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Fatal Plane Crash Debris Video & Pics Oct. 14, 2002 Frank Costello N8735G

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Published on Apr 26, 2012

LAX03FA008
HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 14, 2002, at 1052 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 150F, N8735G, collided with mountainous terrain at 2,200 feet mean sea level (msl) following an in-flight loss of control about 19 miles east of Julian, California. The airplane, owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, was destroyed in the collision sequence and post crash fire. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the personal cross-country flight that originated at Imperial, California, at 1017, destined for Ramona, California.

According to information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), at 0814 on the morning of the accident, the pilot contacted the San Diego Automated Flight Service Station and requested an abbreviated weather briefing for a flight from Imperial to Ramona. The pilot was advised that VFR flight was not recommended due to low clouds and fog in the Ramona area, and that he should call back around 1000 or 1100 for an update. The pilot declined to receive NOTAMS. There is no record that the pilot recontacted any FAA facility regarding weather information.


At 1019, the pilot contacted Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) and stated that he had just departed Imperial and wanted VFR advisories to Ramona because his "GPS was acting up." The pilot was given a discrete transponder code and when radar contact was established, the controller noted that the airplane was nearly in an active restricted area (R2510A). The controller assisted the pilot to navigate around the restricted area as the flight climbed to a mode C reported altitude of 6,500 feet. A short time later, the pilot asked the controller to help him find the Ramona airport and the controller gave the pilot a suggested heading to fly. At 1037, the pilot ceased talking on the radio and attempts by the controller to reestablish contact by using other airborne airplanes to relay messages was unsuccessful. The controller reported that the airplane then began a left descending spiral turn.

Recorded radar data was obtained from the FAA Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) in the form of a National Track Analysis Program data printout. The secondary beacon was first observed at 1020:30 with a mode C reported altitude of 1,800 feet msl. Subsequent beacon returns and mode C reports showed the airplane climbing at an average rate of 500 feet per minute until 6,500 feet, which was achieved at 1039:41. After that time, the airplane continued to climb with rates that varied from zero to 500 feet per minute. At 1045:28, the airplane reached 7,300 feet, then began a descent for 1 minute down to 7,100 feet, then a climb back to 7,300. At 1047:04, the mode C altitude reports show a descent at an average rate of just over 1,000 feet per minute in a left descending spiral turn with about a 2,000-foot diameter, which continued for at least 900 degrees (2 1/2 complete turns). The rate of descent computed from the mode C altitude reports began about 500 feet per minute and increased to about 1,500 feet per minute by the time of the last two secondary beacon returns. The last secondary beacon return showed a mode C reported altitude of 4,100 feet and was located about 0.6 nautical miles east of the impact location.

Ground based witnesses at a small airstrip about 10 miles south east of the accident location reported that they saw the airplane fly overhead and a short time later saw the smoke rising from the accident site. The winds were described as calm and the skies clear.

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