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A “Mile High” Fatality...

Near Rainbow Lake, Florida

December 23, 1991

The 45-year-old private pilot, Linda Varner Keath,  with 470 hours of flight time and a pilot rated passenger, Carl Beauford Terry, were flying in a 1977 Piper Turbo Seneca II, owned by Trans Air Direct and registered as N47506, to practice simulated instrument flight, from Ocala (0CF), Florida, to Winterhaven (GIF), Florida. 

Terry had served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot and warrant officer.  He had continued to develop his career in aviation, earning an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic certificate and multiple flight instructor ratings.

Witnesses observed the airplane's right wing fail in a dive and crashed just after 11:30 in the morning, killing both aboard.

But an examination of the wreckage, and the two bodies, revealed that both occupants were partially clothed and the front right seat was in the full aft reclining position, and neither of the two were wearing seatbelts or shoulder harnesses. Further examination of the individuals' clothing revealed no evidence of ripping or distress to the zippers and belts, suggesting that the clothing removal was voluntary.

In May of 1993, the National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of this accident was the pilot in command's improper inflight decision to divert her attention to other activities not related to the conduct of the flight. According to the NTSB, a contributing factor to the accident was the exceeding of the design limits of the airplane leading to a wing failure.

The participants in this accident were nominated for the “Darwin Award” in 1994

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This page last updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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