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N54397 accident description

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Crash location 39.833056°N, 75.782223°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Avondale, PA
41.222860°N, 75.981866°W
96.6 miles away

Tail number N54397
Accident date 29 Sep 2004
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-180
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 29, 2004, about 1400 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N54397, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain in Avondale, Pennsylvania, during a forced landing after departing from the New Garden Airport (N57), Toughkenamon, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

Two witnesses near the accident site reported observing the airplane depart from runway 24, a 3,695-foot-long, 50-foot-wide, asphalt runway. As the airplane initiated a climb to about 200 feet, the engine began to sputter. The airplane then turned to the right, while maintaining a climb attitude, and the engine subsequently lost total power. The airplane then appeared to stall, and descend towards the ground out of the witnesses view.

The airplane came to rest in a wooded area, about 1/2 mile west of runway 24, approximately abeam the departure end of the runway.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, at 39 degrees, 49.680 minutes north longitude, 075 degrees, 46.562 minutes west latitude, at an elevation of 376 feet.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single engine land.

The pilot reported 604 hours of total flight experience on her most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration third class medical certificate, which was issued on December 29, 2003.


The airplane's most recent annual inspection was performed on July 1, 2004. At that time the airplane had accumulated 4,642 hours of operation.


The weather observation at the New Castle County Airport (ILG), Wilmington, Delaware, located approximately 13 miles southwest of the accident site, at 1351, reported winds from 010 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, broken clouds at 2,800 feet, overcast clouds at 7,000 feet, temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 57 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting 29.91 inches of Hg.

According to a local fire fighter, the surrounding area of Avondale had received about 8-10 inches of rain during the proceeding 2 days prior to the accident.


Examination of the accident site on September 30, 2004 revealed that the wreckage path was about 140 feet in length, and was oriented on a 360-degree heading, with the main fuselage coming to rest on a 300-degree heading, at an elevation of 300 feet msl.

The first tree strike area was located about 130 feet prior to the main fuselage, at an elevation of 80 feet above ground level. Along the wreckage path were sections of the outer right wing.

The main wreckage came to rest on its left side, in a nose down attitude, resting on a large hardwood tree. The left wing was partially separated from its attachment points, and bent under the fuselage. The remaining section of the right wing was also partially separated from its attachment points on the fuselage, and was bent forward.

The empennage section remained attached to the fuselage.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The flap handle was observed stowed, and the corresponding flap surfaces were observed in the retracted position.

The throttle and mixture control levers in the cockpit were both in the full forward position; however, the levers were bent. The carburetor heat lever was observed in the "OFF" position. The fuel primer knob was secured.

The fuel selector was removed from the wreckage for further examination and testing. Its position was determined to be in the right fuel tank position. Power was applied to the electric fuel pump, and the pump operated with no anomalies noted.

The gascolator bowl was removed from the engine nacelle, and about 1 ounce of liquid was retained. The associated fuel lines attached to the gascolator were also drained, and the remaining liquid was retained.

The carburetor bowl was removed from the engine. About 4 ounces of liquid was drained from the bowl, the accelerator pump, and the carburetor screen, and the samples were retained.

When the engine was rotated though the propeller flange, about 2 ounces of liquid was drained from the fuel pump, and the sample was retained.

All of the samples had a slight blue layer of liquid, which was similar in color and smell to aviation gasoline. When the samples were drained onto a coupon smeared with water finding paste, the paste turned to a pink color, indicating the presence of water.

Additional examination of the engine and its related components did not reveal any anomalies.


The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing on the pilot.


Wreckage Release

The airplane wreckage was released on September 30, 2004, to a representative of the owners insurance company.

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