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N38188 accident description

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Tail numberN38188
Accident dateJuly 13, 1995
Aircraft typePiper PA-32R-300
LocationHilton Head Isl, SC
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 13, 1995, about 1520 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N38188, registered to Securities Service Network, Inc., crashed about 1 1/2 nautical miles southwest of the Hilton Head Airport, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The private-rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated about 1220, from the Knoxville Downtown Island Airport, Knoxville, Tennessee.

The pilot was observed to perform a preflight inspection of the airplane. After departure while en route, he contacted an FBO at the destination airport requesting that an individual be advised that the flight would be about 30 minutes late. Upon arriving at the airport area the pilot requested an airport advisory and also announced his intention of a downwind leg and a long final to runway 3. A witness observed the airplane to be "low" on final approach and observed the airplane bank to the right away from the airport while descending. No smoke was observed and the pilot did not report any malfunction.

Another witness who was driving on a road near the accident site reported seeing the airplane about 60 yards ahead of her car flying from her left to her right. The airplane appeared to clear trees, descended, and collided with power lines. White/gray smoke was observed from the left wing of the airplane after the collision with wires and there was no noticeable change in engine sound during the descent.


Information pertaining to the pilot is contained on page 3 of this report under section titled First Pilot Information.


Information pertaining to the airplane is contained on page 2 of this report under section titled Aircraft Information.


Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident. Additional meteorological information may be obtained in this report on pages 3 and 4 under section titled Weather Information.


The airplane crashed in a residential area, examination of the accident site revealed that the empennage aft of the wings was separated from the main wreckage which consisted of the engine assembly, cockpit, portion of the cabin and wings. The empennage was located about 19 feet from the main wreckage and both were upright; the main wreckage coming to rest on a heading of about 180 degrees. The right side of the empennage was partially wrapped around a power line pole and heat damage externally to the empennage was confined to the left side. Slight fire damage was also noted to a portion of the empennage. The cockpit and cabin sections of the main wreckage, and left wing inboard fuel tank were consumed by the postcrash fire. Impact damage by a tree was noted between the left wing inboard and outboard fuel tanks damaging the fuel line and evidence of a wire strike was noted to the left wing at the leading edge skin forward of the outboard fuel tank. Burned grass was noted forward of each wing and slight burning of grass was noted between the main wreckage and empennage. Also, browning of grass was noted adjacent to the main wreckage and empennage and also to tree branch leaves on the ground along the wreckage path. Baggage that was found between the main wreckage and empennage was also observed to have slight heat damage.

Examination of the accident site revealed evidence of initial contact with about 80-foot tall trees during a nose low near wings level descent. Severed tree trunks about 4 inches in diameter with cuts at about a 45-degree angle and tree limbs were observed on the ground along the wreckage path. Continuing along the wreckage path was damage to a 7,200-volt power line and several ground scars from the landing gears were observed on a road about 147 feet from the initial impact with trees. The initial magnetic heading through the trees was estimated to be about 210 degrees.

Examination of the airframe revealed all components necessary to sustain flight were in the immediate vicinity of the crash site. The aileron, rudder, and elevator flight controls were examined which revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. Examination of the engine compartment area revealed no evidence of an in-flight fire. The engine and propeller were removed from the airframe for further examination.

Examination of the engine revealed crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity. Thumb compression was noted at all cylinders. The dual magneto and servo fuel injector were heat damaged which precluded testing, but examination of the fuel injector revealed water in the fuel diaphragm area and corrosion was observed in the inlet housing area. Water was also detected under the diaphragm and at the inlet of the fuel manifold valve assembly. All nozzles were free of obstructions. The engine driven fuel pump was observed to be heat damaged. Examination of the propeller blades revealed that one of the blades had impact damage consistent with a wire strike. The remaining blade exhibited slight torsional twisting. The alternate air was determined to be open.


Post-mortem examinations of the pilot and passenger were performed by Kim A. Collins, M.D., Instructor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina. The cause of death for both was listed as total body immolation due to an airplane crash. Toxicological analysis of specimens of the pilot and passenger was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The results of analysis of the pilot's specimens was positive for carbon monoxide saturation (15 percent). The results were negative for tested drugs and ethanol. Toxicological analysis of the passenger's specimens was negative for cyanide and carbon monoxide with a cutoff level of 10 percent. Toxicological analysis of the passenger's specimens by the Medical University of South Carolina, revealed that the carboxyhemoglobin level was 7.2 percent. The autopsy reports of the pilot and passenger both indicate the presence of soot in the primary and secondary bronchi and in the trachea and major bronchi respectively.


A witness near the crash site reported that the fire department arrived within 2 to 3 minutes from the time of the accident and extinguished the fire using foam and water.


No fuel contamination was noted by operators of airplanes fueled on the same day as the accident airplane by the same fuel source. Additionally, according to fueling facility personnel, a water absorbing fuel filter was installed on the fuel truck that fueled the accident airplane.

The wreckage with the exception of a retained component was released to Mr. James T. Brewer of Inflite Aviation, on July 15, 1995. The retained component was released to Mr. Brewer on August 5, 1995.

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