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N4BN accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Fargo, GA
30.681884°N, 82.566519°W

Tail number N4BN
Accident date 07 May 1998
Aircraft type Piper PA-23-250
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 7, 1998, about 1840 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-23-250, N4BN, registered to a private owner, crashed during takeoff, near Fargo, Georgia, while on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed, and the private-rated pilot was fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time, and was en route to Crystal River, Florida.

Witnesses observed the airplane start the takeoff roll on a heading of 150 degrees, on a grass runway 2,200 feet long, and 200 feet wide. About 800 feet from the start of the takeoff roll the airplane became airborne about 8 feet off the ground, then went nose and left wing low into the runway where the left propeller struck the grass surface. Twenty propeller slash marks were found in the grass surface at the point in the runway were the witnesses saw the propeller strike the ground. The airplane then took off, climbed about 50 feet above the ground, turned left, struck trees, impacted the ground and caught fire.

According to a witness, who reported he had some aviation background, the airplane taxied to the takeoff point and the pilot did an engine run up. At this point the witness said, "...[the] aircraft's engine seemed to sputter (one), he took off from the [north] end. The aircraft took off but didn't seem to climb. The aircraft settled back down, propeller started hitting [the] ground, then aircraft got airborne again, made it over oak tree (note cross wind from pilot's right side). Struck pine tree and [I] saw fire ball."

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight about 30 degrees, 41 minutes north, and 082 degrees, 34 minutes west.


Information on the pilot is contained in this report on page 3, under First Pilot Information. The pilot's personal logbook showing his flight hours was not found. It was reported that his logbook was destroyed in the postcrash fire.


Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Meteorological information is contained in this report on page 3, under Weather Information.

Witnesses described the winds as gusty and a direct crosswind from the right side of the runway to the left side, with occasional shifts in the wind from the northwest. The reported winds at Valdosta, Georgia, about 40 miles west of the crash site were: winds from 220 degrees at 14 knots.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on May 8, 1998, at The Georgia State Crime Laboratory, Atlanta, Georgia, by Dr. Mark A. Koponen.

Toxicological tests were conducted at the Federal Aviation Administration, Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and revealed, "no ethanol or drugs."


The airplane impacted in a wooded area located less then 1/4 mile east of runway 15. The area of impact was level with 80-to 90-foot-tall pine trees surrounding the area. Several trees west of the impact area displayed impact damage. Freshly cut branches were found on the ground between the tress and the final impact point. There were several private homes in the area and none were damaged.

About 50 yards east of the broken trees an electric power line, that ran to a security light, was broken, and was reported to have been struck by the airplane. The ground east of the power line was covered with pine needles and grass. This area was burned about 60 feet around the crash site. The ground fire completely consumed the airplane, rendering most of the switches and instruments unreadable.

Examinations of the wreckage revealed that the fuel selectors were found positioned on the inboard tanks, and the cross feed was found in the "OFF" position. The flap mechanism was destroyed, but the indicator showed that the flaps were set in the 1/4 flap takeoff position. It was determined that the elevator and rudder trim settings were found in the neutral position. All three landing gears were found in transit and unlocked. Control continuity was confirmed to all the flight controls.

Both engines were visually examined at the crash site, and revealed that the engines displayed extensive fire damage to the accessory section, which precluded extensive examination of the right engine's accessories. The engines were removed from the crash site, and taken to a local shop for a more detailed examination. Examination of the left engine's, left magneto, revealed that the magneto produced spark when rotated. Examination of the spark plugs on both engines did not reveal any discrepancies. Inspection of the fuel injection system revealed several droplets of water were found within the line from the flow divider to the No. 4 nozzle, on the right engine. A trace of water was found at the No. 2 nozzle. There was a breach in the injector lines down stream of the servo. Both engines were partially disassembled and no discrepancies were found.

Examination of the left propeller revealed that both blades remained in the hub, and displayed damage to the leading edge of blades. The blade identified as E18974, was bent aft about 90 degrees at a position about 1/3 the span and was twisted in the direction of rotation. The blade identified as E18991, was bent aft about 20 degrees at a position about 2/3 the span and was twisted in the direction of rotation.

Examination of the right propeller revealed that both blades remained in the hub. The blade identified as the first blade, was bent about 5 degrees at a position about mid-span. The blade identified as the second blade, was bent about 90 degrees at a position about 1/4 the span and was twisted in the direction of rotation. The right propeller appeared to be in the feathered position.


Examination of runway 15 revealed that the turf runway was also used as fairway for a golf course. About 800 feet from the point that witnesses said they saw the airplane start it's takeoff roll, propeller slash marks were found on the left side of the runway. The slash marks were found on a heading of 150 degrees, 20 marks were found, and were measured at a total distance of 453 feet, 3 inches. The distances between the first and second slash marks was 2 feet. The distances between the last two slash marks was 61 feet. Using the formula; Ground speed equals, propeller speed (rpm), times distance between cuts, times number blades, divided by 101 (feet), or GS= 2575 (takeoff rpm) X 2 feet X 2 Blades/ 101 feet, it was determined that the ground speed of the airplane between the first slash mark and the second slash mark was 101.9 miles per hour.

The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. W.M. Oettmeier, brother of the owner, on May 8, 1998.

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