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N470SP accident description

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Tail numberN470SP
Accident dateAugust 25, 2001
Aircraft typeSocata TB-20
LocationAmherst, NH
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On August 25, 2001, about 0737 eastern daylight time, a Socata TB-20, N470SP, was destroyed when it collided with the pilot's residence in Amherst, New Hampshire. The certificated private pilot sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at Boire Field (ASH) Nashua, New Hampshire, about 0723. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed from Boire Field to Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Atlantic City, New Jersey, but was not activated. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The airplane was serviced and maintained by a company at Boire Field. The pilot arrived at the facility about 0730 on the morning of the flight, and asked the dispatcher to have his airplane pulled out of the hangar. The dispatcher then contacted a fueler to pull it out.

When the fueler arrived at the hangar, he found that the pilot had already pulled the airplane out. In a written statement, the fueler reported that he observed the pilot performing a quick "walk-around", and visually checking his fuel. The fueler asked the pilot if he needed fuel, and the pilot initially said he did. However, the pilot changed his mind and said that he was "all set." The fueler reported that the airplane was off the ground 5 minutes later.

According to the dispatcher,

"I told him I would call a fueler, and he would be right there. I then went out to [another aircraft], and noticed that the [pilot] and aircraft were not in the hanger. While I was walking back to the hangar, I saw N470SP taking off and the gear were up. It had only been 10 minutes since he asked me to pull the aircraft out of the hangar. He was in a hurry, which is unusual, because he is normally relaxed."

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector interviewed a witness who lived three homes down from where the accident occurred. According to the inspector's record of conversation, the witness stated that she was in her home when she heard a low-flying airplane with a loud engine make four passes over her home. She looked out her bedroom window and saw the airplane in a steep bank angle descending behind a tree line toward the direction of the impact site. The witness reported that she then heard the airplane's engine sound smoothly transition from loud to quiet. She did not see the airplane collide with the residence, but heard the sound of three impacts followed by a vibration in the floor of her home.

The inspector interviewed a second witness, who was a policeman, emergency medical technician, and volunteer fireman. According to the inspector's record of conversation, the witness stated that he was in his home, when he heard the sound of a low flying airplane with a smooth, but loud engine. Shortly thereafter, he heard the airplane's engine smoothly transition from loud to quiet, followed by "distinct thumping sounds". The witness suspected that the airplane had crashed, and called 911. He arrived at the impact site within 3 minutes, and the house was already engulfed in flames.

Additionally, the FAA inspector interviewed the air traffic controller on duty at the time of the event. According to the inspector's record of conversation, the controller stated that about 2 minutes after departure, the pilot contacted the Boire Field control tower and asked if Amherst was "over by the green water tower." This was the last known communication with the pilot.

A review of radar data revealed that a target departed Nashua and proceeded toward Amherst. The target then made four circular patterns over the area of the accident site before it disappeared from radar.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on March 15, 2000. Examination of the pilot's logbook indicated that he had a total of 1,476.6 flight hours.

Weather at Manchester Airport (MHT), Manchester, New Hampshire, at 0753, included wind reported from 360 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 5,500 feet, broken clouds at 7,500 feet, overcast at 9,000 feet, temperature 21 degrees C, dewpoint 16 degrees C, and altimeter 30.01 inches Hg.

According to local law enforcement officials, on August 24, 2001, the pilot was issued a restraining order at his home in Amherst, New Hampshire, and was escorted off his property.

According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New Hampshire, the pilot's cause of death was ruled a suicide.

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