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N15124 accident description

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Tail numberN15124
Accident dateJune 27, 1995
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-180
LocationCohocton, NY
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On June 27, 1995, about 0955 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N15124, collided with terrain while maneuvering near Cohocton, New York. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed Ithaca, New York, about 0915, and was destined for Erie, Pennsylvania. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the Bangor, Maine, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Automated Flight Service Station's (AFSS) recorded transmissions, the flight was to originate from the Skyhaven Airport in Rochester, New Hampshire, and had a final destination of Springfield, Missouri. A family member of the pilot stated that they were starting a two week vacation and planned to attend a family function in Springfield, Missouri.

On June 25, 1995, at about 2105, the pilot received a weather briefing from the Bangor AFSS, for a flight departing Skyhaven on the morning of June 26, 1995, destined for Erie, Pennsylvania. The weather along the route of flight was forecast to be "marginal VFR" or "IFR." Isolated thunderstorms were also forecast for the intended route of flight.

At about 2137, the pilot received a second weather briefing from the Bangor AFSS for the same route of flight. The pilot asked the briefer when the first opportunity would be to fly "VFR" to Erie. In summary, the pilot and the briefer had discussed the possibility of flying as far west as possible until the pilot reached weather conditions that precluded visual flight rules (VFR) flight.

According to a friend of the pilot, the flight departed the Skyhaven Airport about 1015 on June 26, 1995. At about 1250, the pilot contacted the Burlington, Vermont, AFSS, in-flight, and stated, "...were VFR ah 18 miles out of Schenectady and it looks like there is some lightening about 30 miles ahead of us ah can you give me a scoop on the weather were headed ah as far west as we can today...our destination is around Erie...Pennsylvania."

The pilot then asked which way the "cell" was moving. The briefer stated that the "cells" were moving slowly to the west. The briefer also stated that there was a thunderstorm reported overhead Albany, New York, just south of Schenectady, also moving west.

According to personnel at the Tompkins County Airport in Ithaca, New York, N15124 landed at Tompkins County Airport at about 1445 and taxied to a Fixed Base Operator's ramp. At 1536, the pilot contacted the Buffalo AFSS, and received a weather briefing for a flight from Ithaca to Jamestown, New York, for that day. Thunderstorms were forecast for the route of flight. The pilot also asked for and received a forecast for the next couple of days. The pilot and passenger stayed overnight in Ithaca.

At 0728, on June 27, 1995, the pilot contacted the Buffalo AFSS and requested a weather briefing for a flight from Ithaca to Erie. The briefer stated, "...whole route for IFR conditions and mountain obscuration just about the second 2/3's of your route." VFR flight was not recommended for flights on June 27 and 28.

At 0831, the pilot again contacted the Buffalo AFSS and requested weather information for a route of flight departing Ithaca about 0900 destined for Erie "VFR." The briefer reported, "...marginal VFR conditions along that route...we do have flat precautions for IFR and mountains obscured for the southern part of New York State and for all of Pennsylvania." The pilot also requested and received a weather forecast for several alternate routes to and from Erie.

N15124 departed Ithaca at about 0915. Witnesses located near the accident site stated that they observed N15124, at about 0955, when the airplane was flying in a northwest direction. They stated further that they observed the airplane enter a right turn, then enter a spin. The witnesses stated that the airplane spun about 1 1/2 revolutions before it impacted the ground in a nose down attitude. The witnesses approximated the airplane's altitude to be between 1,000 to 1,500 feet above the ground when it began to spin.


The non-instrument rated pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating. At the time of the accident the pilot had accumulated about 190 total flight hours, of which 83 were in the accident make and model airplane.


The witnesses reported that it was not raining at the time of the accident but it began to "...pour down rain moments after the crash." They stated that there was fog in the area at the time of the accident.

The nearest Weather Observation Facility to the accident site was located at Elmira, New York, which is located 37 nautical miles southeast of the accident site. At 0959, the reported weather was:

Temperature 68 degrees; 61 degrees dew point; wind 120 at 15 knots, gusting to 20 knots; 1,600 feet overcast; visibility 25 miles.


The airplane wreckage and accident site were examined on June 27 and 28, 1995. Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane contacted a paved road and came to rest on a northerly heading at an elevation of about 1,500 feet mean sea level. The only pavement damage was beneath the propeller. Behind the airplane were telephone poles and wires about 50 feet in height. In front of the airplane was grass and a line of trees. A portion of the grass was discolored brown. The terrain just west of the accident site was rising and had an elevation of about 2,150 feet mean sea level.

The wings and empennage were attached to the fuselage. The fuselage was buckled and torn its entire length. The engine was displaced aft and the cockpit and cabin area were destroyed. Cargo, including baggage, a bicycle, food, and other items were in the airplane and not secured. The cargo was scattered inside the cabin and fuselage.

The right and left wing leading edges were crushed aft and their respective fuel tanks were compromised. The flaps were in the retracted position.

Examination of the fuel system revealed no evidence of contamination. The fuel selector handle was found positioned to the right fuel tank and the selector valve was found partially positioned to the right tank, with the valve skewed closed about 1/3 of its diameter. No debris was found in the valve. Fuel was present in the fuel lines attached to the engine.

The flight control cables were attached to their respective control attachment points and continuity was established.

The engine and its accessories were dismantled and no anomalies were found. The engine's two propeller blades were straight and the front of each blade had chordwise scratches.


The autopsy was conducted at the Monroe County Medical Examiners Office located in Rochester, New York.

The toxicology was performed by Barry Levine, PhD, Chief, Forensic Toxicology Laboratory, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C. Negative results were reported for all screened drugs, carbon monoxide, and cyanide. Positive volatiles were noted as follows:

Acetaldehyde Ethanol

liver Trace 140 mg/dL kidney Trace 28 mg/dL

The remark "Marked putrefaction" described the condition of the specimens.


The wreckage was released to Charles Griffin, Attorney, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on August 5, 1995.

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