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N9430K accident description

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Tail numberN9430K
Accident dateNovember 12, 2006
Aircraft typePiper PA-32R-300
LocationWilliamsburg, VA
Near 37.239166 N, -76.715833 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 12, 2006, at 1125 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N9430K, was destroyed when it impacted trees shortly after takeoff from Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (JGG), Williamsburg, Virginia. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured, and the passenger was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the personal flight, destined for Albert Whitted Airport (SPG), St. Petersburg, Florida. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

A review of Flight Service Station communication information revealed that the pilot received an IFR clearance to St. Petersburg about 1115. The pilot also advised the briefer that he intended to depart from runway 31.

During an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot described the events that led up to the accident. The weather around the time of the accident was IMC, and the winds were gusting. After starting and taxing the airplane, the pilot contacted flight service to obtain an IFR clearance. When the pilot received the clearance, he was advised that he had 5 minutes to depart.

Prior to beginning the takeoff, the pilot knew that he would have to "climb out early due to the short runway." He went on to explain that he lifted the nose wheel of the airplane off the runway early in order to "lessen ground drag on the nose." He stated that "at Vr and approximately 100 feet, airspeed started decreasing." The airplane encountered a wind gust, "of approximately negative 30 knots." He had to increase the pitch angle in order to fly away from the ground. About this time the airplane was "hit from [the] top by wind." The airplane subsequently impacted trees and became engulfed in flames.

The pilot described that if he had the chance to do the accident flight again, he would not have attempted the departure due to the winds. Additionally, he described other aggravating circumstances such as the up slope of the runway and the fuel load of the airplane.

Two witnesses observed the airplane during the takeoff, and both provided similar written statements. According to the witnesses, as the airplane lifted off from the runway it was moving "abnormally slow," and was "not climbing very quickly." It then climbed a "short distance" into the air before being "pushed down" about 10 to 15 feet. It then gained altitude, but did not climb above the height of the trees beyond the departure end of the runway. The airplane flew in a wings level attitude, straight into the tree line, and moments later erupted in flames.

One of the witnesses described the weather at the time of the accident as rainy and windy, and that conditions worsened throughout the day.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 37 degrees 14 minutes north latitude by 76 degrees 42 minutes west longitude.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi engine land, and instrument airplane. On his most recent application for an FAA third class medical certificate, dated August 2, 2006, the pilot reported 2,140 total hours of flight experience.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

JGG was comprised of a single 3,204-foot-long by 60-foot-wide asphalt runway, oriented in a 13/31 configuration. Runway 31 sloped upward 0.8-percent. Numerous obstructions were located beyond the departure end of runway 31 including a dirt mound and a tree line. A 111-foot-tall tree was located 1,850 feet from the departure end of the runway, 249 feet left of the runway centerline, and required a 14:1 slope to clear.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

According to an FAA inspector, the airplane came to rest lodged in a tree about 1,900 feet beyond the departure end of runway 31, and about 40 feet above the ground. A majority of the airplane was damaged by fire.

Both wings were intact, but both right wing fuel tanks, and the inboard left fuel tank were burned. The left outboard fuel tank remained intact, and was full of fuel. Examination of the flight controls did not reveal evidence of any preimpact abnormalities. The flap handle was found in the 10-degree detent. Both main landing gear were in the down position, and the nose landing gear was separated from the airframe.

Immediately below the airplane were tree branches cut at 45-degree angles, including a branch 8 inches in diameter. Both propeller blades exhibited s-bending and chordwise scratching. Examination of the engine revealed the accessory section was damaged by fire. Crankshaft and valvetrain continuity were confirmed. Rotation of the crankshaft produced compression on all cylinders, which was verified using the thumb method. The fuel injector screen and fuel flow divider screen were absent of debris. Debris was found in the compressor sections of both turbo chargers. The turbochargers did not initially rotate, but once freed with a wrench, both rotated freely.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was manufactured in 1976. The engine was equipped with an aftermarket dual turbocharger system, which was installed in 1979. According to maintenance records, the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on April 30, 2006, at 2,674 total aircraft hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The weather conditions reported at JGG, at 1120, included winds from 350 degrees true at 16 knots, gusting to 24 knots, visibility 5 statute miles, scattered clouds at 900 feet, a broken ceiling at 1,400 feet, an overcast ceiling at 2,100 feet, temperature 52 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 52 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.72 inches of mercury.

The weather reported at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, (PHF), Newport News, Virginia, about 12 nautical miles southeast, included winds from 330 degrees, at 16 knots, gusting to 23 knots, visibility 1 3/4 statute miles in heavy rain, overcast clouds at 600 feet, and an altimeter setting of 29.68 inches of mercury.

According to radar reflectivity images generated by the National Weather Service WSR-88D weather radar located in Wakefield, Virginia, at 1147, level 3 convective weather was present immediately west of the airport.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Examination of fueling records revealed that the airplane was "topped off" with 46.3 gallons of fuel at 0926 on the day of the accident.

A surveillance camera located at JGG captured video of the accident airplane as it taxied to runway 31, and again about 20 minutes later during the takeoff roll. The weather conditions depicted on the video generally matched those described by the pilot, with gusting winds and rain. No obvious mechanical abnormalities were apparent with the airplane during the visible portions of the taxi or takeoff roll.

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