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N4484F accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Fifield, WI
45.854395°N, 90.226546°W

Tail number N4484F
Accident date 04 Aug 1995
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-181
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On August 4, 1995, at 0850 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-181, N4484F, was destroyed when it impacted water during descent near Fifield, Wisconsin. The private pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. The personal, 14 CFR Part 91 flight originated in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, about 0730 with a planned destination of Park Falls, Wisconsin. Witnesses reported obscured skies and low visibility at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed.

One witness to the accident, a pilot who was standing outside on his deck near the water where the airplane impacted, reported that he heard the airplane "coming from the northeast, flying very low about 200 feet above the trees." He heard the airplane turn toward the south and described the noise as though the airplane did "several sharp turns, climbs, and dives." He heard "a very high rpm" and the engine sound immediately subsided as if the pilot had "cut power or blew the engine and hit at a very high speed."

Another witness reported that he was fishing about 200 feet south of where the airplane impacted the water. He heard the airplane fly over and it sounded as if it was at a very low altitude. He did not initially see the airplane because "it was too foggy." The airplane flew to the north then turned to the southwest. He reported that the engine sound became "much louder as if he were going to land or something." The airplane approached from the west at an extremely low altitude. "The engines gave a loud whine and a loud pop and then the engines stopped." The airplane "broke through the fog at about 200 feet above the ground at about a 45 degree angle. About one second later the plane impacted the water and blew apart."


The NTSB on-scene investigation began about 1600 on August 4, 1995. The wreckage was submerged in the north channel of the sailor creek flowage about 500 yards from the east bank and 300 yards from the north bank. Only the top of the vertical stabilizer and rudder remained above the water on a heading of 080 degrees. The pitch attitude was about 30 degrees nose down. Divers reported the engine remained attached to the fuselage, submerged in the soft mud on the bottom of the flowage. The wings were fractured at the root and folded in the aft direction.

The wreckage was floated and towed to shore on August 5. Examination revealed the leading edges of both wings were compressed in the aft direction throughout the span. The right tip of the elevator was fractured at the production seam. The outboard section remained partially attached. The forward fuselage and cabin area were compressed in the aft direction. Examination of engine and flight control continuity revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.

Both blades of the metal propeller exhibited minor torsional bending. One blade was bent aft about 45 degrees at the midspan of the blade. The other blade was bent aft about 90 degrees at the midspan of the blade and exhibited minor leading edge damage. Examination of engine continuity revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. The carbureter bowl contained a mixture of mud, water, and clear blue fuel. The number two, three, and four cylinders had compression. The number one cylinder had weak compression. All eight spark plugs were slightly black and fouled with mud and oil. The left magneto impulse coupling operated and the magneto sparked when the magneto was turned.

The altimeter indicated 2,600 feet and the Kohlsman setting was 30.01 inches of mercury. The airspeed indicator was trapped at 183 knots and the tachometer was trapped at 1,700 rpm. The vacuum pump operated when turned. Examination revealed the rotor and all six vanes were intact. Examination of the gyroscope drums from the artificial horizon, directional gyro, and turn and bank indicator revealed the drums remained in the bearings and no rotational scoring was visible.


Autopsy of the pilot was conducted August 7, 1995, by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner, St. Paul, Minnesota. Toxicological testing was negative for all tests conducted except for trace quantities of acetaldehyde and 31 mg/dL ethanol in the liver specimen, and trace quantities of 1-propanol and 95 mg/dL ethanol in the kidney specimen. The condition of the specimens was specified as "marked putrefaction."

A prescription vial containing two 25mg "captopril" tablets was located in the wreckage. The pilot's name was specified on the vial. According to the Physician's Desk Reference, "captopril" is an anti-hypertensive.


The engine was operated on a test stand in Belvidere, Illinois, on October 12, 1995. Prior to the test, the magnetos, carburetor, and three pushrods were replaced. The engine operated normally during the test.


Parties to the investigation were the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The New Piper Aircraft, Inc., and Textron Lycoming.

Following the on-scene portion of the investigation, the wreckage was released to Mr. Nate Nez, the manager of the Price County Airport.

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