NTSB Releases Preliminary Report From P-51 'Pecos Bill' Accident | Aero-News Network
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Fri, Dec 07, 2018

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report From P-51 'Pecos Bill' Accident

Airplane Went Down With A Pilot And Passenger On Board November 17

The NTSB has released its preliminary report from the accident involving the P-51D Pecos Bill on November 17. The accident fatally injured the pilot, 73-year-old Cowden Ward, Jr. and his passenger, WWII veteran Vincent Losada of San Antonio, TX, 93.

According to the report, the airplane impacted an apartment parking lot near Fredericksburg, Texas, following maneuvers. The airplane was destroyed during the impact. The airplane was registered to Pea Hochso LLC and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day VFR conditions prevailed in the area about the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated about 1459 from the Gillespie County Airport (T82), near Fredericksburg, Texas.

According to a lineman at T82, the airplane arrived about 0915 for the first time that day. Five flights with passengers were scheduled. Once the first passenger arrived, the pilot took off and returned with no issues. After the airplane shut down, the pilot requested 50 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gasoline per side. The pilot then asked the lineman to assist loading the second passenger about 1050. The pilot then used a ladder to set up a camera on the tip of the airplane's tail. This flight returned without any incidents. Later in the day, the pilot requested further assistance with his third passenger. At 1442, the lineman met the pilot at the airplane where they then used the ladder again to set up his camera. About 1444 pm a passenger arrived at the airplane. They then repositioned the ladder, the passenger was loaded, and the airplane departed the airport. The lineman reported that during this service and the previous services that day, no mechanical issues or oil spots on the ground were noted with the airplane.

A witness in the parking lot stated that the airplane climbed and descended nose down. The airplane impacted terrain and the "back" of the airplane separated and came to rest on nearby parked vehicles. The witness stated that the airplane impacted "so hard" it had "blown up." However, there were no flames.

The 73-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multi-engine, and instrument ratings. He also held a FAA second-class airman medical certificate which was issued on December 5, 2017.

N4132A, a North American P51 D, Mustang, serial number 122-40985, was an all-metal, laminar flow, low-wing monoplane. The airplane's ailerons, elevators, and rudder were conventionally operated by a control stick and rudder pedals. The airplane was powered by a twelve-cylinder, overhead cam, liquid cooled, V-type, supercharged, Rolls Royce V-1650-7 engine, serial number V-331281. According to copies of the aircraft's logbook entries, an annual inspection was completed on March 8, 2018. The aircraft had accumulated 1,812.9 hours of total time at the time of that annual inspection.

At 1515, the recorded weather at T82, was: Wind 190° at 11 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition broken clouds at 3,900 ft; temperature 20° C; dew point 10° C; altimeter 30.04 inches of mercury.

An on-scene investigation was conducted. The airplane wreckage came to rest in a parking lot about 2.5 miles and 70° from T82. Linear witness marks were found on the ground under the leading edges of the wings. The leading edge of both airplane wings exhibited rearward crushing. Red and green colored media consistent with glass was found near the wing's respective separated navigation light holders. The engine and its propeller were found impacted in terrain about five feet below grade. Three of the propeller blades were separated from the propeller hub. The three separated blades exhibited chordwise abrasion and nearby black top pavement exhibited a witness mark consistent with a propeller strike. One propeller blade exhibited leading edge gouges. The empennage was separated from the fuselage forward of the tailwheel. The empennage came to rest inverted on parked cars about 68 ft and 310° from the engine. The fuselage and cockpit were fragmented mostly in a debris path between the engine and empennage. Flight and engine control continuity was not able to be established. However, all observed separations exhibited features consistent with overload. The magneto switch was fragmented. However, its face plate exhibited it was in the both position. The fuel valve was found in the debris path. Some of the fuel lines were separated from the valve body. The fuel bladders were found breached. The rear section of the engine separated from its front section. The engine's compressor blades were intact. The propeller hub was not able to rotate when a its attached blade had a rotational force applied to it by hand.

A GoPro camera mount was found in a grass area north of the wreckage debris field. The mount did not contain a GoPro camera. Another GoPro mount and camera were found within the debris field. However, the camera's SD card was not present.

The Gillespie County Justice of the Peace was asked to arrange an autopsy on the pilot and to have toxicological samples taken.

A Stratus unit was found damaged in the wreckage and will be sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorder Laboratory to see if it contains data in reference to the accident flight. Additionally, the recovery company subsequently recovered an SD card during wreckage recovery. The SD card will also be sent to the recorder laboratory to see if it contains data in reference to the accident flight.

(Image from file)

FMI: Preliminary report

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