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N5747U accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Clinton, IA
40.606953°N, 93.383271°W

Tail number N5747U
Accident date 27 Sep 1999
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-140
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 27, 1999, at 1930 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N5747U, piloted by a non instrument rated private pilot, was destroyed on impact with the Mississippi River near Clinton, Iowa. The flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Visual to instrument meteorological conditions were reported in the area. No flight plan was on file. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The personal flight originated at 1640 from Chetek Municipal-Southworth Airport, Chetek, Wisconsin and was en route to Illinois Valley Regional-Walter A. Duncan Field Airport, Peru, Illinois.

A pilot representing N5747U contacted the Green Bay, Wisconsin Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) on September 26, 1999 at 1214 and at 1956. On September 27, 1999, that pilot contacted Green Bay AFSS at 0808, 1403, 1534, and at 1617. During these weather briefings, that pilot was told that a VFR (visual flight rules) flight was not recommended to Illinois Valley Regional-Walter A. Duncan Field Airport.

A witness saw the pilot depart from Chetek Municipal-Southworth Airport at 1630. The witness stated that the pilot indicated he was only going to Eau Claire, Wisconsin and would stop to get a weather briefing before proceeding any further. The lineman on duty that night at the Fixed Base Operator at Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, Eau Claire, Wisconsin did recall the airplane stopping.

A witness in Clinton, Iowa, who was about 2 miles north of Lock and Dam 13, said, "I heard a single engine piston driven airplane go over fast and alarmingly low. I raced outside and heard 2 fast engine accelerations and then silence." The time was 1930. He stated, "It [The weather] was dark and raining."

Another witness who lived nearby stated that at approximately 1930, she heard a plane overhead. She said, "Engine noise was quite loud - then cut out - then silence. It was pitch black and raining hard."

A witness and a Clinton County Deputy located the accident airplane on September 28, 1999, at 1658 in the Mississippi River near the area known as Lock and Dam 13.


The pilot held a private pilot rating. He held a Third Class Medical Certificate dated April 8, 1999. The certificate had a limitation that he must possess glasses that correct for near vision. He had a total of 321 hours of flight time. In the last 90 days, the pilot had flown 15 hours and had flown 3 hours in the last 30 days. The last entry was recorded as a 2.5 hour flight on September 25, 1999 from Illinois Valley Regional-Walter A. Duncan Field Airport to Chetek Municipal-Southworth Airport.


The airplane was a Piper PA-28-140, manufactured in 1970, serial number 28-26568. The operator reported that the last annual inspection was performed on November 7, 1998 and that the time since the annual was 375.31 hours. The operator stated that the total airframe time was 5835.5 hours. On September 25, 1999, the accident airplane departed from Illinois Valley Regional-Walter A. Duncan Field Airport with a Hobbs meter reading of 1,955.8 hours.


At 1855, the Dubuque Regional Airport, Dubuque, Iowa, located approximately 330 degrees and 38 miles from the accident site, weather observation was: Wind 030 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 3 statute miles; present weather mist; sky condition overcast 3,600 feet; temperature 12 degrees C; dew point 11 degrees C; altimeter 30.08 inches of mercury.

At 1935, the Clinton Municipal Airport, Clinton, Iowa weather observation was: Wind 010 degrees at 12 knots; visibility 8 statute miles; sky condition few 600 feet overcast 2,300 feet; temperature 12 degrees C; dew point 10 degrees C; altimeter 30.04 inches of mercury.

At 1930, the Davenport Municipal Airport, Davenport, Iowa, located approximately 220 degrees and 10 miles from the accident site, weather observation was: Wind 020 at 13 knots; visibility 5 statute miles; present weather light rain and mist; sky condition broken 800 feet broken 1,100 feet overcast 1,800 feet; temperature 12 degrees C; dew point 11 degrees C; altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury.

At 1909, the Quad-City Airport, Moline, Illinois, located approximately 200 degrees and 33 miles from the accident site, weather observation was: Wind 020 degrees at 10 knots; visibility 6 statute miles; present weather rain and mist; sky condition broken 800 feet overcast 6,500 feet; temperature 12 degrees C; dew point 12 degrees C; altimeter 30.03 inches of mercury.

A witness said that he and an instructor flew for 1.3 hours and returned at approximately 1930 on September 27, 1999. He stated that they flew instrument approaches to the Davenport Municipal Airport, Davenport, Iowa and to the Quad City International Airport, Moline, Illinois. He said, "Weather was slightly above minimum on the VOR approaches and we entered visual conditions at about 1,200 ft MSL or 450 to 500 ft AGL [above ground level]. Conditions were consistent throughout the area that we practiced."


The airplane was located 1/2 mile east of the intersection of Highway 67 and Deer Creek Road resting in the Mississippi River north of Lock and Dam 13. The fuselage was found approximately 1,000 feet east of the river's west bank. The right wing was found detached from the aircraft and was found approximately 300 feet west of the fuselage. The left wing's spar was attached to the fuselage. The engine and firewall were found approximately 500 feet west of the fuselage. See appended wreckage diagram.

The wreckage was recovered and examined. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any signs of any engine or airframe preimpact anomalies. Engine control continuity was found. When rotated, the engine produced a thumb compression at all cylinders. Both magnetos produced spark at all leads. A liquid that smelled like fuel was found in the hose leading to the carburetor and fuel exited that hose when the engine was rotated. A fuel like smell was present when the fuel tanks were recovered.

Flight control continuity was found to all surfaces except to the left aileron. The river was dragged for airplane parts. The left wing outboard of the spar splice joint was not found.

The Hobbs meter indicated 1,961.6 hours.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Winnebago County Coroner's facility in Rockford, Illinois.

The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report. The report was negative for the tests performed.


The FAA was a party to the investigation.

The aircraft wreckage was released to a representative of Universal Loss Management.

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