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N8261L accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Jefferson Twp, OH
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Tail number N8261L
Accident date 29 May 1995
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-181
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 29, 1995, at 0925 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA- 28-181, N8261L, owned by the Dayton Pilots' Club, was destroyed when it impacted in an open field, near Jefferson Township, Ohio. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, for the personal flight that originated at Dayton, Ohio, at 0844. An IFR flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

At the Dayton General South Airport (MGY), where the airplane was based, the pilot obtained a weather briefing, filed his flight plan, and preflighted the airplane for an instrument proficiency flight.

Dayton General South is a non-towered airport. According to Air Traffic Control Records, at 0842, while still on the ground at MGY, the pilot radioed Dayton Approach Control (DAY) for his IFR clearance. The pilot then departed MGY, established radio contact with DAY, and proceeded to Richmond (RID), Indiana. During the next 30 minutes, N8261L flew the routes, altitudes, and approach as directed by DAY. During this period of time, communications between N8261L and DAY were routine.

After a practice instrument approach at RID, the DAY controller issued N8261L a climb clearance to 4,000 feet, and a magnetic heading for the return flight to MGY. At 0915, N8261L was approved for a frequency change to contact the Dayton Automated Flight Service Station, and at 0916, N8261L reported back on the DAY controller's frequency.

The DAY controller issued N8261L a descent clearance to 3,000 feet, at 0922:38. The pilot responded, at 0922:41, "six one Lima uh...down to three." No further transmissions were received from N8261L.

Several witnesses reported hearing high engine RPM sounds, and observed the airplane impact the ground in a nose down descent. One witness stated:

I heard a loud airplane engine obviously low...I was able to locate it, it was approximately 30 feet above [the] ground, sounding like full throttle. It was heading northwest and landed nose down. Following was a cloud of smoke with an explosion...

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight about 39 degrees, 42 minutes north latitude, and 84 degrees, 20 minutes west longitude.


The pilot, Mr. Bernard A. Hegman, held a Commercial Pilot Certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane.

His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Second Class Medical Certificate was issued on May 13, 1994.

A review of Mr. Hegman's pilot log book revealed that he had accumulated about 635 hours of total flight experience, of which about 183 hours were in this make and model. During the previous 90 days, the pilot had flown a total of 3 hours, also in this make and model.


The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on May 29 and 30, 1995. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene.

A 33 foot ground scar extended from an open field to the engine, on a magnetic bearing of 350 degrees. The engine was imbedded about 3 feet in the ground, with only a portion of the oil sump at ground level. Airplane components were scattered on a magnetic bearing of 350 degrees, up to 250 feet beyond the engine.

Pieces of red glass, similar to the left wing tip lens, were found near the beginning of the ground scar. Several pieces of metal, including the skid runner, were found in a 5-foot-diameter impact hole, about 30 feet from the initial ground scar. The top weighted section of the rudder was located just west of the impact hole.

Dirt was removed from around the engine, and it was lifted from the hole for examination. The crankcase was cracked 360 degrees around, and the engine could not be rotated. Components separated from the engine included the oil pump, engine driven fuel pump, starter motor, alternator, and two spark plugs.

The carburetor was separated from the engine and located about 20 feet north of the engine. The left magneto was destroyed. The right magneto was separated from the engine and intact. When rotated by hand, the right magneto produced spark at all distributor block towers.

The propeller hub and blades remained attached to the engine. Both blades displayed "S" bending, and chord wise twisting and scratches.

The cockpit instrument panel was about 2 feet north of the engine. The airspeed indicator needle was bent, and observed to be pointing to 164 knots.

The main fuselage and cabin area were located 50 feet north of the engine. The left and right wings were separated from the fuselage. Control cable continuity could not be established to the ailerons, due to cable separation at the fuselage. Control continuity was established from the pilot controls to the elevator and rudder. Examination of the elevator trim cable revealed that it was set for a nose down trim condition. The flap handle was destroyed, but the flaps were determined to be [up] at impact.

The nose strut and wheel were separated from the fuselage, and located 230 feet from the main wreckage, on a magnetic bearing of 350 degrees.


An autopsy was performed on Mr. Bernard Hegman, on May 29, 1995, by Dr. David M. Smith, of the Montgomery County Coroner's Office, Dayton, Ohio.

The toxicological testing report, from the Department of Defense, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., was negative for drugs and alcohol for Mr. Bernard Hegman. Carbon monoxide and cyanide testing was not conducted, due to insufficient tissue samples.


Radar Data

According to the DAY recorded radar data, N8261L was level at 4,000 feet, at 0923:19, prior to the last descent. An altitude of 3,800 feet was recorded at 0923:24. The last altitude recorded by radar, occurred at 0923:33, at 2,600 feet. This accounted for a 1,400 foot altitude change in 14 seconds.

Electric Trim

The airplane was equipped with an autopilot and electric pitch trim system. In addition to automatic activation of electric trim by the autopilot, a switch on the pilot's yoke could also activated the electric trim.

Work Schedule

The pilot was a construction engineer and supervisor by trade, and his permanent residence and employer were in Ohio. In March, 1995, he was assigned to a construction site in Maryland, where he lived during the week, and commuted home to Ohio on weekends. The pilot flew home on a commercial flight to Dayton, Ohio, Saturday, May 27, 1995. The pilot's daughter picked him up at the airport and drove him home.

During an interview with the pilot's daughter, she stated that when she picked her father up at the airport, "he looked tired." She also stated that it was the practice of her father to work 13 to 14 hour days, while supervising a construction site.

Co-workers of the pilot were interviewed. According to a co-worker in Maryland, the pilot typically worked 12 hour days as a project engineer. The co-worker stated that the pilot lived about 30 miles from his place of work. The pilot had reported to his co-worker that during the drive into work, while waiting in traffic, he had fallen asleep.

The airplane wreckage was released on May 30, 1995, to Allen Fiedler, a representative of the owners insurance company.

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