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On September 27, 1995, at 0156 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-44-180, N2160E, collided with trees and then the terrain during an instrument approach to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, Columbia, South Carolina. The pilot and his safety pilot were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post crash fire. The airplane was being operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight plan was in effect for the personal flight. The flight originated at the Macon Downtown Airport, Macon, Georgia, at approximately 0000 hours.
The pilot had rented a block of flight time in the airplane, from the airplane's owner, to build his proficiency. Since he did not meet insurance requirements to conduct solo operations, a safety pilot had accompanied him on the flight. Approximately 2330 hours the pilot contacted Macon Automated Flight Service Station to file an IFR flight plan, and received a weather briefing for the flight. The pilot received the forecasted weather conditions for the destination, and for the surrounding airports in order to select an alternate.
As the pilot climbed to cruising altitude he received the Macon altimeter of 29.95; the setting was given at 0002 and again at 0007 hours. At 0039 the pilot reported that he had the current weather at Columbia via ATIS (Automated Terminal Information System) and was issued the Columbia altimeter setting of 29.94. The flight had been cleared for, and was conducting an instrument landing system approach to runway 11, at 0052 hours. At 0053 N2160E was asked to maintain maximum forward airspeed. The last transmission of N2160E was at 0055 hours, at 0056 hours a short ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) was heard by air traffic control during a transmission to another aircraft.
The airplane impacted the ground about 1/2 mile from the approach end of runway 11. The ceiling and visibility, at the time of the accident, was 300 feet overcast and three miles in fog.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, and an instrument airplane rating. He held a first class medical with the limitation that he shall wear correcting lens while exercising the privileges of his airman's certificate.
Additional personnel information may be obtained in this report on page 3 under section titled First Pilot Information.
The Piper PA-44-180 is a four place, two engine, retractable tricycle gear airplane. The last annual inspection of N2160E was accomplished on September 22, 1995, and the aircraft had accumulated 14 flight hours since that inspection.
Additional aircraft information may be obtained in this report on page 2 under section titled Aircraft Information.
The forecast for Columbia was: 700 feet broken, 3 miles in fog, occasional 3500 broken, 2 miles in fog. Weather at the time of the accident was instrument meteorological conditions. The Columbia Metropolitan Airport, located 1 mile west, northwest of the accident site, reported 300 feet overcast and three miles in fog during the time frame that the accident occurred. The actual ceiling was lower than the forecast.
Additional meteorological information may be obtained in this report on pages 3 and 4 under section titled Weather Information.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft collided with a 100 foot tall pine tree and then a 150 foot tall pine tree, and broke off the top 10 feet and 20 feet of the tree, respectively. Paint chips from the aircraft were found in the same area that the broken tree tops were found. The wreckage was distributed over an area of approximately 371 feet on a magnetic heading of about 108 degrees.
The left and right wing were found broken up into many pieces and spread over the entire area of the wreckage. Both the left and the right wing separated from the fuselage at the point where the engine mounts to the wing. The wings both had extensive crushing due to impact. The left engine was found 10 feet northwest of the main wreckage and the right engine was found 20 feet in southeast of the main wreckage.
Both of the vacuum pumps were recovered and disassembled. The veins of the right and left vacuum pump were in tact. The shear connection of the left vacuum pump has been melted, and the block has been cracked. The left vacuum pump has fire and impact damage.
There was continuity of both engine drive trains. The left and the right propeller blades showed signs of "S" bending, and twisting toward low pitch. Most of the engine accessories were consumed in the fire on both engines. The left engine gauges sustained major fire damage and were unreadable.
For specific details on the wreckage distribution, see the Wreckage Distribution Diagram.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed by Dr. Joel S. Sexton of the Newberry County Memorial Hospital, Newberry, South Carolina.
A toxicological examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. John Soper of the Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The toxicology report stated that Mr. Dahlheim was free of ethanol and drugs (See attached Record of Conversation With Dr. Soper.)
An autopsy of the safety pilot was also performed by Dr. Joel S. Sexton of the Newberry County Memorial Hospital, Newberry, South Carolina.
A toxicological examination of the observer was performed by Dr. John Soper of the Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The toxicology report stated that the observer was free of ethanol and drugs (See attached Record of Conversation With Dr. Soper.)
The aircraft wreckage was released to the owners insurance representative, Mr. Kevin Twiss, on September 29, 1995.