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N4563R accident description

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Tail numberN4563R
Accident dateMay 14, 1993
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-140
LocationHubbardston, MI
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On May 14, 1993, at 1427 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N4563R, registered to Donald W. Haven and Gary Abshagen of Hubbardston, Michigan, and piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed during a collision with trees and terrain. Witnesses reported the airplane was flying approximately 100 feet above the ground, performing a series of turns, when the airplane descended into the trees. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating without a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured, the passenger received serious injuries. The flight originated from a restricted landing area near Hubbardston, Michigan, exact time unknown. Witnesses provided differing reports of the airplane's flight maneuvering prior to the accident. Two witnesses stated the airplane performed three circles at a low altitude. Another witness stated the airplane became stationary in the air with its left wing down before it descended into the trees. Two witnesses stated the airplane made two circles over their home and then crashed into the trees during the third circle. One witness, in his written account of the accident flight, stated the airplane "...circled to the left-North continued to the west with wing's level. A/C appeared to buffet. A/C turned left and engine became silent. A/C crashed between trees."

A witness positioned adjacent to the field where N4563R crashed stated the airplane "...was flying low to the ground and doing loopdy dows about 11 to 12." His written statement continues, "Then the plane did the last one and went up and then turn towards the ground and the engine started to rev up then hit the tree first and didn't pull up." The witness stated he was first on the accident scene. He observed a fire and removed the occupants with the aid of his companion. The fire was extinguished by another witness who had brought a fire extinguisher from his home.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot-in-command of the accident airplane obtained his private pilot certificate on December 1, 1992. He possessed a Third Class Medical Certificate/Student Pilot Certificate issued on April 30, 1992. The pilot's logbook showed the pilot's last flight prior to the accident flight, was on May 10, 1993.

According to the pilot's logbook entries, his first stall lesson took place in a Cessna 150. During the following thirteen month period the pilot received three additional lessons containing stall training. These lessons were in a Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk. The logbook entries do not identify the type of stalls performed by the pilot during his private pilot certification check ride. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Designated Pilot Examiner's (DEP) Pilot Certification Flight test Form does not reveal what type stalls, if any, were checked by the DPE during the certification flight test.

A copy of the pilot's medical certificate application revealed he had paid a fine for DUI (driving under the influence) during 1973.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to N4563R's airframe logbook, the last annual inspection was administered on May 5, 1992. At that time the airframe had 3,681.0 hours on it. the tachometer hour recorder showed the airplane had 3,757.7 hours on it at the time of the accident. The airplane was approved for auto fuel use via Experimental Aircraft Association's Auto Fuel STC.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

N4563R's final resting place was located at the north edge of a christmas tree farm field approximately two miles north of Hubbardston, Michigan. The airplane was positioned on an approximate magnetic heading of 190 degrees. The final resting site was approximately 30 feet outside an area of densely populated trees and underbrush.

The fuselage and empennage were intact. The fuselage was laying on its right side. The right side of the stabilator was crushed aft of its normal position and bent 90 degrees upward of its normal plane of motion. The left and right wings were separated from the fuselage at the wing root attach points. The left wing was located approximately 20 feet north of the airplane's tail. The right wing had separated into two sections: The outboard one-third of the wing was adjacent to the left wing's tip. The remainder of the right wing was located approximately 20 feet north of the left wing section.

Both wings had leading edge indentations with tree bark and wood interwoven with the distorted metal. Fuel caps were found affixed to their wing tank necks. The fuel tanks displayed inward crushing at the leading edges.

An examination of the airplane's engine revealed the propeller had separated at the mounting bolts. The propeller mounting bolts displayed shear and necking damage at their points of separation. The bolt holes in the crankshaft hub displayed elongation opposite the plane of rotation. The propeller was found with one blade bent aft approximately 20 degrees at the mid-span position. The second blade displayed tip curing starting at approximately six inches inward from the blade's tip. Chordwise scaring was evident on both propeller blades. One blade displayed leading edge gouges. Tree bark was found in the ground areas.

The engine's carburetor, aft section of the engine's underside, and lower firewall area eshibited fire damage. The examination of engine revealed the spark plugs were tan grey in color except for those closest to the ground. These plugs were covered with engine oil. The engine had oil in its crankcase. Engine oil was observed from the engine oil cooler through its oil cooler bypass line when the line was removed. A finger compression test provided evidence of positive compression on all four cylinders. Both magnetos were removed and produced spark when rotated.

The gascolator had received fire damage and was devoid of fuel, the screen was unobstructed by debris. The carburetor was fire damaged. The carburetor inlet screen was clear. Fuel was found in the fuel pumps inlet line. When the engine was rotated suction was felt at the fuel pump inlet line attach fitting. The exhaust pipe was separated from the muffler/heat muff. The muffler/heat muff were found intact and did not display cracks or corrosion damage. The fuel selector was observed in the mid-position, rather than "Right" or "Left" position. The flap handle was in the stowed position.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot's fatal injuries were caused by severe head, neck, and chest trauma according to the autopsy report supplied by the Ionia County Coroner. The results of a blood alcohol test on the pilot revealed he had a 0.09 blood alcohol level.

The toxicological tests performed by the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute revealed the pilot had 52.000 mg/dl ethanol was detected in his blood sample, 2.000 mg/dl acetaldehyde and 81.000 mg/dl was detected in the vitreous fluid. The report stated: "NOTE: The ethanol concentrations found in this case are consistent with the ingestion of ethanol."

The passenger's injuries consisted of chest injuries, open knee and ankle fractures, closed head injury, head lacerations, according to medical records provided by the Butterworth Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The report states evidence of ETOH ingestion. "ETOH" is an acronym of ethanol according to a hospital representative. The blood alcohol level of the passenger was listed as 231 mg/dl by the hospital.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

During the on-scene investigation the IIC sensed a strong odor, similar to beer, was noted in the airplane's front cockpit area. According to one of the responding Ionia County Sheriff's Office deputies., who was on the scene shortly after the accident, beer cans were found in the cockpit of N4563R and on the ground near the forward fuselage. According to this officer, there was a strong odor of intoxicants around the airplane upon his arrival at the scene.

The FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector who was on-scene after the accident confirmed the sheriff officer's statement. He stated there was one can of beer in the airplane and three on the ground. He stated the officer removed the cans from the scene for testing purposes.

The wreckage of N4563R was released to Ionia County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Ingram at the conclusion of the on-scene investigation.

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