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N5596F accident description

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Tail numberN5596F
Accident dateNovember 27, 2005
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-140
LocationAtlanta, NE
Near 40.384166 N, -99.456389 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 27, 2005, about 1044 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-140, N5596F, owned and piloted by a non-instrument rated private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted a radio and television tower during cruise and subsequent impact with terrain near Atlanta, Nebraska. The flight was operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual to instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The flight originated from the Centennial Airport (APA), near Denver, Colorado, about 0701 mountain standard time and was destined for the Morris Municipal Airport-James R. Washburn Field (C09), near Morris, Illinois, at the time of the accident.

The pilot requested a weather briefing using the Direct User Access Terminal System (DUATS) on November 25, 2005, at 2049, 2055, and 2109 mountain standard time. The pilot requested a route briefing for a proposed takeoff time of 0700, from APA, at 7,500 feet mean sea level (MSL), to C09, and an estimated time en route of 7 hours and 30 minutes. U.S. Doppler radar weather graphics and surface 24-hour prognosis weather graphics were requested.

Two witnesses saw the airplane flying eastbound and saw the airplane impact the tower. One of the witnesses stated:

After Thanksgiving weekend, my brother and I started back to Omaha. There was a winter storm coming towards Nebraska, and we were going to get ahead of it. We started the road trip down Highway 6 towards Hastings. The weather was awful, with gusting winds and random patches of downpouring rain.

About a mile past Atlanta, Nebraska, I noticed a plane heading east. It was flying low, below the clouds and dangerously close to the KLNE Channel 3 TV station tower. The plane was flying east towards Holdredge. Suddenly the plane struck the tower or one of the tether that held the tower up. The tower began to crumble and the plane crashed into a nearby field.

I quickly called 911, to report the crash. There was another car ahead of us that quickly drove to the TV Station, which we followed. We ran to see if anyone at the TV Station was hurt, but we found that the building was empty. The other car had gone to check the plane wreckage. Unfortunately, the passengers did not make it.

The response was immediate, we saw the County Sherriff and Fire Department very quickly at the scene.

About 10 minutes prior to the accident, the tower site manager inspected the tower for the approaching snow. The manager stated:

As I was leaving the KLNE site approx. 10 minutes before the accident I observed that approx. the top 100-125 feet of the tower was in the clouds and that the tower lites were in operation. There were no problems with ground level visibility and no precip while leaving the site or returning to the site approx. 25 minutes later. The breakers on the tower lite system were tripped indicating that the lites were on when the tower collapsed.

The tower was depicted on the Omaha sectional aeronautical chart. The tower height was depicted as 1,066 feet above ground level (AGL) and 3,449 feet MSL.

OTHER DAMAGE

The radio and television tower collapsed onto itself and the station's roof. That roof sustained damage and leaks in the roof were reported.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating issued on August 26, 2002. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate with no limitations dated May 3, 2005. The pilot recorded that he had accumulated 409 hours of total flight time in his logbook. The pilot recorded that he had accumulated 33 hours of flight time 90 days prior to the accident and 15 hours 30 days prior to the accident. The endorsement for his last flight review was dated January 8, 2005.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

N5596F, was a 1968 Piper PA-28-140, Cherokee, serial number 28-24884, single-engine, low-wing airplane. Its engine was a 150 horsepower Lycoming O-320-E2A engine, serial number L-16376-27A. Its propeller was a fixed-pitch, Sensenich M74DM6-0-58, with serial number K27073. The airplane contained an airworthiness certificate dated September 13, 1968 and a registration certificate dated August 23, 2005.

Statements from the previous owner and the mechanic, who endorsed the last annual, indicated that an annual inspection was completed on March 26, 2005. The mechanic stated that the airplane had accumulated 13,689.68 hours of total time and its tachometer read 300.4 hours. The engine had accumulated 1,704.68 hours since major overhaul. The previous owner reported that a King KLX 135A global positioning system was installed.

Receipts found in the airplane showed that 43.371 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gasoline was purchased at APA on November 24, 2005. Records also show the airplane was kept in a hangar overnight at APA and that two quarts of oil were purchased at APA prior to departure.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1053, the Mc Cook Regional Airport, near Mc Cook, Nebraska, about 250 degrees magnetic and 53 nautical miles from the accident site, weather was: Wind 360 degrees 23 knots gusting to 33 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition scattered 1,400 feet AGL, overcast 2,500 feet AGL; temperature 2 degrees C; dew point -1 degree C; altimeter 29.33 inches of mercury; remarks peak wind 350 degrees at 33 knots at 1051.

At 1030, the Brewster Field Airport, Holdrege, Nebraska, about 45 degrees magnetic and 7 nautical miles from the accident site, weather was: Wind 360 degrees at 19 knots gusting to 24 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast 900 feet AGL; temperature 1 degree C; dew point -1 degree C; altimeter 29.32 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane fuselage came to rest inverted about a half mile west of highway 6 about a mile east of Atlanta, Nebraska, at latitude 40 degrees 23.052 minutes N and longitude 99 degrees 27.379 minutes W. The fuselage heading was about 340 degrees magnetic. The tower was found on the ground folded upon itself in an accordion shape. Drawings indicated the tower's height was 1,065.5 feet AGL. The airplane fuselage was about one tenth of a mile from the base of the antenna on a 101-degree magnetic heading. The wings were found separated from the fuselage in a debris field that, measured from the antenna base, extended southward about three tenths of a mile on about a 171 degree heading.

An on-scene investigation was conducted. Snow had fallen over the wreckage subsequent to the accident. Flight control cables were traced. The counterweight to the horizontal stabilator was not recovered. Flight control continuity was established and all breaks in control cables were consistent with overload. The carburetor separated from the engine. Engine controls were checked and continuity was established. The throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat were forward in their respective positions. The directional gyro indicated 310 degrees. The tachometer indicated 344.1 hours. The airspeed indicator's needle was trapped at an indication of 120 mph. The fuel selector was found in a detent and a liquid that smelled like aviation gasoline was found in the fuel selector valve. The engine was attached to the fuselage. Both the left and right magnetos produced spark at all leads. Removed sparkplugs were gray to brown in color. The vacuum pump rotated. The propeller had separated from the engine's crankshaft flange. The propeller exhibited leading edge nicks and gouges. The color of a media transfer on the propeller was consistent with the aviation orange paint from the tower.

The right wing exhibited a rearward semicircular crush about the outer third of the wing's leading edge. The right horizontal stabilator was torn from the empennage and the stabilator exhibited a semicircular rearward crush at its root. The trim tab for the left horizontal stabilator was torn about its midspan and the torn section remained attached to the right horizontal stabilator trim tab. The separations of the left and right wings were consistent with overload. The bottom skin of the left wing exhibited linear tearing from its leading edge to its flap about three feet outboard of its wing root.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Phelps County Attorney and Coroner's Office arranged for an autopsy to be performed on the pilot on November 29, 2005.

The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report was negative for the tests performed.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

The parties to the investigation included the FAA, Textron Lycoming, and The New Piper Aircraft, Inc.

The aircraft wreckage was released to a representative of the recovery company.

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