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N106JG accident description

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Tail numberN106JG
Accident dateSeptember 24, 2002
Aircraft typePiper PA-32R-301T
LocationYeehaw Junction, FL
Near 27.666667 N, -80.916667 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 24, 2002, about 1410 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-301T, N106JG, registered to and operated by D.A. Decision LLC, had a separation of the right wing, outboard left wing, vertical stabilizer, the stabilator, and impacted the ground near Yeehaw Junction, Florida, while maneuvering through thunderstorms. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was destroyed. The private-rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight had originated from Lantana, Florida, at 1330, en route to Orlando, Florida.

At 1257:00, the pilot of N106JG contacted the Saint Petersburg Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), and requested to file an IFR flight plan from Palm Beach County Airport (LNA), Lantana, Florida direct to Executive Airport (ORL), Orlando, Florida and return. The pilot advised his estimated time of departure was 1400 with time en route of 1 hour 10 minutes. In addition, the pilot requested weather along the route of flight. The specialist reported low levels of precipitation between LNA and ORL with the majority of the weather east of Melbourne, Florida up to and including Daytona Beach, Florida. Thunderstorm activity was reported north of Orlando, Florida.

At 1350:30, the pilot of N106JG contacted the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZMA) Sector 3 Vero Beach Terminal Radar (R3) controller, and reported level at 7,000 feet. Radar data indicated the airplane's target was approximately 30 miles northwest of LNA. The R3 controller acknowledged the transmission and advised, "Vero Beach altimeter is 29.95" (inches of mercury).

At 1350:50, the pilot requested a 10-degree turn to the left for weather. The R3 controller approved the turn and advised the pilot to "proceed direct BAIRN intersection when able." The pilot acknowledged the transmission. Radar data indicated N106JG's radar track turned 10 degrees to the left. Mode C (transponder) was 7,000 feet.

At 1353:52, radar data indicated N106JG's radar target turned to the right and tracked a course heading of 330 degrees consistent with a heading to the BAIRN intersection. Mode C was 6,900 feet.

At 1358:10, the R3 controller announced on the frequency that Convective SIGMET (Significant Meteorological Advisory) 55E, 56E and 57E were in effect until 1555 and further information could be obtained through Flight Watch, HIWAS (Hazardous In-flight Weather Advisory Service), and Flight Service.

At 1408:44, the pilot of N106JG advised he was in "IMC 7" (instrument metrological conditions at 7,000 feet), and requested a descent, which the R3 controller approved to 5,000 feet. Radar data indicated N106JG's Mode C was 7,100 feet. Thirteen seconds later at 1408:57, the pilot responded, "one oh six juliet gulf the gyro is out." The R3 controller asked the pilot to say again and the pilot responded, "Gyro's out one oh six juliet gulf." The R3 controller instructed the pilot to "descend and maintain 5,000 feet." There was no response from the pilot. Radar data indicated the airplane's Mode C was 7,500 feet and then the radar track began a tight right descending turn. The R3 controller made several more attempts to contact the pilot. No further communications were received. The last radar return was received at 1409:40. Mode C was 900 feet. The supervisor initiated Search and Rescue notification.

Radar data showed that between 1408:44 and 1408:57, the airplane ascended 400 feet. Between 1409:04 and 1409:33 the aircraft descended 4,100 feet, and the last radar return at 1409:40, the airplane had descended 1,300 feet.


The pilot, held an FAA private pilot certificate, with airplane single engine land, and airplane instrument, last issued on May 5, 2002, when the airplane instrument rating was added. The pilot held an FAA class 3 medical certificate issued on June 24, 2000, with the limitations the "Holder shall wear corrective lenses." The pilot received a biennial flight review, as required by 14 CFR Part 61, on May 9, 2002.

As per the entries in the pilot's personal flight logbook, he had accumulated a total of 397 total flight hours, 377 total single engine flight hours, and 97 hours in this make and model aircraft. In addition, the logbooks showed that he had 24 total night flight hours, 83 simulated instrument flight hours, and 39 actual instrument flight hours.


The airplane was a Piper Aircraft Inc., model PA32R-301T, serial number 32R-8229059, manufactured in 1982. At the time of the accident the airplane and engine had accumulated 2,813.9 total flight hours. The airplane and engine received an annual inspection on March 21, 2002, 38.2 hours before the accident. The airplane was equipped with one Lycoming model TIO-540-S1AD engine, serial number L-8183-61A, six cylinder, air cooled, direct drive, horizontally opposed, turbocharged, fuel injected, internal combustion engine rated at 300 horsepower at 2700 rpm, and had 953.8 hours since field overhaul. The propeller was manufactured by Hartzell, and was a model HC-E3YR-1RF. According to the maintenance records the last static pressure/instrument check was completed on March 21, 2002. The airplane was equipped with a attitude indicator, horizontal situation indicator (HIS), and a lightning detector (Stormscope).


The NTSB Meteorological Factual Report revealed that at the time of the radio transmission to ATC that, "the gyro is out," N106JG was penetrating intense to extreme weather echoes VIP 5 to VIP 6 (Video Integrator Processor intensity); containing thunderstorms. The thunderstorms contained heavy rain, IMC (instrument metrological conditions), up and downdrafts, horizontal gusts, and turbulence of at least moderate intensity. From about 10 minutes before the accident to the accident time, thunderstorms increased in coverage and intensity, moving into the accident area from the south.

Thunderstorms were noted in Convective SIGMET (Significant Meteorological Advisory) 57E and Miami Center Weather Advisory 201. Both advisories were in effect for the time and area of the accident. The Area Forecast issued at 1345 also forecast thunderstorms for an area that included the accident location. The upper air data from Tampa, Florida, located about 77 nautical miles west of the location of the last radar contact, showed that the freezing level was near 16,000 feet.

Lightning data revealed there were 124 cloud to ground lightning strikes recorded in a 15 statute miles radius of the location of the last radar point of N106JG for the time period 1400 to 1415. The closest cloud to ground strikes to the last radar contact occurred at 1409:15.690. The strike was at 154.8 degrees at 3.6 statute miles. A strike at 148.7 degrees at 3.8 statute miles from the last radar contact occurred at 1409:15.629.

The following are sources of weather information that were valid at the time of the accident:

The 0857 Terminal Forecast 9 for Orlando, Florida: wind 110 degrees at 9 knots; visibility greater than 6 statue miles; rain showers; cloud ceiling 2,500 feet scattered, 8,000 feet broken; 1100-1500 expect visibility 3 statute miles; moderate rain showers; cloud ceiling 2,000 feet broken.

The 0857 Area Forecast 10 for Florida: cloud ceiling 3,000 feet scattered to broken, 10,000 feet broken, cloud tops 25,000 feet; scattered to widely scattered thunderstorms, moderate rain showers, thunderstorm tops to 45,000 feet.

Convective SIGMET 55E valid until 1555: Florida and surrounding coastal waters; from 80 miles southeast of Crestview, Florida; 40 miles west of Cross City, Florida; 100 miles southwest of Cross City, Florida; 130 miles southeast of Crestview, Florida; 80 miles southeast of Crestview, Florida an area of embedded thunderstorms moving from 140 degrees at 25 knots; cloud tops reported above 45,000 feet.

Convective SIGMET 56E valid until 1555: Florida, Georgia and surrounding coastal waters; from 10 miles east northeast of Alma, Georgia; 70 miles east northeast of Jacksonville, Florida; 50 miles east northeast of Ormond Beach, Florida; 50 miles west of Jacksonville, Florida; 10 miles east northeast of Alma, Georgia an area of thunderstorms moving from 160 degrees at 15 knots; cloud tops to 42,000 feet.

Convective SIGMET 57E valid until 1555: Florida and coastal waters; from 30 miles east of Orlando, Florida; 10 miles east of Vero Beach, Florida; 50 miles south southeast of Fort Myers, Florida; 30 miles east of Orlando, Florida an area of developing thunderstorms moving from 140 degrees at 25 knots; cloud tops to 44,000 feet.


The aircraft impacted in an open swamp area, south of Yeehaw Junction, Florida, about 2 miles west of state road 441, and the highway 60 intersection. The aircraft came to rest in a stream, on a heading of 215 degrees. A postimpact fire ensued which destroyed the cockpit and cabin area. The accident occurred during the hours of daylight about 27 degrees, 40.606 minutes north, and 080 degrees, 55.950 minutes west.

The engine and airframe were examined at the site of the accident. The main wreckage was destroyed by fire. The complete right wing, tail section and outboard section of the left wing were found distributed along a debris path on a 150 degrees magnetic heading.

The left wing was found separated at the wing root and was located at the accident site, next to the fuselage. An additional separation of the left wing was observed 87 inches outboard of the wing root. The post impact fire had consumed the inboard section of the left wing. The aft spar attachment was found pulled from the fuselage. The nut and bolt remained attached to the attachment bracket. The forward spar attachment remained attached to the fuselage. The flap was separated from the wing and the postimpact fire had consumed a portion of the flap. The flap position could not be determined. The main landing gear was found in the retracted position. The outboard 110 inches of the left wing was located 4,066 feet, on heading of 329 degrees from the main wreckage. The outboard section of the wing had separated near the splice area. The left wing appeared to have separated upward and aft. Both fracture surfaces of the spar were clean and granular. The aileron had separated from the wing and was not recovered. Both aileron hinges remained attached to the wing structure. Both aileron cables were separated, and the fracture surface displayed a brush/fan type fracture. The aileron bell crank was separated from its attachment points. The outboard and inboard wing fuel tanks were breached and no fuel was observed.

The right wing was found separated at the wing root and was located 1,267 feet, on heading of 319 degrees from the main wreckage. The inboard, forward 84 inches had separated from the main spar and was located 1,373 feet from the main wreckage. The forward spar attachment had separated from the wing root. The aft spar attachment remained attached to the wing; the nut and bolt were attached. The flap remained attached to the inboard hinge only, and displayed impact damage. The flap position could not be determined due to impact damage. The flap connecting rod was found separated at the eyebolt. The main landing gear was found in the extended position and displayed no signs of damage. The outboard 112 inches of leading edge skin was crushed aft about 10 inches. Both fuel tanks were breached, however blue fuel was found in the outboard fuel tank. The upper and lower main spar caps, at the root separation fracture surfaces, were found clean and granular. The main spar appeared to have separated upward and aft. The main spar, between the root and the outboard section of the inboard fuel tank, was bent into an "S" shape. The aileron remained attached to the wing at both hinges. The aileron connecting rod separated at the eyebolt. The aileron control cables separated, and the fracture surface displayed a brush/fan type fracture. The upper and lower main spar caps appeared to have separated upward and aft. All spar fracture surfaces appeared to be clean and granular.

The tail cone remained partially attached to a portion of the fuselage. The tail cone was flattened to a width of about 18 inches. The vertical fin, the left and right sides of the stabilator were separated and were located 2,700 feet east of the main wreckage. The lower 36 inches of the rudder remained partially attached to the tail cone. The left side of the stabilator main spar was crushed downward at the root. The right side of the stabilator main spar was bent aft and upwards. The connecting rod remained attached to the anti-servo trim tab and the jackscrew showed 4 threads that indicated a neutral trim position. All fracture surfaces appeared to be clean and granular. The vertical fin was bent about 10 degrees to the right and torn at the leading edge, 27 inches down from the rotating beacon. The right side skin was crushed inward and bowed outward on the left side. The 4 rivets that attach the forward spar attachment were found sheared. The aft attachment was separated from the vertical fin. The rudder had separated from the upper hinge and the torque tube remained attached. The rudder balance weight was separated from the upper portion of the rudder. The left side of the rudder bell crank had separated. The right rudder control cable remained attached to the bell crank at the rudder. The other half of the bell crack remained attached to the rear bulkhead, and the left rudder control cable was found attached. The upper and lower control stops for the stabilator appeared to be undamaged. The left side of the separated stabilator was torn and crushed aft along the leading edge for about 44 inches. The upper and lower skin, aft of the main spar, starting at the root and outboard was torn and separated 47 inches aft to the trailing edge. The left stabilator tip remained attached, but displayed some impact damage. The right side of the separated stabilator skin, aft of the main spar was torn and bent downwards about 80 degrees. The tip remained attached. The jackscrew remained attached to the rear bulkhead, and the attachment brackets were deformed to the right and downward. The jackscrew showed four threads, which indicated the anti-servo trim tab was in a neutral position. The jackscrew connecting rod was attached to the jackscrew and a small portion of the anti-servo trim tab. The stinger had separated and was destroyed.

The fuselage was completely destroyed by a postimpact fire and impact with the terrain. No significant information was obtained from the instruments.

Examination of the engine at the crash site revealed that it had come to rest on its right side on the bank of a stream and had sustained fire damage at the rear and left side. The accessories at the rear of the engine had sustained heat damage from the post impact ground fire. There was no visible evidence of catastrophic mechanical malfunction. The engine case at the forward section near the propeller governor and crankshaft flange exhibited two cracks consistent with the absorption of impact energy. The three bladed propeller remained attached at the crankshaft flange.

The crankcase was found fractured near the lower forward section. The propeller rotated the crankshaft, and continuity was established throughout the gear and valve train. Thumb compression was established at the numbers 2, 4, 5, and 6 cylinders. There was no compression in the numbers 1 and 3 cylinders due to impact damage on the cylinder heads. The oil suction screen was removed and found to be clean and clear of obstructions. The fuel servo was partially separated from the engine and the throttle and mixture settings could not be determined. The vacuum pump had separated from 3 of its 4 mounting studs. The postimpact fire had destroyed the vacuum pump shear shaft. The oil filter was opened and found free of any contamination. The duel magneto had remained attached to the accessory case, and was melted by the post impac

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