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On September 15, 1994, at 1900 eastern daylight time (edt), a Piper PA-23-250, N13909, registered to Edward Maudrie and Sons Fishery, Incorporated, of St. James, Michigan, and piloted by a multi-engine rated private pilot, was destroyed during a collision with trees and terrain. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The flight departed from Beaver Island, Michigan, at 1830 edt.
The Beaver Island Airport manager said he observed the pilot looking at the bottom of the airplane's right engine cowl before boarding with the passengers and departing. He said the pilot did not open the cowl of the right engine. He said the pilot did not preflight the airplane or do a runup before takeoff.
The only eyewitness to the accident said the airplane was flying low, in a left to right pattern making a "...whom, whom..." sound. He said the airplane made a series of pitch up and down motions before descending straight down into the trees.
The pilot's logbook was not made available for review by his estate. A representative from the estate said he could not find the logbook. Federal Aviation Administration records show the pilot's last medical examination was October 7, 1988.
The airframe and powerplant logbooks for N13909 were not found in the wreckage. The Charlevoix County Sheriff's Department representative on Beaver Island said that airplane paperwork was not found or removed during their on-scene activities. A representative from the estate stated the airframe and power- plant logbooks were not located during a search of the pilot's properties. The left tachometer showed 2,954.9 hours on its recording face. The right tachometer showed 2,957.6 hours on its recording face.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
N13909's wreckage was confined to one location in a dense wooded area. Many tree limbs, ranging between one inch and five inches in diameter were found with cut marks on one and/or both ends around the wreckage site. The airplane wreckage was oriented on an approximate 120 degree magnetic heading.
The tailcone and empennage were positioned on top of the aft fuselage. Both wings were crushed aft to the main spar. The fuselage had been crushed aft to the cockpit's front seats. The instrument panel was found parallel with the ground's surface. The cabin area, aft of the front seats, had been crushed aft, outward and was split open at the top side. The front of both engines were positioned approximately 45 degrees to the ground. Both were buried up to the first set of cylinders.
Both wing fuel bladders were torn over their entire upper and lower surfaces. Fuel was not found in the recesses of the bladders. An odor similar to aviation gasoline was found in soil samples taken from below both wings.
Control continuity between the stabilator and ailerons were established up to the control yoke. Continuity between the rudder and rudder pedals was established.
An examination of the left and right engines revealed no mechanical anomolies that would prevent it from producing power. The right propeller had one blade bent aft about 70 degrees beginning at the one-third span position. This blade had a wavy appearance over the bent surface area. The second blade was curved forward about 80 degrees starting from the propeller hub. The propeller was partially separated from the propeller extension at the front of the engine. Chordwise scuffing was observed on both blades.
The left propeller had one blade that was wavy in appearance. This blade had a gouge about two inches long and approximately 1/2 inch deep beginning about four inches in from its tip. The second blade was bent aft about 45 degrees. This propeller's extension was not bent, and the propeller was still attached to it at all bolt positions. All four propeller blades had chordwise scuffing.
The pilot's wife said that on the day of the accident, her husband came home after eating supper, remained there for about 30 minutes, then left for another 30 minutes, came home again, changed clothing and "...left to go bird hunting around 5:45."
An investigation into the pilot's pre-departure activities revealed he had eaten supper at a local bar around 1600 edt. The owner of the bar stated that the pilot did not consume any alcoholic beverages during his meal. The owner was asked for the September 15, 1994, patron billing receipts. He said the billing receipts for that day had been thrown away at the day's conclusion. The county sheriff he said that he detected a strong odor of alcohol on the body of the pilot and one passenger during his on-scene activities.
A toxicological examination was conducted by the Department of Defence, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. The report said that the specimens received showed "Marked putrefaction." An analysis for carbon monoxide and cyanide were not performed due to a lack of specimens. The report says that 5 mg/dL of acetaldehyde was found in the liver and kidney. 20 mg/dL of ethanol was found in the liver and 78 mg/dL was found in the kidney.
The autopsy examination was conducted at the Blodgett Memorial Medical Center, Blodgett, Michigan. The report states the pilot's fatal injuries were a result of multiple injuries. It also states that 0.06 g. of ethanol per 100 g. of liver tissue was identified during the examination.
The wreckage was released to the pilot's brother-in-law on September 17, 1994.