Re: N950KA Crash in FL
It's always sad to see this, but when a friend told me that they found the body of the pilot's 13 yr old son, .4 miles from the site, I started to look at the pictures.., and read the reports..
The original pix I saw showed the plane's left side only. It showed the cargo door of the PC12 closed, as well as the pilot cabin door, in front of the left wing. Reports indicated the door as being closed and hard to open also.
Then I found more pix, showing the right side. Most of the right wing torn off, but not at the root. The metal shows a tearing pattern, at a diagonal. The fuselage above the right wing, gouged out (making sense of finding of his 13 yr old son almost 1/2 mile from the crash site). The elevators, at the top of the tail, separated from the plane. The tail section fuselage rivets sheared off from the left side (spin pressure from a clockwise flat spin?). Engine appears intact, not even any windshield damage.
From the RADAR flight data, it looks like he was entering a storm and lost 1000ft on the downdraft, entrance, side of the storm, but still in contact with the controller. Then a direction change (to avert body of storm?), still talking to controller. Then lost contact and a fast descent (flat spin at apx 20,000 fpm). This seemed to occur just after the pilot was leveling off at 26000 ft. He called Mayday.
Wx data shows a TS but didn't look that awful on RADAR, and he seemed to be just on the front edge of it at the time. His initial course was 290+/-3 degrees (i assume AP control and steady climb).
So - What caused the gouge in the fuselage on the right side, just over the right wing?
If he was level at 26000 ft, entering a storm and experienced negative G-s and the right wing broke apart as a result, I can understand the spin, the tail fuselage pressure from the left side etc., but can't see how the fuselage got damaged. I think that finding a body .4 miles away points strongly to his exit of the plane via the fuselage hole; seeing that both doors were found shut tight.
Most GA, and all non-pressurized GA don't fly at FL26. If he hit a Commercial flight transitioning FL26, we would hear about that. Everything above 18000 is talking to somebody - except UAVs...
The wingspan of the PC-12 is about 26 ft. Predator UAV wingspan is 48 ft.
It appears that the pilot just bought the plane this past May. Probably the first trip with his family and not that much time in a PC-12. Private, Single engine, IFR ticket.
I've been in some pretty bad TS over my years and know and respect what they can do to us. But, this crash needs a little more investigation. I'd want to know:
How the right wing failed, what caused the hole in the fuselage, Was the AP engaged when he crashed? What was his heading bug actually set to? Is there any composite material (UAV DNA) found around the tears in the fuselage or wing?
Anyone have any insight based on evidence/science?
Mitch Mitchell, K8ur@yahoo.com