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N734NB accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Fancy Gap, VA
36.665964°N, 80.692292°W

Tail number N734NB
Accident date 09 Oct 1994
Aircraft type Cessna 172N
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On October 9, 1994, at 1010 eastern daylight time, N734NB, a Cessna 172N, owned and operated by William E. Garris of Winston Salem, North Carolina, crashed while enroute to Winston Salem, North Carolina. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and a flight plan was not filed. The aircraft was destroyed. The flight was operated under 14 CFR 91 and originated in Bluefield, West Virginia. The flight was destined for Winston Salem, North Carolina.

According to an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector, the pilot departed North Carolina the day before to Bluefield to visit his grandparents. The FAA Aviation Safety Inspector stated that the pilot received a weather briefing the morning of the accident at 0742 local time from the Elkins Flight Service Station in West Virginia. The flight departed Bluefield at 0912 local time enroute to its destination. The airplane impacted trees in mountainous terrain during cruise flight about a quarter mile northeast of interstate 77 near Fancy Gap, Virginia.

There were no witnesses to the crash; however, a witness who was travelling north on interstate 77 reported that she saw an airplane with the same description as the accident airplane flying low. The witness stated, "It looked like he was following the highway. He had his lights on and was flying really slow. It was real foggy and rainy. We had our headlights on."

A hunter who was in the woods near the accident site stated that he heard an airplane flying low earlier that day. He stated that as he was walking in the woods, "...he smelled something burning...." The hunter stated that he followed the smell and came upon the wreckage of N734NB.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, at 36 degrees 40 minutes North and 80 degrees 40 minutes West.


The pilot held a student pilot certificate. His log books were not located and his last record of flight time was on his application for a Class III medical certificate dated July 25, 1989. At that time he had logged 23 hours of total flight time.


The 1977 year model Cessna 172 airplane, serial no. 17268974 was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-H2AD engine, serial no. RL-8326- 76T. The log books of the airplane were destroyed by fire. According to the owner of the airplane, the aircraft had accumulated over 4202 hours of total flight time. The last annual inspection was completed on August 26, 1994, and the airplane had accumulated over 15 hours since the annual inspection.


The 0855 hours surface weather observation for Mercer County Airport, Bluefield, West Virginia, about 45 miles north of the accident site was as follows:

Sky condition, 10,000 feet scattered; visibility, 10 miles; temperature, 64 degrees (F); dew point, 55 degrees (F); wind condition, 180 degrees magnetic at 8 knots; and altimeter, 30.09 inches of Hg.


The examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunction. Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane impacted trees at an altitude of 2640 feet MSL. The wreckage was strewn a distance of 170 feet oriented on a magnetic heading of 320 degrees.

The airplane struck trees initially, and at the initial impact point (IIP), the right wing tip was located. The nosewheel, and right aileron also separated during the impact sequence. The airplane came to rest inverted, and the forward section of the airplane including the engine was destroyed by fire.

The cable continuity of the ailerons, rudder and elevator was confirmed. The jackscrew for the flaps was retracted, and the jackscrew for the elevator trim was extended 1.5 inches. According to Cessna these positions correspond to flaps up and elevator trim 10 degrees tab up.

The engine was inverted and severely damaged by impact and fire. All the cylinders were attached and secured to the crankcase. One of the two bladed propeller blades was melted 17 inches outward from the spinner. The other blade was bent forward midspan and exhibited chordwise scratching. The engine was examined at the accident site. The examination revealed that the firewall was still attached and sections of the airframe was resting against the engine. The number one and three cylinder heads were melted. Both number one and three piston tops were visible and had sustained fire damage. The top of the crankcase was melted exposing the cam and crankshaft.

The carburetor heat control valve was found in the on position. The carburetor and oil sump sustained fire damage. The number 2 top and bottom spark plugs, and the number 4 bottom spark plug were removed from the cylinders and their electrodes were grayish in color. The carburetor was removed. The throttle plate was found 1/4 open and the mixture control arm was approximately 1/4 from idle cut-off. The carburetor was disassembled. The floats sustained fire damage.


A Medical Examination was done by Dr. J. H. Early Jr. the State Medical Examiner on October 10, 1994. Toxicological tests did not detect alcohol, drugs, or carbon monoxide.


The wreckage was released to James T Brewer, Director of THG- Inflite Aviation Adjustment Group, representing the owner on October 11, 1994.

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