NTSB Identification: IAD04FA033.
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Accident occurred Sunday, July 25, 2004 in Toughkenamon, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N38355
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 pilot was conducting touch and go landings. According to a witness, after one landing, he heard the airplane's engine power up, then reduce power, then power up again. He looked toward the sound and saw the airplane in the grass, "fishtailing as would a wheelbarrow." The airplane missed a group of fuel pumps, continued down a hill, collided with parked cars next to a hangar at what appeared to be a high rate of speed and full throttle, then exploded. Another witness heard the airplane at "high power," then saw it on the ground and "out of control." The airplane missed the fuel pumps, but proceeded "down the taxiway until it impacted the hangar and immediately burst into flames." A third witness heard the airplane "power up, then back to about idle, then full power," but did not see the airplane, but heard the impact. Wheel tracks in the grass were consistent with the airplane entering a left skid, followed by the nosewheel centering, then a right skid, before the nosewheel again centered. The airplane continued down a small hill, first in a slight right turn, then turned back toward the impact site. The airplane subsequently struck a parked airplane with its left wing, then collided with parked vehicles, and burst into flames next to a hangar. The total distance traveled off the runway was about 1,100 feet. The airplane was consumed by fire, except for the left wing and portion of the left cabin area, and the only flight control surfaces that could be accounted for were the left wing flap and aileron. However, all flight control cables were found, and continuity was confirmed to where the cables would have joined their corresponding surfaces. Threads on the pitch trim actuator corresponded to an approximately "slightly nose down" trim position. An examination of the engine revealed no catastrophic failures, and both propeller blades were fractured, consistent with power at impact. According to the airplane's maintenance log, the stabilator bearings were removed and replaced on July 16, 2004. The last two pilots to fly the airplane before the accident pilot, together 6 and 5 days before the accident, reported no mechanical anomalies. The pilot reported 140 hours of flight time, and there was no evidence of pre-accident physical impairment.

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

The pilot's decision to add power, in an attempt to abort the landing after the airplane had veered off the runway. A factor was the pilot's failure to maintain directional control after the landing.

Full narrative available

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