Plane crash map Find crash sites, wreckage and more

N98094 accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Sparta, MI
43.160858°N, 85.710039°W
Tail number N98094
Accident date 25 Oct 2000
Aircraft type Piper PA28-140
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 25, 2000, at about 0717 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA28-140, N98094, owned and piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it struck trees and terrain during initial climb from runway 24 (3,200 feet by 50 feet, asphalt) at the Sparta Airport, Sparta, Michigan. A fire consumed portions of the aircraft subsequent to the impact. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions and had filed an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger received serious injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to the Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field Airport, Manassas, Virginia.

The aircraft struck trees and terrain about 300 feet left of the extended runway centerline and about 1,000 feet from the departure end of the runway.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single engine land airplanes and instrument airplane. He held a third class medical certificate with no limitations issued on September 15, 1999. According to the pilot logbook found at the accident site, the pilot had accumulated 710 hours of flight time with 430 hours in the same type aircraft as the accident aircraft. The most recent logbook entry was dated April 18, 1999. The logbook indicated that the pilot had 44 hours of simulated instrument and 9 hours actual instrument experience.


The airplane was a 1969 Piper PA-28-140, N98094, serial number 28-26040. A Lycoming O-320-E2A engine that produced 150 horsepower powered the airplane. The aircraft and engine logbooks were not recovered.


The Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids, Michigan, weather reporting station located about 16 miles and 155 degrees form the accident site, recorded the weather at 0656 as: Winds 130 degrees at 4 knots; Visibility 1/4 statute miles with fog; Vertical visibility 100 feet; Temperature 13 degrees Celsius; Dewpoint 13 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting 30.31 inches of mercury.

According to a certified flight instructor, the visibility at the accident airport was less than 1/8 mile at about 0755 edt.


According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilot had received a weather briefing prior to the accident, and had filed an IFR flight plan. There is no record of the pilot obtaining a departure clearance for the flight. There were no known communications with the accident aircraft.


The Sparta Airport, 8D4, Sparta, Michigan has one runway, 06/24, that is 3,200 feet by 50 feet. The terrain rises along the departure path for runway 24 and the departure path is bounded by trees. The stand of trees that the aircraft impacted lays along an area that is about 60 higher in elevation than the runway, 300 feet left of the extended runway centerline and about 1,000 feet from the departure and of the runway.

The aircraft impacted a 30-foot tall tree with its left wing. The outboard 4 feet of the left wing was found about 50 feet from the initial impact point. This portion of the wing had a semi-circular impression about 4 inches in diameter and 2 feet from the wingtip. The wing structure was crushed rearward through the aileron hinge line at the location of this impression. Numerous broken trees were found between the initial impact point and the main wreckage. The remainder of the aircraft came to rest about 150 feet from the initial impact point. The fuselage came to rest on its right side. A fire consumed the cockpit and sections of both wings. The right wing was separated from the fuselage and was wrapped around a tree near the fuselage wreckage. The inboard 3 feet of the left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The remainder of the left wing was found adjacent to the right wing and was fire damaged. The entire empennage remained attached to the tail cone.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and its systems revealed no anomalies that could be associated with a preexisting condition. All identified control system and structural breaks exhibited signatures consistent with overload failure.

The engine was examined and was able to be rotated. "Thumb" compression was verified on all cylinders. Valve train and accessory drive continuity was verified. The magnetos exhibited fire damage and no testing was possible. The engine driven vacuum pump was removed and the drive was found intact. The vacuum pump was disassembled and no anomalies were noted. A borescope examination of the interior of the cylinders revealed no anomalies. Several trees along the wreckage path exhibited diagonal cuts. The propeller had chordwise scuffing on the leading edges. No anomalies were found with respect to the engine that could be associated with a preexisting condition.

The gyroscopic flight instruments were found and examined. The vacuum powered directional gyro was damaged by fire and rotation could not be positively determined. The electric turn and bank indicator was damaged by fire and rotation could not be positively determined. The vacuum powered attitude indicator was damaged by fire and rotation could not be positively determined. The attitude indicator showed no internal impact damage.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on October 26, 2000, at the Spectrum Health-East Campus, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A forensic toxicology report prepared by the FAA was negative for all tests performed.


The FAA, Piper and Lycoming were parties to the investigation.

The wreckage was released on October 26, 2000 to a representative at the airport.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain proper runway alignment on departure and his failure to maintain clearance from the trees. The pilot's attempted flight into known adverse weather, his lack of instrument experience, the fog, and the trees were contributing factors.

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