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N1696H accident description

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Tail numberN1696H
Accident dateAugust 10, 2007
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-140
LocationWest Bend, WI
Near 43.421945 N, -88.127778 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On August 10, 2007, a Piper PA-28-140, N1696H, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain about 1/4 mile north of the West Bend Municipal Airport (ETB), West Bend, Wisconsin. The exact time of the accident is unknown, but at 0510 central daylight time, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) received an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal from the airplane. The private pilot, the sole occupant, received fatal injuries. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight departed ETB on a local flight at an unconfirmed time. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed. No one witnessed the airplane's departure from ETB and there were no witnesses to the accident.

A relative of the pilot reported that the pilot had not told him why he was going flying, but he believed that the pilot intended to practice night touch and go landings in order to be legal to fly with passengers at night. He thought that the pilot had intended to fly later that night with a passenger on board.

The AFRCC reported that the first notice they received of the ELT signal was at 0510. The signal was confirmed and an incident was opened at 0644. At 0654, the AFRCC notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of an ELT signal in the West Bend, Wisconsin, area. No missing or overdue aircraft were reported at that time.

According to the Washington County Sheriff's department accident report, the airport manager reported that he received a notification from the Flight Service Station (FSS) at 0700 that an ELT was transmitting on the emergency frequency of 121.5 MHz from somewhere near the airport. He arrived at the airport about 0730 and reported that ground fog covered the airport area. The airport manager, along with another individual, inspected all the airplanes in the hangars to ensure the ELT activation was not a "false alarm" coming from one of the airplanes on the airport property. Checking the airplanes and the hangars took about three to four hours. He then contacted the Wisconsin National Guard that was located on the airport property, and requested that a search of the area be conducted with one of their helicopters. A National Guard helicopter aircrew conducted a search of the West Bend Airport area and located the airplane accident site about 1310.

The accident site was located in a cornfield about 1/4 mile north of the approach end of runway 24. The wreckage path was on a 197-degree magnetic heading. The main wreckage was found about 120 feet from the initial impact point. The right wing was found separated from the fuselage and lying about 45 feet from the initial impact point. The propeller was separated from the engine and was found about 15 feet north of the main wreckage. The main wreckage was aligned on a southeasterly heading.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the aircraft wreckage at the accident site. The inspection revealed that the airplane's attitude indicator depicted a nose low, right wing down position. The pilot's shoulder harness was found in the stowed position. The flap handle was in the down position. The ELT switch was found in the ON position. The inspection revealed that the flight control cables were still attached to their respective control surfaces, and the breaks in the control cables were consistent with overload fractures.

The inspection of the engine revealed that it was able to rotate and continuity was confirmed to all rocker arms and aft gears. Thumb compression and suction were confirmed to all cylinders. Engine timing was confirmed and both magnetos produced spark. The inspection of the carburetor found no evidence of fuel leakage. When the throttle arm was moved, fuel squirted out of the accelerator pump. The carburetor body halves were split and a fluid with the appearance and smell of aviation gasoline was noted.

The inspection of the propeller revealed that it had separated from the engine at impact, with all six-propeller bolts separating. The spinner was in place and crushed in a spiral shape. Both blades were bent aft and exhibited twist to the low pitch side. One blade had a gouge in the leading edge near the blade tip. The cambered surface of the blade had chordwise abrasions and polishing of the outer portion of the span.

A review of the airplane's maintenance logbooks revealed that the last annual maintenance inspection was conducted on July 1, 2006. The airplane had flown 27 hours since the last inspection and had a total time of 3,812.59 hours. The airplane's recording hour meter indicated a time of 1,207.0 hours at the time of the accident. The pilot's notepad found in the airplane indicated that the recording hour meter read 1,206.8 hours after the previous flight.

The pilot was a 63-year old private pilot with a single engine land rating. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on May 30, 2007. He had a total of 520 hours of flight time with 480 hours in make and model. He had logged 7 hours of flight time in the last 90 days and 3 hours in the last 30 days. The pilot's flight logbook indicated that the pilot had logged 1.1 hours of night flight on October 10, 2005, and had completed 3 takeoffs and landings. He logged 0.8 hours of night flight on September 28, 2006, and had completed 3 takeoffs and landings. He had not logged any night flights since.

On August 10, 2007, the beginning of civil twilight at ETB was at 0520, and sunrise was at 0552.

At 0405, the surface weather observation at ETB was: Winds calm, visibility 3 statute miles, mist, scattered 600 feet, temperature 20 degrees Celcius (C), dew point 20 degrees C, altimeter 29.91 inches of mercury.

At 0445, the surface weather observation at ETB was: Winds 320 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 2 statute miles, mist, overcast 400 feet, temperature 20 degrees C, dew point 20 degrees C, altimeter 29.92 inches of mercury.

At 0505, the surface weather observation at ETB was: Winds 300 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 2 statute miles, overcast 200 feet, temperature 21 degrees C, dew point 20 degrees C, altimeter 29.93 inches of mercury.

At 0605, the surface weather observation at ETB was: Winds 280 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 4 statute miles, mist, scattered 400 feet, temperature 20 degrees C, dew point 20 degrees C, altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Waukesha County Morgue on August 12, 2007. A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute. The test results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol; 2.869 (ug/mL, ug/g) lamotrigine was detected in the blood and was present in the urine.

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