Friday, July 28, 2006

(Return of) Accident of the Week

OK, OK, so it's been just about forever since the IFR Pilot made a Friday posting of the Accident of the Week. But during a brief lull before lunch, there was a moment to punch up the NTSB accident reports. One cannot resist reading this report and opining: Drinking and flying just don't mix, kids. Just say no.

NTSB Identification: LAX06FA243
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 23, 2006 in Bullhead City, AZ
Aircraft: Raytheon Aircraft Company G36, registration: N241JL
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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.

On July 23, 2006, about 1600 mountain standard time, a Raytheon Aircraft Company G36, N241JL, overshot the runway and collided with a dirt berm during an attempted landing at Eagle Airpark, Bullhead City, Arizona. The pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot and one of the passengers sustained fatal injuries. The remaining passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed in the impact sequence and the post crash fire. The local personal flight originated from Eagle Airpark about 5 minutes prior to the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator interviewed a witness, who was also a pilot. He stated that the afternoon of the accident, he heard an airplane engine start and stepped outside of his hangar to identify which airplane it was. He observed the accident airplane near the end of the taxiway, on the south end of the airpark. He kept his eyes affixed to the airplane as it began to taxi in his direction to runway 17. He noted that the pilot appeared to be preoccupied, as the airplane made erratic s-turns up the taxiway. The airplane veered from side to side varying in power settings, as it would increase and then decrease in speed. From observing the airplane taxi, he assumed that the pilot was a student.

The airplane began the takeoff roll and remained relatively straight on the runway centerline. When reaching about 5/8 of the way down the runway the airplane became airborne. It made a step-like climb out, where it would momentarily gain altitude and then level out. The pilot made a left crosswind departure and it appeared as if the flight was headed to the Needles very high frequency omni-directional range (VOR) navigation system. The witness noted that the pilot retracted the landing gear about 700 feet above ground level (agl).

The witness further stated that while he was inside his hangar, about 5 to 7 minutes after seeing the airplane depart, he heard the airplane approach the airpark. He heard the airplane at a high power setting maneuvering over the runway, as if they were buzzing the field or performing a flyby. He subsequently heard the engine noise stop and he ran outside the hangar. He observed a big plume of dust just south of the irrigation ditch at the end of runway 17.

A Safety Board investigator interviewed a bartender who was employed at the Red Dog’s Saloon, an establishment recently purchased by the pilot. She stated that pilot and rear-seat passenger had celebrated their birthdays together the day prior to the accident, by having a party at the Red Dog’s Saloon. The night of the party it was decided that as a birthday present to the passenger, the pilot would take him for a flight to see the Colorado River the following day.

The bartender further reported that the day of the accident, the pilot arrived at the saloon about 1030. He appeared to be in a good mood and refreshed; there was no evidence that he was hung over. While he was at the bar, she served the pilot two shots and two mixed drinks, and he never appeared to be intoxicated; the rear-seat passenger had about five drinks and was showing the affects of alcohol consumption. The front-seat passenger arrived that the bar about 30 minutes before the three of them left for the flight; she served him one drink and one shot. They all left the bar together about 1400 to 1500 and were picked up by a designated driver. The pilot indicated that the flight would be about an hour long.

During a telephone conversation with a Safety Board investigator, the designated driver that transported the pilot and passengers to the airpark stated that the pilot did not appear to be intoxicated. After arriving at the hangar, the pilot started the engine and maneuvered the airplane onto the taxiway. He told the driver that he would call him after they landed to get a ride back to the saloon.

A paramedic for the Mohave Valley Fire Department recalled responding to the accident about 10 to 15 minutes after it occurred. He stated that when he arrived the front-seat passenger was outside of the airplane and appeared to have suffered second-degree burns. Before given Morphine, the patient was asked if he had consumed any alcohol that day. He replied that he had consumed "a couple of beers and a couple of shots." The paramedic stated that he could smell alcohol on the breath of the patient.

A routine aviation weather report (METAR) for Needles, California, 7.3 nautical miles from Eagle Airpark on a bearing of 183 degrees, reported that the temperature was about 117 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of the accident.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Seeking Suggestions

In mid-October, the IFR Pilot is planning his next great getaway: From the Home Base in Northeast Ohio to KBHB, Bar Harbor, Maine. Anyone having any suggestions about great places to see and/or stay overnight along that general route of flight, please drop me a note. You can find the appropriate e-mail address over on the right-hand side of your screen.

Thanks in advance!

NC and back

The IFR Pilot has returned from his sojurn to Wilmington, North Carolina for the soccer tournament.

Notes to self:

1. Oil pressure will, in fact, drop into the yellow region if you don't add oil before takeoff.

2. You do not enjoy explaining #1 to the fire crew that meets you on the ramp.

3. It really annoys you to have to undergo #2 after you told ATC you did NOT have an emergency, you just wanted a straight-in approach, rather than one that required you to circle the airport, so that you could land and explore the "abnormally low oil pressure indication" when the winds were reported as "calm" and there was no other traffic to be heard on the approach frequency.

4. 4:00 in the morning arrives very early.

5. Airports are very spooky at 4:45 in the morning. It makes the preflight especially challenging, even with a flashlight.

6. You do not enjoy the sight of lightning off the coast when you are ready to depart in 10 minutes.

7. Sometimes it doesn't matter that you had nothing to drink in the morning that affects whether you have to go tinkle during a flight. How much you drank the night before may also contibute to your environmental needs.

8. The large container that formerly held Planter's Honey Roasted Peanuts that you brought along for the flight should no longer be used to hold any food substances...

That is all for now.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Visual Approach: A Hypothetical

A hypothetical for your consideration:

You are flying into a busy Class Bravo airport on an IFR flight plan. You are given a series of headings to fly, but no altitude changes since you were assigned "maintain 3000." Approach controls then clears you for the visual approach to runway XX.

Are you now free to descend at pilot's discretion?

Citations to appropriate sections of the AIM that support your answer would be appreciated.

(It is duly noted that this question equally applies to an airport in any type of airspace, but we had to give the hypothetical some flavah for your consideration, sort of like going back to law school with the Socratic Method...)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Complaint Department: Third Door on the Left

There's been mumblings and grumblings that the IFR Pilot hasn't gotten off his keister and posted something to this here bloggety-blog for nearly a month. So, just to make sure that y'all can't say I didn't post for an entire month, I'm posting this little update tonight. In the meantime, if you've got a complaint, take it to the proverbial Complaint Department!

I promise that I will update all of you with the aviation-related happenings of the last month as soon as I can tear myself away from my day job and all the flying and other stuff that's been keeping me occupied. In the meantime, the IFR Pilot is planning his next big trip: from the Home Base to Wilmington, NC on July 18 for the 2006 USASA Veteran's Cup. All the soccer refereeing that you can stand, happening just after we recover from the last month of the World Cup.

But, for the time being, here's a teaser for you...MS and the IFR Pilot are continuing to test the autopilot, GPS, and other capabilities of Mike Hotel. So tonight we went flying and tested the LOC REV function of the Piper Autocontrol IIIB by flying the LOC BC 6 at CGF, home of Flight Options. Along the way, we passed over the Valley View Bridge:

After the LOC BC, it was time for an ILS. Hey, why not, let's go into Hopkins -- MS has never landed there and the IFR Pilot's only done it once. Of course, we had to be on our game, lest we get violated and have to pay homage to the FAA.

So, we sucked it up and flew a near-perfect ILS 24L into the Big Ol' Class Bravo of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Unfortunately, most of the pictures stink, I think the mode selector of the camera got bumped off of "Leave Here for Idiots" and into some sort of custom mode (a/k/a "Make Pictures Look Like Crap"). Oh well, we'll take what we can get:

"Fly heading 250 to intercept the localizer..."

Over the mouth of the Cuyahoga River

Extended final for 24L at Hopkins

Final Approach to 24L at Hopkins

Very short final, Runway 24L, Cleveland Hopkins International

Heading home after a touch 'n go at Hopkins!

Good night y'all.