On May 6, 1994, at 1415 central daylight time (cdt), a Piper PA-28-181, N2938Q, registered to Plymouth County Aviation of Le Mars, Iowa, and piloted by a non-instrument private pilot, was destroyed during a collision with the ground. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed Grand Island, Nebraska, at 1400 cdt, on a special VFR clearance. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
Before departing the Central Nebraska Regional Airport, N2938Q's pilot contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Service Station (FSS) at Columbus, Nebraska, on three separate occasions. He advised the FSS specialist that his intended route of flight was from Grand Island, Nebraska, to Sioux City, Iowa.
During the first FSS weather briefing N2938Q's pilot was advised that VFR flight was not recommended. The pilot was advised of instrument meteorological conditions along his proposed route of flight during his second weather briefing. The FSS specialist advised N2938Q's pilot that icing was forecast for his departure point and VFR flight was not recommended.
The pilot's third weather briefing took place about five hours after the first one. The pilot was told: "...VFR wouldn't be recommended. First of all, flight precautions set up for IFR and it's IFR along this route of flight until you get right up to Sioux City. Grand Island and the area around Grand Island is forecast to remain IFR all the way into tomorrow morning." The pilot's response was, "Okay, thank you."
At 1324 cdt, N2938Q's pilot contacted the departure airport's ground control. He advised the controller that he was going to call the control tower for a special VFR clearance to Le Mars, Iowa. The special VFR clearance was issued to N2938Q's pilot at 1353 cdt. Shortly after being issued the clearance, N2938Q taxied onto runway 35 without acknowledging his clearances. The tower controller said that N2938Q's pilot was called and asked if he had "...copied his clearances, and he indicated he did."
At 1358 cdt, N2938Q contacted the departure airport's control tower and advised that he was six miles from the airport. At 1404 cdt, the FAA Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) advised the tower that N2938Q would be re-entering the airport's airspace. Approximately one minute later, N2938Q was observed turning northeast and departing the airport's controlled airspace. The ARTCC controller stated he lost radar contact with N2938Q at 1410 cdt. He said the last Mode C readout was 6,200 feet mean sea level.
Three witnesses reported hearing N2938Q flying in their vicinity. The witnesses reported the airplane's engine sound to be at a high RPM level. Two witnesses stated they heard the airplane flying in their area for approximately five minutes. They reported the weather conditions to be clouds and fog. One of the two witnesses said, "The engine sounded like it was in a full power dive when it hit." The third witness stated he heard the airplane producing noises like a crop duster and looked out the side window of his vehicle "...and saw a cloud of white smoke with some pieces of metal coming out of it."
The NTSB was represented on-scene by an FAA Principal Operations and Maintenance Inspector (POI and PMI) from the Lincoln, Nebraska, Flight Standards District Office. According to their examination of the scene, N2938Q collided with ground on an approximate heading of 015 degrees magnetic. N2938Q traveled about 80 feet from its first ground contact point.
N2938Q's vacuum pump was removed from the engine's rear accessory case. An internal examination revealed a broken center rotor with two of the six blades broken. The pump's drive coupling was not sheared and its drive shaft rotated freely. N2938Q's engine rotated freely and no internal damage was observed during disassembly. The attitude indicator rotor had an approximate 40 degree arc which showed scuffing. The heading indicator rotor has scuffing and gouging over approximately 330 degrees of its surface. N2938Q's stabilator, rudder, and aileron control cables were found connected to the appropriate control horn and cockpit control.
One owner of N2938Q (the pilot's flight instructor) said that the pilot called to discuss the return flight. The owner said he told the pilot the weather was below VFR minimums and that he should take an airline back home.
The owner said he had the pilot fly into clouds to show him what it was like and how a non-instrument rated pilot can get into trouble. He said the pilot "...almost lost it and I had to take it over."
The pilot began his flight training on August 10, 1991. He passed his private pilot flight test on April 9, 1994. His pilot logbook showed he had received 2.3 hours of simulated instrument flight training. However, an examination of the logbook entries showed he had 1.2 hours of simulated instrument training and .3 of an hour of simulated instrument flight during his check ride.
An autopsy and toxicological examination was not conducted due to the lack of suitable specimens.