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N98PK accident description

Maine map... Maine list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Saddle Island, ME
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Tail number N98PK
Accident date 24 Aug 1999
Aircraft type Piper PA-18-150
Additional details: None
No position found

NTSB Factual Report


On August 24, 1999, about 1630 Eastern Daylight Time, a Piper PA-18-150, N98PK, was substantially damaged after impacting terrain on Saddle Island, Maine. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The flight departed from Lake Megunticook, Camden, Maine, about 1545.

A witness who was located on a vessel anchored off the east shore of Saddle Island stated that the pilot had made a phone call to the witness about 45 minutes prior to the accident, to ask if he wanted to go flying. The witness declined because he was already out on the water. The pilot told the witness that it was a beautiful day to fly, and the witness could expect him to fly by to say hello.

When the airplane arrived over the island, the witness observed it to fly in a northerly direction, parallel the east shore of the island, about 500 feet above the water. The witness waved to the pilot, and the pilot waved in return as the airplane climbed to the west. There were no radio communications between the airplane and the boat. About 1 minute later the airplane came over the north tip of the island on a southerly heading. The airplane was "low and slow, about tree top level." As the airplane passed by, "the nose came up and the tail went down." The tail struck a tree and the airplane veered to the left. The edge of the left wing hit a second tree, and rotated the airplane to the left. The left wing then dropped as the right wing struck trees, turning the airplane to a westerly heading. The witness further stated that "the airplane was under full power, like he wanted to get out of there."

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located 44 degrees, 10.717 minutes north latitude, 68 degrees, 57.824 minutes west longitude, and about 13 feet elevation.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, single engine sea, and instrument airplane. The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration second class medical certificate was issued on May 17, 1999.

In January 1999, the pilot received training in a PA-18-150 for a floatplane rating. The pilot was signed off to conduct solo operations in a PA-18-150 and satisfactorily passed the check-ride for an airplane single engine seaplane rating on January 22, 1999.

Since completing the airplane single engine seaplane rating, the pilot logged a total of 26.1 hours in the accident airplane with floats attached to the airframe. The pilot's total airplane single engine seaplane experience was 32.1 hours.

A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that the last documented stall recovery procedures training or practice was on January 19, 1999.


A review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed that an annual inspection of the airplane was conducted on December 17, 1998 and was found airworthy.

The floats were installed on May 11, 1999.


The wreckage was examined on August 25,1999, at the accident site. The airplane came to rest among evergreen trees on a magnetic heading of 250 degrees, at an elevation of 65 feet, about 50 feet from a rock ledge shoreline of the island. The debris path, which consisted of yellow paint shards and Plexiglas, was along a straight line, beginning about 600 feet from the wreckage. At the first point of impact, a tree exhibited fresh scaring on the bark about 50 feet from the ground. Several freshly broken trees, about 20 feet high, were also observed along the debris path about 60 feet from the wreckage. Broken fragments of the trees were found on the ground next to the trunks. Two of the fragments exhibited fresh 45-degree angle cuts with black paint transfer.

The propeller of the airplane was attached to the engine. It exhibited slight torsional twisting of one blade, and chord-wise scarring on both blades.

All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident scene. The airplane was lying on its right side; nose low, with the right wing folded rearward alongside the fuselage. The left wing was still attached to the wing struts, but collapsed into the cockpit area. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit area to all primary control surfaces.

The engine was rotated by hand using the propeller flange. Thumb compression and valve train continuity was confirmed to all cylinders. All spark plugs were removed, their electrodes were intact and light gray in color. The left magneto was removed from the engine, and was rotated by hand, producing spark on all four towers. The right magneto could not be removed, and its associated lead wires were destroyed.


The State of Maine, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Augusta, Maine, conducted an autopsy of the pilot's remains on August 25, 1999. Toxicological testing was conducted on the pilot by a contractor for The State of Maine, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Augusta, Maine, and by the Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, all with negative results.


The weather reported at an airport located about 9 miles to the west, at 1655 was, winds from 220 degrees at 7 knots, 10 statute miles of visibility, and clear skies.


On August 27, 1999, the wreckage was released to Phoenix Aviation Managers, Incorporated, in New Jersey.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain altitude/clearance from trees.

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