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N340JB accident description

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Crash location 32.191666°N, 81.873334°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 Claxton, GA
32.161581°N, 81.904005°W
2.7 miles away

Tail number N340JB
Accident date 10 Apr 2001
Aircraft type Beech A-45/T-34A
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On April 10, 2001, about 1640 eastern daylight time, a Beech A-45/T-34A, N340JB, registered to, and operated by a private owner, as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed in a wooded area south of the center of the Claxton-Evans County Airport, Claxton, Georgia, from whence it had just departed, after the pilot/owner had refueled. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed, and the private-rated pilot received fatal injuries. The pilot-rated passenger received serious injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A witness stated that she heard an aircraft flying low, with its engine operating "fast", pass over her house, so she ran out of the house for fear it would hit the house. She further stated that she then saw the airplane, just above treetop level, in the direction of the Claxton-Evans County Airport, in an extreme nose low pitch attitude. She said the airplane had been "falling fast, and the engine sounded wide open, or full throttle." She also said that "the wings were rocking, and it was obvious to her that the pilot was fighting hard to keep the airplane stable and level." According to the witness, she then saw the airplane drop into the trees, and heard the crash. She said that she then got into her car and sped to the airport, and as she approached the airport, she saw the airplane at the edge of the trees. The witness said that she then saw an explosion, followed by a fireball which shot about 300 feet into the air, followed by a column of black smoke. She then ran into the airport manager's office and reported the accident. When she returned, she saw a man emerging from the woods, who had been badly burned.

The pilot-rated passenger was seriously injured in the accident and had exited the burning airplane wreckage and walked to the fixed base operator's (FBO) facility. After extensive medical treatment as a result of his injuries, the pilot-rated passenger provided a statement to the NTSB, and noting that his memory is fragmented, said that he remembers that he and the pilot/owner of the accident airplane were returning from "Sun-n-Fun" in Lakeland, Florida, and they had landed at the Claxton-Evans County Airport, Claxton, Georgia, to refuel. He said that while the pilot/owner was refueling the airplane, he went into the FBO to check the weather, and to evaluate options for their next fuel stop. He said that the pilot/owner later came into the FBO building to discuss plans for the next flight and then he returned to the airplane. The passenger said he then went out to the airplane and climbed into the back seat, since the pilot/owner would be flying the next leg from the front seat. He said they then taxied out, and performed the "run-up", and that as far as he can remember, everything was normal. According to the passenger, the next thing he remembered was that they were in the air and he saw "fuel streaming back over the left wing, but he could not see the fuel cap to see what the trouble was." The passenger said he remembered asking the pilot/owner if he needed some help, but did not remember the pilot/owner's answer, or rendering any assistance. The next thing he remembered was telling the pilot that "we're not going to make it", and following that there was an impact.


According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single and multi engine land ratings a single engine sea rating issued on June 21, 1997. He also held a third class medical certificate issued on November 2, 1999. An excerpt from a computer log provided by a family member showed that the pilot had accumulated about 748 total flight hours. The pilot's last application for a medical certificate showed that at the time of the application, the pilot reported having a total of 610 total flight hours, of which 45 flight hours had been accumulated in the last 6 months.

At the time of the accident, the pilot-rated passenger who was seated in the rear seat of the accident airplane, possessed a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land and instrument ratings, a commercial pilot certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating. a commercial pilot certificate with a glider aero tow rating, and a private pilot with an airplane single engine sea rating. In addition, the pilot-rated passenger held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single engine, instrument airplane, rotorcraft-helicopter, and glider ratings. The pilot-rated passenger held a second class medical certificate, issued on March 23, 2001, with the stated restriction, "must wear corrective lenses."


N340JB is a Beech model A-45/T-34A, serial number G-791, registered to the accident pilot. The airplane received an annual inspection on February 23, 2001, and had accumulated 6659.5 total flight hours on the airframe. The accident airplane was equipped with a 300-horsepower Teledyne Continental Motors IO-550B engine, serial number 296670-R that had been rebuilt, zero timed, and installed on September 24, 1995, with a Hobbs meter reading of 1,307.9 hours at the time of installation. The airplane received its last annual inspection prior to the accident on February 23, 2001, with a corresponding Hobbs meter reading of 1,756.5 hours, and a total of 448.6 hours on the engine since new. N340JB was equipped with a model D3A32C409-C/82NDB-3 McCauley propeller, serial number 951361.


Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. The Vidalia Municipal Airport (VDI) 1630 surface weather observation was sky clear, visibility 10 statute miles, wind from 260 degrees at 3 knots, temperature 90 degrees F, 63 degrees F, altimeter setting 29.95 inHg.


N340JB came to rest in the geographic position, 32 degrees, 11.54 minutes north latitude, 081 degrees, 52.39 minutes west longitude, on an azimuth of about 140 degrees magnetic, in a wooded area, about 973 feet south of the center of the Claxton-Evans County Airport runway, Claxton, Georgia.

The debris field, as well as scars on the ground, remaining trees, and vegetation, showed the general direction of travel to be about a 110-degree magnetic. The airplane had impacted 50-to 60-foot tall trees in the wooded area initially with its left wing tip at about the 25-to 35-foot level, in about a 70-degree nose low, right wing low attitude. The distance from the initial impact point with the trees, to the main wreckage, was about 80 feet, and where the main wreckage lay, there had been a sizable postcrash fire that had burned trees and consumed small vegetation, as well as having enveloped the main wreckage. Only portions of airplane structure and skin that had been separated from the main wreckage during the impact sequence, and that laid a short distance from the main wreckage, were spared from the localized postcrash fire that had ensued. As the airplane had traveled during the impact sequence, subsequent impacts with other trees along the path had caused the airplane to descend, initially impacting the ground about 30 feet from the initial area. A small crater with an area of about 4 feet by 3 feet, followed by a swath of disturbed soil downstream of the initial ground impact point was evident within the larger burnt out area that encompassed the main wreckage.

Examination of the wreckage revealed that all portions of the airplane's control surfaces, or burnt remains of those control surfaces necessary to sustain flight, were found attached to the main wreckage, or in its immediate vicinity. There had been extensive fire and impact related damage, but continuity was traced within the wreckage consistent with there being airplane control continuity for pitch, roll, and yaw.

The outer portion of the left wing tip with its red navigation light lens still attached, had separated from the wing on impact with trees, and was found near a tree in the vicinity of the area marking the upstream/beginning of the debris field. The outboard left wing of the airplane exhibited cordwise crushing and other related damage extending from its leading edge, aft to the main spar. The remaining outer portion of the left wing displayed sooting and partial burns, while the inner portion of the same wing from the main spar aft, and the main landing gear mounts, inboard all the way to the fuselage had been consumed by fire. The left main landing gear had remained attached to the wing, as well as the left aileron and left flap. The flap however had been consumed in the fire, leaving its burned outline on the ground, indicative of it having been attached to the airplane, and having burned in place. The left fuel cap was missing from the wing, and it was found in the area that corresponds to where the initial impact had occurred.

The right wing had also remained attached to the fuselage, and its wing tip had also separated from the wing, but in its general vicinity. The outer portion of the wing had been bent up and aft, and there was heavy cordwise crushing and leading edge impact damage consistent with the wing's impact with the surrounding trees. The aileron was in place, as well as the landing gear, and the gear had been stowed in the retracted position. A portion of the right wing's leading edge had remained relatively intact and the fuel filler cap was in place on the wing. A small amount of fuel was found in the right fuel tank, and the remaining inboard portion of the wing toward the fuselage had been consumed in the fire. The burnt outline of the right flap had been evident, where it had burned in place, while still attached to the right wing. The fuselage had been engulfed by fire, as well as much of the empennage, with the exception of the horizontal stabilizer which had detached during its impact with a tree which left it lodged in the tree at about the 30-foot level in the area of the beginning of the debris field.

The propeller and hub assembly was located between the area of the initial impact and the main wreckage, and all propeller blades exhibited blade bending and twisting signatures consistent with power being present at impact. All three propeller blades were still attached at the hub, except that one blade had an outer portion of blade missing and that portion had signatures consistent with overstress. The spinner, the three bladed propeller, and the hub assembly had separated from the engine as a unit with the propeller bolts having been pulled out of the hub, and all damage was consistent with overstress as a result to its impact with the ground.

The engine had remained relatively intact, and was still attached to the burned fuselage. The impact had canted the engine to the left, and it was laying on its left side at the scene. Due to the impact, the left and right engine mounts had broken, and in addition, the postcrash fire that had enveloped it had damaged the rear and left forward intake pipes, as well as all hoses and most accessories. The throttle was found to be in the open position, and the mixture was found to have been set to rich. When examined, the engine rotated freely, and compression was obtained on the Nos. 1, 3,5,2, and 4 cylinders. No compression was achieved on the No. 6 cylinder which had sustained impact damage.

The ignition system's wiring harnesses as well as both magnetos had been damaged in the fire, and the damage precluded testing of the magnetos. All spark plugs were removed and examined and were found to exhibit signatures consistent with those associated with normal operation. The fuel pump was visibly inspected and its drive coupling and veins were intact, but fire damage precluded a functional test. The fuel manifold valve and fuel filter screen were found to be free of contaminants. All fuel injector lines as well as the fuel nozzles and the fuel control unit exhibited no abnormalities except for postcrash fire related damage. The oil system to include the oil pump, oil sump, oil pickup screen, oil filter screen, oil cooler and scavenge pump when examined exhibited no anomalies.

The engine crankcase was split during the investigation, and the engine examined in detail. All components of the engine, to include the crankcase/main bearings, crankshaft/bearing surfaces, transfer collar, counter weights, connecting rods, gear train, camshaft, lifters, cylinders/valve as well as the pistons, exhibited normal signatures and wear, except for the damage that was consistent with its exposure to the postcrash fire and the impact. No anomalies were found with the engine that were indicative of any preaccident failure or malfunction that would preclude engine operation prior to the airplane's impact with the trees.


The pilot received fatal injuries, and the pilot rated passenger incurred serious injuries. The passenger had walked out of the wreckage and had undergone extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.

A medical examiner with the State of Georgia performed the postmortem examination of the pilot, and no conditions which could be considered as causal were found. According to the medical examiner's report, the cause of death was attributed to blunt force trauma of the torso, soot inhalation, and severe burns of the surface of the body.

The FAA Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology studies on samples from the pilot. The samples were tested for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs, none of were found to be present.


The NTSB reviewed the FBO's fuel records, monitored other aircraft that had refueled at the same fuel source, as well as examined samples of the fuel, and no anomalies were found.


On April 12, 2001, the NTSB released the wreckage of N340JB to Mr. Steve Mitchell, Regional Claims Manager, Universal Loss Management Inc., St. Peters, Missouri.

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