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N24MF accident description

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Tail numberN24MF
Accident dateFebruary 20, 2003
Aircraft typePiper PA-22-150
LocationGarryowen, MT
Near 45.481667 N, -107.489722 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On February 20, 2003, at 1223 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-22-150, N24MF, registered to/and being operated/flown by the certificated private pilot/owner sustained substantial damage during a loss of control and in flight collision with terrain approximately five nautical miles south south-west of Garryowen, Montana. Both the pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries and the pilot, who never regained consciousness, succumbed to injuries four days later. No post-mortem or toxicological examination was conducted on the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident and the Billings, Montana; aviation surface weather observation (located 50 nautical miles north-northwest of the crash site) reported 10 miles visibility with a few clouds at 12,000 feet and winds from 210 degrees magnetic at 15 knots at 1156 local. The flight, which was engaged in coyote predation for local farmers, was operated under 14CFR91, and originated from Hardin, Montana, at 1200 local on the morning of the accident.

The passenger, seated in the front right seat, was interviewed by an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Helena Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and provided a brief written statement. He reported that he and the pilot departed Hardin, Montana, to shoot coyotes for some farmers. After shooting a coyote, and while preparing to land, the pilot noted another coyote approximately 400 yards in front of the aircraft. The pilot abandoned the landing and "...made a pass at this coyote at about 180 feet..." and "...again, he put the aircraft into a right slip so I could shoot the coyote...." The passenger fired but missed the coyote as it dodged left. He reported that he expected the pilot to turn left but the aircraft turned right and immediately thereafter the aircraft impacted the ground (refer to witness statement).

A Garmin GPSMAP295 unit, one of three GPS units retrieved from the aircraft, was determined to be in good condition and shipped to the manufacturer where a data extraction was accomplished. The data extraction revealed a series of data points commencing at 1200 local at a latitude and longitude consistent with the Hardin airport, Hardin, Montana (refer to ATTACHMENT GPS-I). A total of 208 targets consisting of latitude, longitude, time and altitude, were recorded in the unit's non-volatile memory and the last recorded target was at 45 degrees 28.900 minutes north latitude, 107 degrees 29.388 minutes west longitude at 1223 local. The altitude of this target was recorded as 3,448 feet above mean sea level (MSL).

The manufacturer provided a track plot of the targets superimposed on a topographic chart. The track plot showed the aircraft engaged in frequent turning maneuvers for several minutes before the last recorded target (refer to ATTACHMENT TP-I). The lowest altitude recorded during this time was 3,377 feet MSL and the highest was 3,478 feet MSL. The approximate elevation of terrain 1,500 feet east of the ground impact site was 3,445 feet MSL.

An inspector from the FAA Helena FSDO conducted the onsite examination of the wreckage the day following the accident. He reported that the aircraft was observed upright with its longitudinal axis orient approximately north-south (nose pointed north toward gradually upsloping terrain). Both main landing gear had broken off and the right wing exhibited extensive aftward bending and compressive deformation and was broken free at the fuselage attach point. The left wing displayed leading edge compressive deformation outboard in the vicinity of the strut-to-wing attach point and minimal leading edge damage inboard. The empennage and vertical/horizontal flight and control surfaces sustained minimal damage and there was no fire. The flap on the left wing was observed in the retracted position. Both propeller blades displayed "S" bending deformation and the spinner was crushed aft. A significant upward crush angle was noted progressing from the firewall area slanting upward through the area of the prop spinner and the deformation was more substantial on the right side than the left (refer to attached photographs). The inspector found no evidence of control or powerplant malfunction.

No pilot logs were recovered during the course of the investigation and the pilot's overall flight time of 900 hours was derived from his reported total time at his most recent (April 5, 2001) second class medical.

No airframe/powerplant logs were recovered during the course of the investigation and the aircraft's total flight time of 2,355 hours was derived from the aircraft's tachometer at the accident site.

The retained GPS units were returned to Mr. Mac Plymale via Federal Express on March 18, 2003 (refer to ATTACHMENT FX-I).

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