Preliminary Report: Uncontrolled descent leads to crash

 - February 5, 2008, 5:44 AM

Cessna 501, Carey, Idaho, March 15, 2003–The Citation I/SP was destroyed at approximately 2:25 p.m. MST when it hit terrain following an uncontrolled descent near Carey, Idaho. N70FJ was registered to Dancing Wind Aviation of Livingston, Mont., and was being flown by the ATP-rated pilot. The pilot and both passengers were killed in the personal cross-country flight operated under Part 91. The aircraft was on an instrument flight plan and operating in IMC. N70FJ began the trip from Salt Lake City International Airport, Utah, at 1:40 p.m. for Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, Idaho.

According to Salt Lake City Center, the aircraft descended from FL350 for FL240 at approximately 2 p.m. for an approach to Friedman, and subsequently descended to FL190. At that point the pilot asked the controller if aircraft were missing the approach into Hailey. The controller said, “You can make it in on the Rnav approach, sir. Are you able the Rnav?” The pilot replied, “That’s affirmative.”

At 2:08 p.m. the controller further advised the pilot that “the last one made it in on an Rnav just at the bare minimums, and Hailey says it’s getting worse there so I got a couple stacked up right now. I’ll get you lower and a holding pattern set up. I’ll put you in a hold at Oriye if that’s gonna work for you, sir. N70FJ, cleared direct Oriye. Expect holding at Oriye and expect the Rnav approach from there once I get the pattern clear, sir.” The pilot acknowledged.

At 1:46 p.m. the weather reporting facility at Friedman, located approximately 16 nm northwest of the accident site, reported winds at 260 degrees at five knots, visibility 15 miles, rain showers in the vicinity, scattered clouds at 2,000 feet, overcast clouds at 3,000 feet, temperature 7 degrees C, dew point 1 degree C and altimeter 29.62 inches.

At 2:09 p.m. the controller cleared the aircraft to 15,000 feet, the pilot confirmed the clearance and almost immediately the controller instructed the pilot to expedite his descent to 16,000 feet for traffic. Over approximately the next seven minutes the controller made 12 unsuccessful attempts to establish radio communication with N70FJ.

At 2:17 p.m. the controller requested N70FJ to “ident if you hear me” and the tape reflects the controller confirming that she had received N70FJ’s ident, that she had not received any replies to her previous attempts to contact the aircraft and that if possible the pilot might try using another radio to establish communications with Salt Lake Center. The controller also instructed the pilot to descend and maintain 15,000 feet. There was no further radio communication or radar contact with N70FJ.

At 8:01 a.m. the next morning, a Civil Air Patrol aircraft reported spotting the aircraft wreckage. Evidence of initial ground impact was a smooth ground scar area six by two feet, oriented on a magnetic heading of 200 degrees. Twenty-five feet forward of the initial impact scar was a crater that measured 20 by 10 feet and approximately 18 inches deep. Debris consisting of components of the airplane was located on a path of 240 degrees magnetic, ending approximately a quarter mile from the impact crater. Lateral distribution of the wreckage extended approximately 250 feet on both sides of the energy path.