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.


VFRPileIt said...

WTF?!? How could anyone think this was an appropriate course of action???

Oblivion said...

People never cease to astound and amaze. How did this seem like a good idea to ANYONE involved?

Anonymous said...

I knew this guy personaly and told him if he did not change his attitude about flying he was going to have a " very bad day" soon. He only had his licence for about one year!