Pilot's Last Words before Fatal Crash Help Investigation — (whsv.com)

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va — Brian Forrest Hall reached out for help right before he crashed his plane on Sunday morning.   “He contacted air traffic control and the pilot stated that he had lost his engine,” said Brian Rayner with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).“I lost my engine,” were Hall’s last words on the air. Rayner said they are trying to figure out what those words meant.   “Then minutes later, the airplane was lost from radar,” said Rayner.

The 50-year-old man from Pittsburgh crashed in the George Washington National Forest around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. He was supposed to stop in Harrisonburg before heading to Pennsylvania.

Right now, the NTSB is picking up the pieces to find out the cause of the accident.   “My focus right now is on the perishable evidence, which is the airplane behind me.”

The plane is a 1975 single engine Beechcraft, but Rayner said if a plane is well-maintained, age will not affect the plane’s reliability.

“A 1975 Beechcraft could be as good or potentially better than it was when it rolled off the assembly line.”    That is why they will look into the maintenance and pilot records.

Rayner said they have seen accidents like this in this part of the country before but each one is different.

“When we come out to these investigations. We investigate them one at a time. We are not interested in looking at trends until we’re well into it.”

Investigators say they will work with the plane manufacturers to find out if the plane was faulty. They should know more once the preliminary report is released next week.

Rayner said the entire investigation could last up to a year.

 

To view National Transportation Safety Board Accident Report click here

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA526
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 26, 2012 in Dayton, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/05/2013
Aircraft: BEECH B24R, registration: N9200S
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

On August 26, 2012, about 1118 eastern daylight time, a Beech B24R Sierra, N9200S, was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain during a forced landing after a reported loss of engine power near Dayton, Virginia. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight that originated from Wilmington International Airport (ILM), Wilmington, North Carolina, at 0903. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

At 0831 the morning of the accident, the pilot phoned the Raleigh Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) and obtained a preflight weather briefing. During the briefing, he was advised multiple times that visual flight rules (VFR) flight was not recommended due to existing and forecast IMC along his intended route of flight. The pilot departed at 0903 without filing a flight plan.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), at 1109, the pilot contacted air traffic control, and advised that he was climbing the airplane from 9,000 to 10,500 feet. At 1111, the pilot declared an emergency, advised he had “lost” the engine, and stated that he was “VFR on top.”

The controller initially provided vectors to Bridgewater Airpark (VBW), Bridgewater, Virginia, and then to Frank Field (VA52), Harrisonburg, Virginia. He attempted to orient the pilot to the airplane’s position relative to the two airports, so that he could acquire the airports visually, but at 1112, the pilot advised he was “still in the soup and can’t see much of anything at this point.” At 1117, the pilot stated that the airplane was unable to clear a ridgeline in its flight path and shortly thereafter, radar and voice communication with the airplane was lost. At that time, the airplane was located on a bearing 301 degrees and 8 nautical miles from VBW.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing for the pilot. The following Tested-for-Drugs were detected:

Fluoxetine and Norfluoxetine were detected in blood and urine.

Fluoxetine (Prozac) belonged to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It was used in adults for the treatment of major depressive disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia (eating disorder), treatment-resistant depression, and depression associated with bipolar disorder. In children and adolescents, fluoxetine was used to treat major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.    Norfluoxetine was a metabolite of Fluoxetine.

Examination of the pilot’s personal and FAA medical records revealed that Norfluoxetine was prescribed to the pilot by a physician, but that he did not disclose its use on his most recent application for an FAA medical certificate.

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

The pilot’s improper fuel management, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power. Contributing to the accident was the non-instrument-rated pilot’s decision to attempt a visual flight rules flight in instrument meteorological conditions over mountainous terrain.