Airplane Circled Until Fuel Was Exhausted, Went Down In Deep Water
The NTSB has released a preliminary report for an accident which occurred April 19th in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the Cessna 421 (similar airplane pictured) quickly sank in about 1,500 feet or water, recovery of the wreckage and inspection of the airplane will be difficult, to say the least.
NTSB Identification: ERA12LA290
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, April 19, 2012 in
Aircraft: CESSNA 421C, registration: N48DL
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
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 April 19, 2012, at 1108 central daylight time, a Cessna 421C, N23PH, registered to and operated by a certificated private pilot, collided with the waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 and an instrument flight rules flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The private pilot was fatally injured and the airplane received substantial damage. The flight departed Slidell Airport (ASD), Slidell, Louisiana, at 0643.
According to personnel at the Federal Aviation Administration, Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (Center), the pilot contacted the Center at approximately 0715 and reported level at flight level 270. Approximately 20 minutes later, the airplane began to deviate from the air traffic control assigned altitude and route. Attempts by the Center controller to contact the pilot were unsuccessful.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command launched military fighter aircraft to intercept the airplane. The military pilots reported that the airplane was circling in a left hand turn at a high altitude, low airspeed, and the windows were partially frosted over. In addition, they reported that the pilot was slumped over in the cockpit and not moving. They fired flares and the pilot was still unresponsive. The airplane circled for approximately three hours before it descended into the Gulf of Mexico. Upon impact the airplane immediately filled with water and sank. The last reported location of the airplane was 190 nautical miles southeast of Mobile, Alabama.