degrees nose down
Airspeed indicator 0 knots

Engine gauges and remaining instruments did not provide any reliable readings.

Both the fuel mixture control and the throttle control were forward. Impact and fire damage precluded the functional check of these control cables. The throttle was idle at the engine and the cable was stretched in tension. The mixture was close to full rich at the engine and the control cable rod end was impact damaged. The fuel selector valve handle was in the left detent and the shaft was separated. The fuel selector valve assembly was disassembled and the valves were in a position consistent with the right fuel tank being selected.

Seatbelt assemblies consistent with lap belts and shoulder harnesses were found latched for both front seat occupants. Pilot and passenger seat energy absorption modules were crushed flat.

The right wing remained partially attached to the fuselage and included the right aileron and right flap. The right wing, right aileron, and right flap were charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire. Control continuity to the aileron was confirmed from the right aileron actuation pulley inboard the center portion of the fuselage. The right main landing gear separated and came to rest directly under the right wing. The main landing gear assembly was charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire.

The left wing remained partially attached to the fuselage and included the left aileron and left flap. The left wing, aileron, and flap were charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire. Control continuity to the aileron was confirmed from the left aileron actuation pulley inboard to the center portion of the fuselage. The left main landing gear remained partially attached and came to rest directly beneath the left wing. The main landing gear assembly exhibited exposure to heat and fire.

The flap actuator jack screw was extended about 2 inches consistent with 50 percent or 16 degrees of flap extension.

The empennage included the horizontal and vertical stabilizer, the rudder, and the elevator. The left and right sides of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator were impact damage and exhibited exposure to heat and fire. The vertical fin and rudder were impact damaged. Control continuity to the rudder and elevator was confirmed from the control surface forward to the center portion of the fuselage. The rudder and aileron interconnect Airworthiness Directive 2008-03-16 was not complied with.

The engine and propeller assembly separated partially from the fuselage at the firewall. The engine cowling was mostly consumed by fire. The propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade came to rest directly beneath the engine.

The engine assembly exhibited exposure to heat and fire. The upper bank of spark plugs was removed and exhibited normal wear signatures as compared to a Champion Spark Plug chart. The number 3 spark plug was clean and the remaining plugs had sooty signatures. The cylinders were borescoped and exhibited normal signatures. The fuel pump was removed and the drive coupling was intact. The fuel pump could not be actuated by hand and exhibited fire damage.

The propeller blades were labeled A, B, and C for identification purposes in the report. Blade A was bent approximately 45° and exhibited leading edge scoring and abrasions at the bend. The tip of the blade was curled. Blade B was bent greater than 90° and exhibited leading-edge scoring. Blade C was bent nearly 180° and exhibited leading edge and blade face scoring. The pitch change knobs for blades A and B remain attached. The pitch change knob for blade C was no longer attached.

The Kevlar straps from the ballistic recovery parachute extended aft of the wreckage to the south. The parachute remained in its packed state. The rocket was located to the south of the parachute pack and remained attached to the pack and bridle. The propellant was expended. The enclosure cover was located adjacent to the wreckage.

No preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures were found that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The El Paso County Coroner performed the autopsy on the pilot on November 10, 2015. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries and the report listed the specific injuries.

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological tests on specimens that were collected during the autopsy (CAMI Reference #201500262001). Results were negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. Testing of the blood and tissue revealed cetirizine, diphenhydramine, rosuvastatin, sertraline, and tetrahydrocannabinol.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The engine was relocated to a laboratory for further examination.

The fuel injector nozzles were free of contamination. The plunger on the fuel manifold was free to move and the internal screen was unremarkable. The spark plugs were dark and sooted and exhibited normal signatures when compared to a Champion Spark Plug Chart.

The left magneto exhibited impact damage, exposure to heat and fire, and would not rotate when actuated by hand. Further examination revealed that the internal gear was partially melted along the gear teeth. Once the gear was removed the unit could be actuated by hand – further examination revealed no anomalies.

The right magneto exhibited impact damage, exposure to heat and fire, and would rotate with resistance when actuated by hand. Further examination revealed no anomalies.

The fuel pump exhibited impact damage and exposure to heat and fire. The spline was intact and the unit would not rotate when actuated by hand, but rotated with resistance when force was applied. Further examination revealed internal heat damage and was otherwise unremarkable.

The oil pump exhibited impact damage and exposure to heat and fire. The spline was bent and twisted consistent with rotation at the time of impact. Internal examination exhibited a witness mark consist with impact damage and was otherwise unremarkable.

The timing gear on the cam shaft was impact damaged and the piston head on the number three cylinder exhibited a witness mark consistent with a valve strike. The engine was otherwise unremarkable.

Propeller Exam

The propeller was examined at the wreckage storage facility.

Blade A was bent forward and the damage and scoring was consistent with impact at a positive angle under power. The blade B was bent aft and the pressure plate witness mark was consistent with high pitch at the time of impact. Blade C bent forward.

The pitch change knob for blade C was broken. The pitch change rod was broken on the non-pressurized side of the piston and the assembly contained oil and grease. Separation signatures were consistent with overload. The other two pitch change knobs were not broken.

Excessive amounts of grease were documented inside the hub cavity. Damage inside of the hub cavity and scoring on the propeller blades was consistent with power at the time of impact.

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA034 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 09, 2015 in Colorado Springs, CO
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N752C
Injuries: 2 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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On November 9, 2015, about 1055 mountain standard time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22, N752C, was destroyed when it impacted terrain north of the City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (KCOS), Colorado Springs, Colorado. A post impact fire ensued. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Linkup Aviation LLC and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Roanoke, Texas.


According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilot had received clearance to depart from runway 35L. Shortly after takeoff the pilot reported that he had lost engine power. One witness described hearing the engine surge during the takeoff. Several other witnesses described seeing the airplane wing's rock back and forth before the airplane "spiraled" to the ground.


The airplane came to rest in a field ½ mile north of the departure end of runway 35L. The wreckage included the fuselage, empennage, both wings, and the engine and propeller assembly. The airplane was damaged by the impact and the post-crash fire.


The closest official weather reporting station, located at KCOS, recorded the wind at 200 degrees at 8 knots, sky condition broken clouds at 2,300 feet, temperature 14 degrees Celsius, dewpoint -13 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.99.



Michael P. Fritzel and Paula J. Johnson Fritzel, both 63, of Keller died Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Service: Memorial Mass at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 2016 Willis Lane, Keller. Memorials: Angel Flight and Christian Community Storehouse, 4640 Keller Hicks Road, Keller, Texas 76244. 

They were married Oct. 23, 1976, in Galesburg, Ill. Mike, the son of Edward and Joanne Fritzel, was born April 21, 1952, in Galesburg, Ill. Paula, the daughter of Dale and Eileen Johnson, was born Sept. 2, 1952, in Galesburg, Ill. Mike was a graduate of Costa High School in Galesburg and Chadron College in Chadron, Neb. Paula was a graduate of ROVA High School in Oneida, Ill., and Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill. Mike was the owner and president of LinkUp International in Roanoke. 


They were preceded in death by their parents and one brother-in-law. Survivors: Their sons are Nathan (Jackie) and Adam (Mallory), both of Roanoke. Their grandchildren are Owen and Baeya Fritzel. Mike's siblings include Barbara Linnenberger (Mike) of Fort Meade, Md., Tony Fritzel (Debbie), Jim Fritzel (Diane), Pat Fritzel (Diana), Anne Fritzel and Carol Lohmar (Mark), all of Keller. Paula's sisters are Linda Harding of Rio, Ill., and Marcia Brandenberg (Al) of Clinton, Ill.


 - See more at: http://www.legacy.com



Michael P. Fritzel and Paula J. Johnson Fritzel



11 News has confirmed through family members the identities of the husband and wife killed in a plane crash near the Colorado Springs Airport Monday morning.

The family of Mike and Paula Fritzel did not want to comment, but confirmed that they were the two killed when the Cirrus SR22 plane Mike was flying crashed just after taking off from the Colorado Springs Airport.

The couple lived just outside Fort Worth, Texas.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that Mike radioed air traffic control to say the plane had lost engine power just before the crash.

On the radio transmission to air traffic control, you can hear Mike calling out the problem.

Air traffic control: "(inaudible) say again.”

Mike: “I’m having engine problems. I’d like to turn around."

Witnesses say the plane spiraled out of control before slamming into the ground and exploding.

"It spiraled down, belly up, and then hit the ground...the wing and the tail fell off," Taji Moseley told us.

"It did some flips, and then it just came straight into the ground. It didn't skip or anything. It went down," Steve Holm recalled.

The crash caused a grass fire, which quickly spread. Firefighters were able to get it extinguished before it reached any structures. NTSB says an explosion after the plane hit the ground likely caused the fire.

The SR22 is equipped with a parachute system designed to bring the entire plane safely to the ground in the event of an emergency, but investigators say the parachute had not been deployed.

Experts 11 News talked to said the plane was likely not high enough to deploy the parachute.

Witnesses at the airport say the pilot chose not to utilize the entire runway, and instead take off from a taxiway closer to the runway's end. That means the pilot would have had less time to get the plane off the ground.

It is not known yet if that had anything to do with the crash, but the NTSB's investigation should reveal if that was the case.

The NTSB arrived on scene Monday afternoon. Tuesday they took apart the plane so that it could be better examined.

They said Tuesday there was nothing initially concerning with the engine.

"We will be examining the wreckage to try and understand why it was the pilot reported a loss of engine power,” NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Jennifer Rodi said. “Whether it was a mechanical anomaly with one of the planes systems, or the engine itself."

The investigation could take months, but the NTSB expects to have some preliminary results out by the end of this week or early next week.



Mike and Paula Fritzel


Cirrus SR22, N752C






A private pilot from Texas and his wife died in a Cirrus SR22 plane crash about 11 a.m. Monday in a field near Airport Road and Stewart Avenue, according to authorities.

According to Gazette news partner KKTV, the victims are Mike and Paula Fritzel, both 63, of Roanoke, Texas. The plane was registered to LinkUp Aviation LLC, and Fritzel owns LinkUp International, a company that provides sales, marketing and distribution services to the railway industry.


Shortly after leaving the runway at the Colorado Springs Airport, the pilot reported a loss of engine power just before the plane went down, said Jennifer Rodi, a senior air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.


"Witnesses are describing the plane as spiraling or spinning toward the ground," she said late Monday afternoon.


There was an explosion after the impact, Rodi said, and a fire erupted, destroying most of the plane and burning one-half of a mile of the surrounding open field.


Thirty-five Colorado Springs Fire Department personnel responded to the scene, the Fire Department reported. Rodi said it has not been determined if the pilot and passenger died as a result of the crash or the fire.


The destination of the civilian aircraft was not known.


The Cirrus SR22 was equipped with a airframe parachute system, but it was not deployed, Rodi said. It's possible the plane would have had to be 1,000 feet above ground before the parachute would work, she added.


Weather conditions were "fairly good," she said, although there was a breeze.


"What role that may or may not have played will be a portion of our investigation," she said.


NTSB and FAA investigators from around the nation arrived at the scene mid-afternoon Monday and will conduct the bulk of the investigation Tuesday, she said.


Aviation experts will examine "man, machine and environment," Rodi said. Investigators will document the wreckage, including the engine, and look for mechanical problems. What role the temperature, dew points and winds may have played in affecting the performance at the time of takeoff also will be studied, she said.


The bodies were being removed from the site late Monday afternoon, and an autopsy, including a toxicology report, will be done on the pilot, which Rodi said is routine in a crash. The pilot's training and experience with such an airplane also will figure into the work.


An initial report could be released Friday or next Monday, Rodi said.


Some streets around the crash site remained closed Monday evening.


Sources:  

http://www.koaa.com


http://gazette.com


http://kdvr.com

http://www.9news.com

http://denver.cbslocal.com

http://www.thedenverchannel.com

http://www.krdo.com