Pilots in crash may have been impaired — (Tulsa World)

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Tulsa World

By SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer

Published: 3/4/2010  2:33 AM

Both were taking medication at the time of the 2008 accident, an NTSB report says.

Harvey Hazelwood (left) and Larry Jackson: Hazelwood, who owned the plane, was taking medications for various ailments, and Jackson was taking an over-the-counter drug for allergy relief.

COLLINSVILLE ­ Two pilots who died in a small-plane crash near Collinsville in September 2008 might have been impaired by prescription or over-the-counter medications, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.   But the federal agency still was not able to determine who was flying the Cessna 320.

The failure to maintain adequate airspeed was ruled the probable cause of the crash, according to an NTSB report issued Wednesday.  Harvey Hazelwood and Larry Jackson, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol captain, were flying buddies who lived at Airman Acres, which features a 2,650-foot private airstrip southwest of Collinsville.

Hazelwood, 55, was a private pilot and owned the aircraft, which he had been restoring. Jackson, 49, was a commercial pilot and had been an OHP pilot for nearly 20 years.  The toxicology testing was done by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City.

The findings of those tests were consistent with the three antidepressant medications Jackson was taking for medical conditions, according to the report.   Jackson had a history of hip pain, for which he was treated with nortriptyline. He was also taking fluoxetine, also known by the trade name Prozac, for post-traumatic stress disorder and trazodone for insomnia.

“It is possible that (Jackson) was impaired or distracted by his hip pain, or impaired by nortriptyline,” the report says.  Jackson had performed numerous protective service missions for the Army Reserve, according to Jon Huntington, a retired Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent with whom he attended warrant officer school.

Huntington said Jackson served in Romania and Iraq.   Toxicology results confirmed Hazelwood’s use of diphenhydramine for allergy symptoms. The drug is an over-the-counter antihistamine that commonly causes drowsiness.  “It is likely that (Hazelwood) was impaired by recent ingestion of diphenhydramine,” the report says.

Both men’s use of medication was not noted in their most recent applications for airman medical certificates.   The crash occurred about 11:45 a.m. about a mile from the Airman Acres grass strip.

The report says the flight was the first Hazelwood had taken in the airplane since he bought it.   A witness at the air strip, who is an FAA-certified airframe and power plant mechanic, told officials that the airplane had a normal takeoff but that soon afterward he heard the engine whining.

As it prepared to make a left turn with its landing gear extended, the witness said, the airplane was “heading almost straight down (85 degrees) and the wings were rolling.”  When the plane disappeared behind a tree line about a mile away, the witness knew that it had crashed, he told investigators.

Jackson was rated for and held a certified flight instructor certificate for single- and multiengine land and instrument airplanes. He had 2,000 flight hours.  Hazelwood was rated for single- and multiengine land airplanes. He held an FAA airframe and power plant certificate. He had 215 flight hours.

Susan Hylton 581-8381,   susan.hylton@tulsaworld.com 


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SB: Prescription Drugs May Have Contributed to Fatal Plane Crash

Posted: Mar 03, 2010 4:09 PM EST Updated: Mar 04, 2010 10:52 AM EST

 The NTSB says owner Harvey Hazelwood had taken an over-the-counter allergy medication that can cause drowsiness.     The NTSB says OHP Captain Larry Jackson had taken three different prescription drugs that could have affected his abilities as a pilot.    Investigators were not sure which pilot was flying the plane when it stalled and crashed.

COLLINSVILLE, OK — The National Transportation Safety Board says prescription drugs as well as an over-the-counter allergy medication could have contributed to a plane crash that killed two men near Collinsville in September of 2008.

The crash killed the owner of the plane, 55-year-old Harvey Hazelwood and his friend, 49-year-old Larry Jackson.  Jackson was a captain in the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Related:  9/28/2008 Two Killed In Plane Crash
Related:  10/22/2008 Report Released In Fatal Airplane Crash

According to the Probable Cause report released Wednesday afternoon by the NTSB, investigators do not know which man was flying the plane when it crashed at a private air strip called Airmen Acres.

Both men were pilots; Hazelwood was a private pilot, Jackson was a commercial pilot and both men lived at the airport.   The NTSB report says Hazelwood and Jackson were making a test flight in Hazelwood’s twin-engine Cessna 320D built in 1965, which he’d spent four years restoring.

The plane took off and made a circuit around the airfield, then crashed on the downwind leg of the second circuit.   The report lists the probable cause of the crash as the pilots’ failure to maintain proper air speed which caused an aerodynamic stall close to the ground.

According to the report, Jackson had a history of hip pain and took nortriptyline, which it says is a prescription antidepressant also used for pain control.  It says he had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder which was being treated with fluoxetine (a prescription antidepressant also used for other psychiatric conditions) and trazodone (a prescription
antidepressant also used for insomnia).

The report says tests indicated Jackson’s ongoing use of all three drugs.  According to the NTSB, “nortriptyline has adverse cognitive and performance effects, particularly with higher blood levels, and fluoxetine may interfere with its metabolism, potentially raising the blood level of nortriptyline.”

The report says it’s possible Jackson was impaired or distracted by his hip pain, or impaired by nortriptyline.   The NTSB says Hazelwood occasionally used diphenhydramine for allergy symptoms and its investigation revealed he had taken some recently.

The report says diphenhydramine commonly results in drowsiness and “has measurable effects on performance of complex cognitive and motor tasks.”   According to the report, it’s likely Hazelwood was impaired by a recent dose of diphenhydramine.

The NTSB says neither pilot indicated the use of the medications or even the health conditions for which they were used on their last applications for Airman Medical Certificate.

The report says investigators found no pre-mishap mechanical problems with the airplane or its engines.  According to an earlier NTSB report, Jackson was rated to fly single and multi-engine land-based airplanes, and had a rating to be able fly an airplane using instruments alone.   He also held a certified flight instructor certificate for airplane single-and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane.

His last second class FAA medical was issued on June 10, 2008 when he reported a total of 2,000 flight hours.   Hazelwood was rated for airplane single and multi-engine land.  He also had an FAA airframe and power plant certificate.  His last third class FAA medical was issued on June 28, 2007.    A review of his last FAA airman application dated September 1, 2008, revealed he had a total of 215 flight hours.