History of the Flight On April 6, 1997 about 1454 hours eastern daylight time, N4400T, Piper PA-28-180 aircraft, a personal transportation flight, had a loss of engine power and collided with the ground during the forced landing in a residential area of Farmingville, New York. Instrument meteorological conditions existed, and an instrument flight plan was filed. The pilot, and two passengers received serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The departure point was Bar Harbor, Maine at about 1117 hours. The destination was Long Island - MacArthur Airport (ISP), Islip, New York. The flight was operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot reported that he was conducting the instrument approach to runway 24 at ISP when the engine lost power. According to the pilot, he switched fuel tanks, turned on the carburetor heat and the engine restarted. He informed air traffic control who advised him to maintain present heading to the airport. The pilot stated that the airplane descended below the overcast at about 700 feet above the ground at which time the engine lost power again. He notified air traffic control that he was heading for a large road (Long Island Expressway) during which time he switched tanks and the engine restarted. He decided that because of the traffic on the road, he would turn back toward the airport. The engine lost power a third time and after considering a playing field occupied with children, so he slowed the airplane to just above stall airspeed and flew it into the top of a large tree.
According to a transcript of recorded radio transmissions, the pilot was in contact with the local control tower at ISP when he reported being "out of fuel" at 1448 hours. At 1450 hours in response to an inquiry by ATC, the pilot radioed "it might have been a false alarm, it's back on." Less than a minute later the pilot radioed that he was looking for a field. ATC continued assisting the pilot with headings to the airport, his distance and bearing from the airport, and information about the underlying terrain and structure. ATC lost radar contact with the airplane at 1452 hours and radio communication was lost with the pilot less than a minute later.
Pilot Information The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single engine and instrument ratings. According to his logbook, the pilot had 335 hours of total flight time, including 47 hours in make and model.
Airplane Information The 1972 year-model airplane had 3278 hours of total time. The last annual inspection was performed on February 2, 1997. The airplane was operated 37 hours since the inspection.
Meteorological Information The 1500 hour surface weather observation for ISP was the following: sky condition, 600 feet overcast; visibility, 4 miles; wind, 200 degrees at 12 knots; altimeter setting, 29.97 "Hg.
Wreckage and Impact Information The airplane came to rest in the front yard of residence on Jewel Avenue. The airplane was generally intact, except for the right wing, which was partially separated from the fuselage. There was damage to the top of an estimated 25-foot high tree south and about 100 feet from the airplane.
The examination of the airplane at the accident site revealed the fuel tanks were intact. The fuel system was drained and less than a quart of fuel was accumulated before the system was depleted.
An operational check of the engine was conducted at Eastway Aircraft Service at ISP on April 6, 1997. The engine started on the first attempt and it was operated over an increasing range of power settings up to 2500 rpm. A magneto and carburetor heat check was accomplished with no abnormal drop in engine power noted. The accuracy of the tachometer reading was also confirmed.
Additional Information According to air traffic control records from the Federal Aviation Administration, the en route flight was conducted at 4000 feet mean sea level, except for 16 minutes when the flight was at 6000 feet mean sea level. The pilot made initial contact with air traffic control about 1117 hours and the accident time was about 1452 hours for a flight duration of about 3.6 hours.
The fuel capacity for the airplane was 50 gallons. According to fuel consumption charts for the airplane, the consumption rates with a lean fuel mixture are 10, 9.3, and 8.7 gallons per hour (gph) respectively at 75, 70, and 65 percent of power. The pilot reported the normal fuel consumption rate was a consistent 10.5 gph.
On the flight before the accident flight, the airplane was flown 2.2 hours. The airplane was then refueled with 30.6 gallons of fuel.