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N42056 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Dixon, MT
47.316596°N, 114.314008°W

Tail number N42056
Accident date 09 Sep 1994
Aircraft type Piper J3C-65
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On the late morning/early afternoon of September 9, 1994, a Piper J3C-65, N42056, registered to and being flown by Gaylord K. Samsel, a certificated private pilot, was destroyed during a collision with upsloping terrain following a loss of control in flight approximately five nautical miles northwest of Dixon, Montana. There was no fire and the pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions with strong northwesterly winds and gusts prevailed midday on September 9th, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight, which was being conducted for the purposes of elk spotting, was to have been operated under 14CFR91, and originated from Polson, Montana, sometime between 1030 and 1100 hours mountain daylight time (mdt). The aircraft's fuel exhaustion was reported as four hours from takeoff. There were no known witnesses to the accident. The aircraft was located by search and rescue helicopter on September 10, 1994.


The pilot's personal flight log was examined and the first flight was observed to be logged in August of 1957. The log showed continuous flights up to September of 1965 with a total of 272 flight hours, followed by a 16 year break. The log displayed 4 additional flights (3.25 hours total)in 1965, all logged in the accident aircraft, followed by a 12 year break. The log closed with 13 flights (16.75 hours total) in 1993/94, all logged in the accident aircraft. The flight logged was September 7, 1994.


The aircraft's airframe logbook was examined and several periods of apparent inactivity were noted. Specifically, the aircraft log showed a "PERIODIC" inspection on January 8, 1964, at a total time of 2112:25 hours. The next logged inspection was dated July 13, 1981, and was recorded as an "ANNUAL" at a total time of 2121 hours, followed by another annual on August 9, 1982, at a total time of 2129:50. The next and final log entry showed an "ANNUAL" on September 16, 1993, at a total time of 2143 hours.


Strong westerly winds were reported at both Missoula and Kalispell on the afternoon of September 9th. Additionally, gusty wind conditions from 24 to 27 knots were reported. These wind conditions were reported in the vicinity of the accident site on the afternoon of the 9th (refer to statement of Larue Melton).


The aircraft crashed on a grass covered hillside at an elevation of 4,200 feet above sea level. The latitude and longitude of the site was 47 degrees 23.19 minutes north and 114 degrees 23.01 minutes west respectively. The site was situated in an area of moderately upsloping terrain with the uplsope towards the southwest (refer to CHART I). The ground impact site was in a cleared area surrounded by young conifer trees with tops ranging from 40 to 90 feet above ground. The site was situated within an approximate 100 foot diameter clearing and no broken tree branches were observed near the site or surrounding trees. The aircraft was observed at the initial ground impact site with no wreckage distribution laterally across the ground and no impact crater other than that associated with the final resting place of the aircraft. The nose of the aircraft was oriented toward the southeast. All components from the aircraft were found at the ground impact site (refer to photographs 1 through 4). The leading edge of the left wing displayed compressive flattening nearly perpendicular to the chordline axis. This flattening was evident from near the wing root area out to the tip. (refer to photograph 5). The right wing displayed similar impact damage but only in the very outboard wing leading edge area (refer to photograph 6). The fuselage was distorted with a distinctive left bend just aft of the wing trailing edge area. The bend was oriented towards the left wing. The forward portion of the aircraft sustained extensive impact damage and compressive deformation. The elevator trim was observed in a near neutral position (refer to photograph 7). Control continuity was established for all three control surfaces as well as for the elevator trim. The engine remained attached to the airframe with one blade of the wooden propeller buried in the soil (refer to photograph 8). The engine was subsequently detached from the airframe and rolled upright. The propeller was observed to be fractured at its attach point to the engine crankshaft and displayed aftward deformation on either side of the flange. The blade extruded from the ground displayed splintering and its tip was absent. The opposing blade was relatively undamaged (refer to photographs 9/10). The separated blade tip was located a short distance from the engine and displayed a diagonal tearing type separation surface (refer to photograph 11). The propeller's forward flange plate was unbolted and the plate was removed and examined. The plate displayed slight aftward bending along one side. Additionally, imprints of bolt threads could be seen inside several of the bolt holes (refer to photograph 12). Several of the bolt holes also displayed very slight elongation along an axis running anywhere from radially to tangentially. The carburetor was broken free and contained no fuel and both the "AUX" fuel tank in the left wing and the main "HEADER" tank had been breached. Fuel was found within the fuel line feeding the carburetor. The "AUX" tank had a fuel shutoff which was found closed. The "HEADER" tank appeared to have no shutoff valve.


Post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by Gary Dale, MD, at the facilities of the State of Montana's Forensic Science Division, 554 West Broadway, Missoula, Montana, 59802, on September 10, 1994. The report (case number 94-09-04) stated that the pilot's cause of death was "multiple, blunt force injuries." Toxicological evaluation of samples from the pilot were all negative (refer to attached toxicological report).


On site examination of the wreckage was conducted on the afternoon of September 11, 1995, after which the wreckage was released to a representative of the pilot's family. Written wreckage release was provided to the pilot's wife on September 13th (refer to NTSB Form 6120.15). Subsequent to the release of the wreckage, Mr. William K. Samsel examined the fuel system and reported finding particulate matter within the fuel system (refer to photograph 13 and attached letter of Mr. Samsel).

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