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Wed, Nov 08, 2017

NTSB Releases Prelim Report From Accident Involving Race Driver Ted Christopher

Witnesses Said They Heard No Airplane Sounds Prior To The Impact

The NTSB has released its preliminary report from an accident which occurred September 16 that fatally injured race driver Ted Christopher as well as the pilot/owner of the aircraft, Charles Dundas.

According to the report, the two departed Robertson Field Airport (4B8), in Plainville, CT, en route to Francis S Gabreski Airport (KFOK) in Westhampton Beach, New York aboard a Mooney M20C owned by Dundas, an ATP-rated pilot. No flight plan was filed for the accident flight.

According to the report, earlier on the day of the accident about 1000, the pilot/owner flew from FOK north to 4B8, where he planned to pick up his passenger for a subsequent flight back to FOK. The route of flight was about 60 miles. The pilot and passenger had been flying together for over 10 years and had flown the route many times.

At 1109, the airplane was fueled with 15.8 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation gasoline; 9 gallons in the right wing tank and 6.8 gallons in the left wing tank. After he topped-off both fuel tanks per the pilot's request, the fueler witnessed the pilot sample the fuel in the airplane's fuel system, before he departed with his passenger about 1230.

Several witnesses near the accident site stated that they did not see the airplane or hear any engine sounds, but they heard what sounded like a "crash" in the trees. One witness described it as the sound of "gravel being dumped out of a dump truck." Several homeowners searched for the source of the sound and found the airplane wreckage about 1 hour after hearing the impact.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multiengine land. He held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and airplane single-engine sea. He also held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for instrument airplane. In addition, he held a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records, the pilot reported a flight experience of 31,300 total hours as of his last medical exam, dated October 16, 2006.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on September 4, 1964. The airplane was a low wing, four-seat, monoplane of conventional metal construction. It was equipped with retractable landing gear, and was powered by an air cooled, Lycoming IO-360, 180-horsepower engine, driving a Hartzell 3- blade constant-speed propeller.

At 1353, the weather conditions reported at Tweed-New Haven Airport (HVN), New Haven, Connecticut, which was located at 12.5 ft elevation, 9 miles southwest of the accident site, included variable wind at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, broken clouds at 1,400 ft, temperature 24°C, dew point 19°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.16 inches of mercury.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane first struck 75-ft-tall pine trees in a steep descending attitude before coming to rest up against trees in a nose-down position on its right side. The wreckage path was 170 ft-long and oriented on a north-northeast magnetic heading of 021°. The right wing separated from the fuselage at the wing root during impact, and was the first piece of wreckage discovered at the start of the debris path. The outboard 3 feet of the left wing was found 75 ft north of the right wing and was wrapped around a tree. The remaining fuselage, cockpit, left wing and tail assembly remained intact. The landing gear were in the extended position and the landing gear selector was in the down detent. The wing flaps were in the retracted position.

The right fuel tank was breached during the accident and evidence of fuel was found on the trees and vegetation near the initial impact point. The left fuel tank contained approximately 7.5 gallons of fuel. Visual examination through the firewall indicated that the fuel selector in was in the left fuel tank position.

The engine remained attached to the mounts and remained largely intact. All cylinders remained attached to the crankcase and there were no broken fuel lines or oil lines discovered at the scene. The engine oil was measured using the dip stick and it was at the full indication The three-blade constant-speed propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange and was largely intact. There was no evidence of rotational scoring and two of the blades were not damaged. One of the blades was bent aft about 30° and the propeller spinner was crushed on one side.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

(Image from file. Not accident airplane)

FMI: NTSB Report

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