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N3041J accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Roanoke, VA
37.270970°N, 79.941427°W

Tail number N3041J
Accident date 10 Dec 1997
Aircraft type Socata TB-20 TRINIDAD
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On December 10, 1997, at 1324 eastern standard time, a Socata TB-20 Trinidad, N3041J, was destroyed when it struck power lines and two houses, during a forced landing after takeoff from Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA), Roanoke, Virginia. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the business flight that originated at Roanoke, Virginia. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The intended destination was Jackson, Tennessee.

The pilot flew into ROA the day prior, where he had the airplane refueled, and hangared for a return flight the following day. According to recorded communications between the pilot and Air Traffic Control, the pilot contacted ROA Tower and was issued an IFR clearance.

At 1315, he advised the tower that he was ready for takeoff. The controller cleared the pilot for takeoff on runway 15, and the flight was cleared initially to 5,000 feet MSL. After takeoff, the pilot reported that he was at the base of the clouds passing through 1,800 feet for 5,000 feet MSL. The controller then cleared the airplane to 8,000 feet, which the pilot acknowledged.

At 1324, the pilot radioed the controller and advised that he was losing power and that he was returning to the airport. The controller advised the pilot that he was 1 3/4 miles south of the airport, and he should make a left turn and return for a landing on runway 33. There were no further radio transmissions from the pilot.

A witness, a retired mechanical engineer in the parking lot of a shopping center about 1 1/4 miles from runway 33, said he heard an airplane taking off. He said:

"...Because the engine noise was both loud and different I looked toward the airport, but the plane was already into the overcast-600 foot ceiling. The engine noise was unique, it had a loud beat, like one cylinder was firing directly out the exhaust...when the plane had passed me, from my right to left about the 10 o'clock position the engine skipped one beat, made a louder bang and went silent. I watched for the plane to come down through the overcast but never saw it... ."

The airplane struck power lines about 25 feet high, then struck a house, and came to rest on the porch of another house. The second house and airplane were destroyed as a result of the collision and a post-impact fire.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight about 37 degrees 17.48 minutes north latitude and 79 degrees 58.31 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument. According to his log book, he logged over 495 hours of total flight time. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on December 2, 1997. There were no restrictions on his medical certificate.


The 1320 surface weather observation for Roanoke Regional Airport, about 1 1/2 miles north of the accident site was as follows:

"Ceiling, 600 overcast; visibility, 10 miles; temperature, 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F); dew point, 38 F; wind condition, 130 degrees at 4 knots; and altimeter 29.64 inches Hg.


The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on December 10 and 11, 1997. Examination of the airplane wreckage revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage was oriented on a 220 degree magnetic heading.

The right wing tip was separated and was located 45 feet west of the main wreckage. The right wing was located about 24 feet east of the initial impact point (IIP). The right main landing gear was found in the down position while the left main gear and nosewheel were found in the retracted position.

The left wing, fuselage, and all flight instruments were destroyed by fire. The porch had collapsed on top of the airplane and it was also destroyed by fire. After portions of the porch were removed to access the airplane, the remains of the wreckage including the engine were removed.

The engine was initially examined at the accident site. The engine was subjected to post impact fire damage. The two bladed propeller remained securely attached to the engine at the crankshaft flange. There was no evidence of catastrophic engine failure. All of the engine accessories were attached to the engine.

The propeller governor was secured at the mounting pad with the control cable attached. The dual magneto was subjected to impact and fire. The magneto was found loose at the mounting pad.

The fuel injection servo was secured at the mounting pad. The controls remained attached at their respective control arms. The control cables for the throttle, mixture and alternate air were cut at the firewall to facilitate the removal of the engine from the wreckage. The air filter element remained attached to the airbox and was impregnated with wood particles.

The fuel flow divider was securely attached at the mounting bracket with the fuel lines secured. The flow divider was subjected to fire. The fuel lines were secured. Due to the fire damage of the engine no further examination was completed on site. The engine was shipped to the Textron Lycoming factory for further examination.


The engine was examined under the supervision of the National Transportation Safety Board on March 13, 1998.

Visual inspection of the engine revealed that the engine was exposed to fire and heat. The dual magneto sustained fire damage which caused the ignition block towers to crack and the distributor gear to melt. Due to the fire damage, the magneto could not be tested.

The rear accessories were removed and the engine crankshaft was rotated. Internal engine continuity was confirmed including the accessory drive train. Using the "Thumb Method," compression was confirmed on all of the cylinders except the number two cylinder. Inspection of the number two cylinder head revealed impact damage to the intake side of the number two rocker arm shaft boss. The number two rocker arm was removed and compression was confirmed on the number two cylinder.

The propeller governor was removed. There were two gaskets installed. According to the Lycoming investigator, one of the gaskets was incorrect and the other gasket was improperly installed.

The muffler was removed and it was noted that the fuel injector to fuel manifold hose was routed in such a manner that the hose was squashed between the muffler and the crankcase. Examination of the hose revealed signs of chafing.

The engine was disassembled. The parts were lubricated, and the oil pump was free to turn. Engine internal timing was correct. The intake and exhaust valve heads and piston domes were intact. The engine oil sump had sustained impact damage.

The engine examination did not reveal any internal or external evidence of catastrophic engine failure.


An autopsy of the pilot was done by Dr. William Massello III, Assistant Chief Medical Examiner, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Western District, Roanoke, Virginia, on December 11, 1997.

Toxicological testing was conducted on the pilot, by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


According to the airplane log books, an annual inspection was completed on December 7, 1996. On November 28, 1997, a Bose stereo system and some additional installations were completed.

The airplane wreckage was released on November 18, 1998, to Marshall B. Dean, a representative of the owner's insurance company.

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