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N6902F accident description

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Tail numberN6902F
Accident dateApril 14, 1996
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-151
LocationKissimmee, FL
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 14, 1996, about 2338 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-151, N6902F, registered to Skycraft Inc., Voorhees, New Jersey, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91, personal flight, crashed while on right base and approach to runway 24 at the Kissimmee Airport, Kissimmee, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a VFR flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed. The private pilot was seriously injured, and one passenger was fatally injured.

The flight had departed Medford, New Jersey, about 1400, en route to Kissimmee, stopping at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for fuel. The flight departed Myrtle Beach at 1918.

According to the pilot's statement on the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, before departing Myrtle Beach, she had the fixed base operator "top off" the airplane with 40 gallons of "hundred low lead fuel." The pilot further stated, that near the destination airport the airplane's engine "began running very rough and quit." In her May 2, 1996, statement she wrote, "I cannot recall any more about the accident at this time...[I] went through [the] emergency procedures, and specifically, I put the fuel pump on, switched the fuel selector valve to the other tank, and tried to restart with the key. I also checked the circuit breakers."

The NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) was unable to obtain permission from the pilot's family to interview her. The pilot's statement on the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, was prepared by the pilot's husband, submitted by her attorney, and received by the NTSB on May 6, 1996. In addition, the IIC had requested an interview with the pilot while she was still in Florida. On April 25, 1996, at 1445, the pilot's husband informed the IIC that his wife was moved by air ambulance back to New Jersey. The NTSB did not interview the pilot about the facts pertaining to this accident, until the pilot phoned the IIC on July 23, 1996, at his office. During that phone conversation the pilot could not recall many details about the accident. Based on what she had been told about how the investigation was progressing, she knew that there was no fuel found in the right fuel tank, and she had no explanation for what could have happened to the fuel. It was the pilot's belief that based on her flight planning and aircraft performance that she had "6 hours" of fuel available for this flight, and there had to be an "engine problem."

The flight was on the approach, when witnesses heard the engine "sputter," lose power, and stop. The airplane impacted on the front lawn of a private residence. There were no injuries to anyone on the ground.

The accident occurred during the hours of darkness approximately 28 degrees, 17 minutes north, and 81 degrees, 26 minutes west.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Information on the pilot is contained in this report under First Pilot Information. At the time of the accident the pilot indicated she had a total of 12.5 night flight hours, and 160 total flight hours in this make and model airplane.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Meteorological information is contained in this report under Weather Information.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted in a residential area about 2,000 feet short of the arrival end of runway 24. Damage was observed to a palm tree, about 50 feet above the ground, and about 70 feet north of the airplane's final resting place. The airplane struck a bush, and came to rest on the front lawn of a private residence, about 30 feet north of the house, with the nose heading in a westerly direction. Rescue personnel, from the fire department, had to cut the seat belts and shoulder harnesses, plus remove the right wing, which had remained attached to the airframe by the control cables, in order to facilitate removal of the occupants from the front seats of the cockpit.

Examination of the airplane's fuel tanks revealed that less then 1 pint of fuel was drained from the right fuel tank. The fuel selector, located on the left side, near the pilot's left foot, was found selected to the right tank, and the fuel boost pump was found in the "OFF" position. A lieutenant, from the Kissimmee Fire Department, stated that there was never a danger from fuel leaking or fuel spillage when they arrived, and that he personally turned off only a "red switch" [Master/Alternator]. Less then 4 gallons of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank. There was no fuel spillage observed at the crash site, either on the ground, or trees, and there were no breaches found throughout the fuel system. Examination of the fuel selector revealed that it was free to move through all three positions. The electric fuel boost pump was tested using the airplane's power supply. The pump operated and no discrepancies were found. The gascolator assembly displayed impact damage, the bowl was dislodged, and the screen was free of debris. The fuel supply line was found clear and unobstructed. Overall visual examination of the engine compartment and airframe did not reveal any evidence of fuel stains or fuel leakage.

Examination of the airframe revealed that the left wing was attached to the airframe. The right wing, after removal from the airframe, was placed upside down and about 15 feet east of the wreckage. The leading edge of the right wing was crushed inward at a point 126 inches from the wing root, and crushed inward 27 inches from the leading edge. The right flap was broken off from the flap attachment. The horizontal stabilizer was broken at a point 52 inches to the right of center, and bent upwards at about a 10 degree angle at a point 12 inches to the right of center.

Continuity of the flight control systems was established. The flaps were found retracted, and the landing gear remained attached.

The engine was removed from the crash site and taken to a facility at the Kissimmee Airport. During the removal of the engine from the airframe all the fuel lines were disconnected, and no fuel was noted in any of the fuel lines. Examination of the engine revealed impact damage to the propeller, starter ring gear support, and the crankshaft propeller flange was bent forward. The spark plugs were removed and they displayed some wear. All the spark plugs were a light gray color, dry and clean, with the exception of 1 and 3 (bottom), which were oil soaked. All the bottom plugs displayed lead deposits. The ignition harness was damaged at impact, precluding any testing. Both magnetos were found tight on the case. Both magnetos were removed from the engine, and produced spark when rotated by hand.

The propeller was removed from the shaft to facilitate rotation of the engine. The engine rotated freely, valve train continuity was established, and thumb compression was noted on all four cylinders.

The carburetor was disassembled, no fuel was found in the bowl, and no discrepancies were observed. The engine driven fuel pump was removed, and functionally tested by hand. No discrepancies were found.

The engine induction air system was found clear, and the filter was intact. The exhaust system displayed impact damage, no cracks or obstructions were observed. The engine contained 6.5 quarts of oil. The oil filter and suction screen were found clean. The examination of the engine did not reveal any discrepancies.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The fuel flow and fuel burn rates were calculated using Piper's performance charts, and known information. The PA-28-151, had a total fuel capacity of 50 gallons, of which 48 gallons were usable fuel. A direct flight from the airport in South Carolina to Kissimmee Airport, Florida was 428 sm. Four gallons of fuel was drained from the left tank at the crash site, resulting in about 44 gallons of fuel used on this flight. The flight from South Carolina to Florida was 4 hours 20 minutes (4.3) in duration. Using the formula, fuel rate [gals]= total gallons [44], divided by time [4.3], equals a fuel flow of 10.23 gallons per hour. At a fuel flow rate of 10.23 gallons per hour, the total fuel used for the 4 hour 20 minute flight was 44.33 gallons, from South Carolina, to the crash site.

The aircraft wreckage was released to the airplane's owner, Mr. Bruce J Dougherty, on April 16, 1996.

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