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N8143B accident description

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Crash location 36.195000°N, 86.316389°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 Lebanon, TN
35.051464°N, 84.958558°W
109.8 miles away

Tail number N8143B
Accident date 02 Jul 2002
Aircraft type Piper PA-28RT-201
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 2, 2002, at 1500 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28RT-201, N8143B, registered to Airhead LLC and operated by Air Tech Flight School, collided with the ground during initial climb after takeoff from Lebanon Municipal Airport, Lebanon, Tennessee. The instructional flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane sustained substantial damage, the certificated flight instructor and the private pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the commercial-rated passenger received minor injuries. The flight was originating from Lebanon, Tennessee, at the time of the accident.

During the engine run-up the rear seated passenger, a commercial rated pilot, noticed that the checklist was not used; however the magnetos were checked. The left magneto operated normally, but when the right magneto was selected, the engine lost power. A short discussion between the pilots and the CFI ensued, and a decision was made to continue the flight on one magneto since it had been done successfully in the same plane the previous week.

The private pilot was cleared for takeoff from runway 19. When the airplane was a couple hundred feet above the trees, the passenger heard the CFI tell the private pilot to "Watch the airspeed, and keep it straight". The passenger looked out of the window and noticed the airplane was slightly nose-up, and felt the "airplane sinking. The CFI took over the flight controls and banked the airplane to the right. Witnesses at the airport observed the flight during the departure and reported that the airplane sounded normal, but it did not appear to climb normally, as if it was unable to gain altitude. One witness reported as he watched the airplane pass, he could see the top of the wings, because the nose was high. Another witness, a private pilot, stated the airplane started to climb with the tail very low, an "it never climbed much." Witnesses watched the airplane travel down the runway and fly low over the trees. They saw the right wing drop dramatically, and the airplane disappeared behind the trees. The passenger saw a barn and remembered hitting a power line


The certified flight instructor was issued a commercial pilot certificate on November 19, 1998, with airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument ratings. His total flight time was approximately 1,675 hours, and approximate flight time in the Piper PA-28RT-201 was not determined. The certified flight instructor held a second-class medical certificate dated September 06, 2001, valid when wearing corrective lenses.

The private pilots' certificate was issued on April 22, 1999, with airplane single engine land, and instrument rating. Total flight time was approximately 145 hours. The approximate time in the Piper PA-28RT-201 was not determined. The private pilot held a second-class medical certificate dated August 19, 1999, valid when wearing corrective lenses.


A review of the maintenance records did not disclose any previous work performed on the airplanes magnetos or engine ignition system. According to the engine records, the engine was previously overhauled on December 21, 1999. A review of the logbooks showed that the airplane and the propeller annual inspection were completed on December 6, 2001. The altimeter system, static pressure system, and transponder were inspected on January 24, 2002. The last recorded maintenance entry showed that a 100-hour inspection was accomplished on April 23, 2002.


The Lebanon Municipal Airport, Lebanon, Tennessee, weather observation reported visibility 10 statute miles, wind calm, altimeter 30.10, temperature 95 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 69 degrees Fahrenheit, and a density altitude of 2800 feet.


Lebanon Municipal Airport has two runways, 1/19 and 4/22. At the time of the accident runway 19 was used.


Examination of the wreckage site revealed the initial point of collision was a downed power line. The wreckage was found approximately 0.6 miles south of the runway.

Examination of the left wing revealed it was separated at the wing-root and located at the base of a tree approximately 25 feet from the downed power line. The wing displayed electric arching on the upper surface. The wing sustained heavy crush damage to the leading edge five feet from the wing tip. The wing and the tree displayed extensive fire damage. The aileron was attached to the wing, and the aileron bell crank separated and displayed damage. The control cables from the bell crank were frayed at separation. The aileron push pull rod was damaged and separated from the attach bracket. The flap was attached to the wing. The left main landing gear was found in the down and locked position.

Examination of the right wing revealed it was attached to the main fuselage. The aileron and flap remained attached to the wing, with the flap in the retracted position. The fuel tank had crush damage and fuel was observed leaking from the leading edge of the wing. Approximately 20 gallons of blue AVGAS was removed from the right wing. Control cables continuity was established from the aileron to the control yoke in the cockpit.

Examination of the right and left side of the fuselage displayed distortion inward and to the left. The left wing spar was broken at fuselage. The cabin area displayed crush damage. The instrument panel was crushed, and both front seats were collapsed to the cabin floor. Control cable continuity for the horizontal stabilizer and trim tab were established to flight controls in the cockpit. The left hand horizontal stabilizer displayed heavy crush damage, and cable marks were on the leading edge of the stabilator. A one-inch measurement was noted on the stabilator trim tab, which corresponds with the nose up trim setting. Control cable continuity from the rudder was established to the rudder controls in the cockpit. The rudder and stabilator stops were not damaged.

Examination of the engine revealed it remained attached to the airframe. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft. The propeller blades had signs of scoring, torsional twisting, tip and leading edge damage. The internal pitch change mechanism for both blades was broken, and the blade retaining rings were dislodged. Examination of the fuel system revealed fuel was found in the line from the boost pump to the engine. Fuel was also found in the fuel servo, and the fuel screen was clean. The left side of the engine revealed impact damage. The engine mounts were distorted to the right, and control cables were bent. The engine control positions in the cockpit were, throttle-idle, mixture-idle cut off, and propeller control broken. All engine accessory components remained attached to the engine. The engine was rotated and continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives were established. Each cylinder produced compression while the engine was rotated. The left magneto produced a spark at all towers during engine rotation. The right magneto did not produce spark. The main landing gear control handle was found in the down and locked position.


The left and right magnetos were removed for further examination. Both magnetos exhibited signs of previous maintenance; the tamper proof torque seal had been disturbed on both magnetos. The left magneto was put on a test bench and run at 100-rpm increments from 0-2700 rpm. The magneto functioned normally throughout the operating range. The right magneto was put on a test bench and also run at 100-rpm increments from 0-2700 rpm. Erratic spark conditions were noted on the spark leads up to 1500 rpm. From 1600-2600 rpm the spark was consistent, and 2700 rpm the magneto sparked normally.


The Tennessee Department of Heath and Environment Office of the Medical Examiner conducted postmortem examination of the certified flight instructor, on July 3, 2002. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol.

The Tennessee Department of Heath and Environment Office of the Medical Examiner conducted postmortem examination of the private pilot, on July 2, 2002. The cause of death was blunt force trauma. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. 0.054 (ug/mL, ug/g) of Midazolam was detected in the blood and liver, 13.6 (ug/ml, ug/g) of Acetaminophen were detected in blood, and 29.16 (ug/ml, ug/g) Salicylate was detected in the blood.


The airplane wreckage was released on May 28, 2003, to International Loss Management, Incorporated in Norcross, Georgia.

According to the commercial-rated passenger, he performed the first flight from Nashville to Lebanon, Tennessee, where he conducted 2 touch and go landings. During the second touch and go landing he discovered that the landing gear would not retract. A low pass was made over Lebanon Municipal for a landing gear check. Verification was made that the landing gear was down prior to landing at Lebanon, Tennessee.

A review of the pilot-operating handbook revealed in section 5, graphs of the gear down climb performance for the PA-28RT-201. The graph exhibited the rate of climb performance for the airplane at various outside air temperatures.

Review of the Federal Aviation Administration January 1, 1997, advisory Circular 63-23C chapter 2, page 2-8 Ignition System. " One magneto system supplies the current to one set of plugs; the second magneto system supplies the current to the other set of plugs. This is the reason that the ignition switch has four positions: Off, Left, Right, and Both. With the switch in the "Left or Right" position, only one magneto is supplying current and only one set of spark plugs is firing. With the switch in the "Both" position, both magnetos are supplying current and both sets of spark plugs are firing. The main advantages of the dual system are: increased safety, in case one magneto system fails, the engine may be operated on the other system until a landing can be made; and improved burning and combustion of the mixture, and consequently improved performance.

Review of the pilot-operating handbook did not disclose procedures for operating the airplane with the magnetos switch in the both position.

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