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N16405 accident description

Kansas map... Kansas list
Crash location 37.146111°N, 94.688333°W
Nearest city Crestline, KS
37.170893°N, 94.704398°W
1.9 miles away
Tail number N16405
Accident date 24 Aug 2001
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-235
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On August 24, 2001, at about 2030 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-235, N16405, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Crestline, Kansas. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions were reported at the Joplin Regional Airport (JLN), Joplin, Missouri, about 9 miles east of the accident site. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The local flight originated from at about 1845.

A witness, who was in a car, reported seeing the airplane flying below the clouds. The witness said that the airplane was flying parallel to their direction of travel and then they saw the airplane descending. The witness said, "Its white lights were on. In a few seconds it began a very steep drop. The white light was on the whole time. I would guess the angle of descent to be between 70 [degrees] and 90 [degrees]." The witness said that the airplane descended below a tree line and they then saw an explosion.

Another witness, who was working at a plant nearby, said the, "Plane flying what appeared to be without trouble and all of [the] sudden it made a sharp left hand turn and it started down at [approximately] 45 [degree] angle." The witness said that the time was about 2025 and he could not see the impact from his location.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. The pilot also held a third class aviation medical certificate issued on August 29, 2000. The pilot reported having 265 hours of flight experience at the time of the medical examination. The pilot flight records show that the pilot accumulated a total of 316 flight hours, all in single engine airplane's. According to the records, the pilot had 187 hours of flight experience in the same make and model airplane as the accident airplane, and 13 hours in the last 90 days. The pilot's most recent flight review was conducted on March 4, 2001.


The airplane was a Piper PA-28-235, serial number 28-7310094. The airplane is a low wing single engine airplane that seats 4. The airplane was powered by a 235 horsepower Lycoming O-540-B4B5 engine, serial number L-2966-40C. The recording hour meter read 309.4 hours at the accident site. The aircraft maintenance records show that the airplane received its last annual inspection on December 22, 2000. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accumulated a total of 2,832.0 hours time in service, and the engine had accumulated 256.6 hours since its most recent overhaul.


The weather reporting station located at JLN, about 9 nautical miles east of the accident site, recorded the weather at 1953 as: Wind - 160 degrees magnetic at 6 knots; Visibility - 10 statute miles; Sky condition - Broken clouds at 11,000 feet above ground level; Temperature - 28 degrees Celsius; Dew point - 22 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting - 29.91 inches of Mercury.

The recorded weather at 2053 was: Wind - 200 degrees magnetic at 7 knots; Visibility - 10 statute miles; Sky condition - Few clouds at 8,500 feet above ground level; Temperature - 27 degrees Celsius; Dew point - 23 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting - 29.92 inches of Mercury.

According to a witness statement, there was lightning to the north of the accident site and, "...a large mass of black clouds to the south."


An on-scene examination of the aircraft was conducted on August 25, 2001. The aircraft came to rest in a prepared farm field. The initial impact point was determined using a global positioning system (GPS) receiver as 37 degrees 08.766 minutes north latitude, 94 degrees 41.293 minutes west longitude.

The left and right wings, ailerons, and flaps were destroyed and had impact damage. The wings were separated at the wing root. The outboard fuel tanks were separated and had fire damage. The outboard fuel caps were in-place and intact. Both main landing gear were destroyed and separated from their attachment points. The left aileron was attached at the inboard hinge. The bellcrank was destroyed and separated from its attachment points. One cable was separated at the bell crank. The separated cable exhibited signatures consistent with tension overload. Both aileron cables were cut at the wing root area for aircraft examination. The aileron control chain was broken and separated into pieces. The aileron control cable was attached to the broken control chain end. The aileron cables were cut near the cabin area for wreckage examination. The left flap was attached at all attachment points. The flap torque tube was destroyed. The right aileron was attached to both hinges. The bellcrank was destroyed and separated from its attachment points. The aileron control cable was attached to the broken control chain end. The balance cable was cut for wreckage examination. The right flap was attached to the inboard and middle hinge.

The empennage was destroyed and separated from the fuselage. The rudder was attached to the top attachment point. The rudder horn was destroyed and had impact damage. The rudder cables were attached to the rudder horn. The rudder cables were cut at the tail area for wreckage examination. The rudder cables were attached at the rudder pedals. The rudder stops were in-place and intact. The stabilator had leading edge impact damage. The stabilator cables were attached at the balance weight and at the control 'T' bar. The stabilator cables were cut at the tail area for wreckage examination. The stabilator trim tab mechanism measured .5 inches, approximately 3 threads, corresponding to a neutral to nose down trim condition. The stabilator stops were in-place and intact.

The fuselage was destroyed and fragmented into several pieces. The flap handle was separated and destroyed. Impact deformation was displayed at the flap down notch area and the 40 degree notch area. The fuel selector valve was separated and consumed in the post impact fire. The fuel selector was found in the off position. A vacuum gyro was disassembled, and the gyro had rotational scoring on the gyro drum and housing. The airspeed indicator was separated from the instrument panel. A white colored radial mark was found on the instrument face. The mark was located outside of the airspeed markings of the instrument, beyond the 200 miles per hour marking.

The engine was removed from the wreckage and supported for examination. The lower engine case was destroyed. The crankshaft was broken just aft of the propeller flange and exhibited a break consistent with torsional overload. The crankcase was broken in the area of the forward left cylinder, and the cylinder was pushed rearward. The crankshaft could not be rotated. The accessory case was fractured. The accessory gears were found intact. The magneto mounts were fractured. Both magneto's produced spark on all leads when rotated by hand. The carburetor was found separated and the fuel bowl was compromised. The propeller blades exhibited chordwise scratches and leading edge nicks. One of the blades was separated from the hub.

No anomalies were detected with respect to the airframe, control system, engine or their respective systems that could be identified as existing prior to the impact.


An autopsy report was prepared by Cherokee County, Kansas. The autopsy examination was performed on August 27, 2001.

The Federal Aviation Administration prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report. The report listed the following:

NO CARBON MONOXIDE detected in Body Fluid

NO CYANIDE detected in Body Fluid

NO ETHANOL detected in Muscle

NO ETHANOL detected in Kidney

CHLORPHENIRAMINE detected in Kidney

CHLORPHENIRAMINE detected in Liver

Chlorpheniramine is a sedating over-the-counter antihistamine and an ingredient of many cold and allergy preparations. Chlorpheniramine may cause drowsiness.


The Federal Aviation Administration, Textron Lycoming, and The New Piper Aircraft were parties to the investigation.

The wreckage was released to the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department on August 25, 2001.

NTSB Probable Cause

The airplane's departure from level flight and subsequent impact with the terrain as a result of a maneuver initiated by the pilot, and the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the terrain. The reason for the pilot's actions were not determined.

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