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On January 4, 1995, at 1111 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28- 181, N8435P, lost total engine power during climb out from the Moraine Airport in Dayton, Ohio. During the emergency descent, the airplane collided with trees and fell to the ground. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The personal flight departed Moraine Airport about 1106 and was destined for the South Dayton General Airport located in Dayton. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to a friend of the pilot who was flying an airplane about 500 feet above N8435P at the time of the accident, shortly after takeoff the pilot broadcast, "...I have zero fuel pressure and I'm going in." He stated that at the time of the broadcast, the accident airplane was about 300 to 500 feet above the ground.
The friend also stated that he asked the pilot if he had the electric fuel pump on and the pilot responded "Yes." Additionally, the friend reported, "He was in my view at this time. He avoided striking some houses and attempted to land on the golf course. The next thing I knew the plane was crashed on the ground."
Witnesses on the ground stated they heard the accident airplane's engine "sputtering." One witness located in his home near the accident site stated that he saw N8435P heading towards his home. He stated that as the airplane approached his home, it then made a steep turn to the left, away from the residential area, towards the nearby golf course. He stated that during the left turn, "...the airplane's nose came up high..." and the airplane contacted trees. The witness also stated that the airplane struck the trees, fell to the ground, and slid about 100 feet.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single and multiengine land ratings. At the time of the accident he had accumulated a total of about 1,034 flight hours, of which 1,007 were in a single engine airplane. Of the 1,007 hours flown in a single engine airplane, 150 hours were in a Piper PA-28-181.
According to the pilot's log book, he satisfactorily completed a biennial flight review in a Cessna 172 on August 30, 1994.
According to the airframe and engine log books, an annual inspection had been accomplished on December 6, 1994. Since the inspection, the airplane had was operated about 40 hours.
The airplane has one fuel tank in each wing with a capacity of 25 gallons, of which one gallon is unusable. The airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) states, "The mixture should be leaned during cruising operation above 5,000 feet altitude and at the pilot's discretion at lower altitudes when 75% power or less is being used. If any doubt exists as to the amount of power being used, the mixture should be in the full RICH position." At a 75% power setting and best power mixture, the POH indicates a fuel flow of 10.5 gallons per hour.
The POH also states, "If signs of fuel starvation should occur at any time during flight, fuel exhaustion should be suspected, at which time the fuel selector should be immediately positioned to the other tank and the electric fuel pump switched to the ON position."
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane wreckage and accident site were examined on January 4 and 5, 1995. Examination of the accident site revealed numerous broken tress and broken tree limbs leading up to the airplane. A large divot was found in the frozen ground about 20 feet from the bases of the broken trees. Ground scars and debris were noted from the large divot to the airplane. The airplane came to rest in a vertical position resting on its engine.
Flight control surface continuity was verified. The flaps were found extended about 20 degrees and the stabilator trim tab position was about 1/2 degree nose down.
The leading edges of both wings were dented and crushed aft. The left fuel tank was intact and about 12 to 15 gallons of fuel was captured. However, fuel from the left tank was dripping from a damaged fuel line. The right wing fuel tank was torn near the forward inboard leading edge and tree bark and leaves were embedded. The right fuel tank was empty and no fuel stains were noted on the airframe structure. Additionally, no fuel was noted on the ground around the right fuel tank. Witnesses at the accident scene stated they did not see any fuel draining from the right fuel tank area. The fuel selector was found positioned on the right fuel tank.
Examination of the airplane's fuel system did not reveal any anomalies. The engine driven fuel pump and the electric fuel pump were tested and were capable of normal operation. No debris/clogs were found in the fuel lines or tanks.
Examination of the engine revealed no anomalies. No fuel was present in the fuel lines to the engine and about a thimble full of fuel was found in both the carburetor bowl and engine driven fuel pump. No contaminants were found in the fuel.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The autopsy was performed by Dr. David Smith, Deputy Coroner of Montgomery County, at the Montgomery County Coroners Office, Dayton, Ohio, on January 5, 1995.
The toxicology was performed by Dr. Canfield at the Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
According to the airplane's tachometer reading at the accident site and the airplane operator's fuel records, the airplane was operated 3.1 hours since it was last refueled.
According to the operator's records, since N8435P was last refueled, the airplane was flown by three people prior to the accident.
The third pilot who had flown the airplane since it was last refueled stated that prior to his flight, the fuel tanks were 3/4's full and the fuel selector was positioned on the right tank. He stated that his flight was conducted with the fuel selector selected to the right tank.
The airplane was released to Bill Provance, Insurance Adjuster at Howe Associates, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri.