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N15866 accident description

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Tail numberN15866
Accident dateAugust 23, 1995
Aircraft typePiper PA-34-200
LocationDouble Springs, AL
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 23, 1995, about 1200 central daylight time, a Piper PA-34-200, N15866, collided with the ground during an uncontrolled descent, at the Double Springs, Winston County Airport, Double Springs, Alabama. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. A flight plan was not filed for the personal flight. The private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. Origination of the flight was about 0730, on the same day, from the David Jay Perry Airport, Goldsby, Oklahoma.

Witnesses observed the airplane on a right downwind, with the landing gear extended, for runway 03. According to the witnesses, the airplane was very slow, and was wallowing through the air, with the nose moving about the yaw axis. As the airplane began what the witnesses interpreted to be a right base turn, one engine quit. The witnesses were not positive which engine quit, nor were they positive which direction the airplane rolled. The airplane rolled 360 degrees as it entered a steep, nose down descent, and disappeared behind trees.

According to an inspector with the Oklahoma Flight Standards District Office, acquaintances of the pilot, who were departing on a local flight, saw N15866 being towed from its storage hangar, in Goldsby, Oklahoma, about 0700, the morning of the accident. When the acquaintances returned from their flight, about 0730, N15866 had departed.

At approximately 0424 local time, the pilot called the McAlester Automated Flight Service Station by telephone, and obtained a pre-flight pilot brief for a visual flight rules flight from Goldsby, Oklahoma, to Gadsden, Alabama. The flight had a proposed departure time of 0800, and an estimated 3 hours and 30 minutes time enroute. Additional radio contact was received at 0811, 0812, 0814 by the Fort Worth, Automated Flight Service Station, where the pilot obtained enroute weather conditions from McAlester, Oklahoma, to Gadsden, Alabama. Radio contact was once again initiated to the Jackson, Mississippi, Automated Flight Service Station, from N15866, at 0955 and 1053, respectively, on the day of the accident. The pilot had reported being over Tupelo, Mississippi, at 13,500 feet and was requesting winds aloft for 9,500 ft as well as 11,500 for the route of flight from his current position, to Gadsden, Alabama. The elapsed time from the reported approximate departure time to the reported time of the accident was 4.5 hours.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Information on the pilot, is included in this report in the section titled "First Pilot Information". He was issued a private pilot certificate on March 28, 1952, and received a multi engine rating on May 2, 1989. His last medical certificate, a Second Class, was issued on March 21, 1995, with the limitation to wear corrective lenses. Prescription lenses were found at the accident site. According to the pilots' flight log he had accumulated 158 flight hours in the same make and model airplane between February 7, 1989 and August 26, 1994. The last entry in his log book, dated August 26, 1994, was for a Biennial Flight Review (BFR) in a PA-34-200. His logbooks did not show any indication of other flights since the BFR.

Family members reported that the pilot bought N15866, a Seneca II, to replace a previously owned Beechcraft Bonanza. He purchased the airplane on June 30 1995. Prior to owning the Bonanza, he owned a Cessna 182, Bellanca Viking, and another Seneca.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Information on the aircraft is included in this report at the section titled "Aircraft Information." The fuel requirement for the intended flight was approximately 5.4 hours. Using a like make and model Pilot Operating Handbook, the fuel endurance was calculated to be 4.5 hours. The total duration of the flight was 4 hours and 26 minutes.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Weather information for Double Springs, Alabama (3M2) is included in this report at the section titled "Weather Information."

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located about 1/2 mile south of the Winston County Airport, in an isolated area, by local law enforcement personnel, within minutes of the reported accident.

The airplane came to rest on a narrow ledge of a steep, thickly wooded hillside, on a magnetic heading of about 175 degrees. The cockpit of the aircraft was destroyed. There was continuity of the flight control chain behind the instrument panel. There was also continuity of the flight controls from the cabin to the empennage, as well as cables from the cabin to the left and right wing. The nose wheel was in the down position.

The tailcone of the aircraft was longitudinally crushed. The vertical stabilizer was displaced forward. The rudder, and vertical stabilizer leading edge was virtually undamaged. The tail of the plane was supported by a tree, growing from the 45 degree sloped hill. The elevator trim was found in a neutral position.

The left wing leading edge was crushed chordwise, in an accordion like manner. The wing tip was separated, laying about 20 feet to the left of the wing. The flaps were found at 10 degrees. Both inboard and outboard left wing fuel tanks were breached, with no evidence of fuel spillage. The left main landing gear was in the down position.

The left propeller had one blade bent rearward in a broad arc. The opposing blade was straight, with chordwise streaks of mud.

The left engine was removed from the wreckage site so that an examination could be performed.

The right wing was also crushed chordwise, in an accordion like manner. Both right wing fuel tanks were breached, with no evidence of fuel spillage. The right wing flap was disconnected from the airframe at the support mount, with the connecting rod broken. The right main landing gear was down.

The right propeller was buried in the dirt, and the engine was pulled forward from the airframe. There was a deep slash mark in the ground, forward of the engine, up a steep incline. The propeller had one straight blade with chordwise scrapes extending from the leading edge aft about 2 inches. The opposing blade contained scrapes and gouges in a chordwise direction. On the right side of the damaged aircraft, was a sliced tree trunk. The tree was about 6 1/2 inches in diameter and was sliced through the diameter. There was black paint transfer on the face of the smooth surfaced cut.

The right engine was also removed for further testing.

TEST AND RESEARCH

During the examination of the left engine, the spark plugs were removed, and found to be moderate in wear, when compared with a manufacturers inspection chart. The fuel injector screen was clean. The left magneto had been torn away from the engine. The left and right magneto's were both rotated by hand, and all leads sparked.

The left turbocharger impeller ring housing had double witness marks, with no scraping. The turbocharger was broken away from the remainder of the compressor ring housing. When tested, the turbine and compressor wheel turned integrally and smoothly by hand, with no binding.

The left engine-driven fuel pump arm was intact and engaged. Residual fuel was found in the pump. The servo fuel injector throttle arm was locked in place having been bent at it's midpoint. The mixture was full. There were no noted scratches, or any indication of hard particle passage through the oil pump. The left main fuel line contained no fuel.

The left engine crankshaft flange was bent, in conjunction with the propeller. Once the left propeller was removed, the crank shaft could easily be rotated by hand, with no restrictions. Thumb compression was good in all cylinders, with valve action observed.

The right engine's spark plugs were removed and found to be moderate in wear, when compared with a manufacturers chart, with no fouling. Both magnetos sparked from all leads, when rotated by hand. When the left magneto was removed, bright shiny circular marks were observed forward of the magneto drive gear's cotter key, which was flattened and rubbed. The mixture was in the idle cut-off position, with the throttle 3/4 forward.

The right turbocharger impeller housing ring shows wider witness scrape marks than on the left engines' turbocharger. The right intake riser was crushed rearward, and was separated from the intake pipe. Inside the intake manifold pipe was a trail of brown dirt, the same color as the dirt at the accident location. The servo fuel injector contained about 1 teaspoon of fuel. Once the propeller was removed, thumb compression was obtained, and valve action was observed.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

A post mortem examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. Kenneth E. Warner, Alabama state Forensic Pathologist, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A toxicology analysis was performed by the FAA toxicology research lab. The report of the toxicology analysis indicated that suitable specimens were not received.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The aircraft was released to: Aero Insurance. Inc. 4800 Broadway Suite A P.O. Box 397 Addison, TX 75001

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.