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N15743 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Raleigh, NC
35.793207°N, 78.651115°W

Tail number N15743
Accident date 05 Jul 1995
Aircraft type Piper PA-28R-200
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 5, 1995, at 0416 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28R-200, N15743 was substantially damaged following a collision with terrain during an instrument approach at the Raleigh-Durham Airport, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The private instrument rated pilot, and his private pilot/passenger were both fatally injured in the accident. The aircraft was being operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 by the pilot. Instrument meteorological conditions existed at the time, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was in effect for the flight. The flight departed Albany, New York at 2304 on the evening of July 4, 1995.

The flight was twice given radar vectors over the Franklin County Airport, but was unable to see the airport because of low clouds, and reduced visibility due to ground fog. The flight then attempted two instrument approaches to the Franklin County Airport, but was still not able to land due the weather conditions. The pilot elected to divert the flight to the Raleigh-Durham Airport, and attempt an instrument landing system approach.

According to the recorded radar data at Raleigh-Durham Airport, the pilot's flight path deviated from the localizer path side to side, from the point of initial intercept of the localizer, all the way to the point of impact. During the approach, the radar data showed that the aircraft had minimal deviation from the localizer course for approximately 23 seconds after intercept of the localizer. For the next 45 seconds the aircraft deviated to the left of course, it then crossed the centerline of the localizer and deviated to the right of course for approximately 30 seconds. Next, the aircraft deviated to the left of course, for approximately 30 seconds, and then deviated to the right of course.(See Radar Computer Magnetic Recordings Attached to This Report.)

The aircraft impacted trees and the terrain approximately 1/2 mile south of the approach end of runway 23L. The elevation of the terrain in the area of the impact was approximately 400 feet above mean sea level.


The pilot, Richard E. Bernstein, held a private pilot certificate, with airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He held a third class medical certificate, with a restriction for the use of glasses, which was issued August 9, 1993.

No pilot log book for the pilot could be located. The pilot's application for his medical certificate in August of 1993 showed a total flight time of 125 hours.


The Piper PA-28R-200 is a four place, single engine, retractable gear airplane. It is powered by a single Lycoming IO-360-C1C, 200 horse power engine.

The last inspection of N15743 was a 100 hour inspection which was completed on June 23, 1995. The aircraft accumulated 8 hours since the inspection, and had accumulated a total of 3919 hours total hours.


Instrument meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident with sky partially obscured, broken ceiling of 200 feet, and visibility of one half mile in fog.


The instrument landing system (ILS) approach to runway 23L at the Raleigh-Durham Airport is on a heading of 232 degrees, with a descent from 1,800 feet above mean sea level (MSL), at the locator outer marker (LOM), to a decision height of 636 feet MSL. The minimum landing visibility for the approach is one half mile.


The initial impact was in a wooded area approximately 1/2 mile northeast of the approach end of Runway 23L. There were pieces of the tops of the 80 foot pine trees, and small pieces of paint chips from the aircraft located in the wooded area. The aircraft then continued on a heading of approximately 180 degrees magnetic, and passed over an open field for approximately 595 feet prior to impacting the terrain in the wooded area on the opposite side of the open field.(See Wreckage Diagram attached to this report for details of wreckage distribution)

There was a post crash fire which consumed the forward portion of the fuselage, including the cockpit section. The aircraft was inverted with the right and left wings broken off. Continuity of the control surface cables was established into the cockpit area.

The aircraft propeller was located at the main wreckage site. There was twisting of the propeller spinner in the direction of rotation. The propeller blades showed signs of chord wise scratching, and twisting towards low pitch.

The aircraft engine accessories were consumed in the post crash fire. There was continuity of the engine drive train. The tachometer was found outside the fuselage. The tachometer RPM needle was bent, which prevented the needle from moving. At the time the tachometer was located, the needle was found to be indicating 1800 RPM.

Examination of the vacuum pump did not reveal any evidence of pre impact malfunction or failure.


An autopsy of the pilot, Mr. Richard E. Bernstein, was conducted by Dr. robert L. Thompson of The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The autopsy list the cause of death of Mr. Bernstein as multiple traumatic injuries.

A toxicological examination was conducted by Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report was negative for the use of alcohol and drugs.


The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. James Brewer, the aircraft owners insurance representative, on July 6, 1995.

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