NTSB Identification: MIA01FA119.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, April 10, 2001 in Claxton, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Beech A-45/T-34A, registration: N340JB
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.

A witness stated that she heard an aircraft flying low, with its engine operating "fast", pass over her house, so she ran out of the house for fear it would hit the house. She further stated that she then saw the airplane, just above treetop level, in the direction of the Claxton-Evans County Airport, in an extreme nose low pitch attitude. She said the airplane had been "falling fast, and the engine sounded wide open, or full throttle." She also said that "the wings were rocking, and it was obvious to her that the pilot was fighting hard to keep the airplane stable and level." According to the witness, she then saw the airplane drop into the trees, and heard the crash. She said she then got into her car and sped to the airport, and as she approached the airport, she saw the airplane at the edge of the trees. The witness said that she then saw an explosion, followed by a fireball which shot about 300 feet into the air, followed by a column of black smoke. She then ran into the airport manager's office and reported the accident. When she returned, she saw a man emerging from the woods, who had been badly burned. The pilot/owner of the accident airplane received fatal injuries as a result of the accident. The pilot rated passenger who survived the accident and who went through an extensive period of hospitalization later stated that his memory is fragmented, but that he remembered the run-up and takeoff, and that everything was normal until they were in the air when he saw fuel streaming back over the left wing. He said he could not see the fuel cap to see what the trouble was, and he remembers asking the pilot/owner if he needed some help, but did not remember the pilot/owner's answer, or if he gave any assistance to the pilot in handling the airplane. He said the next thing he remembered was telling the pilot "we're not going to make it", followed by the impact. Examination of the airplane revealed that the left fuel cap had separated from the wing, and it was found in the area of the airplane's initial impact with trees while the pilot had been returning to land at the airport he had just departed from. No preaccident failures or malfunctions were noted to the airplane's structure flight controls, or engine as a result of the postcrash examination.

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

The pilot in command's failure to maintain airspeed while performing an emergency landing after having just taken off with an unsecured fuel cap, which resulted in an inadvertent stall mush, an uncontrolled descent, and an impact with trees.

Full narrative available

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