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Tue, May 20, 2003

NTSB: CAP Fatal Was Pilot Error

...and Instructor Error

When we brought you the aad news last August, we hoped the NTSB would resolve the mystery of why a CAP C-182 had gone down in the mountains of east Tennessee, taking the lives of three local men. The following quotes from NTSB reports, and brings you up to date, as the final report has now been issued.

Fred Vatcher, 64, of Dyer County, was in the back seat of the plane, and was planning on renewing his mountain-flying SAR certification. P-I-C Chuck Hall, 39, of Maryville, was rated in several types of aircraft, and was issued an airline transport pilot certificate on August 17, 2001, with ratings for airplane multiengine land, instrument airplane, and commercial pilot certificate, airplane single engine land.

The check pilot, Gerald McLinn, 47, of Knoxville, was issued an airline transport pilot certificate on August 19, 1999, with ratings for airplane multiengine land, instrument airplane, and a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single engine land. In addition, he held a flight instructor certificate issued on October 20, 2000, with ratings for airplane single and multiengine land, and instrument airplane.

The NTSB report says, "A witness stated he and a friend were on Cross Mountain that day scouting for deer, when an airplane flew over their location at a very low altitude. The airplane flew into the valley and made about six steep left turns at about 45-degrees angle of bank. The airplane was so low that the witness could see the people in the airplane waving at them. The airplane flew back over their location at about 1620, flew back into the valley, and was observed to make another steep turn to the left before the airplane disappeared from view. They heard the engine go wide open and then heard a sound a few seconds later like trees popping."

Banking increases stall speed, remember?

The NTSB noted, "Review of the Cessna Information Manual for the Skylane Model 182R revealed the stall speeds with no flaps at 30-degree angle of bank is 54 knots indicated airspeed ( KIAS), at 45-degree angle of bank is 60 KIAS, and 60-degree angle of bank is 71 KIAS."

It didn't look like a mechanical failure. The Board said, "Examination of the airframe, and flight controls revealed no evidence of a pre-crash mechanical failure or malfunction. All components necessary for flight were present at the crash site. Continuity of the flight control system was confirmed for pitch, roll, and yaw."

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's failure to follow procedures pertaining to mountain flying, and the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed that resulted in an inadvertent stall and subsequent in-flight collision with trees and terrain. A factor was the certified flight instructor inadequate supervision of the training flight.

When the report was released last week, Maj. James Lawson, public affairs officer for the CAP's Tennessee Wing, said he wasn't surprised that pilot error was cited as the cause of the crash; but he did note that CAP's accident rate is considerably lower than GA's overall rate.

FMI: report


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