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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 150253
Last updated: 16 August 2020
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Time:21:27 CDT
Type:Silhouette image of generic C172 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 172R Skyhawk
Owner/operator:Flightline Leasing Inc.
Registration: N2126R
C/n / msn: 17281176
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Simpson, LA -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:
Destination airport:
On October 14, 2012, about 2127 central daylight time, a Cessna 172R airplane, N2126R, impacted a tree and terrain during a descent near Simpson, Louisiana. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. The airplane and engine sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated, as a rental airplane, by Flightline Leasing Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual flight rules (VFR) conditions prevailed for the flight, which did not operate on a VFR flight plan. The flight originated from the Pineville Municipal Airport, near Pineville, Louisiana, about 2059, and was destined for the Orange County Airport (ORG), near Orange, Texas.

The purpose of the flight was to fly to ORG. When the pilot did not reach ORG, the operator contacted the air traffic control tower at Ft Polk, Louisiana, and had asked if the airplane flew through their area of radar coverage. An aircraft’s radar returns, with a VFR code, were observed to depart from 2L0 about 2059 and the returns stopped about 2127 near Simpson, Louisiana. Army helicopters in the area were asked to fly to the last radar return location where the airplane wreckage was subsequently found on October 15, 2012, about 1530.

The pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. He held a Third Class Medical Certificate dated May 11, 1998, with no limitations. The pilot reported on the application for that medical certificate that he had accumulated 150 hours of total flight time and 20 hours of flight time in the previous six months.

N2126R was a 2003 Cessna model 172R airplane with serial number 17281176. The airplane was a high wing, all-metal, single-engine, four-place monoplane. It had a fixed tricycle landing gear configuration, and was powered by a fuel injected four-cylinder, Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine, bearing serial number L-29533-51A, and marked as producing 160-horsepower at 2,400 rpm. An airplane logbook endorsement showed that the airplane’s last annual inspection was completed on September 20, 2012, and that the airplane had accumulated 5,502.3 hours of total time. A flight log indicated that the airplane accumulated about 20.7 hours of time since the annual inspection. According to the operator, the airplane’s fuel tanks were topped off prior to the accident flight.

At 2153, the recorded weather at the Alexandria International Airport (AEX), near Alexandria, Louisiana, was: Wind 170 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 1 3/4 statute miles; present weather light rain, mist; few clouds at 2,800 feet, broken clouds 3,600 feet, overcast clouds 6,000 feet; temperature 23 degrees C; dew point 22 degrees C; altimeter 30.00 inches; remarks lightning distant southwest, thunderstorm ended 2103, rain began 2146. At 2109, the recorded weather at AEX was: Wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles; broken clouds 4,600 feet, overcast clouds 6,000 feet; temperature 23 degrees C; dew point 22 degrees C; altimeter 29.98 inches of mercury; remarks lightning distant east, thunderstorm ended 2103. At 2155, the recorded weather at the Polk Army Airfield (POE), near Fort Polk, Louisiana, was: Wind calm; present weather thunderstorms; few clouds 4,200 feet, scattered clouds 5,500 feet, scattered clouds 7,500 feet, temperature 22 degrees C; dew point 21 degrees C; altimeter 30.01 inches of mercury; remarks rain ended 2117. At 2055, the recorded weather at POE was: Wind 310 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 6 statute miles; present weather thunderstorms, rain, mist; scattered clouds 3,400 feet, broken clouds 4,900 feet, overcast clouds 8,000 feet; temperature 23 degrees C; dew point 22 degrees C; altimeter 30.01 inches of mercury; remarks thunderstorm ended 2042, began 2052, rain began 2036

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) radar return data viewed at the air traffic control tower at POE, the airplane departed 2L0 and it entered the Class D airspace around AEX where it climbed for about 15 minutes to about 3,500 feet. The airplane then flew southwesterly at an altitude of about 2,300 feet and about 120 knots. The airplane’s radar returns showed the airplane was flying on a westerly heading at approximately 2,100 feet and 120 knots about 2126. The airplane then descended to 1,800 feet and its groundspeed increased to 130 knots. The next radar data point shows the aircraft turning to the right and descending to 1,400 feet and increasing speed to 140 knots. The last radar point shows the aircraft at 800 feet and 150 knots on a northeast heading. This descending turn was observed on the radar playback scope between two areas consistent with precipitation returns.

The airplane impacted a tree that was about 50 feet tall and then it impacted a field about three nautical miles and about 75 degrees from the intersection of Louisiana Highway 8 and Hood Camp Road. A debris path started at that tree, which had broken upper branches. The broken branches were found near the base of the tree. The path continued on an observed heading of about 055 degrees and extended about 370 feet. The airplane was fragmented along this path with a section of wing skin coming to rest about 50 feet from the tree and the right wing tip coming to rest about 66 feet from the tree. The propeller separated from the engine and it was observed in a crater about 111 feet from the tree. The propeller exhibited chordwise abrasions. Ground scars were consistent with the airplane impacting the ground in a right wing low, nose low attitude. The engine separated from the fuselage and came to rest about 210 feet from the tree. The fuselage and empennage came to rest about 230 feet from the tree. The battery was fragmented and the largest battery piece was located about 370 feet from the tree. All major airplane components were accounted for at the accident site.

All flight control cables were traced. All observed control cable separations had a broomstrawed appearance consistent with overload. The wing flap selector handle and flap indicator were in the zero degree position. The flap jackscrew actuator measurement corresponded to a zero degree flap setting. The elevator trim actuator measurement was consistent with a 25-degree tab up setting. The fuel selector valve was found in the both setting and no obstructions were observed in the valve. The emergency locator transmitter sustained impact damage. The vacuum pump and attitude indicator were found crushed. The turn and bank indicator was disassembled and its gyro exhibited rotational scoring. The Hobbs meter was separated from its face and the complete meter was not located. The throttle and mixture control were in a forward position and the magneto switch was on both. The baggage door remained partially attached to the fuselage. The left and right cabin doors were found deformed and separated from the fuselage.

The engine’s sump, accessories, and no. 1 cylinder head were separated consistent with impact damage. A liquid consistent with the smell of aviation gasoline was found in the fuel servo. The engine’s crankshaft, when an accessory gear was turned by hand, could only be rotated about a degree because of impact damage at the nose of the engine. The accessory case was removed and crankshaft to camshaft continuity was visually established. Valve train continuity for the no. two, three, and four cylinders were confirmed when the camshaft was turned by hand. The separated no. one cylinder’s valve train operation was confirmed up to its cam followers. Continuity of the crankshaft and the connecting rods was further confirmed by a borescope visual examination through openings in the crankcase. No airplane or engine pre-impact anomalies were detected.

The pilot departed on a night cross-country flight. When he did not reach his destination, the flight was reported missing and the wreckage was found the following day. Recorded radar data revealed that, after departure, the airplane climbed for about 15 minutes, maneuvered, then made a descending right turn between two areas of precipitation. Postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed no preimpact malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.
The pilot did not have a current medical certificate. According to his personal medical records, he had a history of hypertension, insomnia, and inflammatory arthritis. About a month before the accident, the pilot reported symptoms from his arthritis, including increased joint pain and stiffness, to his personal physician and received treatment. Ten days later, the pilot called his physician’s office for a refill of his narcotic pain medication. Toxicology testing of tissue samples found zolpidem and hydrocodone, both of which carry a warning of mental and/or physical impairment. However, the extent to which the pilot’s medical conditions and his use of potentially impairing medications may have affected his judgment or psychomotor functioning cannot be determined from available evidence.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
"The pilot’s loss of airplane control while maneuvering between areas of precipitation during a night cross-country flight."



Revision history:

18-Oct-2012 01:32 FLYINGBROTHER1 Added
17-Jul-2019 23:23 Captain Adam Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]

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