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N183DP accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Middleville, MI
42.713089°N, 85.461960°W
Tail number N183DP
Accident date 06 Jul 1997
Aircraft type Piper PA-18
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 6, 1997, at 0710 eastern daylight time (edt), a Piper PA- 18, N183DP, owned and operated by a commercial instrument rated pilot, was destroyed by ground impact and post-crash fire shortly after takeoff from Barlow Lake, Middleville, Michigan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. No flight plan was on file. The flight originated at Barlow Lake, Middleville, Michigan, at 0700 edt, and was en route to Rockford, Michigan.

One witness near the accident site, reported she did not see the accident but recalled hearing the engine doing a series of "...slowly raised and lowered in pitch, an explosion." Another witness, stated he "...heard an engine start up at full throttle as if it were attempting to climb, ...then heard a crash."

The Michigan Department of State Police reported that at the accident site, N183DP was upside down pointing south to southwest. The ground scars were approximately 50 feet long in a straight line, in a direction of south to southeast. The Michigan State Police said, "...due to the fact that the marks were not that long, the plane may have been traveling at relatively slower speeds."

A Federal Aviation Administration Inspector represented the NTSB on-scene. Examination of the airplane found no indication of pre-impact flight control failure. Flight Control continuity was verified to the elevators and rudder. The aileron cables had been cut for transport, but otherwise were continuous. Floats were non-amphibious non-steering type and had sustained damage. Both of the float aft ends had upward bending and both front ends had heavy impact damage. A fuel sample taken from the right fuel tank by the FAA Inspector appeared to be an auto gas/oil mixture of the type commonly used for boat fuel in two stroke engines. The appearance of the fuel sample looked gold in color and had an oily feel to it when left out to dry. In addition, there was a white residue on the bottom of the sample similar to that of water present in the fuel. A small amount of gray paste residue was noted on the carburetor filter element. The propeller displayed indications consistent with engine power and rotation at the time of impact. One blade revealed heavy chordwise scratching along the outboard 2/3 span with severe leading edge damage. The outboard 1/3 of the blade was twisted to the in direction and bent aft. The second blade revealed some chordwise scratches with a heavily nicked leading edge. The blade was bent forward at mid-span with the tip twisted aft in the direction of rotation. Engine continuity and magneto gear drive rotation were verified. Valve travel appeared normal on all cylinders.

The airplane had been installed with EDO floats, model 89-2000, on June 16, 1997, approximately 20 days prior to the accident. The pilot had accumulated 5.8 hours total time in this airplane on floats. The revised weight and balance revealed a new useful load of 439 pounds. The pilot weighted 185 pounds, the passenger weighed approximately 170 pounds, and 36 gallons of fuel were on board which totals 571 pounds. This is approximately 132 pounds over the airplanes maximum weight allowed.

A post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted on July 8, 1997 at Memorial Medical Center, Grand Rapids. No pre-existent anomalies were noted during this examination.

The pilot's toxicological analysis was performed by the FAA's Civil Medical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicological examinations of specimens from the pilot were negative for the drugs screened.

NTSB Probable Cause

fuel contamination, due to improper servicing of the aircraft; and failure of the pilot to maintain adequate airspeed, while maneuvering to land, which resulted in a inadvertent stall and collision with the terrain. The pilot's failure to ensure a proper gross weight of the aircraft, and his lack of total experience in type of aircraft were related factors.

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