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N4230R accident description

Missouri map... Missouri list
Crash location 36.622778°N, 93.222778°W
Nearest city Point Lookout, MO
36.619900°N, 93.239500°W
0.9 miles away
Tail number N4230R
Accident date 02 Aug 2004
Aircraft type Piper PA-32-300
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On August 2, 2004, at 0950 central daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, N4230R, was destroyed during a post-impact explosion and fire after it overran the runway and impacted trees and terrain. The flight was attempting to depart runway 11 (3,739 feet by 100 feet, asphalt) at the M. Graham Clarke Airport (PLK), Point Lookout, Missouri. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot, pilot-rated passenger and three passengers sustained fatal injuries. The flight was originating from PLK, with an intended destination of Cleburne Municipal Airport (CPT), Cleburne, Texas.

A witness to the accident reported that he arrived at the airport approximately 0945 and was loading his airplane when he heard the accident airplane on runway 11 "with the engine wide open." He stated that when he first saw the aircraft it was airborne and initially thought it was landing. He noted that it touched back down on the runway.

This witness recalled that the "engine [was] making a lot of power" when he heard the tires begin to skid. He reported: "I saw the airplane swerve on the runway and heard the skid of tires. I then observed what appeared to be a Piper Cherokee Six turn to the right and skid off the right end of runway 11 and sink into the trees and ditch by highway 65." He estimated the aircraft's speed as about 50 miles per hour at this time. He reportedly went to the end of the runway and observed the crash site.

A second witness stated that he saw the airplane "losing control." He reported that smoke was coming from the tires, with a "screeching sound also, like the brakes were locked up." He noted that a couple seconds later the braking stopped and "immediately there was a skidding noise like metal on the pavement. The plane then started to lean or tilt towards my direction. There was a little bounce [and] skip [and] the plane went over the end into the trees."

The aircraft came to rest in a ravine, approximately 215 feet from the end of the runway. The elevation of the accident site was approximately 47 feet below the runway elevation.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the accident pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating, issued on August 4, 1999. FAA records indicated that he was issued a third class airman medical certificate on May 20, 2003. The medical certificate listed the limitation: "Holder shall wear corrective glasses."

The pilot's logbook was not located. On his application for his most recent airman medical certificate he reported a total flight time of 220 hours. He reported that 24 hours were obtained within the 6 months preceding the application.

The pilot rated passenger was issued a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating on August 19, 1999, according to FAA records. He reported a total flight time of 59 hours on his airman certificate application.

FAA records indicated that a second-class airman medical and student pilot certificate was issued to the pilot rated passenger on March 31, 1999. No subsequent medical certificate application was on file with the FAA.


The accident airplane was a 1969 Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six (serial number 32-40595). It was certified as a six-place, normal category airplane under FAA Type Certificate A3SO. It was a low-wing, single-engine design, which incorporated a fixed, tricycle landing gear configuration.

A Lycoming IO-540K1A5 fuel-injected, normally aspirated engine (serial number L-6550-48) powered the airplane. The engine was rated to develop 300 horsepower.

Entry and exiting the airplane was possible through a cabin door located over the wing on the right side of the fuselage, adjacent to the forward seat. A cargo/passenger door was located on the left side of the fuselage, aft of the left wing.

According to FAA records, the pilot and pilot-rated passenger were co-owners of the accident airplane. They purchased the aircraft on September 1, 1999.

Maintenance logbooks for the airplane were not located. A receipt for an annual inspection dated June 4, 2004 was obtained. It indicated a recording tachometer time of 874.7 hours at the time of the inspection.

Information on file with the FAA indicated that as of January 31, 2002, the aircraft had accumulated 2,661.15 hours of flight time. The recording tachometer reportedly indicated 739.15 at that time.

A recording tachometer was not recovered at the accident site.


Weather information was not available at PLK. Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS) were installed at Boone County Airport (HRO), Harrison, Arkansas, located 22 miles south of PLK, and at Springfield - Branson Regional Airport (SGF), Springfield, Missouri, located 38 miles north of PLK.

The HRO ASOS, at 0953, recorded: Variable winds at 3 knots; 9 miles visibility; clear skies; temperature 26 degrees Celsius; dew point 21 degrees Celsius; and altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury.

The SGF ASOS, at 0952, recorded: Wind from 140 degrees at 5 knots; 10 miles visibility; clear skies; temperature 26 degrees Celsius; dew point 21 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.04 inches of mercury.

The density altitude at PLK, based on the temperature and altimeter setting at HRO, was calculated to be 2,327 feet. The PLK field elevation was 938 feet.


The airport was located along the top of a hill and consisted of a single paved runway. Runway 11-29 was 3,739 feet long by 100 feet wide. The FAA Airport Facility Directory reported the elevation of the departure end of runway 11 at PLK as 938 feet.

An embankment approximately 40 feet in height and descending at about a 45-degree angle began at the end of the runway pavement. No overrun or safety area was available between the end of the runway and the embankment. This was noted in the Airport Facility Directory entry for the airport.


The aircraft came to rest in a ravine, approximately 215 feet from the departure end of runway 11, immediately west of U.S. Route 65. The aircraft was located at 36 degrees 37.368 minutes north latitude, 93 degrees 13.373 minutes west longitude as determined by a handheld global positioning system (GPS) receiver. The elevation of the accident site was 891 feet mean sea level (msl) according to the GPS receiver.

Tire skid marks were visible beginning 929 feet from the departure end of runway 11. The initial mark was located near the runway centerline and appeared to correspond to the left main landing gear. The marks proceeded toward the right side of the runway, eventually departing the pavement about 331 feet from the embankment at the end of the runway.

After the point where the marks departed the right edge of the runway pavement, a pair of ruts was observed in the grass to the taxiway apron adjacent to the runway. Skid marks crossed the apron and continued as ruts in the gravel area between the end of the taxiway pavement and the embankment. The course from the point the aircraft overran the embankment to the accident site was 125 degrees magnetic.

The aircraft was oriented on a magnetic heading of 160 degrees. The entire structure sustained fire damage. The cabin area burned completely. The fire destroyed the fuselage sidewalls and roof. The center, pass-through section of the wing spar was intact. Localized areas of the surrounding terrain and trees were burned.

The left wing was separated outboard of a point about mid-span. The fuel tank cap was present and secure. The wing spar remained intact. The outboard section of the left wing was located approximately ten feet behind the wing, adjacent to the empennage. The leading edge was crushed aft. The outboard section of the aileron remained attached to the wing at the outboard aileron hinge. The inboard hinge was separated and the inboard section of the aileron was bent aft. Soot covered most of the wing section.

The left main landing gear was collapsed outboard under the left wing. The brake assembly remained securely attached to the strut. The brake pads were attached. The brake rotor appeared undistorted. However, the brake and wheel assemblies were discolored consistent with fire damage. No other defects were observed.

The right wing remained in position relative to the fuselage. The wing spar remained intact, however, it was bent downward approximately 30-degrees at a point about 2/3 span from the wing root. The right aileron remained attached at the outboard hinge. The inboard section of the aileron was separated completely from the inboard hinge and the outboard section of the aileron. The outboard aileron section was located in the debris area.

The right main landing gear remained secured to the wing spar. The wheel assembly remained attached to the lower end of the strut. The tire was deformed and partially melted. The brake assembly including brake pads remained attached to the strut. The brake rotor appeared undistorted. The brake and wheel assemblies were discolored consistent with fire damage. No other defects were observed.

The empennage was destroyed with the exception of a 4-foot section of the left side and lower skin forward of the stabilizers. The vertical stabilizer was lying flat on the ground with the rudder attached.

The left half of the stabilator separated from the fuselage and was located approximately 10 feet behind the empennage. The assembly exhibited leading edge crushing and trailing edge deformation. The trim tab was intact.

The right half of the stabilator was located in place adjacent to the empennage and was lying under the vertical stabilizer. The trim tab was intact and attached to the stabilator.

The engine remained attached to the engine mount and the firewall. The two-bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. One blade was bent forward over the length of the blade. The second was curled aft at the tip. Both blades exhibited leading edge gouges and chord wise scratches. The engine cylinders and crankcase appeared to be intact. Internal continuity was verified by crankshaft rotation. The spark plug electrodes were light gray in appearance, consistent with normal wear. Cylinder compression and suction was present when the crankshaft was rotated by hand. The magneto housings were melted and the units could not be tested. Engine control continuity to the cockpit area was confirmed.

Flight control continuity was confirmed from the control surfaces to the cockpit. The flap control handle was positioned in the first detent, which would correspond to a 10-degree flap setting. The linkage between the flap handle and the flap torque tube was intact. The torque tube sprocket and chain were positioned consistent with a 10-degree flap position.

Stabilator trim control continuity was verified from the trim jackscrew to the cockpit area. The observed jackscrew position corresponded with a neutral trim setting.


Autopsies of the pilot and pilot-rated passenger were performed at Southwest Missouri Forensics on August 3, 2004.

The FAA Civil Aero Medical Institute (CAMI) toxicology report for the pilot stated:

COTININE detected in Blood


DIPHENHYDRAMINE present in Urine

The FAA CAMI toxicology samples were submitted and analyzed for the pilot-rated passenger. The report stated:

ETOMIDATE detected in Blood

ETOMIDATE detected in Urine

Cotinine is a metabolite of nicotine. Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine, available in many over-the-counter allergy medications and sleep aids. Etomidate is an intravenous anesthetic, often used for intubation (insertion of a tube through the nose or mouth into the airway) in the emergency setting.


The aircraft was fueled the morning of the accident flight. The pilot requested the airport line personnel put 5 gallons in each main tank and to top-off the outboard auxiliary tanks. Each main fuel tank had a capacity of 25 gallons and each auxiliary tank had a capacity of 17 gallons, according to the manufacturer's documentation. Records indicated that the accident aircraft was fueled with 24.4 gallons.

According to performance data published by the manufacturer, at a maximum gross weight of 3,400 pounds, takeoff required a ground roll of approximately 1,400 feet and 2,000 feet would have been required to clear a 50-foot obstacle.

Manufacturer data indicated the required landing distance at 3,400 pounds was approximately 680 feet for the ground roll and 1,050 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle and land.


The wreckage was released at the conclusion of the on-scene examination and was acknowledged by the airport manager.

Parties to the investigation were the FAA, New Piper Aircraft Co. and Lycoming Engines.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure attain adequate flying speed and his delay in aborting the takeoff which resulted in premature liftoff and an overrun of the runway. Contributing factors were the descending embankment, trees and ravine.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.