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On January 2, 1997, at about 1937 eastern standard time, a Aerostar 601P, N3CD, crashed in a heavily wooded swampy area approximately 1/2 mile north of runway 5, shortly after takeoff from the Chesapeake Municipal Airport in Chesapeake, Virginia. The pilot/owner and 3 passengers sustained fatal injuries, and impact and subsequent post-crash fire destroyed the airplane. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The pleasure flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, and was originating at the time of the accident.
According to the airport manager, the pilot had dropped off his granddaughter and had taken on fuel. He stated that the pilot appeared to be in a hurry and had stated that he wanted to be airborne prior to the arrival of some bad weather. The airport manager fueled the airplane topping off the tanks and returned to his office. He said he did not watch the takeoff and was not aware of the accident until notified by local authorities later in the evening.
The pilot held a private certificate. He had private pilot privileges for airplane single engine land, multi-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. The pilot's last proficiency check was undetermined due to the lack of a current logbook. The pilot reported 2100 civilian flight hours in all aircraft on the application for his most recent Third Class Medical Certificate, which was dated May 3, 1996. The medical certificate contained the limitation that the pilot must wear corrective lenses in order to exercise the privileges of the airman's certificate.
The engine and aircraft records were examined, with no discrepancies found. Both engines were inspected on April 16, 1996. The airframe received an annual inspection on April 16, 1996.
The weather when the airplane departed was 300 feet overcast ceilings with 3 miles visibility, but according to witnesses, it was deteriorating rapidly.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted into heavy brush and moderate sized trees. The surrounding area was swampy. The airplane was located approximately 1/2 mile from the departure end of runway 5. The wreckage was distributed on a 30 degree azimuth. The descent angle through the trees was estimated to be 10 degrees down. Except for the empennage, the airplane was consumed by fire.
Prior to departure, the airplane was fueled with 120 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. According to the refueler, the airplane then had full fuel tanks.
The weight and balance was calculated and found to be 270.2 pounds over the maximum gross weight of 6, 315 pounds.
Subsequent to the accident, the engines were disassembled and examined. The left engine showed heat damage to the fuel injector, flow divider, fuel pump, and ignition harness. All cylinders produced thumb compression. There was continuity through the engine, including the accessory drive train. The right engine also showed extreme heat damage to the spark plugs and valves, and many components were consumed by the fire. Continuity to all connecting rods was confirmed. No discrepancies, other than the heat damage, were noted on either engine.
Both propellers were also examined. The left propeller showed the pitch change mechanism cylinder was stripped from the hub and retained by a jammed piston. The pitch change rod was fractured, with shear lips evident. No heat distress was noted on any of the blades. One blade was bent rearward about 45 degrees at the mid blade location and twisted. The next blade was bent rearward 60 degrees and twisted. The last blade was bent smoothly rearward 90 degrees and twisted. The right propeller was heat distressed throughout. The pitch change rod was fractured. The right propeller blades showed heat distress. The first blade had a large mass of molten material fused to the face of the blade, and was bent rearward. The next blade was bent rearward 80 degrees and twisted slightly. The last blade was bent rearward 40 degrees and twisted.
The left propeller piston, right propeller piston, left and right pitch change rods, right propeller cylinder, and right propeller spring were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Metallurgical Laboratory for further testing. According to the report, the left propeller pitch change rod was forced through the left piston under loads not encountered in normal operation. The fractures to both rods and the right piston were caused by shear overstress. The right propeller spring damage suggests that the spring was being compressed at some time.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A post mortem examination of the pilot was performed January 3, 1997 by Dr. James Batten, Medical Examiner, in Chesapeake, Virginia. A toxicological examination was completed by the Federal Aviation Administration on May 1, 1997. The results were negative for carboxyhemoglobin, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs.