FYI: ACCIDENT REPORTS

From the NTSB website on recent accidents.

On March 25, 2018, about 2137 Central Daylight Time, a Beech V35A was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Hydro, Oklahoma. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed from Odessa Airport-Schlemeyer Field (ODO), Odessa, Texas, about 1947, and was destined for El Reno Regional Airport (RQO), El Reno, Oklahoma.

The pilot had departed his home airport, RQO, earlier in the day with the passenger and arrived at ODO about 1345. A line technician who worked at the ODO fixed-base operator (FBO) reported that he added 25 gallons of fuel to the airplane shortly after the arrival. According to another line technician, throughout the afternoon while the pilot was at the FBO, he requested that weather radar and satellite information be displayed on a large monitor, because he was “concerned with the clouds.”

Review of an audio recording from Austin, Texas, Leidos Flight Service, revealed that the pilot called for a weather briefing at 1806, about an hour and a half before his departure. The pilot informed the flight service specialist that he planned to complete a “VFR [visual flight rules] flight” from Odessa, Texas to El Reno, Oklahoma in about 30 minutes and it would be about a 2.5-hour flight. During the 11-minute call, the flight service specialist provided the pilot with numerous weather details pertaining to his flight.

The specialist informed the pilot that multiple Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET) reports affected his flight. The specialist stated that one AIRMET was for “IFR [instrument flight rules] right at your destination,” developing between 1900–2200, “shortly after you depart Odessa.” The pilot responded by stating that, “I don’t see it as a problem right now, the skies look, and I can see that things are changing out here, but things look to be VFR over here at Odessa right now.” The specialist responded by stating, “It’s not a problem at Odessa, this is about your destination.” He then asked the pilot, “can you go IFR if you need to?” The pilot responded by stating, “Yeah, I can if I need to.” The specialist and pilot continued their weather discussion for another 7 minutes, with the specialist providing current conditions, radar information, winds aloft, pilot reports, notices to airmen, and forecast conditions for the destination area.

Review of preliminary air traffic control audio provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the pilot radioed the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZFW), at 2133, after being handed off from the Oklahoma City Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility. The pilot checked in with ZFW and when asked by the controller, what his intentions were, the pilot stated, “ok, my intentions are now, I’ve got myself out of the clouds, I’m back up on top here, I’m going to try to go out to the west and fly down underneath it.” The ZFW controller responded by asking where he wanted to fly out west, and where he was trying to get back. The pilot stated, “ok, I’m going to try to go out towards Hinton Oklahoma and I’ll try to get on the outskirts of this overcast and try to go underneath it, to go to El Reno [Oklahoma].” The ZFW controller responded by saying “all right sir,” and there were no further communications from the pilot.
Review of preliminary radar data provided by the FAA revealed that the airplane was headed toward the destination airport, RQO, and about 8 miles southwest, at 2125, the airplane turned north and then west toward the town of Hinton, Oklahoma. The airplane continued flying west, past Hinton, and then flew southwest. At 2134, the airplane was about 8 miles southeast of Weatherford, Oklahoma, flying at 3,850 ft. mean sea level (msl), continuing southwest. Subsequently, the radar track showed the airplane enters two left, descending, 360° spiral turns, leveling off about 2,200 ft. msl. The airplane then flew north, for about 20 seconds, with the last radar data point recording at 2137, showing the airplane flying at 2,125 ft. msl, headed 033°, with a 157-knot groundspeed. The last radar point was about 1/4-mile southwest of the accident site. Elevation at the destination airport is 1420 ft. msl.

According to a witness who was traveling in his car, southbound on a road about a 1/2-mile west of the accident site, about the time of the accident, he reported that he observed a “steady red light” and a “steady white light” travel over his car. He continued observing the lights out of his driver’s side window for about 10 to 15 seconds, looking eastward, as the lights continued to get lower in his field of view, and then suddenly, he observed a bright “yellow glow” ignite.
The airplane came to rest upright in a flat, open field, on a magnetic heading of 060°. The airplane sustained extensive impact damage, and evidence of a small post-impact fire was observed. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site, and flight control continuity was established for all flight controls to the cockpit area.
The airplane was equipped with five seats. The front two seats were found separated from the airframe in the debris field. One front seat lap belt was found buckled with its attached point stitching ripped on one side. The other front seat lap belt was found unbuckled, with one of its attach points stitching ripped. The number 5-passenger seat was the only seat that was found attached to the airframe. The airplane was not equipped with shoulder harnesses. The engine separated from the airframe and was found about 220 ft. forward of the main wreckage.

A review of the airplane’s maintenance records revealed, the most recent annual and 100-hour inspection was performed on December 21, 2017, at an airframe time of 3361.17, a tachometer time of 2559.17, and 887.6 hours since major engine overhaul. The tachometer was found in the debris field and it displayed 2583.17 hours.
According to FAA airmen records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multi-engine land ratings, as well as instrument airplane. The pilot was issued an FAA second-class medical certificate on January 18, 2018. At that time, the pilot reported civil flight experience that included 4,500 total hours and 2 hours in last 6 months.
A witness reported that at the time of the accident, it was windy, and it was a darker than normal night, as “the moon was not visible.” He reported that other than a farmhouse light, there were no other cars that past him near the time of the accident, the road was not lit, and the fields around the accident site were “pitch black.”

The weather conditions reported about the time of the accident at Thomas P. Stafford Airport (OJA), Weatherford, Oklahoma, which was located 8 miles northwest of the accident site, included an overcast cloud ceiling at 800 ft. above ground level, wind 120° at 11 knots, gusting 18 knots, visibility 7 statute miles, temperature 17°C, and dew point 16°C. The weather conditions at the destination airport RQO, about the time of the accident, included an overcast cloud ceiling at 800 ft. above ground level, wind 140° at 19 knots, gusting 25 knots, visibility 7 statute miles, temperature 18°C, and dew point 16°C.