C-182Q N96934 at West Valley Flying Club

Monday, December 04, 2006

Life Story of a Skylane: Chapter Two

In Chapter One, I covered a little bit of the model history and the first owner of N96934. In this brief chapter, I will cover the next two owners, concluding with the most traumatic moment in the life of the plane.

In January of 1982, the plane was sold to two brothers in Washington State. Through some internet research, it appears that they were in the fruit-growing business, at least that's what they were doing in 1998. I have tried to find contact information, so that I can document any memories they have of the plane, but I haven't had any luck so far. I do know that the brothers both had private pilot licenses during the time they owned the plane and that their medicals were last issued in the mid-80s, so they seem to have gotten out of flying around that time. They sold the plane 10/13/1987.

The trauma will occur before 1987 draws to a close.

The next owners were two individuals in Corona Del Mar, CA. FAA records show that one of them holds a Commercial ASEL (Airplane Single Engine Land) rating along with a CFI rating. From other records, it appears that the plane was owned on behalf of a flight training academy in Southern California. The academy is still operating today and the purchaser of 934 is listed as one of their instructors. On 12/31/1987, at 0615 local time, the plane crashed on landing at Davenport Municipal Field in Davenport, IA. The flight had departed Lima, OH, 301 nm away. That means the flight must have been initiated at around 0330. Departing in the middle of the night in the heart of a midwestern winter in a 182 seems like a bold untertaking. Perhaps it was too bold for the pilot.

The publicly available records don't say whether the pilot was the owner or another individual. Since the plane was operated by a flight school, there is no reason to believe it was the owner. And there is no way to figure out why someone was flying a Cessna in the pre-dawn hours of New Year's Eve in the middle of the corn belt, although the purpose of the flight was recorded as personal. A few things are noteworthy.

The flight had been cleared for a localizer approach to runway 15, but the pilot cancelled IFR when he was in the clear below 3000 feet. He was 31 years of age and had a total of 395 hours flight time, including 23 in type and 73 total instrument time. He reportedly attempted to land, then aborted and tried to go around. Before he could take off he clipped a snowbank and the plane veered off the runway.

The NTSB said that the primary probable cause was the pilot's failure to maintain control on takeoff. There were no fatalities or serious injuries, but the damage to the plane was officially recorded as substantial.

At the time of the accident, the plane had about 40 hours with the flight school owner. Their were 887 total hours on the plane. It wouldn't fly again for 5 1/2 years.


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