NTSB Identification: CHI07LA191.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 04, 2007 in Johnson, NE
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/2008
Aircraft: Piper PA-22-135, registration: N3737A
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The externally braced high wing airplane impacted terrain following an in-flight separation of the left wing while maneuvering during a ferry flight. A post impact ground fire that engulfed the airplane in flames occurred 10 -15 seconds after impact according to a witness. A witness who was an acquaintance to the pilot said that the pilot "was in the process of purchasing the plane." The witness reported that the owner advised the pilot that the airplane had not flown in about four years and that the engine had not been started in about six months. The pilot flew the airplane for about 30 minutes and parked the airplane in a hangar. The witness reported that the pilot was aware that the airplane did not have a current annual inspection. The witness said that the pilot came back on the day of the accident to fly the airplane to another airport for an annual inspection. The witness saw the airplane depart in the direction of the pilot's home. Another witness saw that "a portion of the planes wing broke away from the plane." Airworthiness Directive (AD) 99-01-05 was accomplished about four years prior. That AD contained a section for repetitive 12 calendar month inspections of the wing's lift struts. The AD was issued to "prevent in-flight separation of the wing from the airplane caused by corroded wing lift struts or cracked wing lift strut forks, which could result in loss of control of the airplane." An on-scene examination of the wreckage revealed the left wing's forward strut separated about eight inches above its fork bolt. The inside of that strut was corroded. No other pre-impact anomalies were detected. No airplane logbook entry was found for the required special flight permit to ferry the airplane for its annual inspection.

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

The failure of the left wing's lift strut, which resulted in the separation of the left wing, and the subsequent airplane control not being possible. Factors were the overdue annual inspection, the overdue compliance with an Airworthiness Directive on the lift strut, the corroded lift strut, and not following required procedures for ferry permits by the owner/pilot.

Full narrative available

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