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N20LA accident description

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Tail numberN20LA
Accident dateApril 30, 1995
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-180
LocationLouisa, VA
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On April 30, 1995, at 1159 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N20LA, collided with trees during approach to Louisa County Airport, Louisa, Virginia. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed. The certificated private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR 91 and originated in Leesburg, Virginia, exact time unknown. The final destination was Monticello, New York.

The non-instrument rated private pilot flew from Leesburg to Louisa, Virginia, to pick up a passenger for the flight to New York. When he arrived in the vicinity of the Louisa airport, the pilot contacted Unicom and requested assistance in locating the airport. Airport personnel advised him that IMC prevailed at the airport, and that "...he should go to a VFR airport."

Several witnesses observed the airplane maneuvering in the vicinity of the airport before the accident. They estimated the airplane's altitude to be about 100 to 200 feet above the ground. One witness reported that the airplane was "...just below the clouds...occasionally cutting through them... ." He stated that he observed the airplane within about 1/4 mile of the runway, but then lost visual contact. The airplane collided with trees in a wooded area about 500 yards southwest of the airport. Witnesses estimated that the ceiling was about 200 feet, with visibility less than a mile with rain and fog, at the time of the accident.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot did not receive a weather briefing. Weather observation stations situated between Leesburg and Louisa, reported instrument meteorological conditions during the late morning/midday hours on the day of the accident. Copies of the weather reports are appended.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight about 38 degrees 00.59 minutes North latitude and 77 degrees 58.32 minutes West longitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single engine land rating. According to the pilot's flight logbook, he recorded over 545 hours of total flight time, including 3 hours of actual and 3 hours of simulated instrument flight time. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1971 Piper PA-28-180 airplane, serial no. 28-7205057 was equipped with a Lycoming O-360-A4A, serial no. L-16095-36A. According to the maintenance logbooks, the airplane had accumulated over 3615 hours of total flight time. The airplane had accumulated over 30 hours of flight time since the most recent Annual Inspection, and concurrent engine major overhaul, dated January 29, 1995.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The 1205 hours surface weather observation for Richmond International Airport, Richmond, Virginia, about 45 miles southeast of the accident site was as follows:

Sky condition, 800 feet scattered, ceiling 1,300 feet overcast, with visibility of 2 miles in fog. The temperature was 61 degrees Fahrenheit(F); dew point, 58 degrees F. The wind was out of 180 degrees at 5 knots, and the altimeter setting was 29.86 inches Hg.

Weather observations for Washington Dulles International, Washington National, Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field, and Quantico/Turner Field indicated instrument meteorological conditions (low ceilings and reduced visibility) about the time of the accident.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The aircraft impacted trees on a magnetic heading of 060 degrees before impacting the ground in a nose down attitude. The airplane remained intact. Flight control continuity was confirmed. The flaps were in the retracted position, and the elevator trim was in the neutral position.

The airplane was removed to a hangar for the engine to be examined. The engine was intact. All four cylinders were attached and secured to the crankcase. There was no evidence that the crankcase was compromised.

The two-bladed propeller had one blade that was twisted midspan and exhibited chordwise scratching. The propeller was removed and the crankshaft was manually rotated. It resulted in operation of the accessory gear drives, pistons, and valve operating mechanisms. Compression of each cylinder was confirmed.

The left and right magnetos were removed. The right magneto was rotated by hand and spark was produced at all of the distributor block towers. The left magneto, which contained an impulse coupling, was rotated by hand, but would not produce any spark. The "P" lead attaching connector on the point cover was broken inward toward the inside of the point cover. The point cover was removed and it showed a grounded magneto and a broken capacitor wire.

All the spark plugs were installed in the cylinders. The top spark plugs were removed from the cylinders and their electrodes were grayish in color. The carburetor was removed and fuel was found in the bowl. The carburetor throttle and mixture control arms were found at full throttle and full rich.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

A Medical Examination was done by Dr. Kinnison, Medical Examiner of Richmond, Virginia, on May 1, 1995. Toxicological tests did not detect alcohol, drugs, or carbon monoxide.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to Marshall B. Dean, Claims Manager of USAIG and insurance representative of the pilot on May 1, 1995.

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