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N7826N accident description

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Tail numberN7826N
Accident dateMarch 12, 1998
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-180D
LocationAdvance, NC
Additional details: None

NTSB description

History of the Flight

On March 12, 1998, about 1810 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-180D, N7826N, registered to a private individual, collided with trees while approaching to land on runway 27, at Twin Lakes Airport, Advance, North Carolina, while on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The aircraft received substantial damage and the private-rated pilot was fatally injured. The passenger received serious injuries. The flight last departed Chattanooga, Tennessee, the same day, about 1612.

The passenger stated they flew west to east from Chattanooga to Advance. They approached with the airport to the left and turned onto final approach to land toward the west. Neither he nor the pilot were wearing sunglasses or had the aircraft's sun visor down. As they lined up with the runway, he looked out the front windshield and was blinded and disoriented by the sun. The sun was directly at the end of the runway, over the runway. He then realized he was looking at the runway through tree branches. They collided with the branches and he then felt a large impact. The pilot's body then came between himself and the instrument panel. He became unconscious and next awoke trapped in the wreckage.

A witness reported hearing the engine of the aircraft accelerate to high power followed by the sound of the aircraft colliding with trees and crashing to the ground. A short time later, he found the wreckage of the aircraft at the edge of a wooded area near the runway. A pilot who departed on runway 27 shortly before the accident reported visibility was restricted by the setting sun directly down the runway to the west.

Personnel Information

Information on the pilot is contained in this report under First Pilot Information.

Aircraft Information

Information on the aircraft is contained in this report under Aircraft Information and in attachments to this report.

Meteorological Information

Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Sun calculations showed that at the location and time of the accident, the sun was at an altitude of 3.3 degrees on a bearing of 268.3 degrees. Additional weather information is contained in this report under Weather Information and in attachments to this report.

Wreckage and Impact Information

The aircraft crashed in a wooded area, about 650 feet east of the approach end of runway 27 at Twin Lakes Airport, Advance, North Carolina. Examination of the crash site showed the aircraft first collided with 75-foot-tall trees. The aircraft continued toward the west colliding with additional trees. The right wing navigation light was found on the ground about 75 feet from initial tree impact. The outboard 3 feet of the left wing separated and remained in a tree about 100 feet from initial tree impact. A tree branch which had been cut by the aircraft's propeller was found at the base of this tree. The aircraft continued to the west for about another 60 feet where it came to rest, left wing and nose down. A 5 1/2 inch diameter tree was severed by the aircraft's propeller near the base at the point of the aircraft's ground impact. An additional cut, which went about half way through the tree, was present about 2 feet from the point where the tree was severed.

All components of the aircraft which are necessary for flight were found on or around the main wreckage of the aircraft. Continuity of the flight control system was established. All separation points within the flight control system were consistent with overstress separation. The wing flaps were found extended to 40 degrees. The stabilator trim was found set to 7 degrees tab down or aircraft nose up. The right front seat passenger's seat belt had separated from the aircraft when the right attach fitting separated due to overstress. The pilot's seat belt was still attached to the aircraft and the buckle was latched. The belt was cut by rescue personnel. The left attach fitting of this seat belt was found with extensive corrosion damage.

Examination of the engine after recovery showed the engine assembly rotated normally and continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drive gears was confirmed. Each cylinder produced compression and the engine oil pump operated when the engine was rotated by hand. Oil was found in the engine and the oil screens and filters were free of debris.

Each engine magneto was found timed to the engine at 25 degrees before top center. Each magneto rotated and produced spark at each distributor post. Each spark plug had deposit colors consistent with normal engine operation. Uncontaminated fuel was found in all lines and the carburetor bowl. All passages within the carburetor were unobstructed and the float shutoff needle valve operated normally. The engine driven fuel pump and vacuum pump operated normally. The inlet air filter and ducts were unobstructed. The propeller and spinner had damage consistent with rotation at the time of ground impact.

Medical and Pathological Information

Postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Donald R. Jason, M.D., Forsyth County Medical Examiner, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The cause of death was attributed to blunt force injuries. No findings which could be considered causal to the accident were reported. Postmortem toxicology testing of specimens obtained from the pilot were performed by Dr. Jason and Dennis V. Canfield, Ph. D., FAA Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The tests were negative for ethanol alcohol, carbon monoxide, cyanide, basic, acidic, and neutral drugs.

The passenger received serious injuries as a result of the accident. Additional medical and pathological information is contained in Supplement K to this report and in attachments to this report.

Additional Information

The aircraft wreckage was released by NTSB to Mr. Rick Holland, Manager, Twin Lakes Aviation, Advance, N.C., on March 13, 1998. Components retained by NTSB for further examination were released to Mr. James Brewer, Inflight Aviation, Denver, N.C., on June 10, 1998.

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