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N81189 accident description

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Tail numberN81189
Accident dateSeptember 01, 2002
Aircraft typeAmerican General Aircraft AA-5B
LocationZephyrhills, FL
Near 28.228056 N, -82.155833 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 1, 2002, at 0635 eastern daylight time, an unregistered Grumman American AA-5B, N81189, operated by a private pilot collided with trees and a family home while on approach to Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, Zephyrhills, Florida. The personal flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR part 91 with no flight plan filed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane was destroyed, and the private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The flight departed Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, Zephyrhills, Florida, September 1, 2002, at an undetermined time.

Witnesses near the accident site reported they heard an airplane flying low over the neighborhood prior to the approximate time of the accident. Shortly after hearing the low flying airplane, an explosion was heard. Witnesses discovered a nearby home engulfed in flames, and confirmed that a small airplane had collided with the home. Witnesses reported the weather conditions were foggy and dark night light conditions existed at the time of the accident.


Review of the information on file with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate on January 18, 1996, with a single engine land rating. The pilots total flight time was approximately 185 hours. The pilot's flight time in the Grumman AA-5B was not determined. The pilot held a third class medical certificate, dated May 18, 2001, valid when wearing corrective glasses for near vision. The pilot's logbooks were not recovered for examination.


Review of records revealed the current pilot purchased the airplane on September 21, 2001. A review of the FAA aircraft records revealed that the airplane was not registered to the new owner. The airplanes' logbooks were not recovered for examination.


Lakeland Regional Airport, located 16 nautical miles southeast of Zephyrhills Airport, 0650 weather observation, reported winds calm, sky conditions scattered at 200 feet above ground level (AGL), visibility 1 statue mile, mist, temperature 25 Celsius, dew point 25 Celsius, and the altimeter setting was 30.02. The Landenberg Airport, weather observation located 16 nautical miles southwest of Zephyrhills Airport, reported at 0552, winds 050 degrees and 5 knots, overcast sky at 500 feet AGL, visibility 1.5 statue miles, with mist, temperature 25 Celsius, and dew point 25 Celsius. There was no record of the pilot receiving a weather briefing before departure.


Zephyrhills Municipal Airport has a field elevation of 90 feet MSL. It has two runways, 36-18 and 04-22. The airport has no air traffic control tower, with no instrument approach procedures. At the time of the accident the airplane was maneuvering.


Examination of the wreckage path revealed it was 350 feet in length on a 180-degree magnetic heading. Examination of the accident site revealed freshly broken tree branches at the top of a 50-foot tree at the beginning of the wreckage path. The right aileron was located at the base of the first stand of trees. The right wing tip was located approximately 50 feet from the aileron along the wreckage debris path. The left wing tip was located approximately 20 feet above the ground along the wreckage debris path in a tree. The first ground scar was 200 feet from the first freshly broken tree. The foliage in the area of the ground scar showed signs of intense heat. The engine was located 30 feet from the ground scar resting against a severely fire damaged house. The main fuselage was located in the rear of the home.

Examination of the right wing revealed the right aileron was separated from the wing at the attachment points, with chordwise buckling. The right flap was separated from the wing at the attachment points with chordwise buckling. The right elevator was fire damaged. The left wing was shattered, and a three-foot section of the wing tip displayed crush damage. The left elevator displayed chordwise buckling, and heavy fire damage. The cabin and fuselage were consumed by fire. The horizontal stabilizer displayed heavy crush and fire damage. All flight control cables were located within the airplane. The cable system was traced from the attachment points on the flight controls to the control surface attachment points. The cables were cut for extraction purposes.

Examination of the engine revealed crush and fire damage. The propeller was separated from the engine, and the propeller hub remained attached to the crankshaft flange. Both propeller blades exhibited twisting and chordwise scoring. The fuel system was heavily fire damaged. The right magneto produced ignition sparks from all lead towers when rotated. The left magneto was fire damaged. All spark plug electrodes were dry and tan in color. The oil pump was intact and there was no evidence of debris in the pressure screen. The crankshaft rotated and compression and suction was noted on all cylinders. Internal gear and valve train continuity was confirmed. The examination of the airframe and engine failed to disclose evidence of pre-impact failure or malfunction.


The Pasco & Pinellas County medical examiner, Largo, Florida, preformed the postmortem examination on the private pilot on September 1, 2002. The cause of death was multiple blunt trauma. The toxicological examinations were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, drugs and alcohol. Traces of Propranolol were detected in the blood, kidney, liver and urine. Propranolol decreases cardiac rate and output, reduces blood pressure, and is effective in the prophylaxis of migraine.


The airplane wreckage was released to CTC Services Aviation (LAD Inc.) on September 11, 2002.

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