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N3178U accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Somerville, TN
35.243697°N, 89.350071°W

Tail number N3178U
Accident date 23 Nov 1996
Aircraft type North American T28B
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On November 23, 1996, about 1545 central standard time, a North American T28B, N3178U, registered to a private owner crashed while maneuvering near Somerville, Tennessee. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight was filed. The personal flight was being conducted in accordance with Title 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane was destroyed and the airline transport-rated pilot was fatally injured.

A witness observed the airplane performing aerobatics, above a private airstrip, located less than a mile from the crash site. According to the witness the airplane flew down the runway about 200 to 400 feet above the ground, in straight and level flight. The witness said that he stepped inside for less then a minute, and when he returned outside the airplane had crashed and was burning.

According to the FAA inspector's report, this was a common area for this pilot and others to "perform and practice low altitude maneuvers and aerobatics." N3178U had been seen in the area for awhile performing aerobatic maneuvers. The area surrounding the accident was level, but the area where "the airplane first struck, was on higher terrain, than most of the surrounding area, and the trees just added to that."

The FAA inspector further stated, based on witness accounts, the pilot "miscalculated" his altitude over the higher terrain, and was in "inverted flight" before striking the trees. Additionally, a witness told the FAA that the engine "cutout" or hesitated just before impact. No discrepancies were found with the engine and it was the conclusion of the FAA inspector that, "...these engines are known to momentarily cutout when performing these kinds of maneuvers due to no inverted fuel systems."


An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on November 25, 1996, at the University of Tennessee, in Memphis, Tennessee, by Dr. O.C. Smith.

Toxicological tests were conducted at the Federal Aviation Administration, Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and revealed, " no drugs or alcohol."

Toxicological tests on the pilot were also conducted at the University of Tennessee, in Memphis, Tennessee, and revealed, "no drugs or alcohol."

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