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On September 13, 1994, at 1819 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N73AW, collided with the ground while attempting a forced landing near Glenville, North Carolina. The business flight operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, with a visual flight rules flight plan filed. Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and a fourth person received serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and post impact fire. The flight departed Asheville, North Carolina, at 1754 hours.
At 1731:03, a man who identified himself as the pilot of N73AW, telephoned Raleigh Automated Flight Service Station (RDU AFSS) and requested a visual weather briefing from Asheville, North Carolina, to LaFayette, Georgia. The pilot was given a routine weather briefing which included current and forecast weather conditions for his intended route. After the briefing, the pilot filed a visual flight rules flight plan.
At 1746, the pilot contacted Asheville Tower and requested taxi and departure instructions. At 1754, the flight was cleared for takeoff and instructed to contact departure control after takeoff. The pilot established radio contact with departure control, and maintained contact until they were 35 miles west. At 1810, after reaching 8,500 feet as a cruise altitude, the pilot established radio contact with Atlanta Center, and requested flight following. The pilot was issued a transponder code, and radar contact was also established.
At 1814, the pilot radioed a "mayday" call, and requested the location of the nearest airport. The Atlanta Center instructed the pilot to fly a 330 degree magnetic heading for Jackson County Airport; the pilot acknowledged the instructions. The pilot reported that he had no engine power, he could not maintain altitude, and he was descending out of 8,000 feet. The pilot circled the area looking for an emergency landing site. He told Atlanta center that he did not have a suitable landing site available. At 1816, radar contact was lost.
According to the surviving passenger, the pilot circled the hilly terrain several times searching for an emergency landing site. As the pilot circled, he attempted to restart the engine. After several attempts, the engine sputtered and the pilot regained partial power. Witnesses on the ground also reported hearing the engine sputter before the airplane impacted the ground. The airplane collided with trees about 300 feet south of where the airplane impacted the ground. The surviving passenger escaped from the burning wreckage after the airplane came to rest.
Information on the pilot is included in this report at the data field labeled ,"First Pilot's Information."
Information on the aircraft is contained in this report at the data field labeled "Aircraft Information." The aircraft maintenance logs were destroyed in the post impact fire. N73AW was topped off with 100 low lead aviation fuel before departing Asheville, North Carolina.
Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Weather information is contained in this report at the data field labeled "Weather Information."
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site disclosed that aircraft wreckage debris was scattered over an area 350 feet long and 75 feet wide; the wreckage path was orientated on a northerly heading. Examination of the accident site and wreckage path disclosed that the airplane collided with the top of several trees about 300 feet south of the principal impact point. There were several ground scars from a point 150 feet south of the trees to where the airframe came to rest. Debris from the wing assembly was recovered from the first ground scar. Additional fire damaged left wing debris was found 50 feet north of the initial ground scar. The fire damaged materials from the airplane continued along the wreckage path to where the main wreckage rested.
Examination of the main wreckage disclosed that the fuselage was destroyed by impact forces and the post-impact fire. The main wreckage rested inverted under a tree and the nose of the aircraft was orientated in the opposite direction of the wreckage path. The fire destroyed the aircraft avionic equipment and the interior of the airframe. The engine assembly remained attached to the airframe with control cables and structural materials. The propeller assembly separated and was located adjacent to the left wing assembly.
Additional examination of the engine assembly revealed that components from the accessory section sustained fire and impact damage. The magnetos were fire damaged and could not be tested. Despite the damage to the crankshaft, engine rotation was still accomplished, and compression was developed on all cylinders except the #4 cylinder. The examination of the #4 cylinder disclosed that the intake valve was stuck in the open position. The examination of #4 piston head disclosed several intake valve imprints in the head which corresponded to the normal position of the intake valve position. Further examination disclosed that the #4 intake valve was fractured at the valve keeper. The fracture face examination by a metallurgist revealed that there were multiple fatigue origins (see attached Record of Engine Examination). The intake valve was stuck in the guide and could not be removed. The symbol "P30" was stamped on the #4 valve guide; this indicated that the valve guide was oversized by 0.030 inches. Historical information about the #4 intake valve was not recovered for examination. No other material failure or system malfunction was determined during the engine teardown examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. Ricky A. Thompson on September 13, 1994, at the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The cause of death was reported as multiple trauma secondary to the aircraft accident. The toxicological examinations were negative for drugs and alcohol.
The aircraft wreckage was released to :
Harry Brooks (Insurance Adjustor) P.O. Box 888525 Atlanta, Georgia