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N3896T accident description

Maine map... Maine list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Penobscot, ME
44.479520°N, 68.720584°W
Tail number N3896T
Accident date 02 Jul 1997
Aircraft type Piper PA-28R-180
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On July 2, 1997, at 2036 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28R-180, N3896T, was destroyed when it descended and impacted in the Penobscot Bay, Penobscot, Maine. The certificated private pilot and one passenger were not recovered and presumed fatal. The two other passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The intended destination was Pittsfield, Maine.

According to an interview conducted with the airport manager at the Pittsfield Airport, the pilot had rented the airplane for a sightseeing flight. The pilot had obtained an abbreviated weather briefing about 1200. He said that the weather "looked fine," and the flight departed about 1745.

The pilot landed at Stonington, Maine, where the occupants had dinner, refueled the airplane, and departed for Pittsfield.

According to the Northport Harbor Master, about 2030, he heard an airplane over the middle of the West Bay. He said the airplane was between Northport and Isleboro close to Flat Island. "... The engine seemed to rev and then silence for about 10 seconds. Then loud POP... ."

A witness near Penobscot Bay said she saw an airplane make a sharp right turn before it impacted the water and sank.

The accident occurred during the hours of dusk approximately 44 degrees, 21 minutes north latitude, and 68 degrees, 55 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He was not instrument rated.

The pilot's log book was not located; however, on his application for a third class medical certificate issued on October 24, 1996, he reported over 200 hours of total flight experience.

According to the Waldo County Sheriff's Dept., the airplane operator reported that the pilot had logged about 50 hours of flight time on this airplane.


The Piper PA-28R-180 airplane, serial number 28R-30226, was equipped with a Lycoming IO-360-B1E. According to the airport manager, the airplane's log books were kept in the airplane. The log books have not been located.


The 2035 surface weather observation for Hancock County, Bar Harbor, Maine, located about 30 miles southwest of the location of the airplane debris, reported:

Sky condition, 900 feet overcast; visibility, 10 miles; temperature, 66 degrees Fahrenheit (F); dew point, 61 degrees F; winds from 230 degrees at 5 knots; and altimeter, 29.89 Hg.

Witnesses near the location of the airplane debris reported fog in the area at the time of the accident.


The airplane impacted in an area where the water depth was about 70 feet. After a search, airplane parts that were recovered included a right main landing gear, a seat with the aircraft N number, a purse, a wallet, charts and pieces of insulation.

The main wreckage, which included the fuselage, wings, tail section, engine and propeller were not recovered. Examination of the recovered debris produced no useful information due to the nature of the debris and impact damage.


Autopsy and toxicological examinations were not performed as the pilot's body was not recovered.


The wreckage debris was released to Allen A. Ryan of Ryan Insurance Services, Inc. representative of the owner's insurance company.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's flight into adverse weather conditions, which resulted in the loss of control. Factors relating to the accident were the fog and the pilot's lack of an instrument rating.

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