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N9951Q accident description

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Tail numberN9951Q
Accident dateMay 23, 2005
Aircraft typePiper PA-18-135
LocationConway, SC
Near 33.975 N, -79.010556 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 23, 2005, at 1245 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-18-135, N9951Q, registered to Sky Signs LLC, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 banner tow training flight, collided with the ground while maneuvering after releasing a banner aerial sign. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed. The commercial pilot flight instructor, and commercial pilot receiving instruction were fatally injured. The flight originated from Sky Field, a private airstrip in the vicinity of Conway, South Carolina, on May 23, 2005, at 1244.

Two witnesses who were driving their private automobiles south from Conway, South Carolina, on Highway 701 stated they observed the airplane release the banner aerial sign at an airstrip. The airplane was observed to make a steep pitch up attitude after releasing the banner, followed by a steep left turn towards highway 701 at an altitude lower than the treetops. The left wing was described by one witness in a near vertical position with the ground before the nose of the airplane pitched down and the airplane collided with the ground.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the commercial pilot providing instruction was issued a commercial pilot certificate on January 21, 2005, with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. In addition the pilot held a flight instructor certificate issued on March 3, 2005, with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on August 5, 2004, with no restrictions. The pilot's last biennial flight review was completed on June 4, 2004. The pilot had logged 1,028 total flight hour's with 550 flight hours in the Piper PA-18-135. The Pilot began banner tow training on May 17, 2005, and had accumulated 34 hours of dual instruction at the time of the accident. The pilot received initial banner tow training in the PA-18-135 in August 2004. The pilot received 50 hours of dual instruction and 1 solo flight. The pilot flew 79 banner hours in 2004. The pilot received 6 hours of banner tow instruction in March 2005, and has flown 58 hours of banner tow flights. The pilot has provided 368 hours of banner tow instruction since March 2005.

Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the commercial pilot receiving instruction was issued a commercial pilot certificate on February 13, 2004, with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. In addition the pilot held a flight instructor certificate issued on May 14, 2004, with ratings for airplane single engine land. The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on March 2, 2005, with no restrictions. The pilot's last biennial flight review was completed on May 14, 2004. The pilot had logged 475 total flight hour's with 34 flight hours in the Piper PA-18-135. The Pilot began banner tow training on May 17, 2005, and had accumulated 34 hours of dual instruction at the time of the accident.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

A review of the airframe maintenance records revealed the last annual inspection was performed on March 21, 2005, at tachometer time 5206. The tachometer time at the accident site was 5484.1. The airplane had flown 278.1 hours since the last annual inspection. The last 100-hour inspection was conducted on May 2, 2005, at tachometer time 5403. The airplane has flown 81 hours since the last 100-hour inspection. The total airframe hours at the time of the accident were 14,513 hours. The airplane was topped off with 25.4 gallons of a blend fuel consisting of 75 percent auto gas and 25 percent aviation 100 low lead fuel on May 23, 2005, before the accident flight.

The airplane flight manual located in the accident airplane was for the Piper Model PA-18-150 and PA-18A-150 with a gross weight of 1,750 pounds. The accident airplane according to the FAA Airworthiness Certificate is a Piper PA-18-135. The gross weight for the PA-18-135 for normal and utility category is 1,500 pounds. The gross weight for the PA-18-150 for normal and utility category is 1,750 pounds. The gross weight of the accident airplane at initial take off was 1,670 pounds. The gross weight of the airplane at the time of the accident was 1,616 pounds.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 1250 surface weather observation was wind 250-degrees at 16-knots, gusting to 22 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 3,700, temperature 84-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 66-degrees Fahrenheit, altimeter 29.66.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage of N9951Q was located in a cornfield 200 feet east of Sky Field runway 180. The airplane collided with the ground in a nose down attitude and came to rest on a heading of 330-degrees magnetic.

The engine assembly was displaced to the rear and to the left. The firewall was crushed around the accessory section. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft and the crankshaft was intact. One propeller blade was bent aft and twisted with chord wise scarring. The remaining propeller blade was bent forward and chord wise scarring was present. The spinner was crushed aft.

The cabin windshield was broken and the forward windshield support mounts were displaced aft. The forward fuselage skin located forward of the left and right windshield pillars were torn and crushed. The cabin airframe was crushed and buckled aft. The flap handle was extended to the third notch (50-degrees). Flap continuity was established from the flap handles to the left and right flap. The No.1 and No. 2 tow release handles separated from the floorboard. Continuity was established from the handle rearward to their respective tow hook mechanisms. The fuel selector valve panel was damaged; the fuel selector valve was positioned on the left main fuel tank. All fuel ports were free from obstruction. Trace fuel was present in the fuel selector valve. The left header tank was separated and no fuel was present. The right header fuel tank was intact and trace fuel was present in the tank. The left side of the pilot' seat was separated from it's attachment point and the bottom seat pan was crushed aft. The rear seat back and bottom seat cushion were separated. The front lap belt and shoulder harness were secured, and the seat belt webbings had been cut. The rear lap belt and shoulder harness were secured and the lap belt buckle was broken. The left and right main landing gear remained attached to the airframe. Flight control continuity was established from both flight control sticks and rudder pedals to all flight control surfaces. The aileron balance cable and the left and right flight control cables were cut.

The left wing was displaced forward and remained attached to the wing root. Both left wing struts were intact. The leading edge of the left wing was crushed aft to the forward spar. The left main fuel cap separated from the filler neck and the left main fuel tank was ruptured. Browning of vegetation was present below the left wing. The left aileron remained attached to the three attachment points. The left aileron was not damaged and the aileron stops were intact. The left flap remained attached to its attachment points and was not damaged.

The aft section of the fuselage bottom frame was bent inward. The top fuselage aft frame was not damaged. The left and right horizontal stabilizers and elevators were not damaged. The vertical fin and rudder were not damaged. The tail wheel was not damaged.

The right wing was displaced aft. The leading edge of the right wing was crushed aft from the wing root extending outboard to the wing tip. The main spar and aft spar were bent and the stringers were buckled. The forward wing attachment of the right wing root separated from the airframe. The rear wing attachment remained attached to the airframe. Both wing struts were intact. The right main fuel cap separated from the filler neck, and the right main fuel tank was ruptured. Browning of vegetation was present under the right wing. The right aileron remained attached to its attachment points and was bent upward. The right flap was damaged and remained attached at the inboard and outboard hinges.

Examination of the engine assembly revealed the left and right engine exhausts were buckled upward and aft. All induction tubes were intact and not damaged except for the No.1 induction tube, which was bent aft. The oil sump was not damaged. The oil cooler remained attached to the rear baffle and received damage. The left magneto separated from the engine and received damage. The left magneto ignition towers produced spark at all towers when rotated by hand. The right magneto remained attached to the engine and ignition harness was damaged. The right magneto was rotated by hand and produced spark at all ignition towers. The oil pressure and suction screen were free of contaminants. All cylinder push rods were intact except for the No. 3 cylinder exhaust push rod, which was dented. All cylinder fins were not damaged. The induction air box was attached to the carburetor. The induction air filter was displaced. The carburetor heat valve was in the off position. The carburetor was attached to the engine. The throttle and mixture controls remained attached to the throttle body. The accelerator pump functioned when actuated by hand. The carburetor was secure, screws tight, and was opened. The inlet fuel line was unobstructed. The carburetor bowl was free of contaminants and the main nozzle was unobstructed. Fuel was present in the carburetor. The carburetor float was not damaged. The carburetor needle valve and seat were not damaged. No fuel was present in the fuel lines and the fuel bowl was destroyed. The air box remained attached to the carburetor. The muffler was crushed and the internal baffles were intact.

The engine was partially disassembled. Oil was present through out the engine. The starter ring gear was fractured. The top and bottom ignition harness were damaged in the vicinity of the left and right magneto. The top and bottom sparkplugs were removed and exhibited gray brown combustion deposits except for the No. 2 top and bottom sparkplugs which exhibited carbon deposits when compared to the Champion Check A Plug chart. The No.1 and No. 3 bottom sparkplugs were oil soaked. The No.1 bottom sparkplug was broken. The remaining sparkplugs were not damaged and the electrodes wear was moderate to advanced. The gap settings were about .018 inch. The engine was rotated using a drive tool inserted at the crankshaft flange. Compression and suction were obtained at all cylinders. The rocker arms and valves moved when the crankshaft was rotated. Continuity of the crankshaft was confirmed to the rear accessory gears and to the valve train when rotated by hand.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Forensic Pathologist, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, conducted a postmortem examination of the pilot on May 24, 2005. The reported cause of death was "multiple cerebral contusions and basilar skull fracture." Postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot were not forwarded to The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Local anatomical pathology results were performed by the National Medical Services Inc., Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, and the results were negative.

The Forensic Fellow at the University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, conducted a postmortem examination of the commercial pilot flight instructor on May 24, 2005. The reported cause of death was " multiple cerebral contusions and basilar skull fracture." The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The studies were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol.. Acetaminophen 24.34 (ug/ml, ug/g) was detected in the urine. Ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, dextrorphan, and dextromethorphan were detected in the urine. Dextrorphan and dextromethorphan were detected in the blood.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Review of OWNERS HANDBOOK, states in SECTION II, TAKE-OFF, CLIMB, AND STALLS,…"The gross weight power off stalling speed with full flaps in the Super Cub 135 is 38 M.P.H.; with flaps up the stalling speed increases about 4 M.P.H."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to Sky Signs LLC on May 24, 2005.

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