HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On January 29, 2011, at an undetermined time, a Mooney M20J, N50BJ,
impacted terrain near Furnace Creek, California. The owner/pilot was
operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal
Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The certificated private pilot was fatally
injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage by impact forces. The
cross-country personal flight departed Furnace Creek between 1430 and
1515 Pacific standard time (PST) with a planned destination of Santa
Monica, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no
flight plan had been filed.
A witness reported that the accident airplane departed from Furnace
Creek Airport (L06) between 1430 and 1515 on January 29, 2011, and
departed to the south. The witness observed the airplane’s ground
operations and the takeoff, which appeared normal to him.
The airplane wreckage was not discovered until January 31, 2011, around
0830 PST by National Park personnel. The wreckage was located 7 miles
south of the departure airport.
The 61-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate for single-engine
land operations and an instrument rating. No personal flight records
were located for the pilot. The aeronautical experience listed in this
report was obtained from a review of the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located
in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The pilot reported on his medical
application that he had a total flight time of 2,000 hours with 20 hours
logged in the last 6 months.
The airplane was a Mooney M20J, serial number 24-0657. No aircraft or
engine logbooks could be located. The mechanic A&P/IA that performed the
last annual inspection reported that the airplane had a total airframe
time of 1,703 hours at the time of the inspection, which was completed
on August 11, 2010.
The engine was a Lycoming IO-360-A3B6D, serial number L-19390-51A. Total
time recorded on the engine at the last annual inspection was 1,703.0
hours, and time since major overhaul was estimated to be 150.0 hours.
The tachometer read 1,712.8 hours at the accident scene.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident site was located on a dry salt lake bed. The surface of the
ground was deep jagged salt deposits, with deep crevasses between 6 to
18 inches deep.
A ground surface scar was the first identified point of contact (FIPC)
with the remains of the left wing tip navigation light. The debris path
was 160 feet in length, along a magnetic heading of 185 degrees. The
orientation of the fuselage was 300 degrees.
The airplane appeared to have collided with level terrain in a slightly
left bank, nose low attitude. The flaps and landing gear were retracted.
The throttle, propeller, and mixture controls were full forward.
The propeller blades exhibited damage signatures consistent with the
absorption of rotational forces being applied at the time of impact with
terrain. Furthermore, significant rotational blue paint signatures were
observed on the spinner bulkhead.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Inyo County Coroner completed an autopsy on February 4, 2011. The
cause of death was listed as multiple traumatic injuries.
The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City,
performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.
Analysis of the specimens contained no findings for carbon monoxide,
The report contained the following findings for tested drugs:
Rosuvastatin was detected in liver and Urine.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Investigators examined the wreckage at Aircraft Recovery Service,
Littlerock, California, on June 1, 2011.
Examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of pre-impact
mechanical malfunction or fire.
Examination of the engine revealed that the engine remained attached to
the airframe by the engine mount. The engine had sustained moderate
impact energy damage to the forward lower section encompassing the
associated accessories and exhaust system components. Visual examination
of the engine revealed no evidence of pre-impact catastrophic mechanical
malfunction or fire.
Examination of the single drive dual magneto found that it was mounted
on the accessory pad but could be easily rotated by hand. The magneto
had sustained no apparent impact energy damage and remained in good
condition externally. Examination of the attachment hardware found all
required mounting studs, lock washers, and respective nuts to be in
place and undamaged.
The magneto was removed to be further examined and tested. The
examination found that the proper clamps, gasket, and attachment
hardware had been utilized in accordance with Lycoming Service
Instruction SI-1508B, dated 12/19/2007, and SAIB NE-08-26R2, dated
Examination of the associated magneto clamps, part number 66M19385,
revealed the clamps had been contacting the accessory case and magneto
flange in a proper configuration; however, the magneto clamps,
respective magneto flange, and accessory case interface areas exhibited
wear signatures consistent with fretting. These signatures were most
prominent on the lower clamps and flange areas. The magneto flange
remained intact and revealed no evidence of cracking.
No other abnormalities were noted that would have precluded normal