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N69190 accident description

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Crash location 35.701944°N, 85.397222°W
Nearest city Spencer, TN
35.747289°N, 85.466641°W
5.0 miles away
Tail number N69190
Accident date 22 Oct 2003
Aircraft type Piper PA-32R-301
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 22, 2003, at an undetermined time, a Piper PA-32R-301, N69190, registered to PRP Aero Corp., and operated by the private pilot, collided with the ground under unknown circumstances in Spencer, Tennessee. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The private pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The local flight departed Nashville International Airport, Nashville, Tennessee, about 1215 central daylight time on October 22, 2003.

The airplane was based at Nashville International Airport, and a pilot-rated acquaintance stated he spoke with the pilot on his cell phone shortly before the airplane departed. The witness stated the pilot told him he was going out to "practice stalls and spins," but the witness stated he felt certain the statement was a joke in reference to a previous conversation he had with the pilot. The witness and a relative of the pilot, who is also pilot-rated, reported the pilot frequently flew the airplane in the area for pleasure, especially when the weather was conducive for sightseeing in the Fall Creek Falls State Park area. The relative and the pilot also flew together frequently and practiced instrument procedures together. The relative stated it would be "out of character" for the pilot to practice stalls.

After the airplane departed the Nashville airspace, the pilot was cleared at 1218 to proceed VFR, and no further known contact was made with the flight. There were no known witnesses to the accident. When the pilot failed to return for a 1530 meeting, a search was initiated. Ground searchers located the wreckage about 0700 central daylight time on October 23, 2003, on the edge of a field along a tree line 67.3 nautical miles east southeast of Nashville International Airport.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land issued May 28, 1996, and a rating for instrument airplane issued July 27, 1999. The pilot held a third class medical certificate dated August 7, 2001, with the limitation, "must wear corrective lenses." Review of the pilot's log book revealed the pilot completed a biennial flight review on May 30, 2002, and logged 528.6 hours total time, which included 470.8 hours pilot-in-command time and about 270 hours in the accident airplane.


The Piper PA-32R-301 airplane was manufactured in 1985 and was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-K1G5D, 300-horsepower engine. A review of maintenance logs revealed a zero-time overhaul of the engine was completed January 24, 2000. An annual inspection of the airplane was completed May 20, 2003, at a recorded tachometer time of 1593.0 hours, airframe total time of 2652.3, and engine time since major overhaul of 499.5 hours. The transponder and altimeter/static system tests and inspections were completed May 10, 2003.


Examination of the accident site revealed the wreckage came to rest on the edge of a field along a tree line. The main wreckage, which included the fuselage, empennage, engine assembly, and portions of both wings, was found 20 feet from a ground scar that contained fragments of the right wingtip position light assembly. A fresh ground crater approximately seven feet long, seven feet wide, and two feet deep was observed in the sandy clay dirt adjacent to the main wreckage.

The fuselage was crushed and fragmented. The instrument panel, avionics, and throttle quadrant were crushed. The flap motor was damaged, the torque tube was bent, and the jackscrew was separated. The horizontal situation indicator, attitude indicator, airspeed indicator, and vertical speed indicator were found crushed with the glass faces fragmented.

The left wing was separated eight feet outboard of the wing root and was found adjacent to the fuselage. The leading edge of the separated section was crushed aft to the main spar. The pitot head was embedded in the crushed wing, and the pitot, static pressure, and drain holes were free from obstruction. The lift detectors for the stall warning horn were damaged and the tabs moved freely. The fuel tank was breached, and the left main landing gear was found in the retracted position. The left flap was damaged and separated and found resting adjacent to the left wing. The flap push-pull rod was bent and separated. The left aileron was damaged and separated, and the bell crank was damaged and separated from the top attachment. Control cable continuity for the left aileron was established from the bell crank to the control yoke chain. The balance cable for the ailerons was separated near the left wing root, and the separated cable ends exhibited a splayed appearance.

The right wing was separated at the main spar near the wing root and was found adjacent to the fuselage. The outboard leading edge of the wing was crushed aft to the main spar, and the inboard leading edge skin was found separated amid the debris path. The fuel tank was breached, and the right main landing gear was found separated. The right flap was damaged and separated from its attachments. The flap push-pull rod was bent and separated. The right aileron was damaged and separated at the outboard attachment, and the bell crank was damaged and separated. Control cable continuity for the right aileron was established from the bell crank to the control yoke chain.

The empennage was found attached to the fuselage with the stabilator, vertical fin, and rudder attached. The stabilator was displaced horizontally approximately 50 degrees, with the left side displaced forward and the right side displaced aft. The trim tab was attached, and the stabilator stops and balance weight were found in place. Control cable continuity was established from the stabilator to the control yoke "t-bar". The rudder was attached to the vertical fin, and the balance weight and rudder stops were found in place. Control cable continuity was established from the rudder to the pedal bar in the cabin floor. No evidence of airframe or flight control malfunction was observed.

The propeller remained attached to the engine. The spinner was found crushed around the propeller hub, and all three blades displayed chordwise scoring, and sandy clay dirt residue was found on the face of each blade. One blade displayed "s-bend" deformation, and paint was absent from the blade face near the blade root and from the tip. The second blade displayed aft bend and twist, and paint was absent from the blade face near the blade root and the leading edge of the blade from mid-span to tip. The third blade was twisted and bent aft approximately mid-span, was gouged on the leading edge near the tip, and most of the paint was absent from the blade face.

Examination of the engine revealed impact damage to the engine and accessories. The oil coolers were crushed, the engine-driven fuel pump and the fuel servo were separated, the dual magneto was fractured and partially separated, and the starter and alternator were separated. Borescope examination of the piston domes and valve heads and examination of the spark plugs revealed no evidence of abnormalities. The crankshaft was rotated by hand at the propeller flange; rear accessory gear movement was observed, and compression developed on all six cylinders. Valve movement was observed for cylinders Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6; the No. 5 cylinder intake and exhaust pushrods were found damaged and separated. The oil suction screen and oil filter were clean, and fuel was observed in the fuel servo, engine-driven fuel pump, and fuel flow divider. No evidence of engine or accessory malfunction was observed.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Tennessee Department of Health and Environment, Nashville, Tennessee, on October 24, 2003. The cause of death was listed as "multiple blunt force injuries." Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by Aegis Science Corporation, Nashville, Tennessee. The report stated no drugs were detected in the spleen and no ethanol was detected in the blood.


Title 14 CFR Part 61.23 "Medical certificates: Requirement and duration," states in section (c)(3), "A third-class medical certificate for operations requiring a ... private pilot certificate ... (ii) ... expires at the end of: (B) The 24th month after the month of the date of the examination shown on the certificate if the person has reached his or her 40th birthday on or before the date of the examination."

A fuel receipt recorded the airplane was topped off with 37 gallons avgas 100LL on October 20, 2003.

The wreckage was released to Atlanta Air Recovery, Griffin, Georgia, on April 22, 2004.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering resulting in an inadvertent stall and the subsequent collision with the ground.

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