NTSB releases factual report on 2013 Okla. plane crash

Chris Gruber

Chris Gruber

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) A National Transportation Safety Board report on an Oklahoma plane crash that killed two Kansas men says a part of the aircraft was found more than a mile from the crash site.

The April 7, 2013, crash killed retired gynecologist Ronald Marshall of Manhattan, Kansas, and Chris Gruber, the development director for the college of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

The NTSB factual report released Wednesday says the fiberglass belly skin panel of the plane was found about 1.4 miles from the site. It does not offer a suspected cause of the crash.

The report says the single-engine Mooney M20J piloted by Marshall took off from Tulsa International Airport at 5:47 p.m. and crashed about 13 minutes later in the back yard of a vacant home near Collinsville.

The report in its entirety follows:(submitted by Cathy Dawes, KMAN)



On April 7, 2013, about 1800 central daylight time, a Mooney M20J, airplane, N57672, impacted terrain near Collinsville, Oklahoma. The commercial rated pilot and passenger were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Tulsa International Airport (KTUL), Tulsa, Oklahoma, at 1747, and was en route to the Manhattan Regional airport, Manhattan, Kansas (KMHK).

A review of the air traffic control communications and radar data revealed that the pilot contacted the TUL departure controller; which cleared him to climb to 6,000 feet and to the “DELAT” intersection. About 5 minutes later, the aircraft disappears from the controller’s radar, and the pilot does not respond to the controller’s radio calls.

Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane descending at a high rate of speed, before it impacted terrain, in a small lot behind a vacant house.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multiengine land, and instrument-airplane. The pilot held a third class medical certificate that was issued on January 9, 2013, with the restriction, “must have available glasses for near vision”. At the time of the exam the pilot had reported 3,686.7 total flight hours and 150.8 hours in the preceding six months. A pilot logbook was located among the wreckage; however, additional flight time entries could not be read, due to the condition of the logbook.


The accident airplane was a Mooney M20J which is a low-wing, single-engine airplane, with retractable tricycle gear, powered by a reciprocating engine driving a constant speed propeller.

A review of the airplane’s maintenance records revealed that the airplane’s last annual inspection was conducted on April 1, 2012, with a Hobbs meter reading of 4,818.6 hours. At the time of the inspection the engine had a total time of 3,650.5 and 551.6 hours since overhaul.

The airplane was equipped with a fiberglass belly panel, installed per Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), SA3252NM.


At 1753, the automated weather observation facility located at KTUL, reported wind from 160 degrees at 17 knots gusting to 24 knots, with a peak wind recorded at 1743, at 170 degrees at 29 knots, visibility 9 miles, overcast ceiling at 2,000 feet, temperature 66 Fahrenheit (F), dew point 61 F, and a barometric pressure of 29.72 inches of mercury.

Prior to the pilot’s departure from MHK, he telephoned flight service and received a weather briefing for this planned flight. He filed two IFR flight plans, one for the flight to TUL, and one for the return trip back to MHK; the route of flight for each trip was filed as GPS direct. About 1706 the pilot telephoned flight service, and received an abbreviated weather brief for the return flight from Tulsa to Manhattan.


A review of air traffic communications revealed that the pilot was transferred from the KTUL tower controller to the departure controller. The departure controller then issued instructions for the pilot to climb to 6,000 and proceed direct “DELAT”. The accident pilot acknowledged the controller instructions, with the read back as 6,000 and what sounded like, “direct vlap”. Approximately five minutes later, the controller tried to contact the pilot; the pilot did not respond and there was no further communication or distress calls from the pilot.


A review of the radar data revealed the airplane departed TUL on a northward heading. The data revealed the airplane, climbed to about 4,300 feet, before a descending right turn was depicted. No other radar points from the aircraft were observed and the last radar point was near the accident site.


The National Transportation Safety Board, inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and a technical representative from Lycoming aircraft engines examined the airplane wreckage on site.

The airplane’s impact left a crater approximately 10 feet in diameter and about 4 feet deep. The airplane’s engine and part of a propeller blade was visible in the crater; the left wing, empennage, were just outside the crater. One end of a narrow ground scar contained pieces of a fiberglass wingtip and a green navigation light, the other end of the scar was at the impact crater. A postcrash fire consumed part of the fuselage and rear stabilizer. The remainder of the airplane wreckage was fragmented.

The airplane impacted the backyard of a vacant house, in a residential area. All major components of the airplane were accounted for on scene. Fragmented pieces of the airplane were located within yards of the neighboring houses.

The fiberglass belly skin panel was located away from the main crash site, on a heading of about 346 degrees and approximately 1.4 miles from the main impact point.

The airplane’s artificial horizon (attitude indicator) was located; the instrument had heavy impact damage. The unit was disassembled, and the gyro had scoring consistent with rotation at the time of impact.

The engine was located in the center of the crater and had received extensive damage. The aft accessory case and sump were shattered and separated from the main case. Pieces of the accessories; fuel pump, magneto, and vacuum pump were found scattered around the accident site. Three blades of the constant speed propeller were located; each blade had separated from the hub. The blades each had a wave type bend, leading edge polishing, and had leading edge damage.


Due to extensive trauma, an autopsy on the pilot was not conducted.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, did not perform toxicological tests on the specimens for carbon monoxide or cyanide. The specimens were negative for ethanol and tested drugs.


The wreckage was examined on May 22, 2013 at a salvage facility, near Lancaster, Texas, by the NTSB and a technical representative from the engine manufacturer. The main wing spar was fractured into several sections; the exam noted that the deformation and damages were consistent with the wing being intact at the time of ground impact. The left horizontal stabilizer, left and right elevator, vertical stabilizer, and rudder remained attached to the empennage. The right horizontal stabilizer was separated and was fire damaged. The left elevator counterweight was not located in the wreckage; however, damage to the outboard stabilizer and elevator was consistent with the counterweight being attached at impact.

All of the examined fracture surfaces exhibited features consistent with overload failures and no evidence of fatigue or flutter.



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