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N28767 accident description

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Tail numberN28767
Accident dateJanuary 25, 1994
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-161
LocationBethel, PA
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT

On Tuesday, January 25, 1994, about 1630 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, N28767, owned and operated by Aero-Tech Services of Smoketown, Pennsylvania, and piloted by Robert Faber of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, collided with trees and impacted a mountain while in cruise flight. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The cross country flight originated from the Smoketown Airport at 1545 and was destined for Bloomsburg Municipal Airport located in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. The airplane and occupant were not located until January 29, 1994. Instrument meteorological conditions had prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the cross country flight. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a co-worker at Aero-Tech Services, the pilot involved in the accident had volunteered to fly to Bloomsburg Airport and pick him up [the co-worker] after ferrying another airplane to the Bloomsburg Airport for maintenance.

The co-worker stated that he and the pilot obtained a weather briefing for their route of flight and discussed alternate plans if the weather deteriorated. The co-worker stated that the weather was reported to be "marginal VFR" and was expected to be instrument meteorological conditions later in the evening. The co-worker also stated that the pilot had taken current approach plates and IFR en route charts on the flight in the event he needed to file an IFR flight plan en route.

The co-worker stated that they both preflighted their respective airplanes and the pilot refueled his airplane and departed Smoketown Airport about 1530. The co-worker stated that he departed the airport about 1550.

The co-worker also stated that while in flight, he contacted the pilot and queried his position in reference to the "...LPR VOR." He stated that the pilot responded "...005 radial 18 DME 1900 feet MSL." The co-worker stated that as the flight progressed, the forward visibility northward had deteriorated and that the pilot radioed him and stated "...that he thought he would go to 1700 MSL." He stated that shortly thereafter, his airplane's "...remote compass system failed," and due to the deteriorating weather and rising terrain, he received an IFR clearance to the Bloomsburg Airport. He stated that due to the weather, he executed a missed approach at the Bloomsburg Airport and returned to Smoketown.

The co-worker stated that after the missed approach, he tried to locate N28767, however, when N28767 did not arrive at either Bloomsburg or Smoketown Airport, he reported N28767 missing.

On January 29, 1994, the Civil Air Patrol search and rescue team was searching near the accident area and picked-up a "faint" ELT signal on their radio scanner. The ELT signal coordinates were obtained and the missing airplane and pilot were located.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight near Bethel, Pennsylvania, at 40 degrees 30.8 minutes north latitude and 76 degrees 18.0 minutes west longitude at an elevation of about 1,630 feet mean sea level.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot of N28767 held a commercial pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane and instrument ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate, with instrument and single engine land airplane ratings. At the time of the accident the pilot had accrued about 730 total flight hours.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

According to the co-worker, they obtained a weather briefing for the flight from the Williamsport Flight Service Station. He stated that "...Marginal VFR was forecast with conditions becoming IFR later in the evening. Icing was forecast above the freezing level." The co-worker also reported that during his flight, "...forward visibility...northward was deteriorating."

At 1650 local time, the Williamsport, Pennsylvania, National Weather Service recorded a record special observation. The observation was as follows:

Clouds--300 feet (AGL) broken, ceiling 800 feet overcast, visibility--one mile, light drizzle and fog, temperature--35 degrees (F), dew point 32--degrees (F), wind--050 degrees at six knots, altimeter--30.24 inches of mercury, mountain ridges obscured. The Williamsport Weather Station is located about 50 miles northwest of the accident site.

At 1600 local time, the weather service at Harrisburg International Airport recorded the following weather information:

Ceiling--2,300 feet (AGL) overcast, visibility--1.5 miles with fog, temperature--37 degrees (F), dew point--36 degrees (F), winds--120 degrees at 8 knots. The Harrisburg International Airport is located about 26 nautical miles southwest of the accident site.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage and accident site were examined January 30, 1994. The examination revealed that the airplane came to rest on sloping mountainous snow covered terrain. A swath of broken trees about 177 feet in length, on a 003-degree magnetic heading, lead up to the fuselage. The airplane's wings were separated from the fuselage and found along the wreckage path.

The right wing was broken in two pieces: an inboard and outboard section. The outboard section of the right wing, with the aileron and main gear attached, was burned. (See attached Wreckage Diagram for locations.) The inboard section of the right wing was located with a portion of the flap attached.

The outboard section of the left wing, with the aileron attached, was burned in one spot near the leading edge. The inboard section of the left wing, with the gear attached, was attached to the fuselage.

The tail section of the airplane was intact except for the right portion of the horizontal stabilator which was partially separated from the empennage. The dorsal fin, fairing the fuselage to the vertical stabilizer, was burned. The emergency locator transmitter antenna was installed to the right of the dorsal fin. This area was burned and the antenna was missing.

The cabin and cockpit area were crushed inward and upward. The engine top mounting brackets were separated from the firewall and the engine was tucked under the nose structure. The propeller blade tips were curled and twisted. The engine was examined at Dawn Aeronautics on April 8, 1994. No engine anomalies were noted.

Control continuity from the cockpit to the tail section was verified. Due to the damage incurred by the airplane, aileron and flap control continuity could not be established.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The autopsy was performed by Dr. Neil A. Hoffman, Forensic Pathologist at the Redding Hospital, West Redding, Pennsylvania, on January 31, 1994. The autopsy revealed no evidence of physical incapacitation or impairment other than injuries received during the accident sequence. The provisional autopsy report concluded that the cause of death was hypothermia. Mr. Fatora, Coroner at the Berks County Coroner's Office in Leesport, Pennsylvania, examined the accident site on January 30, 1994. Mr. Fatora stated that from the observations he made of the accident site and the position and location of the pilot when found, he concluded "...that the pilot had survived the accident and was alive for an undetermined amount of time."

The toxicology was performed by Dr. Canfield at the Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Negative results were reported for all screened drugs and volatiles.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The airplane wreckage was released to Harold L. Mesaris, Insurance representative, Accident Investigation Research Company of Montoursville, Pennsylvania, on April 12, 1994.

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