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N4171T accident description

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Crash location 39.066111°N, 77.550556°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 Leesburg, VA
39.115662°N, 77.563602°W
3.5 miles away

Tail number N4171T
Accident date 09 Nov 2005
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-161
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On November 9, 2005, at 0925 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, N4171T, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain near Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO), Leesburg, Virginia. The certificated flight instructor and student pilot were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local instructional flight, which was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to representatives of the flight school that operated the airplane, the airplane was performing "touch and go" landings in the airport traffic pattern.

A review of radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed that a radar target, identified as the accident airplane, appeared at 0919, about 1,700 feet prior to the departure end of runway 17, at an altitude of 400 feet msl. The airplane climbed to about 1,200 feet, and completed a left circuit around the airport consistent with a traffic pattern. The last radar target was observed at 0922, on the final approach path to runway 17, at an altitude of 600 feet.

An airport employee was working in the runway 17 run-up area when he observed the accident airplane make a "normal" landing. The airplane touched down at the approach end of runway 17, and continued to roll past the point where he expected to see the airplane turn off the runway. He looked away for a moment, and when he next saw the airplane, it was still on the runway. Shortly thereafter, it disappeared from view behind a "hump" in the runway, about 300 - 400 feet prior to the departure end. He did not see the airplane again.

Further examination of the radar data revealed that the airplane was acquired again at 0924. The airplane was at an altitude of 400 feet msl, or about 100 feet agl, and about 900 feet beyond the departure end of runway 17. Over the next 9 seconds the airplane climbed to 500 feet, and slowed to about 60 knots groundspeed, before radar contact was lost about 500 feet southwest of the crash site.

Another witness was traveling southbound on a road that roughly paralleled runway 17. He observed the airplane to his right, and "very low." The airplane banked left, and crossed in front of him. The left bank increased until the wings were "straight up and down," then the airplane "just dropped straight towards the ground." When asked, the witness reported that he could not hear the airplane because his windows were up and his radio was on.

A third witness, traveling northbound on the road, also observed the airplane. She described seeing the airplane initially in a straight and level attitude, then it banked left, and completed a "u-turn." The airplane then pitched nose down, and descended quickly out of view.

Two other witnesses traveling southbound on the road reported that they saw the airplane briefly, then it pitched nose down and disappeared from view.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 39 degrees, 3.959 minutes north latitude, 77 degrees, 33.033 minutes west longitude.


The flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single engine and airplane multiengine. His most recent first class medical certificate was issued on February 10, 2004, and on that date he reported 420 total hours of flight experience. The flight instructor's log book was not recovered; however, a review the operator's employment and flight records revealed that he had accrued an estimated 934 total hours of flight experience at the time of the accident.

A search of the FAA airman database revealed no records associated with the student pilot. A review of the student pilot's logbook revealed that between September 25 and October 26, 2005, he received 7 hours of flight instruction in a helicopter. On November 2, 2005 he began receiving instruction from the accident flight instructor, in the accident airplane make and model. He had accumulated 3.5 total hours of flight experience since that date.


The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on September 21, 2005, at 2,208 total hours of operation. It had accumulated 56.8 hours since that date.

Examination of fueling and aircraft usage records for the airplane revealed that the airplane was serviced with 13.5 gallons of fuel on the day prior to the accident. The airplane was subsequently flown for 1.4 hours before the accident flight.


The weather reported at Leesburg Airport, at 0920, included calm winds, scattered clouds at 2,200 feet, an overcast ceiling at 10,000 feet, 7 statute miles visibility, temperature 54 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 51 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.07 inches of mercury.

Examination of weather data in the area of Leesburg, around the time of the accident, revealed a warm front passing through the area. Conditions generally consisted of overcast clouds, scattered showers, and surface winds that were light and variable. Upper air soundings showed southeasterly winds at 10 knots at 1,000 feet, and south-southwesterly winds at 3,000 feet. In addition, there were no advisories, forecasts, or pilot reports of low-level wind shear activity.


The elevation of Leesburg Airport was 389 feet msl. Runway 17/35 was 5,500 feet long by 100 feet wide. There were 77-foot tall trees located 2,229 feet from the departure end of runway 17.


The airplane came to rest in a wooded area, about 1/3 nautical mile from the departure end of runway 17. The bearing from the main wreckage to the departure end of the runway was 340 degrees magnetic.

Some broken and cut tree branches were located in the immediate vicinity of the main wreckage, but the surrounding and overhead foliage was largely undisturbed. An imprint in the ground, consistent with the size and shape of the left wing, was observed about 10 feet left of the main wreckage.

The propeller was separated from the propeller flange, and buried in dirt directly adjacent to a tree. The lower portion of the tree was about 2 feet tall, and its upper surface was cut at an approximate 45-degree angle. An approximate 3-foot long, and 3-inch diameter, section of the tree, and the top of the tree, were located nearby, and also displayed approximate 45-degree angle cuts. One cut surface of the tree section exhibited gray paint transfer similar in color to the paint on the propeller.

One propeller blade was bent back near the blade root. The opposite blade was bent back slightly, and exhibited chordwise scratching and leading edge gouging near the blade tip.

The main wreckage came to rest about 5 feet behind the propeller, oriented on an approximate heading of 260 degrees. The majority of damage the airplane sustained was to the engine, cockpit area, and both wings.

The nose of the airplane and engine were bent about 80 degrees nose down, and the forward portion of fuselage exhibited signatures consistent with an aft displacement.

The left and right wings both exhibited uniform leading edge crushing. The outboard 3 feet of the left wing was crushed at an angle slightly greater than the remaining portion of the wing. Both fuel tanks were impact damaged and compromised. The left fuel tank was absent of fuel, and the right fuel tank contained about 1-inch of fuel spread across the bottom surface of the tank.

The aft portion of fuselage was impact damaged and bent slightly upward. The tail of the airplane was intact.

Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from all control surfaces to the mid-cabin area. The flaps were in the up position, and the stabilator trim was in the neutral position.

The fuel selector was found in the right tank position, and was free of obstruction. The gascolater contained trace amounts of fuel, and a small amount of sediment.

On November 17, 2005, the engine was examined at an aircraft recovery facility in Clayton, Delaware.

Crankshaft continuity was confirmed from the propeller flange through the rear accessory gears, and to the valvetrain. Rotation of the crankshaft produced compression on all cylinders. Borescope examination of all cylinders and pistons revealed no anomalies.

The left magneto was intact and spark was obtained on all towers. The right magneto was impact damaged, and could not be rotated. The top spark plugs were removed, and were light gray in color.

The carburetor was impact damaged, the float bowl was partially separated, and was absent of fuel.


Autopsies were performed on the flight instructor and the student pilot by the Virginia Department of Health, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the flight instructor and the student pilot. The testing revealed the presence of the following drugs in the flight instructor:

>> 0.0193 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL (MARIHUANA) detected in Lung >> TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL (MARIHUANA) NOT detected in Blood >> 0.0087 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL CARBOXYLIC ACID (MARIHUANA) detected in Blood >> 0.0951 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL CARBOXYLIC ACID (MARIHUANA) detected in Urine >> 0.013 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL CARBOXYLIC ACID (MARIHUANA) detected in Lung

Toxicological testing of the student pilot revealed the presence of the following drugs:

>> DOXYLAMINE detected in Blood >> DOXYLAMINE present in Urine >> 0.074 (ug/ml, ug/g) CITALOPRAM detected in Blood >> CITALOPRAM present in Urine >> 0.058 (ug/mL, ug/g) N-DESMETHYLCITALOPRAM detected in Blood >> N-DESMETHYLCITALOPRAM present in Urine >> 0.03 (ug/mL, ug/g) DI-N-DESMETHYLCITALOPRAM detected in Blood >> DI-N-DESMETHYLCITALOPRAM present in Urine


The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on December 15, 2005.

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