Scott Crossfield Crash: NTSB Early Report

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The NTSB's April 27 update on Scott Crossfield's final flight.

On April 19, at approximately 11:10 am EDT, a Cessna 210A, N6579X, rapidly descended into remote mountainous terrain near Ludville, Georgia, after entering an area of thunderstorms. The pilot, well-known test pilot A. Scott Crossfield, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the time of the accident. The accident flight departed Prattville - Grouby Field Airport, Prattville, Alabama, at 10:05, and was en route to Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field Airport, Manassas, Virginia.

At 10:18 am, the pilot checked-in with Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) and was subsequently handled by four sectors. The accident airplane was cleared to 11,000 feet. The pilot was not issued weather advisories or related SIGMETS, according to Atlanta ARTCC voice communications. At 11:09:28 am, the pilot asked to deviate to the south due to weather. Atlanta ARTCC approved the turn to the south, but radar contact was lost at 11:10:02 am at 5,500 feet. Recorded radar data indicate that the accident airplane entered a level 6 thunderstorm prior to the loss of radar contact.

The airplane impacted about 3.3 nautical miles northwest of Ludville, Georgia, in rugged wooded terrain. The associated debris was located in two general areas, situated about 1 mile apart from each other. The wreckage distribution was consistent with a low altitude in-flight breakup.

Scott Crossfield
copyright Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside

The main wreckage was situated in a four-foot deep crater. There was limited damage to the overhead tree canopy, consistent with a near vertical descent path. The main wreckage consisted of the cockpit, engine, propeller, left and right main wing spars, nose and main landing gear, left and right flap, and portions of the empennage. The second area of wreckage consisted of portions of the left and right wing leading edges, the upper portion of the vertical stabilizer leading edge and tip rib, a small section of aileron and the left cabin door. The two ailerons and the outboard portion of the right elevator were not recovered during the on-scene investigation. Two of the three propeller blades have been recovered, both of which exhibit chordwise scratches and blade twist. All four corners of the airplane have been located; cockpit/engine, left wing, empennage, right wing, and fuselage. The major airframe components, engine, and recovered propeller blades were transported to a local Department of Transportation accident reconstruction yard.

A two-dimensional wreckage layout confirmed flight control cable circuit continuity for ailerons, elevators, and rudder. The flaps and landing gear were fully retracted. Functional testing and disassembly of the wet vacuum pump showed no evidence of pre-impact failure. No gyros instruments were found intact. No liberated gyros were found at the accident site. The on-scene investigation did not reveal any pre-impact anomalies that would have prevented the normal operation of the airplane or its related systems.

The investigator-in-charge for this accident is Todd Fox of the North Central Regional Office in West Chicago, Illinois. Assisting him in the investigation are the FAA, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Continental Engines. The NTSB identification number for this investigation is CHI06MA115.