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N5104H accident description

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Tail numberN5104H
Accident dateAugust 27, 2005
Aircraft typePiper PA-14
LocationChallis, ID
Near 44.661111 N, -114.129445 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On August 27, 2005, at approximately 1005 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-14, N5104H, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Challis, Idaho. The commercial pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The owner/pilot was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local, game-spotting flight that originated from Challis, Idaho, approximately 35 minutes before the accident. The pilot had not filed a flight plan.

Friends of the pilot said that the two men were attempting to locate Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep. The Bureau of Land Management dispatch personnel were first notified of a fire in the hills at approximately 1010. A responding fire fighting team, who repelled to the ground from helicopters, found the downed airplane.


The pilot had taken a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required flight medical on June 22, 2005; he held a second class medical certificate. He was a commercial pilot for single and multiengine aircraft; he was a flight instructor, and an airframe and power plant mechanic. On an application for aviation insurance (dated March 2, 2005), the pilot reported that he had 17,000 hours of total flight experience with 2,130 hours in the airplane; his personal flight logbook was never recovered. The pilot had successfully completed a Practical Risk Management course with the Kings Schools, on March 2, 2005, for a reduction of his aviation insurance premiums.


The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven, four seat airplane, which was manufactured by Piper Aircraft Corporation, in 1948. The airplane had a maximum takeoff gross weight of 1,850 pounds. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320-B2A, reciprocating, normally aspirated, direct drive, air cooled, horizontally opposed, four cylinder engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 160 horsepower at sea level. The maintenance logbooks were never located.


At 0955, the weather conditions at Challis Airport, Challis, Idaho (elevation 5,072 feet), 180 degrees for 10 nautical miles(nm) from the accident site, were as follows: wind calm; visibility 10 statue miles (sm); clear of clouds; temperature 63 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 30 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 30.20 inches. The calculated density altitude at the accident site, at the time of the accident, was 7,676 feet.


The airplane was found on sloping, rocky terrain (N44 degrees, 39', 40"; W114 degrees, 07', 46"; elevation 6,232 feet) which was covered with dry grass. The airplane was upright with no evidence of an impact ground-scar. Post impact fire consumed the airplane. All of the airplane's major components were accounted for at the accident site. The flight control cables were intact and indicated flight control continuity.

The left wing's remaining structure was swept forward approximately 60 degrees and the remaining right wing structure was swept aft approximately 60 degrees. The aft fuselage and empennage were rotated and twisted to the right. The flaps operated manually on this aircraft and their position could not be determined due to thermal damage; nothing remained of the cockpit controls and instrumentation. A portion of the engine's exhaust manifold system was crushed onto the alternator and left, forward part of the engine's oil sump. The propeller had separated from its flange, but was found in place. The engine's crankshaft was rotated, demonstrating valve train continuity at all cylinders, and positive suction was noted at the spark plug holes. The magnetos were thermal damaged, but their drive gear in the accessory section rotated with the crankshaft. The propeller's spinner was pushed aft in a spiral manner; both blades were bent, twisted, and exhibited impact damage.

No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified.


The Custer County Coroner, from Challis, Idaho, ordered an autopsy to be done on the pilot. A Forensic Pathologist, associated with the Ada County Coroner's Office, Boise, Idaho, performed the autopsy on August 29, 2005.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200500226001), carbon monoxide and cyanide tests were not performed. No volatiles or drugs were detected in the heart and liver samples.


The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company, on September 6, 2005.

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