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N32038 accident description

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Crash location 34.545833°N, 85.063611°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Calhoun, GA
34.502587°N, 84.951054°W
7.1 miles away

Tail number N32038
Accident date 05 May 2003
Aircraft type Piper PA-32-300
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 5, 2003, approximately 1330 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, N32038, registered to and operated by a commercial pilot, collided with trees on Horn Mountain near, Calhoun, Georgia. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with a flight plan filed but not activated. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane was substantially damaged, and the pilot and pilot rated passenger were fatally injured. The flight departed Campbell County Airport, Jacksboro, Tennessee, on May 5, 2003, at 1120 central daylight time.

At 0609 on May 5, 2003, the pilot of N32038, telephoned the Anniston Flight Service Station to file two instrument flight plans and obtain a weather briefing for a flight from Geneva, Alabama (33J) to Jacksboro, Tennessee (JAU), and back to Geneva, Alabama.

Approximately 1608, the pilot radioed the Nashville Flight Service Station and stated that he had an instrument flight plan on file from JAU to 33J, and inquired about picking up the instrument clearance enroute over Rome (RMG), Georgia. The pilot was advised numerous times about the adverse weather conditions along his route of travel. He was also advised that visual flight rules could not be maintain from JAU to RMG, and there were tornado watches active. The pilot stated that he would be still be departing shortly after the phone call with the Anniston Flight Service Station. The flight was due back in (33J) on May 5, 2003, approximately 1500 central daylight time but never arrived. The pilot made no reports of any mechanical or flight control anomalies during the flight.

On May 5, 2003 the Civil Air Patrol initiated an air search, but postponed it due to inclement weather conditions. On May 8, 2003, the air search commenced, and at 1945 eastern daylight time air spotters located the wreckage site of the downed airplane. The air spotters circle the site until the ground crews arrived, and at 2330, the ground crews made a positive identification of the downed airplane.


Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, revealed the pilot was issued a commercial pilots certificate on July 10, 1985, with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. Review of records on file with the FAA aero medical revealed the pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on March 12, 2003. Review of the pilot logbooks showed that the pilot accumulated a total flight time of 2980 hours.


Review of airplane logbooks for the PA-32-300 revealed the last recorded engine overhaul was conducted on July 14, 1999. The last recorded annual inspection was conducted on August 2, 2002. The total recorded airframe hours at the time of the accident were 4233. The altimeter system, static pressure system, and transponder were inspected on February 15, 1999.


Conditions prior to the accident in Dalton, Georgia at 1340 eastern daylight time were: wind one six zero degrees at seven knots, visibility one and three quarter mile, ceiling broken at one thousand, broken at one thousand nine hundred, overcast at two thousand six hundred, temperature one nine, dew point one nine, altimeter two nine eight six.


The wreckage was found on a 180-degree magnetic heading. The wreckage was dispersed approximately 100 yards though a densely wooded area. There were freshly broken trees throughout the wreckage path. The right wing tip was located at the base of a tree at the beginning of the wreckage path. Approximately 25 feet forward of the right wing tip a four-foot section of the right wing leading edge was located. The main fuselage was located approximately 50 feet from the inboard section of the right wing. The main fuselage rested inverted in a tree. The cabin section of the airplane was in a tree 15 feet above the ground, and the tail section rested at the base of the tree. The left inboard section of the wing was broken off at the wing root.

Examination of the airframe revealed that the horizontal and vertical stabilizers were attached to the airframe. A five-foot section of the left outboard wing was located on the ground 15 feet forward the fuselage. The engine was located approximately 50 feet forward the main fuselage. The propeller blades were attached to the engine, and displayed bending and chord-wise scoring. All flight control surfaces were located at the wreckage site.

Examination of the forward cabin section was exposed and blue fuel was drained from the strainer. The fuel lines were damaged and exposed. Flight control cables were traced throughout the fuselage and frayed. Examination of the left wing assembly revealed it was separated at the root. Approximately two feet of the inboard section of the leading edge was buckled aft to the main spar, and the flap was attached. The left fuel tank was breached. A five and one half foot section of the left outboard wing was separated. The left aileron, balance weight, and bellcrank were found with the cables attached, and the control cables were frayed. The left landing gear assembly was folded aft under the wing.

Examination of the right wing assembly revealed it was separated at the wing root. Approximately five feet of the inboard section of the right wing was crush damaged. The leading edge displayed circular accordion crush damage. A five-foot section of the outboard leading edge was buckled aft to the main spar. The right aileron was attached to the outboard section of the wing and the cables were frayed at the wing root.

Examination of the left horizontal stabilizer revealed circular accordion crush damage on the upper surface of the leading edge. The right horizontal stabilizer was fragmented. The balance weight was attached to the stabilizer and cables were frayed. The vertical stabilizer was separated from the fuselage and the cables were frayed. The airframe examination showed no evidence of flight control or mechanical malfunction.

Examination of the engine revealed the engine case was shattered. Inspection of the power section revealed no mechanical anomalies. All accessory rear mounted components were broken from the rear case. The rear case was removed for examination and all gears were intact. The engine examination showed no evidence of mechanical malfunction.


The Division of Forensic Sciences, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, State of Georgia performed the pathological diagnoses of the pilot on May 10, 2003. The cause of death was "Probable exposure to the elements, following trauma". The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol.


The wreckage of N32038 was released to Leading Edge Investigations Aviation on December 9, 2003.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.