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N2336A accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Beaver Falls, PA
40.752010°N, 80.319230°W

Tail number N2336A
Accident date 12 Apr 1998
Aircraft type Piper PA-20
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On April 12, 1998, approximately 1850 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-20, N2336A, was destroyed when it collided with terrain during take off from the Beaver County Airport (BVI), Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot/owner and front seat passenger received fatal injuries; two rear seated passengers received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot/owner purchased the tail wheel airplane on April 10, 1998, flew locally with the previous owner for 1.5 hours, and then ferried the airplane, solo, to BVI; a 1.6 hour flight. Beaver County Airport tower personnel stated that the pilot aborted his first landing attempt, and witnesses to the second landing commented that "the landing really attracted their attention." A Fixed Base Operator reported that the airplane was filled with fuel on April 11, 1998, and tower personnel could not recall the airplane flying that day.

According to a passenger on the flight, on April 12, 1998, the pilot walked around the airplane several times checking "various things," before he took off. The passenger, the pilot, and their two children boarded the airplane. While they taxied to the runway, the passenger observed the windsock indicating no wind. During the takeoff, everything "seemed OK" and just after the airplane lifted off the ground, the passenger heard a "pop." She stated the "pop" was a "low" sound, similar to the pop of a "champagne cork." The noise appeared to startle the pilot, and he looked to the right momentarily. As the wings rocked back and forth, he had to "fight to control the airplane." The passenger observed the airplane enter a nose-high attitude, and she felt as if they might "summersault backwards," before impacting the ground. The passenger reported the engine as "very loud" throughout the entire takeoff sequence.

An experienced tail wheel pilot stated that as the accident airplane taxied, another airplane landed downwind on runway 28; with the winds estimated at 5-7 knots from the east. The tail wheel airplane took off on runway 28, and the witness reported, "the airplane immediately began to fishtail down the runway." The witness thought, "the pilot had his hands full," with the tail wind condition. Once airborne, the airplane's wings rocked several times, and then the airplane went into a nose high attitude. The left wing dropped, and the airplane began a descending turn to the south, impacting a 5 foot high embankment, approximately 90 feet south of the runway. The airplane bounced and came to rest on top of the embankment in an upright position. Additional witnesses reported that they heard the engine running throughout the takeoff sequence and that the rear passengers were out of the airplane when it burst into flames.

The accident happened during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located 40 degrees, 46.32 minutes north latitude, 80 degrees, 23.40 minutes west longitude, and 1,200 feet elevation.


The pilot possessed a private pilot certificate and a third class medical issued on February 2, 1998. On March 1, 1998, the pilot completed a check out record for a Fixed Base Operator indicating 850 hours of total flight time. The pilot's logbook was recovered in the wreckage of the airplane and was burnt; however, the last few pages were readable. The second to last page utilized was marked 1987. After 3 entries for flights in an Ercoupe 415 in 1987, there was 1 entry for a 1989 flight in a Cessna 152, and another entry, which was unreadable, dated 1992. The last entry on this page was dated March 1, 1998, with a certified flight instructor's sign off for a 2.6 hour biennial flight review in a Piper Tomahawk. The last utilized page in the logbook was marked 1998, with 3 entries. The first entry was dated March 6, 1998, in an 8KCAB for 1.1 hours, with comments written, "tail wheel review." The second entry was dated April 10, 1998, in the PA-20 for 1.5 hours, with comments written, "review tail wheel techniques, post purchase, gusty conditions." The last entry was dated April 10, 1998, in the PA-20 for 1.6 hours, with the comment, "return with aircraft."


The wreckage was inspected on April 13, 1998. The initial ground impact and debris field was oriented north/south, approximately midfield, and 150 feet south of the 4,501 foot runway. Located 30 feet south from the initial impact scar were clean slices into the 5 foot high embankment. Large paint chips and the left wing tip light casing were found in the initial impact area. The airplane came to rest upright, approximately 20 feet from the crest of the embankment, heading 273 degrees magnetic.

The airplane remained intact with the fabric covering burnt off except on the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. Control cable continuity was verified from the ailerons and the elevator to the control yoke, and from the rudder to the rudder pedals. The flaps were observed in the first lowered position. Cockpit instrumentation was melted beyond recognition. Both metal fuel tanks were ruptured; however fuel was found in the right fuel tank.

The engine remained attached to the airframe but was cocked left at a 15-20 degree angle. A 6-8 inch piece of one propeller blade was missing, and the engine incurred heat damage from the post crash fire. The crankshaft turned freely and compression was obtained in all cylinders. The heat damaged magnetos rotated, but no spark was obtained from either one. The throttle and fuel mixture cables were checked for continuity, but heat damage prevented position verification. No pre-impact damage was noted to the engine, and dirt and grass were stuck underneath the left side of the engine, on the air intake screen, and on the propeller blades.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on April 13, 1998, at the Medical Examiner's Office for Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

A toxicological test was performed on the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


On November 19, 1999, a bottom bungee control cable for the horizontal stabilizer and elevator trim was transported to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for further examination. The cable displayed necking down deformation, similar to that of an overstress fracture.


An annual inspection performed on the airplane was completed on April 10, 1998 at the Angola Airport (D22), Angola, New York. The mechanic who performed the inspection endorsed the airplane's logbook stating that the engine and the airframe were in airworthy condition. The endorsements were located on logbook pages found within the wreckage of the airplane.

In an email message, the pilot/owner had requested that the previous owner fly with him around the D22 pattern, after the sale, to familiarize him with the airplane. The pilot/owner stated that "the Pacer was the first tailwheel aircraft without a stick" that he had flown. He reported all of his tailwheel flight experience was acquired in a J-3, with the exception of 1.1 hours in an 8KCAB.

The previous owner agreed to the flight, and at 1230 on April 10, 1999, they flew the aircraft for 1.5 hours. According to the previous owner, the airplane was loaded with half fuel and no baggage, and the winds were "mildly gusty," from the north at 10-15 knots. The previous owner stated that while doing airwork south of the airport, the pilot/owner "used the rudder very little and therefore had difficulty coordinating his turns." The pilot/owner stated to the previous owner that most of his flight experience was acquired in an Ercoupe without rudders and he was "going to have to get used to using rudders again." They returned to the airport and attempted several landings. The previous owner stated that the pilot/owner required assistance to maintain directional control on the runway during the landings. He reported that the pilot/owner's directional control problems "were caused by late, improperly sized rudder inputs in response to aircraft yawing motions on the runway." The pilot/owner steered the airplane on the ground by using the wheel instead of the rudder, a habit he stated "was from his experience in the Ercoupe." In addition, the pilot/owner failed to use the takeoff checklist on three occasions and left the flaps down for takeoff until it was brought to his attention. The pilot/owner stated to the previous owner that the Ercoupe, which he previously owned, did not have flaps and that he "would have to get used to using them."

After four consecutive takeoffs and landings without assistance, the pilot/owner stated that he "felt comfortable enough to fly the aircraft home," and he departed the airport solo, about 1530 for BVI.

On April 14, 1998, the wreckage was released to the airport manager at BVI, and on April 28, 1998, it was released to the insurance company.

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