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N32420 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Pulaski, TN
35.199802°N, 87.030841°W

Tail number N32420
Accident date 11 Aug 1995
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-140
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On August 11, 1995, about 1033 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N32420, crashed shortly after takeoff from the Abernathy Field Airport, Pulaksi, Tennessee. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was destroyed by impact and a postcrash fire and the private-rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated about 1 minute earlier.

On August 10, 1995, while at the Gibson County Airport, Trenton, Tennessee, the fuel tanks were filled with 100 Low Lead fuel. The following day about 0611, the pilot contacted the Jackson Tennessee Automated Flight Service Station (MKL AFSS) by telephone and requested a weather briefing for a VFR flight from the Gibson County Airport to the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, Atlanta, Georgia. The briefer advised the pilot of IFR conditions due to fog. The flight departed from the Gibson County Airport at an undetermined time on August 11, 1995, and landed at the Abernathy Field Airport, Pulaski, Tennessee, about 0900, according to the airport manager. The distance between the two airports is about 99.4 nautical miles. The pilot advised the airport manager after landing that he stopped due to adverse weather between Pulaski, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia. The flight remained on the ground about 1 hour and no services were obtained.

About 1000, the pilot and passenger boarded the airplane and while attempting to start the engine, the power supply from the aircraft's battery was depleted. An auxiliary electrical supply was utilized to assist in starting the engine and after starting, the pilot was observed to taxi to the intersection of the taxiway and runway 33. The intersection is located at about 1,000 feet down the 4,998-foot asphalt runway. Before departure the pilot was not observed to perform an engine run-up and he announced on the UNICOM frequency that the flight was departing runway 33. The airport manager who witnessed the accident stated that after the pilot applied power to takeoff, he thought the engine was not producing full power and observed "sluggish acceleration." Another witness thought the pilot was "fast taxiing" during the takeoff ground roll. The airport manager stated that the airplane became airborne about 500 feet from the departure end of the runway and he observed the airplane in a "very high angle of attack." He estimated that the flight climbed to about 75-100 feet above ground level and was flying towards higher elevation terrain. The airplane was then observed to roll to the right, pitch nose down, then disappeared from sight. The airplane collided with trees, the top of a barn located in the backyard of a residence, impacted the ground, and came to rest inverted. The airplane was destroyed by impact and a postcrash fire.


Information pertaining to the pilot is contained in the NTSB Factual Report-Aviation.


Information pertaining to the aircraft is contained in the NTSB Factual Report-Aviation and Supplements A and B. Additionally, during the last annual/100-hour inspection which was signed off in the aircraft logbook on July 11, 1995, a factory overhauled engine was installed. The pilot/owner test flew the airplane the following day and according to the mechanic who inspected the airplane, there were no pilot reported discrepancies related to the test flight. The engine had accumulated about 12 hours since installation according to entries in the pilot's logbook.


Information pertaining to the weather is contained in the NTSB Factual Report-Aviation.


Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane collided with trees while descending on a magnetic heading of about 070 degrees. The flight continued and the right wing of the airplane then collided with the top of a barn which was located about 102 feet past the initial impact point with the first tree. The right wing tip section was located forward of the barn along the wreckage path. About 24 feet from the barn were three propeller slash marks in the ground which were progressively deeper to a maximum depth of about 21 inches. The airplane continued on a magnetic heading of about 070 degrees, impacted another tree, and came to rest inverted on a heading of about 260 degrees magnetic. All components necessary to sustain flight were in the immediate vicinity of the crash site. The cockpit, right wing, portions of the left wing, and empennage were consumed by the postcrash fire. Examination of the flight controls revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. The airplane was equipped with an air conditioning system and examination revealed that the door was closed which is required by the checklist for takeoff. The carburetor heat control in the cockpit was examined and found to be in an intermediate position. Examination of the carburetor heat valve at the engine also indicated an intermediate position. The carburetor heat control cable was found disconnected from the control lever at the carburetor heat airbox assembly. Examination of the cable revealed that it had not failed and there was no evidence of scrape marks along its length near the attach point at the lever. Additionally, examination of the attach point at the lever revealed that the castellated nut was not safetied. Before removal of the engine for further examination, 17 gallons of non-contaminated fuel were drained from the left wing fuel tank.

Examination of the engine revealed that the carburetor was separated; however, examination of it revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. Crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was verified as well as thumb compression of each cylinder. The magnetos were tight against the accessory case however magneto to engine timing was not determined. No preimpact failure or malfunction of the magnetos was detected. Examination of the propeller which was attached to the engine revealed that both blades exhibited chordwise scratches and the propeller spinner exhibited evidence of rotation at impact.


Post-mortem examinations of the pilot and passenger were performed by Charles W. Harlan, M.D., Office of the State Medical Examiner. The cause of death for both was listed as smoke inhalation and burns (airplane crash). Toxicological analysis of specimens of the pilot was performed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The results of analysis by the TBI were negative for ethanol, basic drugs, and EMIT drug screen. The carboxyhemoglobin level was determined to be 35 percent. The results of analysis by the FAA were negative for cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs. The results were positive for carbon monoxide (22.0%) and Quinine was detected in the urine.


A bystander who attempted to rescue both occupants reported that they were alive and he attempted to kick out the window located on the left side of the airplane near the cockpit but was unable to do so. The aircraft entry door is located over the wing on the right side of the fuselage.


Review of the takeoff performance chart revealed that the accident flight ground roll at the estimated weight and the computed density altitude was calculated to be about 1,100 feet. The distance to clear a 50-foot obstacle was calculated to be about 2,175 feet.

The wreckage was released to Mr. Glenn Galloway, a Sr. claims representative of Associated Aviation Underwriters on August 13, 1995.

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