NTSB Identification: ERA14FA255
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Fountain, FL
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-140, registration: N43113
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.

On May 25, 2014, about 0923 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N43113, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain after a loss of control during initial climb at Maran Airport (68FD), Fountain, Florida. The pilot was seriously injured and his three passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.

The takeoff at 68FD was performed by the pilot on runway 27 which was a turf covered runway and at the time of the accident had only 2,600 feet of its 5,280 foot runway available for use. Obstacles in the form of 70 foot tall trees existed at the departure end of the runway and were part of a heavily forested area which extended to the west of 68FD.

According to witnesses the takeoff was uneventful, and when the airplane reached the trees at the end of the runway, it cleared them. Moments later the witnesses observed however that the airplane had begun to sink into the top of the trees and then roll to the right. It then disappeared from sight and the sound of impact was heard. Black smoke was then observed to rise up from behind the trees.

Examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed that the airplane first made contact with a group of 70 foot high trees with the outboard portion of the right wing, then yawed and rolled to the right. It then struck several other trees on a magnetic heading of 305 degrees, separating the left outboard portion of the horizontal stabilator. The airplane then struck terrain 80 feet later in a right wing down, nose low attitude, then rotated to the right around its vertical axis and came to rest on a 119 degree magnetic heading. It was then partially consumed by a postcrash fire. Further examination also revealed the presence of propeller strikes on broken off tree branches and tree trunks that littered the ground, along with areas of burned underbrush and fire damaged trees along the flight path. No evidence of any preimpact failures of the airplane structure was discovered and all major portions of the airplane's structure were present at the accident site.

Examination of the flight control system revealed no evidence of any preimpact failure or malfunction of the system and control continuity was established from the control wheel to the ailerons and stabilator, and from the rudder pedals to the rudder. The wing flaps were in the up position.

Examination of the propeller and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact failures or malfunctions. The propeller remained attached to the propeller flange. One propeller blade exhibited twisting, S-bending, and chord wise scratching and the other propeller blade displayed forward bending, and chordwise scratching. Oil was present in the rocker boxes and oil sump, and the coarse and fine oil screens were absent of debris. Crankshaft and valve train continuity was confirmed and examination of the interior of the cylinders with a lighted borescope did not reveal evidence of any preimpact damage to the piston domes, cylinder walls, or valves. The spark plugs were normal in appearance. The magnetos were fire damaged and could not be tested.

The pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on May 5, 2014. He reported on that date that he had accrued approximately 145 total flight hours.

According to FAA and airplane maintenance records, the accident airplane was manufactured in 1974. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on October 1, 2013. At the time of accident, the airplane had accrued approximately 2,906 total hours of operation.

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