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N8523W accident description

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Crash location 45.019445°N, 99.101389°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 Faulkton, SD
45.034974°N, 99.123998°W
1.5 miles away

Tail number N8523W
Accident date 09 Sep 2005
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-235
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 9, 2005, about 0300 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-235, N8523W, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted the ground after departing the Faulkton Municipal Airport (3FU), Faulkton, South Dakota. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The pilot received fatal injuries. The airplane had originally departed Osceola, Wisconsin, and had landed at 3FU for fuel. The intended final destination was the Gettysburg Municipal Airport, Gettysburg, South Dakota.

The airplane was reported overdue and was not found until 1826 on September 9, 2005. The airplane came to rest in a cornfield about 0.63 nautical miles south of the departure end of runway 13 (3,000 feet by 60 feet, asphalt) at 3FU.

A sheriff's dispatcher reported that she had received a call at 0210 from the pilot saying that he was "out of gas and trying to get home to Gettysburg." She stated that she called a gasoline supplier who said that he would go to the airport. She stated that at 0257 the supplier called to inform her that he had given the pilot 22 gallons of "regular gas" and that the pilot was made aware that it was "regular gas." She stated that at 0300, she looked out of the west jail windows and noted that it was "very foggy" and she could only see 2 city blocks.

A witness stated that he had been called at 0212 because there was an airplane at 3FU that was in need of fuel. He stated that he went to the airport and informed the pilot that in order to get 100LL aviation gasoline the pilot would need to accompany him to the bulk fuel plant and obtain the fuel using 5-gallon gasoline cans. He stated that the pilot asked him if he had unleaded fuel available and he responded that he did. The witness stated that he then left the airport and returned with a fuel truck and proceeded to fuel the airplane with 22.1 gallons of unleaded gasoline. The witness said that he asked the pilot, "why he was flying this time of night and in this kind of weather?" He said the pilot, responded that, "it wasn't that bad once he got up in the air." The witness stated that the weather consisted of a southwest wind and "rolling fog." He stated that as he was leaving the airport he could see a small white light heading down the runway.

Another witness reported that he was the driver of the Faulk County Ambulance on the night of September 8, 2005. He stated that he had made a run to Aberdeen, South Dakota, and that on the return trip and his subsequent ride home, the windows of the ambulance and his personal vehicle were fogging up on both the inside and the outside. He stated that he needed to use the windshield wipers and the defroster on them. He noted that when he arrived home and went to sleep, his bedside clock read 0233.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for single-engine land airplanes. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the pilot's most recent third class medical certificate was issued on November 19, 1999.

A review of a pilot logbook recovered during the investigation showed that the pilot had accumulated 682 total hours of flight experience as of the last entry dated December 8, 1996. The most recent entry for a flight review as required by Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 61.56 was dated October 15, 1996.


The airplane was a Piper model PA-28-235, serial number 28-10024. The airplane was a single-engine, low-wing, monoplane of predominately aluminum construction. The airplane had a fixed tricycle landing gear and could accommodate 4 occupants. The engine was a carbureted Lycoming model O-540 rated at 235 horsepower. A review of the airplane's maintenance records showed that it had accumulated 4,278 total hours time in service as of the most recent annual inspection dated December 2, 2004. The engine had accumulated 745 hours since it's last overhaul as of the date of the annual. The recording tachometer read 4,290.65 hours at the accident site.


The nearest weather reporting station at the Aberdeen Regional Airport, located 39 nautical miles northeast of the accident recorded the weather at 0253 as: Winds 150 degrees at 11 knots; visibility 6 statute miles; mist; sky condition clear; temperature 21 degrees C; dew point 18 degrees C; altimeter setting 29.80 inches of mercury.

According to the United States Naval Observatory-Astronomical Applications Department Internet site, the moon had set at 2154 on September 8, 2005 and did not rise again until 1331 on September 9, 2005.


The airplane impacted a cornfield at coordinates 45 degrees 1.101 minutes north latitude, 99 degrees 6.533 minutes west longitude. The elevation at the accident site was 1,553 feet. All of the major aircraft components were found at the accident site. The wreckage path was oriented on an approximately 250-degree heading. A portion of the right wing was found about 75 feet from the main impact crater. The main wreckage, which included the left wing and fuselage, were found about 165 feet from the main impact crater. The left wing was separated. The inboard end of that wing and the cabin section of the fuselage exhibited extensive fire damage. The instrument panel, firewall, and engine were separated from the fuselage and were not burned.

The left wing was separated at the wing root and remained in one piece. The outboard leading edge was crushed rearward to the main spar at the tip. The crushing continued inboard to a point just outboard of the main fuel tank. The aileron and flap remained attached to the wing. Both aileron cables were separated and exhibited signatures consistent with overload.

The right wing was separated from the fuselage and was found in several pieces. The aileron was separated from the wing. The flap remained attached to a portion of the wing. Both aileron cables were separated and exhibited signatures consistent with overload.

The vertical stabilizer and rudder remained attached to the rear fuselage. The rudder cables were intact from the rudder forward to the rudder pedals. The stabilator was intact and exhibited crushing of its right side. The stabilator cables were intact from the stabilator forward to the control column.

The fuselage instrument panel and firewall were separated and remained with the engine. The cabin section of the fuselage was burned.

Examination of the engine confirmed suction, compression, and valve train continuity. The upper spark plugs exhibited a light brown/gray coloration. The left magneto remained attached to the engine. This magneto produced sparks when the engine was rotated by hand. The right magneto was separated from the engine. This magneto produced sparks when its input coupling was rotated by hand. The engine was observed to pump oil when the engine was rotated by hand. The engine's carburetor was disassembled and the float chamber contained no fuel. The fuel inlet screen was clean.

The vacuum pump input shaft was separated. The separation exhibited a spiral shaped facture. Disassembly of the vacuum pump revealed that the vacuum pump core was broken into several pieces. The pump vanes were examined and no anomalies were noted.

The directional and attitude gyros were examined. The core of the directional gyro exhibited scoring of the case and rotor. No scoring was evident on the case or rotor of the attitude gyro.

No anomalies were found with respect to the airframe, engine, or systems that could be determined to have existed prior to the impact.


An autopsy on the pilot was performed on September 12, 2005.

A Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report, prepared by the Federal Aviation Administration listed the following results.

QUININE present in Liver QUININE present in Lung AMLODIPINE present in Liver AMLODIPINE present in Lung


The FAA and New Piper Aircraft Company were parties to the investigation.

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