NTSB Identification: NYC03FA148
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 05, 2003 in Middlesboro, KY
Aircraft: Beech F-35, registration: N205
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On July 5, 2003, about 1115 eastern daylight time, a Beech F-35, N205, was destroyed during an in-flight break-up and subsequent collision with terrain near Middlesboro, Kentucky. The certificated commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that departed the McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, Tennessee, destined for the Middlesboro-Bell County Airport (1A6), Middlesboro, Kentucky. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the airplane departed TYS about 1045, and proceeded north at an altitude of 5,500 feet msl. During the flight, the pilot requested, and received, flight-following from air traffic control. When the airplane was about 8 miles south of Middlesboro, the pilot advised the air traffic controller that he had the airport in sight. The air traffic controller terminated the flight following and instructed the pilot to contact the airport UNICOM for advisories. No further radio transmissions were received from the airplane.

Radar data obtained from the FAA revealed the airplane was traveling northeast and was level at 5,500 feet, until it began a decent at 1113:02, about 8 miles south of 1A6. The airplane continued the descent and made a right turn about 2 miles east of 1A6, at 1113:52, at an altitude of 4,400 feet. There were no further radar returns received from the airplane.

Park rangers located the accident site about 1400 on July 6, 2003, approximately 2 miles east of 1A6, within the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

The wreckage path was oriented about a 180-degree magnetic heading, and measured approximately one-half mile in length. The elevation of the wreckage path varied between 1,600 feet and 1,700 feet.

The left and right horizontal stabilizers were located near the beginning of the wreckage path. The left and right wing sections, which were located about the mid-point of the wreckage path, revealed buckling on the top surfaces. Both main wing spars separated near the fuselage wing root, in a downward direction. The left and right flaps and landing gear assemblies were observed in the retracted position. Approximately 10 gallons of fuel remained in the right wing auxiliary tank. The remaining fuel tanks were breached and did not contain fuel.

The aft section of the main cabin was located about two-thirds of the way into the wreckage path.

The engine, firewall, and instrument panel portion of the wreckage were located at the furthest point south on the wreckage path, and contained evidence of a small post-impact fire. No evidence of fire was observed on any of the separated sections of the wings, main fuselage or empennage.

The throttle, mixture and propeller controls were observed in the full forward position at the instrument panel. The throttle and mixture control cables were separated from their respective control arms on the carburetor.

The engine came to rest in a near vertical position, with the propeller imbedded in the ground, and the front cylinders in contact with the ground. Impact forces separated the propeller governor, governor drive, engine driven fuel pump, oil scavenge pump, carburetor, and oil sump. The remaining engine accessories were found attached to the engine. The aft engine accessory area was exposed to a post-impact fire. Numerous pieces of diagonal cut wood were found next to the engine and propeller. One propeller blade remained in contact with the base of a small tree, which exhibited a diagonal cut at the point of contact. The number 1 and number 3 cylinder top spark plugs were removed for examination. Their electrodes were gray in color and remained intact.

The engine and airframe were retained for further examination.

Review of maintenance records revealed the airplane's most recent annual inspection was performed on December 20, 2002. The engine had been overhauled and reinstalled on the airframe on May 13, 2003.

According to an owner of the airplane, the engine had accumulated about 12 hours of operation since overhaul. The owner also stated that he had flown the airplane 9 of the 12 hours, and reported no abnormalities with the engine's operation.

Review of the recorded tachometer times during prior annual inspections revealed the airplane had been operated for about 31 hours during the year prior to the annual inspection. Additionally, between June 2, 1995 and June 30, 1998, the airplane had been operated for about 90 hours.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane.

The pilot had accumulated about 2,000 hours of flight experience, which included about 600 in make and model.

The weather recorded at 1A6, about the time of the accident, included: winds from 160 degrees at 4 knots, and a scattered cloud layer at 2,700 feet.