NTSB Identification: CHI96FA141.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, April 24, 1996 in BUFFALO, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/25/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-25-150, registration: N6254Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The Piper PA-25 (acft), being used to develop an STC, was modified by installing 2nd seat in hopper area & extending canopy forward. On 6/30/95, operator reported to FAA that flight conformance testing to date had reflected no change in acft performance versus original configuration. Acft was equipped with external airspeed calibration device for an airspeed calibration flight, & it was loaded with 560 lbs of ballast to meet max gross wt & forward CG requirements for STC testing. Wind was gusty, & temp was 64 deg (about 30 deg warmer than on day of previous test flight). Pilot reported that after takeoff from runway 21, he maintained best rate of climb speed & 2525-2550 engine rpm, then best angle of climb speed, but acft would not climb. He then turned downwind & attempted to return to same runway; however, acft collided with trees & crashed about 1/2 mi east of airport. A witness said that during takeoff, acft lifted off, then began a left turn about half way down the runway. Pilot said that a climbing turn was made to allow for more clearance from obstacles at south end of airport. Witnesses said acft then turned north & remained at low altitude & airspeed until it hit trees & crashed. Fire then erupted, & acft was demolished. Investigation revealed that standard (original) wing root & landing gear (strut) fairings were not installed. Piper reported that removal of wing root fairings would significantly reduce wing lifting capability & change airflow over horizontal tail, requiring more elevator deflection for maneuvering. Absence of landing gear fairings would have increased drag, slightly.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: failure of company/operator personnel to install the wing and landing gear (strut) fairings after modifying the airplane for a supplemental type certificate (STC), and improper planning/decision by the pilot. Factors relating to the accident were: the airplane's reduced performance, and high obstructions. Full narrative available
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