Plane crash map Find crash sites, wreckage and more

N789CS accident description

Go to the Tennessee map...
Go to the Tennessee list...
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Selmer, TN
35.170083°N, 88.592270°W

Tail number N789CS
Accident date 15 Oct 2000
Aircraft type Piper PA-32RT
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On October 15, 2000, at 1318 central daylight time, a Piper PA-32RT, N789CS, collided with trees and subsequently the ground shortly after takeoff from runway 35 at the Robert Sibley Airport in Selmer, Tennessee. The airplane was owned and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The pilot sustained fatal injuries, three passengers received serious injuries, and one passenger received minor injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact and subsequent post-crash fire. The flight was departing Selmer, Tennessee, at the time of the accident.

The pilot-rated passenger, who occupied the right front seat, had filed an IFR flight plan from Selmer, Tennessee, to Shreveport, Louisiana. According to witnesses at the airport who were watching the takeoff, the airplane used about 3/4ths of the 5,002-foot runway on the takeoff roll, and just before liftoff they heard the engine "miss-fire". They said the airplane did not seem to climb, and they observed it porpoise just above the trees. The airplane porpoised two or three times and then disappeared into the trees, and a crash was heard followed by smoke and fire.


The pilot held a private certificate with airplane single engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument ratings. The pilot reported having 610 hours on his last medical examination. The pilot's most recent second-class medical was issued on July 12, 2000, with a limitation that he wear corrective lens. The pilot's flight log books were not recovered for examination.


The 1978 Piper Lance, PA-32RT, N789CS, was a six (6) seat, low wing, single engine airplane, and was owned by the pilot. The airplane was powered by a 300 horsepower Lycoming TIO-540-S1AD engine. A review of the maintenance records found that the airplane had received an annual inspection on August 28, 2000, had accumulated 2,817 hours total time, and had been maintained in accordance with applicable Federal Aviation Regulations.

Examination of the airplanes weight and balance records found the airplane's basic empty weight at 2,362 pounds and maximum certified gross weight at 3,600 pounds. Adding the pilot and four passengers weights of 901 pounds and estimating 25 pounds of baggage, a fuel weight of 564 pounds, the airplane's total weight at takeoff was 3,852 pounds with a center of gravity of 93.41 inches aft of the datum.

Examination of the airplane's Information Manual (weight verses center of gravity envelope) found that the takeoff weight of the airplane at the time of the accident was outside of the center of gravity envelope by 252 pounds. The source of the basic empty weight of the airplane came from an STC No. SA313NM dated 07/26/99. Section 6.1 paragraph 2 of the airplanes information manual states in part that overloaded airplane's will not takeoff, climb or cruise as well as a properly loaded one.


The automated weather observation service (AWOS) at Robert Sibley Airport (SZY), at 1338 was reporting sky clear, visibility 8 miles, winds variable, at five knots, temperature 28 degrees Celsius, dew point 13 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.11 inches of mercury.


The Robert Sibley Airport (SZY) is an uncontrolled airport located in Selmer, Tennessee. The asphalt runway 17/35 is 5,002 feet long and 75 feet wide and 610 feet above mean sea level (MSL).


The airplane departed runway 35 and collided with trees about 1.1 nautical miles north of the runway. The wreckage path was in the direction of 070 degrees and the airplane came to rest with the nose of the airplane pointed in the 020 degree heading at global positioning system (GPS) coordinates N35 degrees 13.26 minutes and W088 degrees 30.23 minutes. The wreckage path was about 350 feet long. The post-crash fire consumed the airplane and approximately one acre of pine trees. Early in the crash path a six inch diameter tree limb was observed with a 45 degree slash mark cutting through it with a dark gray or black smear or paint transfer, similar in color to the propeller.

Examination of the wreckage found the fuselage destroyed and consumed by the post crash fire, including the cockpit instrumentation, rudder pedals and all six seats. The left wing was destroyed and consumed by fire. The left wing fuel tank cap was located and found in the locked position. The left aileron was consumed in the fire. The aileron bell crank was found separated from its attachment points. Aileron control cables were traced from the bell crank to the cabin area. The flap was consumed in the fire. The right wing was found separated from the airframe at the root. The wing was in two major pieces, with both pieces exhibiting significant fire damage. About 2.5 feet of the inboard section of the right flap was found attached to the remainder of the wing at the inboard flap hinge.

The empennage was consumed in the postcrash fire. The rudder was separated at the top attachment point. Rudder stops were in place and displayed fire damage. The rudder was bent to the right approximately 45 degrees. The horizontal stabilator was separated from the vertical stabilizer. The horizontal stabilator stops were in place and displayed fire damage. The horizontal stabilator balance weight was attached and had also sustained fire damage.

Examination of the engine on scene found the engine still attached to its mounts and the firewall. Due to the extensive fire damage the engine was removed from the wreckage site and transported to Aviation Maintenance Services, in Corinth, Mississippi for further examination.

On October 18, 2000, the engine was recovered from the accident site and transported to the above facility. During the course of the recovery and the subsequent disassembly of the engine the following was observed; the number six cylinder head was burned away with both valve assemblies lying under the cylinder. The number six aft pushrod and housing were also found laying under the cylinder. The number six top spark plug remained in-place with remains of the ignition lead attached, the number six bottom spark plug was laying under the cylinder. All of the remaining top spark plugs remained in place with remains of burned ignition leads attached. All of the remaining push rod housings remained in place with fire damage. The oil filler cap was secure. The propeller governor was found attached, fire damaged and the control linkage was attached and was against the full pitch stop. The number two, four and six exhaust stacks remained attached and secure. The dual magneto housing was consumed by fire. Several of the rear accessory gears and one oil pump impeller was found on the ground as the engine was recovered. Most of the rear accessory case was consumed by fire. The oil sump was consumed by fire.

The engine was disassembled with great difficulty, the engine had excessive fire damage and most of the accessory components were destroyed. During the teardown no pre-impact or pre-fire damage was noted. Additionally, some parts were damaged as it was necessary to pound on some of the cylinders and piston pin plugs with leaded mallets and boards. Every attempt was made to keep additional damage to a minimum.

The propeller remained attached to the engine with all three blades and the spinner. One blade was found pointing up and had fire damage with the tip area burned away. Another blade had an "S" shape, was twisted, and had nicks in the leading edge. The third blade was bent aft 180 degrees, and had considerable fire damage with the tip burned away. The spinner was crushed in a spiral shape.


Postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. Drew Eason, at the Regional Forensic Center, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennesse. The forensic toxicology was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The tests were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and alcohol. However, Hydrocodone a prescription narcotic painkiller, was detected in blood and liver samples, Dihydrocodeine, a prescription narcotic painkiller, used to control moderate to severe pain was detected in blood and liver samples, and Acetaminophen a common pain killer often known as Tylenol was detected in blood.


The airplane wreckage was released on October 18, 2000 to Mr. Henry J. Kothe, American Claim Service, Inc., an insurance adjuster, in Eads, Tennessee.

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