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Sun, Feb 04, 2007

Windshield Failure Results In Dramatic King Air B200 Emergency

King Air Suffers Severe Damage After Depressurization Accident

The partial failure of a windshield and the rapid decompression of the cabin nearly resulted in the total loss of a King Air and its crew over the weekend. While details are coming mostly from general media reports for the moment, video of the aircraft and its emergency landing have provided significant evidence that an inflight failure of the aircraft resulted in a rapid, and possibly uncontrolled descent that nearly caused the aircraft, a Raytheon King Air B200, to break apart.

According to media reports, the aircraft experienced a partial failure of the windshield at an altitude well in excess of 20,000 feet, creating a spider web type of failure ont he windshield and the decompression of the cabin. Media reports also suggest that the flight crew lost consciousness of, and/or control of the aircraft, resulting in some mode of control recovery below 10,000 feet (reported as 7000 feet by at least one media outlet). The aircraft subsequently executed an emergency landing at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport in Missouri. 

Examination of the video (seen in the attached screen captures), shot by KFVS, which also caught the fairly uneventful emergency landing, reveals the loss of most of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator assemblies, wrinkled and bent main wings and a windshield that was nearly useless, visually, due to pervasive spiderweb-style cracking throughout its surface. Statements attributed to the pilots (who left the area by rental car, shortly after landing), indicated that they regained control of the aircraft below 10,000 feet where the aircraft was involved in a steep vertical descent and (then) not under positive control. The subsequent recovery created severe stresses on the aircraft and the wrinkling and bending evident in pictures of the wing suggests that aircraft was stressed in a manner not too far form the ultimate structural yield point.

Cape Girardeau Airport Manager, Bruce Loy, told local media outlets that this was, "The most amazing situation I've ever seen..." and expressed surprise that an aircraft with this amount of damage could still be flown. The flight crew was identified as Pilot Sheldon Stone and co-pilot Adam Moore who indicated that emergency oxygen equipment failed when they attempted to use it. Despite that, they regained functional consciousness after descending some 20,000 feet. Pilot Stone told local media that "We were both getting drunk really fast. I remember thinking, really slowly, 'Hey, I'm not getting any oxygen, what's wrong here?' But I was so loony already at that point I couldn't even solve the problem if it could be solved. I just sort of thought to myself, 'I've got to hurry,' but everything was fading."

While no one can deny that the flight crew was both skilled AND lucky, one media report suggests that a higher power may have had a hand in this incident. It seems that the prior owner of the aircraft was an Assembly of God Christian association. Indeed, the N number, N777AG, had "biblical significance" that combined a 'holy number' and the initials for the Assembly of God. 

The aircraft, N777AJ, is registered to Horizon Timber Services Inc, Of Arkadelphia, Arkansas. More info to follow...

FMI: www.kfvs12.com, www.raytheonaircraft.com

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