Thursday, February 23, 2017

Families File Lawsuit: Piper PA28R-200, N2806R; fatal accident occurred December 31, 2016 in Vienna, Johnson County, Illinois

Jasmine Linder of Barnes City, Iowa


 
Krista Green of Altoona, Iowa

Jordan Linder of Keswick, Iowa

Curt Terpstra



PELLA, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Two families filed a lawsuit two months after a New Year’s Eve plane crash killed four Iowans flying out of Pella. 

The families of a brother and sister who were on board are suing the estate of the pilot.

The suit, filed late Wednesday afternoon Marion County District Court, claims that the pilot, 34-year-old Curt Terpstra, was not qualified to be flying in stormy weather and should have never left the ground.

The Piper PA28R-200 left Pella for Nashville but made a stop in Missouri and slammed into the ground in southern Illinois. All four people on board were killed: Krista Green, 37, siblings Jordan Linder, 35 and Jasmine Linder, 26, and the pilot.

Attorney George LaMarca filed suit on behalf of the Linder families, claiming that Terpstra was not instrument certified and should not have been flying in bad weather at night.

KCCI obtained a copy of the National Transportation Safety Board Accident report showing that Terpstra had not flown for months. His last recorded entry was dated July July 24-26, 2016.

The logbook showed that the pilot had logged only 18.9 hours of night flight time and no flight time in instrument conditions.

“Marginal visual meteorological conditions were reported near the accident site with overcast clouds at 700 feet,” the accident report says.

A source and Terpstra never filed a flight plan and did not have an official Federal Aviation Administration weather briefing before taking off.

The manager of the Pella Airport was contacted on Wednesday, but he had no comment.

Source:   http://www.kcrg.com

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Springfield, Illinois 
Hartzell Propeller Inc.; Piqua, Ohio
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida

Lycoming Engines; Milliken, Colorado 


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

Curt Ryan Terpstra:http://registry.faa.govN2806R 

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA064 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 31, 2016 in Vienna, IL
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28R-200, registration: N2806R
Injuries: 4 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 December 31, 2016, about 1745 central standard time, a Piper PA 28R-200 airplane, N2806R, impacted trees and terrain near Vienna, Illinois. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed during the impact. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Marginal visual meteorological conditions were reported near the accident site about the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Pella Municipal Airport, near Pella, Iowa at unknown and was destined for Nashville, Tennessee.

According to preliminary information, witnesses saw the airplane flying low and descend. A witness subsequently called 9-1-1 and a search was conducted by Johnson County Sheriff's personnel. The smell of fuel was present in the area identified by the caller. That smell led the Sheriff's personnel to the wreckage.

The 34-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial pilot certificate with a single engine land rating issued on June 30, 2016. The pilot held an FAA third-class medical certificate, dated May 12, 2016, with no limitations. Copies of the pilot's logbook showed his last recorded entry was dated July 24/26, 2016. The logbook showed the pilot's recorded flight time was 312.9 hours of total time, 18.9 hours of night flight time, 13.7 hours of simulated instrument flight time, and no flight time in actual instrument conditions.

N2806R, a 1969 model Piper PA 28R-200, Arrow, serial number 28R-35293, was a single-engine, propeller-driven, retractable landing gear, semi-monocoque design, four-seat, low wing airplane. The engine was a 200 horsepower Lycoming IO-360-C1C engine, with serial number L-15630-51A. The propeller was a constant speed, two-bladed, Hartzell HC-C2YK-1BF model, with serial number CH40395B. A review of copies of excerpts from the aircraft logbooks revealed an annual inspection was completed on June 6, 2016. The airframe logbook entry on that date indicated that the airplane had accumulated 6,297.3 hours of total time and its tachometer read 2,766.3 hours. The excerpts indicated that the most recent altimeter, static, and transponder inspection was performed on June 22, 2016, the engine tachometer read 2,771.2 hours, and the airplane had accumulated 6,302.2 hours of total time at that date.

At 1753, the recorded weather at the Barkley Regional Airport (PAH), near Paducah, Kentucky, located about 18 nautical miles and 174 degrees from the accident site, was: Wind 220 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast clouds at 700 feet; temperature 6 degrees C; dew point 4 degrees C; altimeter 29.91 inches of mercury.

According to preliminary information from FAA inspectors, there was no record of N2806R contacting the tower at PAH, or the tower at the Williamson County Regional Airport, near Marion, Illinois, or the air traffic control center.

The main wreckage came to rest about 43 degrees and .46 miles from the intersection of Crossroads Road and Old Metropolis Road. Broken branches, branches with linear separations, the upper portion of the rudder, a ground scar, and the engine were found in a debris path. The heading from the first found tree with broken branches to the main wreckage was 35 degrees magnetic. The upper portion of the rudder was found about 75 feet from that first tree with broken branches, the ground scar was about 90 feet from that tree, the engine and nose landing gear was about 105 feet from that tree, and the main wreckage was about 150 feet from that tree. The propeller hub and blades remained attached to its crankshaft. One propeller exhibited "S" shaped bending. There was no sign of fire in the debris path or wreckage.

The stabilator remained attached to its fuselage mounts and the stabilator's travel stops did not exhibit any witness marks consistent with repeated contact. The right side of the stabilator exhibited leading edge semicircular aft deformation consistent with the size of tree branches and skin separation at the inboard manufactured splice. Control continuity was established from the stabilator balance weight to the cockpit area. The stabilator trim tab remained attached to the stabilator with impact damage noted to the right hand outboard section. The stabilator trim rod remained attached to the trim tab as well as the trim barrel assembly. The stabilator trim was found to be in a full nose up trim setting. The stabilator trim wheel was found separated from its fuselage mount. Stabilator trim continuity was established from the separated trim wheel to the trim barrel. The vertical stabilizer remained attached to its forward fuselage mount. The rudder was separated from the vertical stabilizer. The rudder torque tube remained attached to its fuselage mount but was separated from the remainder of the rudder assembly. Control continuity was established from the separated rudder pedal assembly to the rudder torque tube. The rudder travel stops remained intact and exhibited no signs of repeated contact.

The fuselage was fragmented from the wing spar box forward to the engine. The rear bench seat remained, in part, attached to the fuselage. The left rear and right rear seat belts remained attached to their mounts and were found to be functional when field tested. No shoulder harnesses were installed in the rear seats. The pilot lap belt and shoulder harness was noted. The pilot's inboard seat belt mount was found separated from the fuselage at its fasteners. The copilot's lap belt and shoulder harness assembly were not located within the wreckage. Field test of the pilot's lap and shoulder harness found them to be functional. The pilot and copilot seats were found separated from their fuselage mounts and they exhibited downward deformation.

The instrument panel was destroyed. The attitude indicator and horizontal situation indication gyros were removed and disassembled. Disassembly revealed both gyros had witness marks consistent with a rotating gyro rubbing on its housing.
The engine control quadrant was found separated and it exhibited crush deformation. The landing gear selector was found in the "Down" position. The firewall and fuselage bottom skin was found was found separated from the remainder of the fuselage. The ruder pedal assembly was found separated from its mounts. The control yoke's "T" bar assembly was found fragmented and separated from its mounts as well as the control yoke shafts were found separated from "T" bar assembly. The fuel selector was found damaged and separated from its mounts. The fuel selector valve was noted to be in an "off" position.

About 78 inches of the inboard left wing remained attached to the fuselage spar box and rearward deformation damage was noted to the leading edge of the inboard section of the wing. The left wing's fuel tank was deformed and breached. Its pickup screen was found clear of obstructions. The remainder of the separated wing was found in the area of the main wreckage and its aileron remained, in part, attached to the wing. The aileron balance weight was found separated and the weight was not located within the wreckage. The flap was found in the "Up" position. It was fragmented and remained, in part, attached to its wing mounts. The aileron's bellcrank was separated from its mounts and the bellcrank remained attached to the aileron via the push pull tube. The bellcrank stops did not exhibit any signs of repeated contact. Control continuity was established from the aileron to the "T" bar chain and to the overload separation balance cable in the center fuselage area. The pitot head remained attached to the separated section of wing and its static hole was clear of debris. However, the pitot hole was found obstructed by a media consistent with wood.

The right wing was found separated from the fuselage at the spar box and was also separated at the flap and aileron seam. The flap remained attached to its wing and was found in the "Up" position. The aileron remained attached to its mounts and its aileron balance weight remained attached to the aileron. The right fuel tank was found deformed and breached. Its fuel tank pickup screen was found clear of obstructions. The entire length of the right wing exhibited rearward deformation. The aileron bellcrank and stops were found separated from their mounts and the stops did not exhibit any repeat contact witness marks. The aileron cables remained attached to the bellcrank but were found to be separated in overload by the wing root area. Aileron control continuity was established from the wing root to the bellcrank. The aileron push pull tube was separated from the bellcrank. The aileron balance cable was separated 50 inches from the cable's turnbuckle and the cable separation exhibited a broom straw appearance. The aileron drive cable was separated 12 inches from the cable's turnbuckle and the cable separation exhibited a broom straw appearance.

The engine had all of its accessories separated from the accessory gear box. All pushrods were found with bending deformation. The engine's sparkplugs were removed. The top spark plug for cylinder no. 1, no. 2, no. 4, and the bottom spark plug on cylinder no. 3 exhibited a normal condition. The remaining sparkplugs exhibited impact damage. The engine crankshaft was rotated by rotating the propeller by hand. Drivetrain continuity was observed when the accessory gearbox gears and valve train components moved in correlation to the crankshaft movement. A borescope examination of the cylinders did not reveal any anomalies. Each cylinder produced a thumb compression as the crankshaft was rotated. Both of the magnetos exhibited impact damage and could not be tested. The oil pickup screen condition was found clear and free of debris. The fuel servo was separated from its intake and its fuel screen was clear and free of debris. The fuel flow divider was disassembled. No anomalies were observed. The internal cavity of the divider had a glossy appearance and smell consistent with aviation gasoline. The separated engine driven was damaged and could not be tested. The electric fuel pump did not pump a fluid when electrical power was applied. Disassembly of the pump revealed its magnet had fragmented. The pump's shaft was rotated through an attached drill and the pump pumped a fluid when the drill was activated.

The propeller hub and blades were removed from the engine and disassembled. The disassembly examination revealed that oil was found in the forward portion of the propeller dome. Both blades had their control knobs separated from their blade butts. Witness marks revealed the blades were in a cruise flight pitch range. No preimpact anomalies were observed during the disassembly examination.

The Jackson County Coroner's Office was asked to perform an autopsy on the pilot and take toxicological samples.

A cell phone was found in the wreckage it is being sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Recorder Laboratory to see if it contains data in reference to the flight.


Curt Terpstra



Curt Terpstra  (r)














Rotorway Talon A600, N220AF: Accident occurred March 14, 2015 in Indian Lake Estates, Polk County, Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida 
Rotorway; Phoenix, Arizona 
Bearing Manufacturer; Akron, Ohio

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

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N220AF

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA155
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 14, 2015 in Indian Lake Estates, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/13/2017
Aircraft: RICHARD FUIST ROTORWAY TALON, registration: N220AF
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 student pilot, who was the owner and builder of the experimental amateur-built helicopter, stated that he performed some adjustments to the main rotor blade track and balance and then adjusted the slider ball adjustment collar, located in the rotor hub on the swashplate assembly, on the morning of the accident flight. After making the adjustment, the student conducted an uneventful test flight in the airport traffic pattern, and he then decided to depart on his planned cross-country flight. While approaching to land at his destination, the student felt increasing left cyclic pressure, which increased as the helicopter descended. The student stated that he did not have any further recollection of the accident. A witness reported that the helicopter rolled left about 25 ft above ground level, impacted the ground, and then came to rest on its right side.

Postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed no evidence of preexisting mechanical malfunctions or anomalies. According to the helicopter kit manufacturer, cyclic stiffness and increased cyclic pressure can be caused by worn elastomeric bearings or an incorrectly adjusted slider ball collar. However, a detailed examination of the elastomeric bearings revealed that they were within manufacturer specifications for torsional stiffness and lateral bulge. Although a postaccident hover flight test conducted by the manufacturer showed that an overtightened slider ball adjustment collar can lead to increased left cyclic pressure, postaccident measurements taken by the pilot indicated that the slider ball adjustment was also within manufacturer specifications. The reason for the increased left cyclic pressure could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss of helicopter control following an uncommanded increased left cyclic pressure during landing for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed no evidence of any mechanical malfunctions or anomalies.

On March 14, 2015, about 1400 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Rotorway 162F helicopter, N220AF, was substantially damaged during an off-airport landing near Indian Lake Estates, Florida. The student pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Winter Haven's Gilbert Airport (GIF), Winter Haven, Florida, at 1330. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The student pilot, who was also the owner and builder of the helicopter, stated that he had performed adjustments to the main rotor blade tracking and balancing on the morning of the accident. A hover test of the helicopter revealed no anomalies, but the pilot stated that during the subsequent flight around the airport traffic pattern, the lead/lag of the blades was "off the chart" according to his digital balancer. The pilot landed the helicopter and attempted to contact an acquaintance who was familiar with the helicopter make and model, but was not able to reach him. The pilot elected to make no further blade adjustments until he could consult his acquaintance, and instead chose to adjust the slider ball adjustment collar, located in the rotor hub on the swashplate assembly. He stated that he followed the kit manufacturer's maintenance instructions for the adjustment, and that during a test flight following the adjustment, "everything felt fine." The pilot then departed on a 24 nautical mile flight.

The pilot stated that he experienced no anomalies during the accident flight. While approaching to land at his destination, about 500 feet above ground level (agl), the pilot felt a left cyclic pressure that increased as the helicopter descended. The pilot could not fully recall the accident sequence, but a witness stated that the helicopter rolled to the left at an altitude of approximately 25 feet agl, the rotor blades impacted the ground. The helicopter then rolled over and came to rest on its right side.

Postaccident examination of the helicopter by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors revealed that it sustained substantial damage to the tail boom and fuselage. During the examination, the inspectors determined that the elastomeric thrust bearings exhibited an abnormal amount of wear. The inspectors confirmed cyclic control continuity from the cockpit to the rotor blades and traced collective control from the cockpit to the rotor blades through the swashplate, which did not display any abnormalities. Both main rotor blades remained intact: one blade was bent at a 45-degree angle and the other blade was bent opposite the direction of rotation.

The 1347 automated weather observation at an airport located about 22 nm west of the accident site included winds from 180 degrees at 15 knots with gusts to 20 knots; visibility 10 statute miles, a broken cloud layer at 4,000 feet; temperature 28 degrees C; dew point 16 degree C; and an altimeter setting of 30.11 inches of mercury.

The pilot held a student pilot and FAA third-class medical certificate, which was issued in August 2014. He reported that he had accumulated about 55 total hours of flight experience, all of which were in helicopters. At the time of the accident, the pilot had accrued about 23 total flight hours in the accident helicopter make and model, with about 20 hours, including 16 hours of dual instruction in the two weeks that preceded the accident.

The two-place helicopter was equipped with a Rotorway RI600N 150 hp reciprocating engine, and was assembled by the student pilot from a kit with assistance from a mechanic. The helicopter was equipped with a two-blade main rotor and a two-blade tail rotor. The airworthiness certificate was issued in November 14, 2014. At the time of the accident, the helicopter had accumulated approximately 40 total flight hours; 15 hours of which involved hover taxi tests that were not documented in the pilot's personal flight logbook.

The two elastomeric bearings and the thrust blocks were submitted to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for detailed examination. A review of the bearings showed no anomalous wear scar patterns on any of the bearing surfaces; however, microscope images revealed the presence of elastomer extrusion at the inside and outside diameter surfaces. The thrust blocks did not display any wear scar patterns within the counter bores and associated sleeves. The bearings were subsequently sent to the manufacturer and evaluated for torsional stiffness and lateral bulge under the supervision of an FAA inspector. The torsional stiffness between both bearings measured approximately 9.84 lbf-inch/degree. The highest lateral bulge measurement for the bearings was 0.0190. According to the manufacturer's specifications, the torsional stiffness should measure between 10 – 13 pounds of force (lbf) inch/degree and the lateral bulge should be less than 0.040 inches.

According to the bearing manufacturer, the functional test results on the accident bearings were consistent with the results of new bearings. The manufacturer further stated that a blackened appearance of the outer surface resulting from micro-scaled extrusion will show during the first 23 flight hours under normal thrust loads and oscillations, but "has no affect upon function."

According to the maintenance manual, the slider ball adjustment collar can produce a feedback through the cyclic controls if the collar is not correctly adjusted. This will cause the cyclic to travel in any one direction independent of any input from the pilot. A representative of the kit manufacturer stated that if the slider ball adjustment collar set screws are not secured, the shaft will overtighten the collar during flight, which may increase cyclic pressure. Following the accident, the manufacturer performed a hover test flight to determine the impact of an overtightened adjustment collar on control function. The pilot experienced hard left cyclic pressure during the hover test.

After the accident, the student pilot measured the slider ball adjustment collar at the request of the NTSB investigator-in-charge. He initially verified that the set screws were tight and then marked the position of the adjustment collar with a black pen. The student pilot then loosened the set screws and tightened the collar until it was "snug." He marked the collar position again with a black pen and then loosened the set screws and the adjustment collar. He noted that the black marks were approximately one half inch apart, consistent with the kit manufacturer's maintenance instructions.

Cessna 182H Skylane, N1839X, registered to and operated by the pilot: Fatal accident occurred December 26, 2016 near Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport (KGKT), Sevier County, Tennessee

Joseph David Starling, his 8-year-old son Hunter, and Kim Smith.
~


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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Nashville, Tennessee
Continental Motors, Inc.; Mobile, Alabama

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


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

Joseph D. Starling: http://registry.faa.gov/N1839X



National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Factual Report

Location: Gatlinburg, TN
Accident Number: ERA17FA073
Date & Time: 12/26/2016, 1602 EST
Registration: N1839X
Aircraft: CESSNA 182
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event:  Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

Analysis 

The non-instrument-rated private pilot elected to conduct the cross-country flight over mountainous terrain without obtaining a weather briefing or filing a flight plan. As he approached his destination, the pilot requested a descent from his cruising altitude of 9,500 ft mean sea level (msl), which was approved by air traffic control. The controller instructed the pilot to maintain visual flight rules flight throughout his descent. Instead, the pilot descended the airplane into a cloud layer between 7,000 ft msl to 5,000 ft msl despite his instructions from air traffic control. Radar data and satellite weather imagery depicted the airplane in a steady-state descent inside a solid cloud layer which tracked north, directly toward the destination airport. The radar track ended at 5,400 ft. msl abeam a mountain peak at 6,500 feet elevation. The accident site was located at 5,400 ft in steep, mountainous terrain about 15 miles south of the destination airport at the same position as the last radar target.

Examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact mechanical anomalies and signatures consistent with controlled flight into terrain.

The pilot had a history of disregard for established rules and regulations. The pilot's medical certificate was expired, and his airplane was about 2 months overdue for an annual inspection. He was counseled numerous times by an experienced flight instructor about his unsafe practice of operating the airplane in instrument meteorological conditions without an instrument rating, but he continued to do so over a period of 2 years and again on the accident flight. His contempt for rules and regulations was consistent with an anti-authority attitude, which is hazardous to safe operation of aircraft.

The pilot had used the potentially-impairing stimulant phentermine at some time before the flight, but the samples available for testing were inadequate to quantify impairment. Therefore, it could not be determined if the pilot's use of phentermine contributed to this accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The non-instrument-rated pilot's intentional visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's established anti-authority attitude. 

Findings

Aircraft
Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Qualification/certification - Pilot (Cause)
Total instrument experience - Pilot (Cause)
Personality - Pilot (Factor)
Self confidence - Pilot (Factor)
Prescription medication - Pilot

Environmental issues
Low visibility - Effect on operation (Cause)
Low visibility - Decision related to condition (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-descent

Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT) (Defining event)

On December 26, 2016, about 1602 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182H, N1839X, collided with mountainous terrain during descent for landing to Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), Sevierville, Tennessee. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight. The airplane departed Keystone Airpark (42J), Keystone Heights, Florida, about 1300.

Information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight-following services and was at 9,500 ft mean sea level (msl) when the pilot requested a descent into GKT. At 1554, the controller approved the descent, issued an altimeter setting, and directed the pilot to "maintain VFR." Radar data depicted a descent on a ground track of about 340° directly toward GKT at a groundspeed between 130 and 150 knots.

At 1558, about 20 miles from GKT, the airplane descended below the minimum vectoring altitude of 8,000 ft msl. The airplane continued its descent on the same ground track and about the same speed. At 1602, the radar target was at 5,400 ft msl abeam the peak of Mt. LeConte, elevation 6,500 ft, when the radar track ended.

At that time, the controller issued the airplane a radio frequency change to the GKT frequency and terminated radar services. No reply was received from the airplane, and no further attempts to contact the airplane were made.

Local law enforcement was notified of the overdue airplane by concerned family members. A search was initiated, and the wreckage was located later that evening by helicopter at 5,400 ft in steep, mountainous terrain at the same position as the last radar target. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 41, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/03/2013
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  272 hours (Total, all aircraft), 219 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on December 3, 2013, and he reported 12 total hours of flight experience on that date. That certificate expired on the pilot's 40th birthday in September 2015. A search of FAA records revealed that the pilot had not applied for a medical certificate in any class after December 3, 2013.

The pilot was issued his private pilot certificate on April 1, 2014 at 45.3 total hours of flight experience. His pilot logbook was not recovered. On April 27, 2016, the pilot reported to his insurance carrier that he had accrued 272 total hours of flight experience, 219 hours of which were in the accident airplane. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N1839X
Model/Series: 182 H
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18255939
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/03/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2348 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2595 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer:  CONT MOTOR
ELT:
Engine Model/Series:  O-470 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 230 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None 

The four-seat, single-engine, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 1965 and equipped with a Continental O-470-R-series, 230-horsepower, reciprocating engine. According to the airplane's maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on October 3, 2015, at 2,595 total aircraft hours. 



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: GKT, 1013 ft msl
Observation Time: 1615 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 344°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 4600 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 13°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.3 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Precipitation
Departure Point: KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, FL (42J)
Type of Flight Plan Filed:  None
Destination: Gatlinburg, TN (GKT)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1300 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E

At 1615, the weather reported at GKT, located 15 miles north of the accident site, included few clouds at 4,600 ft and calm wind. The temperature was 18°C; the dew point was 13°C; and the altimeter setting was 30.30 inches of mercury.

Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) Sierra for mountain obscuration was in effect along the airplane's flight route. Satellite imagery showed instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions with cloud tops between 6,000 and 7,000 ft msl in the area surrounding the accident site. Conditions north of the ridgeline that the airplane struck and at the destination airport were VFR.

At 1545, about the time the airplane passed overhead, the weather reported at Macon County Airport (2,034 feet elevation), Franklin, North Carolina, about 25 miles south of the accident site included scattered clouds at 700 ft, a broken ceiling at 1,200 ft, and an overcast cloud layer at 2,400 ft. The visibility was 4 statute miles in fog.

A pilot who transitioned through the area of the accident site around the time of the accident captured images and weather information near the site. He said that during the climb, his airplane entered a flat, stratus cloud layer at 5,000 ft and that the cloud tops were at 7,000 ft msl. According to this pilot, the cloud layer remained consistent throughout the en route and descent portions of his flight.

A search of official weather briefing sources, such as Lockheed Martin Flight Service and the Direct User Access Terminal Service, revealed that no official weather briefing was received by the pilot from those sources. A search of ForeFlight weather information revealed that the pilot did not request a weather briefing, nor did he file a flight plan using ForeFlight mobile. However, at 1449, the pilot did enter route information from 42J to GKT in ForeFlight, but he did not view any weather imagery. It could not be determined if the pilot viewed weather observations or terminal area forecast information en route as Foreflight did not archive that information.

Airport Information

Airport: GATLINBURG-PIGEON FORGE (GKT)
Runway Surface Type:  N/A
Airport Elevation: 1013 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Straight-in 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:  N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  35.651944, -83.458333 (est) 

The wreckage was examined at the accident site by an FAA inspector. There was an odor of fuel, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. Because of the hazardous conditions at the site, a brief photo-documentation of the wreckage was performed before it was recovered by helicopter for further examination. During the subsequent examination, it was determined that two landing gear and a propeller blade were not recovered from the accident site.

The airframe was segmented by both impact and cutting performed by the aircraft recovery technicians. Control continuity was established from the cockpit area, through several breaks and cuts, to the flight control surfaces. All breaks were consistent with overload failure or mechanical cutting during recovery.

The leading edges of both wings were uniformly crushed. Examination of the instrument panel revealed that the instruments were destroyed by impact, and no useful data was recovered. The mixture, throttle, and propeller controls were all found in the full-forward positions. The fuel selector valve was in the "Right" tank position.

The propeller, propeller governor, engine case, No. 6 cylinder, and the crankshaft forward of the No. 4 main bearing were separated by impact forces. The engine could not be rotated by hand due to impact damage. The oil sump was also separated, which allowed for visual inspection of the power section. Visual inspection and borescope examination revealed normal wear and lubrication signatures. The engine accessories were also separated from the engine due to impact. The magnetos could not be tested due to impact damage. Disassembly revealed normal wear and no pre-impact mechanical anomalies.

Aids To Navigation

GKT was depicted on the Atlanta VFR Sectional Chart at 1,014 ft msl. The Maximum Elevation Figure (MEF) for the quadrant that contained both GKT and Mt. LeConte was 7,000 ft msl. Instrument approach procedure charts for GKT depicted the minimum sector altitude as 7,900 ft msl, which provided a minimum clearance of 1,000 ft above all obstacles within a 25nm radius of GKT.

These charts were available to ForeFlight subscribers. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Regional Forensic Center, Knox County, Tennessee, performed the autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing for the pilot. Phentermine was detected in the liver at 0.167 ug/ml, in the spleen at 0.125 ug/ml, and in the kidney at 0.116 ug/ml.

Phentermine is a prescription stimulant/appetite suppressant medication marked under various names including Adipex. It is a central nervous system stimulant, and side effects include overstimulation, restlessness, and dizziness. It carries the warning, "phentermine may impair the ability of the patient to engage in potentially hazardous activities such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle; the patient should therefore be cautioned accordingly." The pilot had not disclosed use of this medication to the FAA. There is no known relationship between tissue levels and impairment for this drug. 

Additional Information

The owner/operator of the flight school at 42J where the pilot received his primary flight instruction was interviewed. According to the flight school owner, who was a flight instructor, the pilot "pushed his training as hard as he could and cut corners wherever he could." According to school records, the pilot scored a 73 on his FAA private pilot written exam. The pilot purchased the airplane as soon as he passed his practical exam.

The pilot later built a hangar on his property and kept the airplane there, but he continued to fly in and out of 42J. The flight school owner said that he watched the pilot depart 42J with his family on multiple occasions in weather that was "below VFR minimums." He said that he counseled the pilot numerous times about operating the airplane VFR in instrument conditions. Most recently, he counseled the pilot 2 weeks before the accident.

The flight school owner stated, "I've been flying for more than 40 years, and I tried to explain to him the history of pilots with an anti-authority attitude. It's an attitude that catches up with you. He was a low-time, flat-land pilot with no mountain experience. There was an AIRMET for mountain obscuration that day… there was plenty of information out there."

When asked why he thought the pilot departed on the accident flight with those conditions along his route of flight, the instructor said, "I counseled him numerous times about taking instrument training and getting an instrument rating. Lots of us around here did. He couldn't be bothered. He would just draw… [the flight route] on his iPad and go."

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA073
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 26, 2016 in Gatlinburg, TN
Aircraft: CESSNA 182, registration: N1839X
Injuries: 3 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 December 26, 2016, about 1602 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182H, N1839X, was destroyed when it collided with mountainous terrain during descent for landing to Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), Sevierville, Tennessee. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane departed Keystone Airpark (42J), Keystone Heights, Florida, about 1300.

Preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the airplane was receiving visual flight rules flight-following services and was at 9,500 feet when the pilot requested a descent for landing at GKT. At 1554, the controller approved the descent and issued an altimeter setting. Radar data depicted a descent on a ground track of about 340 degrees, directly toward GKT, between 130 and 150 knots groundspeed.

At 1558, about 20 miles from GKT, the airplane descended below the minimum vectoring altitude of 8,000 feet. The airplane continued its descent on the same ground track and about the same speed. At 1602, the radar target was at 5,400 feet, and abeam the peak of Mt. Conte (elevation 6,500 feet) when the radar target disappeared.

At that time, the controller issued the airplane a radio frequency change to the GKT common traffic advisory frequency and terminated radar services. No reply was received from the accident airplane and no further attempts to contact the airplane were made.

The wreckage was located by helicopter at an elevation of 5,400 feet in steep, mountainous terrain about the same position as the last radar target.
The wreckage was examined at the accident site by an FAA inspector. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene; however, because of the hazardous conditions at the site, a brief photo-documentation of the wreckage was performed before it was recovered by helicopter for a detailed examination at a later date.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on December 3, 2013, and he reported 12 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The pilot was issued his private pilot certificate on April 1, 2014, with 45.3 total hours of flight experience. On April 27, 2016, the pilot reported to his insurance carrier that he had accrued 272 total hours of flight experience, 219 hours of which were in the accident airplane.

The four-seat, single-engine, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 1964, and equipped with a Continental O-470-R series, 230-horsepower reciprocating engine. According to the airplane's maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on October 5, 2015, at 2,595 total aircraft hours.

At 1615, the weather reported at GKT; located 15 miles north of the accident site, included few clouds at 4,600 feet and calm wind. The temperature was 18 degrees C, the dew point was 13 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.30 inches of mercury.

Airmen's meteorological information (AIRMET) Sierra was in effect along the airplane's route of flight for mountain obscuration. Satellite imagery showed instrument flight rules conditions with cloud tops between 6,000 and 7,000 feet in the area surrounding the accident site and southward.

At 1545, about the time the airplane passed overhead, the weather reported at Macon County Airport (2,034 feet elevation), Franklin, North Carolina, about 25 miles south of the accident site included scattered clouds at 700 feet, a broken ceiling at 1,200 feet, and an overcast cloud layer at 2,400 feet. The visibility was 4 statute miles in fog. The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Nashville, Tennessee
Continental Motors, Inc.; Mobile, Alabama

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



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

Joseph D. Starling:   http://registry.faa.gov/N1839X

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Factual Report

Location: Gatlinburg, TN
Accident Number: ERA17FA073
Date & Time: 12/26/2016, 1602 EST
Registration: N1839X
Aircraft: CESSNA 182
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event:  Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 26, 2016, about 1602 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182H, N1839X, collided with mountainous terrain during descent for landing to Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), Sevierville, Tennessee. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight. The airplane departed Keystone Airpark (42J), Keystone Heights, Florida, about 1300.

Information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight-following services and was at 9,500 ft mean sea level (msl) when the pilot requested a descent into GKT. At 1554, the controller approved the descent, issued an altimeter setting, and directed the pilot to "maintain VFR." Radar data depicted a descent on a ground track of about 340° directly toward GKT at a groundspeed between 130 and 150 knots.

At 1558, about 20 miles from GKT, the airplane descended below the minimum vectoring altitude of 8,000 ft msl. The airplane continued its descent on the same ground track and about the same speed. At 1602, the radar target was at 5,400 ft msl abeam the peak of Mt. LeConte, elevation 6,500 ft, when the radar track ended.

At that time, the controller issued the airplane a radio frequency change to the GKT frequency and terminated radar services. No reply was received from the airplane, and no further attempts to contact the airplane were made.

Local law enforcement was notified of the overdue airplane by concerned family members. A search was initiated, and the wreckage was located later that evening by helicopter at 5,400 ft in steep, mountainous terrain at the same position as the last radar target. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 41, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/03/2013
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  272 hours (Total, all aircraft), 219 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on December 3, 2013, and he reported 12 total hours of flight experience on that date. That certificate expired on the pilot's 40th birthday in September 2015. A search of FAA records revealed that the pilot had not applied for a medical certificate in any class after December 3, 2013.

The pilot was issued his private pilot certificate on April 1, 2014 at 45.3 total hours of flight experience. His pilot logbook was not recovered. On April 27, 2016, the pilot reported to his insurance carrier that he had accrued 272 total hours of flight experience, 219 hours of which were in the accident airplane. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N1839X
Model/Series: 182 H
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18255939
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/03/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2348 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2595 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer:  CONT MOTOR
ELT:
Engine Model/Series:  O-470 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 230 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None 

The four-seat, single-engine, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 1965 and equipped with a Continental O-470-R-series, 230-horsepower, reciprocating engine. According to the airplane's maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on October 3, 2015, at 2,595 total aircraft hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: GKT, 1013 ft msl
Observation Time: 1615 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 344°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 4600 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 13°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.3 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Precipitation
Departure Point: KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, FL (42J)
Type of Flight Plan Filed:  None
Destination: Gatlinburg, TN (GKT)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1300 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E

At 1615, the weather reported at GKT, located 15 miles north of the accident site, included few clouds at 4,600 ft and calm wind. The temperature was 18°C; the dew point was 13°C; and the altimeter setting was 30.30 inches of mercury.

Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) Sierra for mountain obscuration was in effect along the airplane's flight route. Satellite imagery showed instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions with cloud tops between 6,000 and 7,000 ft msl in the area surrounding the accident site. Conditions north of the ridgeline that the airplane struck and at the destination airport were VFR.

At 1545, about the time the airplane passed overhead, the weather reported at Macon County Airport (2,034 feet elevation), Franklin, North Carolina, about 25 miles south of the accident site included scattered clouds at 700 ft, a broken ceiling at 1,200 ft, and an overcast cloud layer at 2,400 ft. The visibility was 4 statute miles in fog.

A pilot who transitioned through the area of the accident site around the time of the accident captured images and weather information near the site. He said that during the climb, his airplane entered a flat, stratus cloud layer at 5,000 ft and that the cloud tops were at 7,000 ft msl. According to this pilot, the cloud layer remained consistent throughout the en route and descent portions of his flight.

A search of official weather briefing sources, such as Lockheed Martin Flight Service and the Direct User Access Terminal Service, revealed that no official weather briefing was received by the pilot from those sources. A search of ForeFlight weather information revealed that the pilot did not request a weather briefing, nor did he file a flight plan using ForeFlight mobile. However, at 1449, the pilot did enter route information from 42J to GKT in ForeFlight, but he did not view any weather imagery. It could not be determined if the pilot viewed weather observations or terminal area forecast information en route as Foreflight did not archive that information.

Airport Information

Airport: GATLINBURG-PIGEON FORGE (GKT)
Runway Surface Type:  N/A
Airport Elevation: 1013 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Straight-in 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:  N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  35.651944, -83.458333 (est) 

The wreckage was examined at the accident site by an FAA inspector. There was an odor of fuel, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. Because of the hazardous conditions at the site, a brief photo-documentation of the wreckage was performed before it was recovered by helicopter for further examination. During the subsequent examination, it was determined that two landing gear and a propeller blade were not recovered from the accident site.

The airframe was segmented by both impact and cutting performed by the aircraft recovery technicians. Control continuity was established from the cockpit area, through several breaks and cuts, to the flight control surfaces. All breaks were consistent with overload failure or mechanical cutting during recovery.

The leading edges of both wings were uniformly crushed. Examination of the instrument panel revealed that the instruments were destroyed by impact, and no useful data was recovered. The mixture, throttle, and propeller controls were all found in the full-forward positions. The fuel selector valve was in the "Right" tank position.

The propeller, propeller governor, engine case, No. 6 cylinder, and the crankshaft forward of the No. 4 main bearing were separated by impact forces. The engine could not be rotated by hand due to impact damage. The oil sump was also separated, which allowed for visual inspection of the power section. Visual inspection and borescope examination revealed normal wear and lubrication signatures. The engine accessories were also separated from the engine due to impact. The magnetos could not be tested due to impact damage. Disassembly revealed normal wear and no pre-impact mechanical anomalies.

Aids To Navigation

GKT was depicted on the Atlanta VFR Sectional Chart at 1,014 ft msl. The Maximum Elevation Figure (MEF) for the quadrant that contained both GKT and Mt. LeConte was 7,000 ft msl. Instrument approach procedure charts for GKT depicted the minimum sector altitude as 7,900 ft msl, which provided a minimum clearance of 1,000 ft above all obstacles within a 25nm radius of GKT.

These charts were available to ForeFlight subscribers. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Regional Forensic Center, Knox County, Tennessee, performed the autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing for the pilot. Phentermine was detected in the liver at 0.167 ug/ml, in the spleen at 0.125 ug/ml, and in the kidney at 0.116 ug/ml.

Phentermine is a prescription stimulant/appetite suppressant medication marked under various names including Adipex. It is a central nervous system stimulant, and side effects include overstimulation, restlessness, and dizziness. It carries the warning, "phentermine may impair the ability of the patient to engage in potentially hazardous activities such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle; the patient should therefore be cautioned accordingly." The pilot had not disclosed use of this medication to the FAA. There is no known relationship between tissue levels and impairment for this drug. 

Additional Information

The owner/operator of the flight school at 42J where the pilot received his primary flight instruction was interviewed. According to the flight school owner, who was a flight instructor, the pilot "pushed his training as hard as he could and cut corners wherever he could." According to school records, the pilot scored a 73 on his FAA private pilot written exam. The pilot purchased the airplane as soon as he passed his practical exam.

The pilot later built a hangar on his property and kept the airplane there, but he continued to fly in and out of 42J. The flight school owner said that he watched the pilot depart 42J with his family on multiple occasions in weather that was "below VFR minimums." He said that he counseled the pilot numerous times about operating the airplane VFR in instrument conditions. Most recently, he counseled the pilot 2 weeks before the accident.

The flight school owner stated, "I've been flying for more than 40 years, and I tried to explain to him the history of pilots with an anti-authority attitude. It's an attitude that catches up with you. He was a low-time, flat-land pilot with no mountain experience. There was an AIRMET for mountain obscuration that day… there was plenty of information out there."


When asked why he thought the pilot departed on the accident flight with those conditions along his route of flight, the instructor said, "I counseled him numerous times about taking instrument training and getting an instrument rating. Lots of us around here did. He couldn't be bothered. He would just draw… [the flight route] on his iPad and go."

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA073
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 26, 2016 in Gatlinburg, TN
Aircraft: CESSNA 182, registration: N1839X
Injuries: 3 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 December 26, 2016, about 1602 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182H, N1839X, was destroyed when it collided with mountainous terrain during descent for landing to Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), Sevierville, Tennessee. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane departed Keystone Airpark (42J), Keystone Heights, Florida, about 1300.

Preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the airplane was receiving visual flight rules flight-following services and was at 9,500 feet when the pilot requested a descent for landing at GKT. At 1554, the controller approved the descent and issued an altimeter setting. Radar data depicted a descent on a ground track of about 340 degrees, directly toward GKT, between 130 and 150 knots groundspeed.

At 1558, about 20 miles from GKT, the airplane descended below the minimum vectoring altitude of 8,000 feet. The airplane continued its descent on the same ground track and about the same speed. At 1602, the radar target was at 5,400 feet, and abeam the peak of Mt. Conte (elevation 6,500 feet) when the radar target disappeared.

At that time, the controller issued the airplane a radio frequency change to the GKT common traffic advisory frequency and terminated radar services. No reply was received from the accident airplane and no further attempts to contact the airplane were made.

The wreckage was located by helicopter at an elevation of 5,400 feet in steep, mountainous terrain about the same position as the last radar target.
The wreckage was examined at the accident site by an FAA inspector. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene; however, because of the hazardous conditions at the site, a brief photo-documentation of the wreckage was performed before it was recovered by helicopter for a detailed examination at a later date.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on December 3, 2013, and he reported 12 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The pilot was issued his private pilot certificate on April 1, 2014, with 45.3 total hours of flight experience. On April 27, 2016, the pilot reported to his insurance carrier that he had accrued 272 total hours of flight experience, 219 hours of which were in the accident airplane.

The four-seat, single-engine, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 1964, and equipped with a Continental O-470-R series, 230-horsepower reciprocating engine. According to the airplane's maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on October 5, 2015, at 2,595 total aircraft hours.

At 1615, the weather reported at GKT; located 15 miles north of the accident site, included few clouds at 4,600 feet and calm wind. The temperature was 18 degrees C, the dew point was 13 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.30 inches of mercury.

Airmen's meteorological information (AIRMET) Sierra was in effect along the airplane's route of flight for mountain obscuration. Satellite imagery showed instrument flight rules conditions with cloud tops between 6,000 and 7,000 feet in the area surrounding the accident site and southward.

At 1545, about the time the airplane passed overhead, the weather reported at Macon County Airport (2,034 feet elevation), Franklin, North Carolina, about 25 miles south of the accident site included scattered clouds at 700 feet, a broken ceiling at 1,200 feet, and an overcast cloud layer at 2,400 feet. The visibility was 4 statute miles in fog.






 David Starling, his 8-year-old son Hunter, and Kim Smith.
~


Three people died in a plane crash headed from north Florida to Tennessee just after Christmas last year. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration may be found culpable in their deaths, if a recent suit filed against them is found to have merit.

David Starling, 41, his 8-year-old son Hunter and 42-year-old Kim Smith died when the Cessna 182H Skylane aircraft Starling was flying crashed into an unnamed ridge in the Great Smoky mountains. The trio is from Bradford County and they were going on vacation.

First Coast News has learned surviving family members have filed papers with the Federal Aviation Administration arguing air traffic controllers failed to monitor the flight and are to blame for the crash.

Reports released since the crash say weather conditions in the area were poor and suggest the pilot wasn't flying with the correct instrumentation. The family was flying in a Cessna 182H Skylane aircraft when they went down. They were headed from Keystone Heights to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the day after Christmas.

Kim Smith's adult son says he didn't like the idea.

"Mom told me they were thinking about it," says Garrett Smith. "I told her I wished they'd just drive."

In new documents filed with the Federal Aviation Administration, Smith claims the air traffic controllers failed to monitor the plane's altitude. The claim says when the plane went off radar it was below the minimum allowed altitude - flying at 5,400 feet abeam Mounte Conte, which was almost 1,200 feet higher.

It says an air traffic controller failed to ask the pilot if he could see the terrain in sight or had appropriate flight instruments for the conditions and was required to do so. This matters because the pilot wasn't using a radar. Starling was instead flying under Visual Flight Rules - permissible when weather conditions are good and a pilot can fly a plane with the naked eye.

The filing says after the plane disappeared from radar - and had likely crashed in the Great Smokey Mountains - an air traffic controller asked the plane to switch to the local airport frequency.

It says the tower never got a response from the plane and made no additional attempts to contact it. The first hint of disaster came from an emergency locator beacon.

Lieutenant Colonel Evan Gardner runs the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, a small but important group that coordinates efforts to find lost civilian planes all over the country.

"The g-force of the crash caused [the emergency beacon] to go off and the satellite picked it up," Gardner says.

When trying to find the lost plane, Gardner says his group uses any tool they can get their hands on. "Our primary tool is actually Google Earth," he explains. "We go in and make overlays so we can track all of the resources."

From a small room, a group of four to six airmen activate and coordinate planes, helicopters and search teams anywhere in the U.S. They work multiple cases at the same time.

Last year, this unit investigated 8,000 emergency beacons - only 10 percent end up with someone in distress.

Major Sarah Hendrick worked the Starling case. "Our radar forensics and our cell phone forensics were our most useful pieces of information for this particular investigation," she says. Hendrick combined the final radar blip of the plane with signals from Smith and Starling's cell phones.

"It was a very dangerous location too because of the terrain," she explains. "It was mountainous and there were no trails that led directly to where we believed the aircraft to be."

She dispatched a civil air patrol surveillance plane and specially trained park rangers. New reports filed with the Federal Aviation Administration say a helicopter ultimately found the crash site.

"I wish I would have known so we could have fished one more time or I could have talked to her a little bit more," Garrett says of his mother. He traveled to Tennessee after the plane went missing and he hadn't heard from his mother.

In his filings with the FAA, he says failures by controllers to provide radar assistance and keep the plane clear of the mountain caused or contributed to his mother's death.

"Not a day goes by I don't think about her or talk to her," he says. "Mom and I were best friends by far."

The National Transportation Safety Board has not released their final report on the crash. We reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration for a comment on the claim filed but they haven't gotten back to us. The plane was taken from the mountainside for further investigation.

Source:  http://www.firstcoastnews.com