NTSB Identification: FTW96FA183.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 27, 1996 in VERA, OK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/29/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-151, registration: N7845C
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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 airplane was on a two-leg cross-country instructional flight. Shortly after taking off on the second leg, an FAA FSS facility informed the pilots of a flight precaution for moderate to occasionally severe turbulence from the surface to 14,000 feet. After about 50 minutes of flight, the airplane crashed. There was evidence that the airplane crashed during an uncontrolled descent. Just before impact, a witness saw the airplane flying 'just above the tree tops' approximately one mile from the accident site. Witnesses near the crash site reported seeing 'white smoke and orange flame' coming from the airplane before impact. Examination of the wreckage revealed that incorrect exhaust system clamps had been used to attach the muffler to the right (#1 and #3) exhaust stacks. The clamps were identified as automotive types. There was evidence of an exhaust stack separation from the muffler and that exhaust gasses had entered the area around the carburetor fuel supply line. There also was evidence that an in-flight fire had burned through the lower left portion of the engine cowling, and an adjacent hole had been burned through the engine fire wall to the cabin area.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

improper installation by unknown person(s) of incorrect exhaust system clamps, which led to an exhaust system disconnect and a subsequent engine compartment fire.

Full narrative available

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