CHI94LA203
CHI94LA203

On June 19, 1994, at 1431 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-18 airplane, N81TW, operated by American Trans Air Training Corporation, was destroyed during takeoff from the Hulman Regional Airport in Terre Haute, Indiana. The commercial pilot-in-command sustained fatal injuries. The front seat pilot, also a commercial pilot, sustained serious injuries. Both pilots were certified flight instructors employed by the operator. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was filed.

A employee of the operator said the flight was a maintenance check flight for the newly installed engine. The surviving second pilot said this was his first flight in this type of airplane and he was flying with the other pilot, a senior flight instructor, to gain experience. He said it was the operator's policy for instructors to fly five or six hours in each type of tailwheel-equipped airplane prior to instructing in that type.

The tower controller who witnessed the accident stated the airplane was cleared for an intersection takeoff on runway 5. During the initial climb, the nose of the airplane appeared to be excessively high. The airplane reached a maximum altitude of about 200 feet. The left wing dipped and the airplane impacted the terrain.

The wreckage was examined by an FAA airworthiness inspector. He stated in a written report that he discovered no evidence of preexisting airframe or engine malfunction. The elevator trim jack screw was found in the full nose up position.

During a telephone interview, the surviving second pilot stated he was flying the airplane and the other pilot was also on the controls. They were conducting a simulated short field takeoff as specified in the pilot's operating handbook. He said they were distracted during the initial portion of the take off roll when he discovered his seat belt was unfastened. He fastened it and continued the takeoff. At 35 to 40 knots he lowered the flaps and the airplane became airborne. He said he remembered feeling uncomfortable, probably due to the low airspeed, but could not recall other details of the accident.

During a telephone interview, an engineer employed by the Piper Aircraft Company said the airplane would be controllable with the elevator trim in the full nose up position. However, it would require a significant forward pressure on the stick to maintain a proper climb pitch.

An autopsy was performed by the Office of the Marion County Coroner, 40 S. Alabama St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.

The results of toxicological testing of the deceased pilot were negative for all tests except for morphine which was measured at .029 and 3.570 (ug/ml,ug/g) for blood and bile specimens respectively. Evidence of postaccident medical care was described in the autopsy report.

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