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On October 15, 1994, at 1728 central daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, N2964A, was destroyed following a loss of control near College Station, Texas. The private pilot and one of his passengers received minor injuries, two passengers were seriously injured, and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight.
According to several witnesses, the aircraft departed from runway 16, at the intersection with runway 22 (with 5,750 feet remaining) at Easterwood Airport on an instrument flight rules flight plan to San Antonio, Texas. Several witnesses observed the front baggage compartment door flapping prior to lift off. One airline transport rated pilot stated that the airplane became airborne with 4,000 feet of runway remaining. He also estimated that the maximum altitude attained by the airplane was between 75 and 100 feet.
In the enclosed NTSB Form 6120.1/2, the pilot reported that he preflighted the airplane prior to arrival of the passengers for the return trip. The pilot stated that during his preflight inspection he found that the engine was low one quart of oil. He reported that he opened the baggage compartment and took one quart of oil out the put it in the engine. After replenishing the oil, he placed the empty oil container back in the box inside the baggage compartment, "pushed cargo door closed, pushed latch in, but could not remember if the top part of the latch latched."
The pilot further stated that everything was normal during the takeoff roll, except that he noticed that the airplane was drifting left of centerline and the airplane "was pulling to the left." The pilot stated that he rotated at 80 knots and established a climb attitude. He stated that he "had the plane in climb attitude after lift off before noticing door popping open." He estimated that the airplane was about 10 feet off the ground when the baggage door became open.
Immediately after lift off the pilot reported on the radio that his baggage compartment door was open and that he was returning to land. The tower gave the pilot the options of either a left or right downwind entry to runway 16. The pilot stated that he opted for the left because the airplane was already pulling in that direction.
The pilot stated that the airspeed decreased to about 65 knots and the stall warning horn was activated. The passenger on the right front seat also reported hearing the stall warning horn and when "the pilot leveled the plane off, it went off." He further reported that the stall warning came back on about 5 seconds later as the airplane was still crabbing left in a mush mode.
After the airplane took off, witnesses at the airport observed it in a steep climb attitude, flying at a very slow speed, in a pronounced left crab or slip, in a left turn, at an altitude of approximately 75 to 100 feet.
The pilot was issued a private pilot certificate on March 21, 1987. He had been instrument rated since January 30, 1988. According to EMS and rescue personnel, the fatally injured passenger was not wearing a seat belt.
An estimate of the weight of the airplane at the time of the accident places the airplane within its limits. Examination of the airplane and engine at the accident site did not disclose any mechanical problems. No anomalies or defects were found with the baggage compartment door, its latching mechanism, or lock assembly (found unlocked).
A review of the airframe and engine records by a FAA inspector did not reveal any anomalies or uncorrected maintenance defects prior to the flight.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Imprints corresponding to the landing gears were found on the ground on a measured heading of 030 degrees, just short of two utility poles. Impressions and paint transfers from the leading edge of both wings were found on two utility poles located 20 feet apart. The markings on the poles indicate a 45-50 degree angle of bank. Ground scars were approximately 105 feet long; they ended at the base of a tree trunk. The airframe came to rest on a measured heading of 015 degrees beyond the tree.
The baggage compartment door remained attached to the airframe. Neither the baggage compartment nor the door were deformed. The door was open and unlatched.
The powerplant remained attached to the airframe. The two blade propeller remained attached to the engine. Both propeller blades displayed rotational marks and torsional twisting. Continuity was established to all flight controls. See wreckage diagram for wreckage distribution pattern.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative upon completion of the investigation.