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N1101X accident description

Vermont map... Vermont list
Crash location 42.923889°N, 73.139166°W
Nearest city Bennington, VT
42.886190°N, 73.212886°W
4.6 miles away
Tail number N1101X
Accident date 20 May 2018
Aircraft type Piper PA34
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On May 20, 2018, about 1423 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA 34-200T, N1101X, was destroyed during impact with wooded terrain and a postcrash fire on Bald Mountain, while maneuvering near Bennington, Vermont. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Waterbury-Oxford Airport (OXC), Oxford, Connecticut. The flight originated from Burlington International Airport (BTV), Burlington, Vermont, about 1345.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated pilot examiner (DPE) at BTV, the pilot had obtained a commercial pilot certificate and certified flight instructor certificate, with a multiengine land rating, on May 17 and May 19, respectively. They then reviewed weather together on May 19 for the pilot's return flight to his home airport, OXC, and the DPE advised the pilot to return on May 21 due to weather. The DPE further stated that he was surprised to learn that the pilot attempted to return home on May 20.

Review of preliminary information from the FAA revealed that the pilot was receiving flight following from Albany Approach Control. The controller advised the pilot of the location of precipitation, along with mountainous terrain nearby. The controller subsequently solicited a pilot report from the pilot regarding cloud bases. The pilot reported that the cloud bases were at 3,000 ft; however, at that time, radar indicated that the accident airplane was at 3,400 ft. The controller then asked the pilot if he was in the clouds and the pilot responded that he was coming out of them. The controller suggested a westbound turn for lower terrain and continued radar coverage. At that time, the accident airplane was flying between 3,200 ft and 4,000 ft mean sea level (msl), but the minimum vectoring altitude for that area was 5,000 ft msl. The airplane briefly turned to a westbound heading, but then turned back to a southeast heading. About 4 miles later, the controller again advised the pilot that if he continued on the present heading that radar coverage would be lost. The pilot asked again what heading he should fly and the controller responded westbound, which the pilot responded "westbound heading 270." Radar and radio contact were then lost during the second westbound turn. The last radar target was recorded at 1423:41, indicating an altitude of 3,500 ft msl and groundspeed of 218 knots, about 1,000 ft from the accident site, which was approximately 2,625 ft msl.

A debris path was observed; beginning with freshly cut tree branches descending about a 45° angle and extending approximately 60 ft on a magnetic heading of 265° to the main wreckage. Several of the branches exhibited cuts with black paint transfer. The main wreckage came to rest upright and was oriented about a 265° magnetic heading, with the empennage canted over the cockpit area. The left propeller separated from the left engine flange and one propeller blade separated from the hub. The blade exhibited s-bending, chordwise scratching, leading edge gouging, tip curling, and was fractured near the blade root. The other left propeller blade was not located and presumed buried beneath the engine. The right propeller separated from the right engine flange; however, both right propeller blades remained attached to the hub. Both blades exhibited s-bending and leading-edge gouging.

The landing gear and flaps were retracted. The cockpit was consumed by fire and no readable instruments were recovered. The emergency locator transmitter was recovered and its switch was found in the off position. The attitude indicator was recovered and its face sustained impact damage. When the attitude indicator was disassembled, its gyro and gyro housing exhibited rotational scoring.

The right wing was partially consumed by fire and exhibited impact damage. The right flap remained attached and the right aileron separated and was located about 2 ft from the right wing. The left wing sustained fire damage, but exhibited less impact damage than the right wing. The left flap and left aileron remained attached to the left wing. The empennage, rudder, and stabilator remained attached. Control continuity was confirmed from the left and right wing aileron bellcranks to the mid-cabin area. Stabilator control continuity was confirmed from the stabilator to the cockpit. Rudder control continuity was confirmed from the rudder to the empennage area. Measurement of the stabilator and rudder trim jackscrews corresponded to an approximate neutral setting, respectively.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. He also held a private pilot certificate with rating airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane multiengine land. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on March 5, 2018. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 227 hours. Review of the pilot's application for a commercial pilot certificate, dated May 17, 2018, revealed a total flight experience of 256 hours; of which, 45 hours were instrument experience; however, the application did not specify, simulated instrument, actual instrument experience, or recent instrument experience.

The six-seat, low-wing, retractable tricycle-gear airplane, was manufactured in 1975. It was powered by a Continental TSIO-360-EB and LTSIO-360-EB (counter rotating), 215-horseppower engines equipped with constant speed, two-blade Hartzell propellers. According to an airplane status sheet completed on May 19, the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on September 30, 2017. At that time, the airplane had accumulated 7,306 hours.

William H Morse State Airport (DDH), Bennington, Vermont, was located about 5 miles west-southwest of the accident site. The recorded weather at DDH, at 1415, was: wind from 230° at 8 knots; visibility 10 miles; few clouds at 1,700 ft, broken ceiling at 3,600 ft, overcast ceiling at 4,600 ft; temperature 21°C; dew point 17°C, altimeter 29.91 inches of mercury.

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