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N91594 accident description

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Tail numberN91594
Accident dateMarch 15, 2003
Aircraft typePiper PA-38-112
LocationPrattsville, AR
Near 34.295555 N, -92.496389 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 15, 2003, at 0759 central standard time, a Piper PA-38-112 single-engine airplane, N91594, was destroyed when it impacted a radio tower guy-wire and terrain while maneuvering near Prattsville, Arkansas. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot. The non-instrument rated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from Decatur, Texas, at 0500. The flight was destined for Marion, South Carolina, with planned fuel stops at Sheridan, Arkansas; Hartselle, Alabama; and Union, South Carolina.

Witnesses near the accident site reported that they could not see the airplane due to the fog, but heard it as it maneuvered overhead. As the airplane was maneuvering, the witnesses heard a "strange noise," which one witness described as a "click-twang." They then heard a loud bang or "thud/thump", at which time the "engine stopped." The person, who leases the field where the airplane impacted, reported that at the time of the accident, he could not see the 500-foot radio tower's lower strobe light, which is about 150 to 250 feet above the ground.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The 75-hour pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, and an airframe and power plant certificate. The pilot's most recent third-class medical certificate was issued on May 10, 2002, with no waivers or limitations.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1981-model Piper PA-38-112, serial number 38-82A0083, was a single-engine, low wing monoplane. The airplane was a side-by-side, two seat, dual control airplane, powered by a Lycoming O-235-L2C 4-cylinder, air-cooled, 118 horsepower engine. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated approximately 3,720.98 hours of flight time. The airplane was certificated in the normal/standard category, and was registered to the accident pilot on March 12, 2003.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 0753, the weather observation facility located at the Grider Field Airport (PBF), Pine Bluff, Arkansas, located 29 nautical miles east-southeast of the accident site, reported winds from 360 at 6 knots, an indefinite ceiling at 100 feet, visibility 1/4 statute mile in fog, temperature 45 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of Mercury.

At 0653, the weather observation facility located at PBF reported winds from 360 at 6 knots, an indefinite ceiling at 100 feet, visibility 1/4 statute mile in fog, temperature 43 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 43 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of Mercury.

At 0753, the weather observation facility located at the Memorial Field Airport (HOT), Hot Springs, Arkansas, located 32 nautical miles west-northwest of the accident site, reported calm winds, overcast ceiling at 100 feet, visibility 1/2 statute mile in fog, temperature 45 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of Mercury.

At 0653, the weather observation facility located at HOT reported calm winds, overcast ceiling at 100 feet, visibility 1/2 statute mile in fog, temperature 45 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.00 inches of Mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The main wreckage was located in a field approximately 3 miles south of Prattsville, Arkansas. The Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates recorded at the accident site using a hand held GPS unit places the radio tower at 34 degrees 17 minutes 49.3 seconds north latitude and 92 degrees 29 minutes 49.3 seconds west longitude. The aircraft came to rest at 34 degrees 17 minutes 44.2 seconds north latitude and 92 degrees 29 minutes 47.1 seconds west longitude. The radio tower stood 801 feet above mean sea level (msl). The aircraft impacted the terrain 543 feet from the tower, bearing 171 degrees. The aircraft came to rest upright on a magnetic heading of 158 degrees.

Examination of the aircraft at the accident site revealed that the bottom of the right wing showed compression. The outboard section of the right wing leading edge was twisted upward. The inboard section of the right wing leading edge was crushed upward and slightly aft.

The firewall was displaced downward approximately 20 degrees and pushed aft at the bottom.

The left wing showed evidence of guy wire contact along the spar. The left wing leading edge was cut off from 63 inches from fuselage to tip. The first wire mark starts approximately 58 inches from fuselage. The leading edge of the left wing is cut from the bottom of the spar to aft of the top of the spar. The inboard section of the left wing's leading edge is crushed upward. The outboard section of the left wing was curled upward.

The right main landing wheel was separated from the aircraft. The left wheel and strut were also separated from the aircraft. The nose wheel was folded aft.

The left side of the empennage was twisted downward and folded left forward. The tail was partially separated aft of the cabin. The outboard section of the right horizontal stabilizer was displaced downward. The outboard section of the left horizontal stabilizer was displaced downward.

The fuel tanks in both wings were found breeched, with approximately 5 gallons of fuel remaining in each tank. Fuel was also found in the gascolator/strainer, carburetor, and the engine-driven pump.

Both entry doors were found separated from the fuselage. Flight control continuity was established throughout the aircraft.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Medical Examiner Division of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory on March 17, 2003. According to the report, "The cause of death...[was] multiple fractures and internal injuries sustained from the aircraft accident." Toxicological tests performed by the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and illegal drugs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on March 16, 2003.

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