HISTORY OF FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On December 30, 1995, at approximately 0329 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28R-180, N7676J, struck a utility pole and collided with terrain during an attempted go around at Bowman Field, in Louisville, Kentucky. The private pilot received minor injuries, the passenger was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The flight originated in St. Petersburg, Florida on December 29, 1995, with a refueling stop in Tallahassee, Florida. The flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. No flight plan had been filed and night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
The pilot stated that he and the passenger departed St. Petersburg Airport at approximately 2030 eastern standard time. He stated that they stopped in Tallahassee, Florida for gas and food. They departed Tallahassee at approximately 2330 eastern standard time with Chattanooga, Tennessee, as their intended destination. The pilot said that the original plan was to remain overnight in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and depart early the next morning for Louisville, Kentucky. The pilot stated that he did not file a flight plan, but he had received flight following services throughout the entire flight. The pilot stated that as they approached Chattanooga, he realized that, with the tailwinds that existed at the time, it would only take an additional hour and fifteen minutes to reach Louisville, Kentucky. The pilot stated that, since neither he nor the passenger felt tired and they had enough fuel, they decided to continue to Louisville.
Once in the Louisville area, the pilot contacted Louisville Approach Control to get flight following and to help in visually locating Bowman Field. The pilot stated that he was not familiar with Bowman Field and thought that since he was approaching the airport from the south he would be landing to the north, on runway 36. Approach Control told the pilot that the control tower at Bowman Field was closed for the night. They recommended that the pilot contact the Louisville Flight Service Station (FSS), located at Bowman Field, for airport advisory and active runway information.
The pilot contacted Louisville FSS, and was told that the recommended landing runway was runway 24. The pilot stated that this initially confused him, which caused him to lose sight of the airport. The pilot stated that he regained sight of the airport, but when he thought that the airplane was lined up with runway 24, all he could see were blue (airport/runway) lights. The pilot stated that he did not feel right about the blue lights and executed a go around procedure. The pilot reported that he added full power but did not raise the landing gear and could not remember if he had any flaps set at the time. The pilot remembered making an immediate left turn and pulling too far back on the yoke. He stated that "...saw the stall warning light come on and he felt the left wing stall." The pilot stated that, in an attempt to gain airspeed, he lowered the nose of the airplane. At that time, he saw the utility pole in front of the airplane, but was unable to avoid contact.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane Single Engine Land privileges. His total flight time was approximately 185 hours, with over 120 hours logged as cross country. The pilot had approximately 55 hours of complex single engine time, and over 43 hours of night flying. The pilot's last recorded flight was on December 2, 1995, during which he logged three night landings in a one hour night flight.
The pilot stated that he awoke on December 29, 1995, at approximately 0700 eastern standard time. He reported that both he and the passenger had worked a full day before the flight departed. The pilot stated that he enjoyed flying at night when the winds were calmer and the ride was not as bumpy. He stated that he and the passenger made a lot of night flights. The pilot stated that traveling at night also gave him the opportunity to work a full day. The pilot stated that he and the passenger were not tired and it seemed logical to extend the flight the entire distance to Louisville.
At the time of the accident, the airplane was in the process of being sold from Blue Skies Aviation in Clearwater, Florida to Aviators Flying Club in St. Petersburg, Florida. Because of this business transaction, the maintenance logbooks were at the Aviators Flying Club. Review of maintenance records revealed no evidence of preimpact maintenance anomalies.
The Bowman Field weather recorded at 0351 on December 30, 1995 was: Clear skies with 7 miles of visibility; Temperature - 24 degrees Fahrenheit (F); Dew point - 22 degrees F; altimeter setting - 30.32 inches Hg.; with the remarks section stating patchy ground fog.
Bowman Field is located in Louisville, Kentucky. The airport has three runways, one of which (runway 18/36) was closed on the night of the accident. The two useable runways on the night of the accident have magnetic orientations of 06/24, and 14/32. The longest is runway 06/24, which is 4,312 feet long and 80 feet wide. Runway 24 has a displaced threshold of 300 feet, with runway lights, a visual glide slope indicating system (VGSI), and runway end identifier lights (REIL).
The Air Traffic Control Tower on the airport closed at 2200 eastern standard time. Airport lighting control was turned over at that time to the Flight Service Station, also located on the field. The manager of the Automated Flight Service Station stated, "...when Airport Advisory services are being performed, the runway lights to the active runway are continuously lit." He stated that no log book is kept to verify the light status.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Postaccident examination revealed that the airplane was on a heading of approximately 150 degrees when it struck a large utility pole's supporting guide cable and a smaller utility pole situated between the supporting cable and the large utility pole. The utility poles and the guide cable are located approximately a quarter mile southeast and about 1300 feet from the approach end of runway two four. The left wing separated from the fuselage and remained attached to the guide cable. The smaller utility pole broke in two, and both pieces were laying on the ground when the investigator arrived. The only damage done to the larger utility pole was a slash to the communication lines which ran vertically up the pole. The airplane slid approximately 75 yards, coming to rest inverted in a drainage ditch.
An on scene airframe and engine examination was conducted. The landing gear were in the down position and ten degrees of flaps were set. No anomalies were noted. No evidence of preimpact mechanical failure or malfunction was found.
The airplane wreckage was released to the owner's representative on December 30, 1995.