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N9073P accident description

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Tail numberN9073P
Accident dateDecember 17, 2006
Aircraft typePiper PA-24-260
LocationBucyrus, OH
Near 40.791667 N, -82.98 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 17, 2006, about 1902 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-24-260, N9073P, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed on impact with terrain near Bucyrus, Ohio, following a descent from cruise. The personal flight was operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night visual surface meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot and three passengers sustained fatal injuries. The flight originated from the Richard Lloyd Jones Jr Airport (RVS), near Tulsa, Oklahoma, about 1432 central standard time and was destined for the Belfast Municipal Airport (BST), near Belfast, Maine.

The pilot had received a weather brief from a Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS). The pilot had requested a weather briefing for a flight from RVS to BST. The pilot flight planned a flight from the Harvey Young Airport, near Tulsa, Oklahoma, to BST. The planned en route waypoints were Greenville, Illinois, Wadsworth, Ohio, and Gansevoort, New York.

The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA), approach radar at the Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport (MFD), near Mansfield, Ohio, recorded an airplane with a transponder code of 1200. A replay of that radar data showed the airplane was on a northeast heading. At 1902:14.0, the airplane's radar return showed the airplane was about one mile southwest of the Port Bucyrus-Crawford County Airport, Bucyrus, Ohio at 11,600 feet above mean sea level (MSL). At 1902:18.8, it was at 10,700 feet MSL. At 1902:23.6, it was at 9,800 feet MSL. At 1902:32.7, it was at 7,300 feet MSL.

A witness who lived within 300 feet of the crash site stated:

I heard ... something coming [through] this complex that was out of control (real fast) a lot of rumbling (loud whizzing/roaring sounds) then all of a sudden I heard a[n] engine sound like it was at full throttle wide open, then an explosion/impact.

A second witness who was located about 500 yards from the accident, in part, stated:

[My co-worker] and I clocked out at exactly 7:00p.m. We stood outside close to the building for about 5 minutes after clocking out. We heard a really loud noise above us. We were looking up at the plane as we heard the noise, and then we saw lights on the plane start spiraling down. We watched it spiral to the ground and it crashed. The ground shook and [debris] starting flying around us.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single-engine land, single-engine sea, and airplane instrument ratings. He held a Third Class medical certificate with no limitations that was issued on September 21, 2006. The pilot's logbook showed that he had accumulated 1,338.6 hours of total flight time. The pilot reported to his insurance company that he had 720 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane. He logged 13.8 hours in the last 90 days. A flight logbook endorsement showed that the pilot completed a flight review on October 4, 2006. The logbook showed that the pilot was not instrument current.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

N9073P, a 1966 Piper PA-24-260, Comanche, serial number 24-4542, was an all-metal airplane with semimonocoque fuselage and empennage construction. The airplane seated four and had a maximum gross weight of 3,100 pounds. The airplane was powered by a 260-horsepower, six-cylinder, horizontally opposed, air cooled, fuel injected, Lycoming IO-540-D4A5, serial number RL-3542-48, engine. The airplane's propeller was a three-bladed Hartzell HC-C3YR-1RF model. The airplane was equipped with wing flaps, a constant speed propeller, and retractable tricycle landing gear. The airplane was fitted with two optional 15-gallon auxiliary fuel tanks in addition to the two standard 30-gallon main fuel tanks. The owner's handbook showed the airplane's stalling speed at gross weight with flaps and landing gear up was 75 mph and its top speed was 194 mph. The type certificate data sheet showed the airplane's never exceed speed was 203 mph and its maneuvering speed was 144 mph. The owner's handbook does not indicate that the aircraft is equipped for flight into icing conditions.

The last annual inspection was conducted on February 8, 2006. The airplane had accumulated a total time of 6,636.4 hours at that time.

A receipt showed that the airplane was serviced at RVS with 5.6 gallons of aviation gasoline (avgas) on December 17, 2006 at 1429.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A National Resource Specialist for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) compiled a Meteorological Factual Report for the investigation. Heights listed in the Surface Weather Observations are above ground level (AGL) and directions are referenced to true north. Excerpts from that report follow:

Surface Weather Observations

Marion, Ohio ... is located at about 206 degrees at 11.3 nautical miles from the accident site.

2353Z ... Winds 200 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 miles; ceiling 2,700 feet overcast; temperature 13 degrees C; dew point 9 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.08 inches of Hg.

December 18, 2006 at 0053Z ... Winds 240 degrees at 8 knots; visibility 10 miles; ceiling 2,900 feet overcast; temperature 14 degrees C; dew point 9 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.11 inches of Hg.; rain began 0013Z and ended 0023Z; a trace (< 0.01 inch) of precipitation was measured between 2353Z to 0053Z.

Astronomical data (Naval Observatory) for the time and location of the accident indicated that the moon was below the horizon.

[Upper air data indicated] a freezing level of about 9,200 feet.

Pilot Report ... 135 degrees at 30 nautical miles from [Findley, Ohio] FDY / time 2328Z / flight level 11,000 feet / type aircraft LJ35 / cloud top 11,300 feet / temperature 8 degrees C / icing moderate rime. ... In-Flight Weather Advisories

AIRMET Sierra Update 4 for IFR issued December 17, 2006 at 2045Z and valid until December 18, 2006 at 0300Z. Ceiling below 1,000 feet / visibility below 3 miles in mist / precipitation.

Continuous Data Recording (CDR), which is airplane radar track data, was obtained from the FAA. The flight's CDR track data was plotted on Doppler weather radar base reflectivity images. This data showed that the airplane cruised along an area of weather radar echoes aloft consistent with moisture. Upper air data for the location of the accident indicated temperatures below freezing at the airplane's altitude.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted terrain about a mile east of the Port Bucyrus-Crawford County Airport, Bucyrus, Ohio. The airplane was found fragmented and a debris field of dirt and airplane parts was found on about a 45-degree magnetic heading for about a quarter mile from the main wreckage's impact point. Two outboard sections of the right wing and the right wing tip were found about three quarters of a mile on a 220-degree magnetic heading from the main wreckage. The left outboard section of the horizontal stabilizer was found one tenth of a mile south and four tenths of a mile east of the main wreckage. The smell of avgas was present at the main wreckage.

An on-scene examination of the wreckage was conducted. The outboard section of the left wing separated from its inboard section about the spar splice joint. The outboard section of the right wing separated from its inboard section about the spar splice joint. The left and right outboard sections of the horizontal stabilizer separated from their inboard sections. All separations were consistent with overload. The flight control cables were traced. All breaks in the control cables were broom straw shaped. The flap jackscrew was found in the flaps retracted position. No airframe pre-impact anomalies were detected.

The engine was recovered from about three feet below the surface of the terrain at the main wreckage impact point. The propeller hub, propeller flange, and a section of the crankshaft's first throw separated from the engine. One propeller blade separated from the propeller hub. That blade exhibited leading edge nicks and S-shaped bending. The engine's number one cylinder separated. The spark plugs exhibited no pre-impact anomalies and were coated with mud. One magneto sustained impact damage and did not produce spark when rotated by hand. The other magneto sustained impact damage and produced spark from its center electrode. A liquid consistent with avgas was found in the fuel servo and in the fuel manifold. The engine's control cables were traced and all breaks were consistent with overload. No engine pre-impact anomalies were detected.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Crawford County Coroner's Office arranged the pilot's autopsy.

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The pilot's toxicology report was negative for the tests performed.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

A NTSB Aerospace Engineer Specialist calculated the flight's speeds using the CDR data. A review of the speed plots showed that the airplane was cruising at an airspeed of about 95 -100 knots before decreasing to 78 - 80 knots just prior to the beginning of the high rate of descent. The calculations showed that the airplane's airspeed had increased to about 225 knots at the last radar return.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

An owner of the accident airplane was asked to comment about the pilot's use of flight following. The owner, in part, stated:

[The pilot] and I had ... a discussion after his last trip to the Keys (over thanksgiving). [The pilot] did most of his flying at 10.5 and 11.5 and that seemed to be a constant for him. I asked him about cutting the corner on the Gulf - because it's not something I'd be comfortable doing in a single - if he was "talking to anyone" (Flight following. His comment was that he did what he could to avoid talking to ATC....Led me to believe that it was not his usual practice to use Flight Following.

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

The aircraft wreckage and all retained items were released to a representative of the recovery company.

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