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N3220E accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Atlanta, GA
33.748995°N, 84.387982°W

Tail number N3220E
Accident date 22 Apr 1995
Aircraft type Cessna 172N
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On April 22, 1995, at 1109 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N3220E was substantially damaged following a collision with a smoke stack in Atlanta, Georgia. The non-instrument rated private pilot was fatally injured in the accident. The aircraft was being operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 at the time. Instrument meteorological conditions existed at the time. A visual flight rules flight plan had been filed, but not activated, by the pilot for the flight. The flight departed Runway 08 at Fulton County Airport at 1057 for a flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

The pilot of N3220E contacted the Anderson Automated Flight Service Station(AFSS), and received a full weather briefing for a flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to Raleigh, North Carolina. He was advised of an area of rain and thunderstorm activity approaching the Atlanta area.(See Transcript of Telephone Conversations Between the Pilot of N3220E, and Anderson AFSS attached to this report.) The pilot was asked by personnel at the Fulton County Tower if he was aware of the Significant Meteorological Statement(SIGMET) that had been issued for the Atlanta area during his taxi for takeoff. The pilot stated that he was aware of the SIGMET.(See Transcript of Radio Conversations Between Fulton County Tower and The Pilot of N3220E attached to this report.)

According to witnesses, the aircraft was heard flying in the clouds just prior to the collision. The witnesses heard the aircraft strike the smoke stack, and then observed the aircraft descend out of the base of the clouds, and into the terrain. The witnesses stated that the top of the smoke stack, which extends upward from the surface, approximately 880 feet, was obscured in the clouds. He stated that there was moderate rainfall in the area at the time of the accident, and severe thunderstorms began within minutes of the crash.(See Record of Conversation With Mr. Dunn attached to this report.)


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine rating. He did not have an instrument rating, and had recorded only 2 hours of simulated instrument training. He held a valid third class medical certificate with no restrictions.

Additional personnel information may be obtained in this report on page 3 under section titled First Pilot Information.


The Cessna 172N is a four place, single engine, tricycle gear airplane. The last annual inspection of N3220E was accomplished on March 1, 1995, and the aircraft had accumulated 91 flight hours since that inspection.

Additional aircraft information may be obtained in this report on page 2 under section titled Aircraft Information.


Weather at the time of the accident was less than that required for flight under visual meteorological conditions. The weather reported by the Fulton County Airport, located about 4 miles southwest of the accident site, was overcast ceilings at 900 feet with visibility of 5 miles with rain showers. Witnesses at the accident site reported that the top of the smoke stack, which extends 880 feet up from the surface, was obscured in the clouds. The witnesses stated that moderate rain was falling at the time, and heavy rain began within minutes of the accident.

Additional meteorological information may be obtained in this report on pages 3 and 4 under section titled Weather Information.


Witnesses stated that the aircraft first impacted a smoke stack, which extends 880 feet above the ground. Pieces of the left wing tip were found at the base of the smoke stack, and there were scratch marks on the concrete surface of the smoke stack about 75 feet below the top of the structure. The witnesses stated that the aircraft left wing was folded back against the side of the aircraft after striking the smoke stack.

The aircraft then traveled approximately 1000 feet on a magnetic heading of about 210 degrees, and impacted trees and the terrain.

Both the left and right wing had extensive leading edge crushing from the wing tips inboard to the fuselage. Both wing were broken away from the fuselage, at the point were the wings attach to the fuselage. All fractures of the wings appeared to be typical of overload fractures. Continuity of the aileron control cables was not possible due to the fractures of the wings and cables. The fracture of the cables was typical of overload fractures.

The fuselage came to rest inverted, with the empennage still attached. Continuity of the elevator and rudder control cables was established into the cockpit area. The flap actuator was in the retracted position.

There was continuity of the engine drive train. The propeller showed signs of "S" bending, and twisting toward low pitch. There were chordwise scratches observed on the face of the propeller blades.


An autopsy of Mr. Little was performed by Dr. Thomas R. Parsons of the Fulton County, Georgia, Medical Examiners Office. The autopsy listed the cause of death as generalized trauma.

A toxicological examination of Mr. Little was performed by the Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory of the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated that 0.005 grams per milliliter of Tetrahydrocannabinol (Marihuana) was detected in the blood, and 0.011 grams per milliliter of Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) was detected in the blood.(See Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report attached to this report.)


The aircraft wreckage was released to the owners insurance representative, Mr. Kevin Twiss, on April 24, 1995.

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