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N5626P accident description

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Tail numberN5626P
Accident dateJune 20, 2006
Aircraft typePiper PA-24-250
LocationWilkesboro, NC
Near 36.220278 N, -81.092222 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 20, 2006, at 1600 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250, N5626P, registered to and operated by a private individual, as a 14 CFR Part 91, personal flight, collided with the ground during a forced landing following loss of engine power, 3 miles from the Wilkes County Airport, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The private pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated from Kissimmee, Florida, on June 20, 2006, at 1230.

According to Air Traffic Controllers at the FAA Charlotte, North Carolina, Approach Control and the FAA Atlanta, Georgia, Air Route Traffic Control Center, the pilot of N5626P was heard making a distress call at about 1555 on the 121.5 emergency frequency. The pilot stated that he was out of fuel and descending. No further contact with the pilot was made. Search and rescue operations were initiated and the airplane and pilot were located in a pasture, about 3 miles from the Wilkes County Airport, by the Wilkes County Sheriffs Department.

According to witnesses at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Kissimmee, Florida, the pilot departed for Sandusky, Ohio, with a planned refueling stop in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The pilot topped off the fuel tanks before departing Kissimmee at 0830. While enroute, the pilot reported to the Jacksonville Center, that he had a vacuum pump malfunction and elected to returned to Kissimmee, landing there at 0945. A mechanic removed and replaced the vacuum pump and the pilot departed again to continue his original trip at 1230. There was no records of the pilot adding fuel after he returned to Kissimmee. The flight proceeded uneventfully at 9,500 feet until 1555, when the pilot made a distress call saying he was out of fuel and descending.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate on August 29, 2003, with ratings for airplane single engine land. The pilot held a third class medical issued on September 7, 2005, with no restrictions. The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated 285 total flight hours. The pilots logbook was not located.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

A review of the airplane logbooks revealed the last annual inspection was conducted on September 1, 2005. The tachometer time was 2025.3 hours and the airframe time at the annual inspection was 5324.2 hours. The tachometer time observed at the accident site was 2060.8 indicating that the airplane had accumulated 35.5 hours since its last annual inspection. A review of refueling records on file at the Marathon Flight Services revealed the airplane had been topped off with 64.0 gallons of 100 low lead fuel on June 20, 2006.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1653 surface weather observation at Hickory, North Carolina, was: wind 290-degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 15 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clouds scattered at 9,500 feet, ceiling none, temperature 34-degrees Celsius, dew point temperature 9-degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.02.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in a farm field at the edge of a tree line. The airplane had cleared the crest of a 100-foot hill then impacted the ground near the base of the hill. A ground scar was present on a heading of 260-degrees magnetic and extended 108 feet before coming to rest. There was no post-crash fire.

The nose section of the fuselage sustained substantial impact damage. The nose landing gear was folded rearward and the windshield was broken out of its frame. The landing gear handle was observed in the down position and the flap handle was set to the fully extended position.

The left wing sustained the initial ground impact. The forward wing spar attach point was broken and the outer wing panel was partially separated at the wind production splice. The left aileron bellcrank remained attached to the outboard wing panel. The aileron cables were cut during the removal of the outer wing panel. The left aileron was detached in the crash and located in the debris path. The left aileron weight was detached from the aileron and recovered separately in the debris path. The left flap remained attached to the inboard portion of the left wing. The left main landing gear separated and was located in the debris path.

The right wing sustained damage to the leading edge of the outer three feet of the wing. The flap and aileron remained attached to the wing. The flap was in the fully extended position. The aileron cables were intact from the bellcrank to the fuselage. The left main landing gear was down and locked. The right fuel tank was not breached, and was void of fuel.

The vertical stabilizer had minor impact damage. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. The horizontal stabilizer had minor impact damage.

The propeller and crankshaft flange was found separated from the engine and in the wreckage path about 46 feet from the fuselage. One propeller blade was bent aft about 90-degrees approximately 18-inches outboard of the propeller hub. The other blade was not substantially bent. Neither blade exhibited rotational scaring.

As first viewed, the engine was displaced up and aft toward the firewall but remained attached to the airframe. The oil dipstick indicated the presence of about four quarts of oil in the oil sump. The oil filter and oil suction screen were not removed due to lack of accessibility. The right magneto was removed and produced spark from all towers when rotated by hand. The left magneto was inaccessible and was not removed. The sparkplugs were removed and exhibited dark gray combustion deposits. The vacuum pump was removed and disassembled. The carbon vanes and the drive coupling were found intact but the carbon rotor was fractured. The carburetor mounting flange was fractured and the carburetor was separated from the engine. The fuel inlet screen was removed and the carburetor partially disassembled. No debris was found on the screen or in the fuel bowl. In the bowl was a small amount of blue fuel and the float valve clip. The float lever shaft, which secures the clip and the float to the upper half of the carburetor, was found partially out of its retainer. The float lever shaft cotter pin, which secures the pin, was not found in the fuel bowl. The engine was rotated by means of a tool inserted in the vacuum pump drive pad and continuity of the crankshaft to the rear gears and to the valve train was confirmed. Compression and suction were observed from all six cylinders as the engine was rotated.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, conducted a postmortem examination of the pilot, on June 21, 2006. The reported cause of death was "Blunt and sharp force injuries, secondary to airplane crash." The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for Carbon Monoxide, Cyanide and Ethanol. Hydracodone 0.0947 (ug/ml. ug/g) was detected in the urine but not the blood, Hydromorphone 0.308 (ug/ml. ug/g) was detected in the urine but not the blood, Dihydrocodeine 0.217 (ug/ml. ug/g) was detected in the urine but not the blood, and Acetaminophen 12.28 (ug/ml. ug/g) was detected in the urine.

TEST AND RESEARCH

According to the FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) for the Piper PA-24-250, the airplanes total fuel capacity was 60 gallons, or 30 gallons in each wing tank. The TCDS also stated that the unusable fuel quantity is 24 pounds of fuel or 4 gallons. According to witnesses the pilot topped the airplane off with fuel prior to his first flight on the day of the accident. The aircraft flew 1 hour and 15 minutes on its first leg, and 3 hours and 25 minutes on its second leg, for a total flight time of 4 hours and 40 minutes. According to the Piper Comanche Owner's Handbook Power Setting Table - Lycoming Model O-540-A, 250 HP Engine, at 75 percent of the engine's rated horse power the fuel consumption would be approximately 14.0 gallons of fuel per hour.

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