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N6279A accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Houghton, MI
47.121871°N, 88.569012°W
Tail number N6279A
Accident date 08 Jul 1993
Aircraft type Piper PA-38-112
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On July 8, 1993, at 2110 eastern daylight time (EDT), a Piper PA-38-112, N6279A, registered to Charles H. Ohtonen of Fairbanks, Alaska, and piloted by an airline transport certificated pilot, was destroyed during a collision with the ground. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight had not filed a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger received serious injuries. The flight departed Houghton, Michigan, at 1915 EDT.

There was one witness to the accident. The witnesses location at the time of the accident was next to the accident pilot's family home. He stated he observed N6279A perform one circle near the home followed by a lower approach to the home during the second fly-by. He reported the accident airplane approached his location from the southwest and turned to the northwest during its descent.

The witness stated he heard the engine sputter followed by a high RPM increase sound and then an engine stall. He said the airplane began a descent, "My first thoughts were that he was trying to make a low level approach to the field, similar to ones made by crop dusters." He stated the airplane did not level out, and observed the airplane's left wing strike the ground.


The registered owner of the airplane was observed sitting in the left seat at the accident scene. According to his logbooks, he had accumulated 763 hours of total flight time in a Piper PA-38- 112 (PA-38). Of the total time in the airplane, 758 hours were as pilot-in-command (solo). The pilot's number three logbook showed his last flight in a PA-38, prior to the accident flight, was December 30, 1992, with a duration of 2.1 hours.

Logbook number three showed that he had flown a PA-38 on 4 ohter flights in October, 1992, which totaled 10.3 hours of flight time. Prior to the October, 1992 flights in the PA-38, the logbook showed he had flown the airplane on September 23, 1991 for 2.6 hours.

The pilot's first flight in a PA-38 was logged as May 5, 1989. The logbook entry remark's section for this flight had the following statement: "Afc familiarization, ok solo". This entry was followed by twenty one others up to an entry which shows the pilot successfully passed his private pilot flight test in the PA-38. Of the twenty one entries four are listed as dual instruction. Three of the four dual entries have the remark's section completed. In each of the three filled out sections the same entry is made: "PVT pilot prep". The remainder of the logbook entries associated with the PA-38 do not have the remark's section filled out relative to any specific flight maneuvers having been performed in the airplane.

The second occupant in N6279A was a pilot. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, this pilot reported a total flight time of 264 hours on his second class medical certificate application. The medical certificate was issued on March 29, 1993. The FAA records stated the pilot possessed a private pilot certificate, single-engine land with an instrument rating. The pilot's certificate was issued on August 3, 1992.


N6279A had struck a tree on the south edge of the field it was found in. The tree had freshly separated branches approximately 30 feet above the ground. The first scar northwest of the tree was located approximately 45 feet from it. The scar was about five inches deep and twenty inches in diameter. Pieces of red glass fragments were found in and around the ground scar. The magnetic direction between the tree and first ground scar was 320 degrees.

The airplane was located 79 feet from the first ground scar on an approximate magnetic heading of 335 degrees. Two additional ground scars were located between the tree and N6279A's final resting place.

The second ground scar was approximately ten feet from the first scar. It was about five feet in length, varying in width from six to ten inches, and approximately three inches deep. The third ground scar was approximately 25 feet from the second scar.

It was six feet long by five feet in width, varying in depth between four to six inches in depth. The nose gear assembly was found in the middle scar. A portion of the left wing tip and propeller and spinner were located approximately 25 feet west of this scar.

The left wing was bent upward approximately 20 degrees at the mid-span location. The empennage and tailcone assembly it was attached to had rotated toward the left side of the airplane approximately 45 degrees from the vertical and about 20 degrees forward of its normal position. The nose and left main landing gear had separated from the airframe. The right main landing gear leg was collapsed underneath the right wing. The forward fuselage, adjacent to the cockpit's left side and firewall, was collapsed aft and upward. The cockpit floor was crushed upward and was approximately 20 inches below the top of the instrument panel glare shield.

Flight control continuity was established. The aileron control yoke sprocket chain was attached between the two sprockets on the yoke shafts. The aileron drive shaft was separated from the control yoke and the yoke mount was separated in tension from it's mount in the fuselage/wing center section. The elevator bungy springs were attached to the elevator and stabilizer mount. The elevator stops were intact and were devoid of deformation.

The throttle was observed one inch aft of the "Full" in position. The mixture control was 1/2 inch aft of the "Full" rich position. The carburetor heat handle was in the "HOT" position (full-out). Power plant control continuity was observed. The magnetos were switched off at the scene. The flap handle was found in the retracted position. The left and right flaps were in the extended position and were able to be moved into the retracted position without resistance.

The gascolator bowl was separated from its mount and did not have debris on its inner surface. The electric fuel pump was removed from the airframe, a substance similar in smell and feel to 100 low lead avgas exited the outlet. The carburetor was removed and disassembled. A fluid similar to that found in the fuel pump was observed in the float bowl. Oil color was brownish green in color and did not have reflective particles in the sample removed from the filter and rocker arm shaft mount well.

Bluish colored sparks were observed from the magneto spark leads when the magnetos were rotated. The magnetos drives rotated when the crankshaft was turned. Compression was established on all four cylinders through the use of a finger compression test. The top spark plugs were examined and all were grey in color, the electrodes were not contaminated with debris. The heat muff and muffler were crushed against the oil pump. The air filter was observed to be clean.

The propeller had one blade bent forward approximately 15 degrees at the mid-span location. The face of one propeller blade had spanwise scratching. The second blade had spanwise scratches on the face's tip area only. The front of both propeller blades had spanwise scratching on them. One propeller blade had leading edge gouges in it. The deepest gouge was approximately 3/4 inch in depth and length. The propeller had separated from the starter ring and crankshaft flange. Propeller bolts and bolt sleeves were still affixed to the propeller. Holes in the crankshaft flange and starter ring were elongated opposite the engine's rotational direction.


The autopsy of the left seat occupant was conducted at the Portage View Hospital, Hancock, Michigan. According to the pathologist's report, the fatal injuries of the left seat occupant were due to multiple blunt trauma associated with rapid deceleration and torsion. Results of the toxicology examination by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute were negative for the blood and urine samples.

The right seat passenger was reported to have received serious injuries. The extent of the injuries have not been released by his family.


The wreckage was released to Deputy Sheriff Keith W. Raffaelli of the Houghton County Sheriff's department.

NTSB Probable Cause


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