Plane crash map Find crash sites, wreckage and more

N3126Z accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Holland, MI
42.787523°N, 86.108930°W
Tail number N3126Z
Accident date 26 Apr 1997
Aircraft type Piper PA-22-150
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On April 26, 1997, at 1705 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-22-150, N3126Z, was destroyed by impact and a post impact fire, when it departed controlled flight and impacted trees and a residence in Holland, Michigan. The airplane was observed to abort a landing attempt at Park Township Airport from runway 23 (2,999' x 50' dry asphalt), just prior to the accident. The pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. One passenger suffered serious injuries. The personal 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was on file. The flight departed Tulip City Airport, Holland, Michigan, about 1650.

The surviving passenger told local police and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors that he was in the back seat of the airplane when it departed the Tulip City Airport about 1650. He said that the pilot in command occupied the left front seat and another passenger occupied the right front seat. He said while preparing for the flight, the pilot told him that this was the first time he had flown the airplane with a passenger in the rear seat and it was the "heaviest" the airplane had been when he had flown it. The survivor said that the pilot told him that he wanted to conduct some landings at the Park Township Airport. He said that during the initial approach to the runway at Park Township, "As the airplane got down near the runway, there was considerable turbulence and the airplane traveled down the runway without landing for a considerable distance, when the [pilot] decided to go around." He said that as they passed the end of the runway, he felt the tail of the airplane was low and, "...they seemed to be floating just over the tops of the trees with wiggling type motion by the plane." He said that the pilot said that, "... the airplane won't climb," and they were barely clearing the trees. He said that the left wing went down and the airplane hit the trees and impacted into a garage roof. He said he was not certain if the airplane spun around prior to impact with the roof or not.

A witness on the ground at the Park Township Airport told police that he observed the airplane as it was approaching the runway. He said, "... his speed was a little high, which caused considerable floating, then he started to flare before he touched down. He never touched down and began to start a go-around." He added, "I clearly heard the RPMs go up, when he was adding power. I don't think the plane was defective in any way...." He said, "What he did wrong was he tried to climb when he didn't have the airspeed to do so." He continued, "It basically stalled."


A private residence was involved in the post accident fire and sustained substantial damage.


The pilot, born May 21, 1971 was the holder of a private pilot certificate with privileges for single engine land airplanes. The certificate was issued March 31, 1997. He was the holder of a third class medical issued January 4, 1996, with the limitation, "Holder shall wear lenses that correct for distance vision and possess lenses that correct for near vision." He had accumulated a total time of 90 hours of flight time with 70 hours in this make and model airplane.

The individual occupying the right front seat of the airplane was the holder of a private pilot certificate; however, did not hold a valid medical certificate. The surviving passenger told FAA inspectors that at no time during the flight was he aware of that individual operating the controls of the accident airplane.


The airplane was a PA-22-150, N3126Z, and serial number 22-7071. The airplane had received an annual inspection on November 20, 1996, at which time the total time in service was shown as 3,497 hours.


The accident occurred in a residential area adjacent to the Park Township Airport. The wreckage was located next to the garage of a single-family residence. The garage was destroyed and the house sustained substantial damage from fire and smoke. The tube steel fuselage remained; however, the fabric covering, the interior, instruments, radios, and all wooden parts of the airplane were consumed by fire. The entire airplane was accounted for at the accident site.

Both wings were separated from the airplane and continuity was destroyed to the ailerons and flaps. The rudder and elevator controls were intact and continuity was established. The engine control continuity was verified. The engine was examined at the scene and top spark plugs were removed. They were found to have combustion deposits on them. The engine rotated and thumb compression was found on all four cylinders. Rotation of engine verified continuity throughout including the accessories. The examination of the airplane, powerplant, and propeller failed to reveal any pre-existing mechanical anomalies. The surviving passenger told authorities that there were no mechanical difficulties, which were apparent to him.


A post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by the Ottawa County (MI) Medical Examiner, at Holland, Michigan, on April 28, 1997. The examination revealed no pre-existing pathology or anomalies.

Toxicological examination of specimens from the pilot was positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana) in his blood and urine. The toxicological report is attached as an addendum to this report. There are no data on the effects of very low blood levels of the drug on an individuals performance.


The ignition source was not identified; however, the airplane contained fuel that was expelled during impact with the trees and the garage roof. The entire airplane was involved in the post impact fire.


Parties to the investigation were the Federal Aviation Administration, Flight Standards District Office, Grand Rapids, Michigan; New Piper Aircraft, Vero Beach, Florida; and Lycoming Engines, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Both NTSB and the Ottawa County (MI) Sheriff's Department notified the pilot/owner's stepfather, who lived in Virginia, of the location of the wreckage. No insurance carrier came forward during the investigation representing the owner. The owner/pilot's stepfather confirmed that the pilot had not discussed insurance coverage with him.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed which resulted in a stall/mush and subsequent impact with trees and then a residence. A related factor was turbulence.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.