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N8818J accident description

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Tail numberN8818J
Accident dateJune 06, 1996
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-180
LocationLawrenceville, GA
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT

On June 6, 1996, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA 28-180, N8818J, collided with the ground during a forced landing at Lawrenceville, Georgia. The airplane was operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. An instrument flight plan was filed and activated for the business flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. Origination of the flight was Stuart, Florida, about 1116, on the same day.

A pre-flight weather briefing was obtained by the pilot, at 1036, through a telephone call to the Miami Automated International Flight Service Station (AIFSS), at which time an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was also filed. The route of flight filed in the flight plan was from Witham Field, Stuart, Florida, via low altitude airways V3 and V51 to the Gwinnett County-Briscoe Field, Lawrenceville, Georgia. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control (ATC) report of the accident indicated that N8818J received departure clearance at 1116, from the Witham Field ATC tower. During the flight, while in contact with the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), the pilot changed the destination to Stone Mountain, Georgia, about 12 miles southeast of the Lawrenceville airport. Later, while in radio contact with Macon Approach Control, the pilot was informed that the Stone Mountain airport was closed. The pilot stated he would land at Lawrenceville. Enroute, several air traffic facilities informed the flight that the transponder signal was not being received.

At 1526, Atlanta Approach Control advised N8818J that the flight was five miles south of the Lawrenceville airport. The pilot informed Atlanta Approach Control that he had an engine problem. Subsequently, at 1529, the pilot informed approach control that he would not make the airport.

A ground witness saw the shadow of the airplane pass overhead, with no engine sound evident. He observed the airplane flying west bound, then bank left, followed by the nose of the airplane dropping. The airplane was located on the side of a suburban road adjacent to an embankment. Ground scars and damage to the airplane was consistent with a collision with the embankment. Residual fuel was found in each fuel tank.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land rating on May 17, 1993. His pilot logbook contained the first entry recording a flight in N8818J on the same day. The logbook entry indicated that the flight was for "proficiency in type ok.," and was signed by a certified flight instructor. All of the flights listed in the pilot logbook following that dated entry were listed as flown in N8818J.

On April 4, 1996, the pilot obtained an instrument airplane rating. The practical test flight was accomplished in N8818J.

The pilot had a Third Class Medical Certificate. His date of examination listed on the certificate was May 17, 1996, which was also reflected in an entry in his pilot logbook. He had a Statement of Demonstrated Ability, Waiver Serial No 30D49335, dated May 4, 1993. The statement listed his limitation as "must wear corrective lenses," and his physical defect as "blind left eye."

Additional pilot information is contained on page 3 in the section titled First Pilot Information.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Certificate of Registration for the airplane indicated that it was issued to the pilot on April 30, 1993.

A request for the airplane's records was made to the attorney who indicated via letter that he was representing the pilot's wife.

The president of a local repair facility stated that an annual inspection had not been conducted on the airplane at his facility. However, he did have records indicating that a wire on the alternator, along with other minor items, had been repaired, including the replacement of light bulbs. The nose strut was also resealed. As of January 2, 1996, according to his records, the airplane's tachometer indicated 2,475 hours. At the time of the accident the tachometer indicated 2,638.64 hours.

Documentation provided by the fixed based operator at Stuart, Florida indicated that the airplane was fueled with 11 gallons of fuel on the day of departure, topping the fuel tanks. The total distance of the flight was about 458 nautical miles. According to the ATC report the flight was three hours 12 minutes, or 3.2 hours. The calculated speed for the flight was an average of 146 knots. The average fuel burn, using 48 gallons of usable fuel, was 15 gallons per hour. According to the Lycoming Operator's Manual, the engine will use about 15 gallons per hour if operated at full throttle, mixture rich, and 2,400 RPMs.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The hourly sequence report is contained on page four and five under the section titled "Weather Information."

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane's wreckage was located on a county road about two miles south of the Gwinnett County-Briscoe Field. There were no impact marks observed on the road. The road was oriented north-south, and was bounded on the west side by an embankment, about 18 feet from the pavement, that sloped away from the crowned surface at an angle of about 120 degrees. A gouge was noted in the embankment that was about 57 feet long, and led northward to the wreckage. The left, or south side of the gouge, had an imprint that approximated the length and shape of the airplane's wing. There were dirt streaks on the underside of the left wing that matched the color of the embankment. Additionally, pieces of the windscreen and the engine cowling were found in the gouge. The airplane was resting on a heading of about 190 degrees.

One propeller blade of the fixed pitch propeller was bent forward at the tip. The opposing propeller blade was bent aft, and twisted spanwise about 20 degrees, toward a lower pitch. This blade also exhibited chordwise scratches on the blade's cambered side. The engine propeller flange was broken off through the top flange bolt holes, as the airplane rested at the accident site.

The nose wheel was broken off rearward while the engine was displaced aft into the firewall. The underside of the cabin area was dislocated compromising the pilot's station. Shoulder harnesses were not installed in the airplane. There was longitudinal crushing of the tail cone with virtually no damage to the empennage. The elevator trim tab jackscrew extension was equivalent to a neutral tab position.

There was aft crushing damage to the leading edge of the left wing, which was displaced aft with the forward attachment point separated from the fuselage. The left wing main spar was fractured at the root with the spar fracture having a rough, granular, and irregular appearance. The left wing fuel tank line was separated at the root with no evidence of spilled fuel. The left main landing gear was supporting the wing while the fuselage was in contact with the ground. The left flap actuator arm rod end was broken off however, the flap torque tube was in the flaps retracted position.

The right wing was less severely damaged than the left. The right flap was up, and the right landing gear was collapsed toward the airframe centerline.

The fuel selector cockpit handle was broken. During a subsequent disassembly of the fuel selector, the left fuel tank was found selected. There was continuity of the flight controls from the cockpit to the flight control surfaces.

Additional examinations of the airplane were conducted following its recovery to a local salvage yard. A distinct crush line was noted to the fuselage that was consistent with a nose up pitch attitude of about 25 degrees. About one half pint of blue colored fluid, with the odor of aviation gasoline was drained from the right wing. The gascolator bowl was broken off, rearward. The bowl contained brown dirt consistent with the aforementioned embankment at the accident site. The gascolator screen was clean. Rotation of the engine manually, revealed mechanical continuity and "thumb compression" at each cylinder. All magneto leads were damaged by cuts. When compared to a manufacturer's service chart, the spark plugs exhibited a normal wear pattern, with no sooting. Battery power was connected to the electric boost pump and it was operated. Both magnetos were rotated manually producing a spark at each spark tower. The mixture and throttle positions on the carburetor were found to be rich and maximum power, respectively. The carburetor bowl was opened and found to have a like-new appearance with no fuel present. The carburetor finger screen was clear.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

A post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner's office 250 Langley Drive Suite 1308 Lawrenceville, Georgia 30245.

Toxicological examinations of the pilot were conducted by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The tests were negative for ethanol and other drugs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to the insurance adjuster representing the airplane owner: James Watt AIG Aviation 100 Colony Square Suite 1000, 1175 Peachtree St., N.E. Atlanta, Georgia 30361.

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