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On February 7, 1994, about 1900 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-180, N9637J, was substantially damaged following a collision with terrain near Murphy, North Carolina. The commercial pilot was fatally injured in the accident. The aircraft was being operated under 14 CFR Part 91 by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight. The flight departed Statesville, North Carolina about 1630.
An associate of the pilot stated that he had departed Statesville in a Cessna 172 at the same time as the Piper 180. He stated that he and the pilot of the Piper 180 had planned to fly the two aircraft in sight of each other to Athens, Tennessee. He stated that just east of Murphy, North Carolina, his aircraft was running low on fuel, and he decided to stop in Murphy and purchase fuel. He contacted the pilot of the Piper 180, and informed her of his decision. She stated that she did not need fuel, and was continuing to Athens. The pilot of the Cessna stated that it was a dark night, and the mountainous terrain was hard to see in the dark.
The Piper 180 aircraft was located about 5 miles south of Murphy, North Carolina, in mountainous terrain, at an elevation of 4940 feet above sea level. The aircraft impacted the terrain about 200 feet below the top of the ridge line.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. She also held a flight instructors certificate with airplane single and multiengine ratings. She had a second class medical certificate issued on May 5, 1993, which had a limitation requiring the use of glasses for near and distant vision. Additional pilot information may be obtained on page 3 of this report under section titled First Pilot Information.
The Piper PA-28-180 is a four place single engine aircraft. It is powered by a Lycoming O-360 engine.
The aircraft had been recently purchased by Jayne M. Miller of England, Ohio.(See Copy of Aircraft Registration Dated January 13, 1994 Attached to this Report.)
Additional aircraft information may be obtained on page 2 of this report under section titled Aircraft Information.
Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident. The pilot of another aircraft flying in the area stated that it was a dark night, and the mountainous terrain was difficult to pick out in the darkness.
Additional meteorological information may be obtained on page 3 of this report under section titled Weather Information.
The wreckage was located in mountainous terrain at an elevation of 4940 feet. The aircraft was found on the south side of a ridge line approximately 140 feet below the top of the ridge line. The wreckage was found on its left side, and on a heading of 010 degrees. The ridge line in the area of the wreckage had a slope angle of approximately 40 degrees. The tree tops heading 190 degrees from the main wreckage had been broken off in such a manner that looking in the 190 degree direction, the tops were approximately level.
Both the left and right wings of the aircraft were severed from the fuselage at the wing root area. The right wing was in two sections, and these sections were located approximately 25 feet south of the main wreckage. The left wing was found lying alongside the main wreckage. The aircraft left and right wings had "U" shaped indentions along the leading edge. There was continuity of the left and right aileron control cables from the ailerons to the cable fracture points at the root end of the wings. The aileron cable fractures at the root end of the wings were unraveled and necked down.
There was fuel found in the aircraft wing tanks. The fuel was blue in color, and had the odor of aviation fuel.
There was continuity of the rudder and elevator flight controls into the cockpit area.
The aircraft propeller blades were twisted, spanwise toward low pitch, and exhibited chordwise scratching on the blade surfaces. There was oil in the engine, and the carburetor fuel line had a small quantity of fuel in the line.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Post mortem examination of the pilot was performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
A forensic toxicology examination was performed by the Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory of the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Lee Boyd of the U.S. Forest Service in Murphy, N.C. on February 10, 1994.