National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report




Gilroy, CA

Accident Number:


Date & Time:

11/08/2014, 1500 PST





Aircraft Damage:


Defining Event:

Loss of control in flight


2 Fatal

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Personal



The airline transport pilot and passenger were flying in an area of wooded, rolling hills and valleys. When the airplane did not arrive at its destination as scheduled, a search was initiated. The wreckage was located the next day in a valley about 5 miles from the departure airport, where it came to rest beneath overhead distribution power lines. The unmarked lines were located about 300 ft above ground level, in an east-west orientation, and were anchored between two H-frame pole assemblies that stood on either side of the valley. There were no witnesses to the accident, but residences near the accident site reported a power outage near the time of the accident.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The propeller, right wing leading edge, and right wing strut exhibited impact marks consistent with a wire strike.

Given the position of the sun about the time of the accident, it is likely that sun glare contributed to the pilot's inability to see the power lines as he flew the airplane along the valley at low altitude.


Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from power lines while flying at a low altitude.
Contributing to the accident was the obscuration of the pilot's visibility due to sun glare.




Personnel issues

Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)

Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues

Wire - Awareness of condition (Cause)

Glare - Effect on personnel (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)


On November 8, 2014 about 1500 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 140A, N5612C, collided with power lines and terrain near Gilroy, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight originated from Frazier Lake Airpark, Hollister, California about 1430 with an intended destination of Monterey Bay Academy Airport, Watsonville, California.

A family member of the pilot reported the airplane overdue to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the evening of November 8, 2014, after becoming concerned when the pilot and passenger had not arrived. The FAA issued an Alert Notification (ALNOT) for the missing airplane, and the wreckage was located the following day within a heavily wooded valley about five miles north of Frazier Lake Airpark by search and rescue personnel.

Overhead power distribution lines had separated near their mid-spans over the valley near the accident site. The lines were supported by two wooden H-frame pole assemblies, separated at a distance of about 1,500 feet, and were about 300 feet above ground level near the accident site. Residents near the accident site reported a power outage around the time of the accident. There were no witnesses to the accident.

Examination of the accident site by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the airplane collided with steep terrain and remained intact, with exception to the propeller assembly, which was located near the main wreckage. The main wreckage was about 600 feet south of the distribution lines. Braided wire striations were observed on the propeller assembly and outboard area of the right wing.




Pilot Information


Airline Transport; Flight Instructor


69, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea

Seat Occupied:


Other Aircraft Rating(s):


Restraint Used:

Lap Only

Instrument Rating(s):


Second Pilot Present:


Instructor Rating(s):

Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane

Toxicology Performed:


Medical Certification:

Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:


Occupational Pilot:


Last Flight Review or Equivalent:


Flight Time:

22000 hours (Total, all aircraft)



The pilot, age 69, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine and multiengine land, airplane single-engine sea, instrument airplane, and rotorcraft rating. Additionally, the pilot held a flight instructor certificate with ratings in single- and multiengine land airplane, and a basic ground instructor certificate. A second-class airman medical certificate was issued on May 14, 2014 with restrictions that he must have available glasses for near vision. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 22,000 total flight hours and 30 hours in the last 6 months.



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:






Aircraft Category:


Year of Manufacture:


Amateur Built:


Airworthiness Certificate:


Serial Number:


Landing Gear Type:




Date/Type of Last Inspection:

08/02/2014, Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

1451 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

5 Hours


1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

5489 Hours at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:



Installed, activated, aided in locating accident

Engine Model/Series:


Registered Owner:

On file

Rated Power:

90 hp


On file

Operating Certificate(s) Held:



The two-seat, high-wing airplane, serial number (S/N) 15545, was manufactured in 1950. It was powered by a Continental C-90-14F engine, serial number 42725-0-14, rated at 90 horsepower, and equipped with a McCauley fixed pitch propeller.

A review of the maintenance records revealed that during the last annual inspection on August 2, 2014, the airframe and engine both had a total time of 5,484 hours, with 1,092 hours on the engine since major overhaul.



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:


Observation Facility, Elevation:

KSNS, 77 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

27 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

2253 UTC

Direction from Accident Site:


Lowest Cloud Condition:



10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:


Visibility (RVR):


Wind Speed/Gusts:

7 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/ None

Wind Direction:


Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:


Altimeter Setting:

29.99 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

24°C / 12°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:


Type of Flight Plan Filed:




Type of Clearance:


Departure Time:

1430 PST

Type of Airspace:

Class G


The closest weather reporting station to the accident site was located at Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California, which was located 26 miles southwest of the accident site, at an elevation of 84 feet msl. At 1453, several minutes prior to the accident, the station disseminated an automated observation report; wind 7 knots at 270 degrees, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 24° C, dew point 12° C, altimeter 29.99 inches of mercury.

According to the US Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department, in the town of Hollister, the sun was located at 20.1 degrees above the horizon at an azimuth of 228.9 east of north at 1500. Sunset was at 1702.



Airport Information



Runway Surface Type:


Airport Elevation:

152 ft

Runway Surface Condition:


Runway Used:


IFR Approach:


Runway Length/Width:


VFR Approach/Landing:





Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage:


Passenger Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Fire:


Ground Injuries:


Aircraft Explosion:


Total Injuries:

2 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude:

37.025556, -121.481111


Examination of the accident site revealed that the aircraft had been flying to the south and the wreckage was located on an east-facing slope of a wooded valley about five miles east of Gilroy, California. The wreckage was substantially damaged and there was no debris field. The first identified point of contact was tree strikes near the top of surrounding oak trees directly above the main wreckage. An area of disturbed dirt was found uphill from the wreckage on steep terrain. The area of disturbed dirt was about 25 feet in length and had paint transfer marks on rocky outcroppings. The propeller assembly was found near the main wreckage and had impact damage. The airplane was upright and was facing uphill in the direction of about 340 degrees magnetic. The engine and cowling had impact damage and were crushed rearward into the cabin area. Both wings had leading edge damage. The main gear legs were bent rearward. The right wheel separated from the landing gear strut. All primary flight controls were attached to the airplane. The right horizontal stabilizer had impact damage.





Medical And Pathological Information

The Santa Clara County Coroner conducted an autopsy on the pilot on November 10, 2014. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries due to airplane crash."

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs were tested, and all results were negative.


Tests And Research

The right wing leading edge and right wing strut had impact marks consistent with a wire strike, and electrical arcing signatures were visible on one of the propeller blade leading edges. The postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. For further information, see the postaccident examination summary in the public docket for this accident.





Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Andrew L Swick

Report Date:


Additional Participating Persons:

John Mathieu; FAA-FSDO; San Jose, CA

Peter Basile; Textron Aviation; Wichita, KS

Chirs Lang; Continental Motors Group; Mobile, AL

Publish Date:



The NTSB traveled to the scene of this accident.

Investigation Docket: