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On January 16, 1998, approximately 1715 central standard time, a Piper PA-18-135 tailwheel equipped airplane, N99302, registered to a private individual, collided with trees and terrain during an aborted landing at a grass covered pasture, near Wooster, Arkansas. Impact damage and fire destroyed the airplane. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the passenger occupying the aft seat sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local flight originated from the pasture approximately 1710.
The NTSB investigator-in-charge conducted interviews with two witnesses who saw the accident. They were co-located about 600 feet from the accident site adjacent to the grass pasture where the pilot was performing touch-and-go landings in a south to north pattern. The pasture had been utilized that afternoon for a landing area, and the pilot was giving backseat rides to friends in the tandem two-seat aircraft. The pasture was bordered by a 70-foot high tree line on the northern end.
The first witness, who had a ride in the airplane about 5 minutes prior to the accident, reported that the airplane was running "great" during his ride. The witness observed the airplane touch down, and it appeared that the airplane "was moving fast" and was "running out of landing room." He stated that it looked as if the pilot was "trying to go around," and the airplane "powered up" and attained "a very steep angle of attack trying to clear [the] trees." The airplane then "hit" a tree, nosed over, and "hit more trees." He stated that the airplane sounded as if it was "still under full power" as it disappeared below the tree line.
The second witness stated that he observed the airplane "over shoot" the landing area, and that it appeared that the pilot was trying to "go around." As the nose of the airplane came up, "the [airplane] stalled." The airplane then "hit timber" and "fell to the ground."
According to FAA records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate dated December 17, 1993. The pilot's logbook was not located; however, the pilot's last application for a medical certificate, dated August 16, 1990, revealed that he had a total of 600 flight hours at the time of application. No record of the pilot's last biennial flight review was found.
The airplane, serial number 18-3338, was manufactured by Piper in 1954. The airplane was purchased by the current owner on January 2, 1998, two weeks prior to the accident. According to the owner of the airplane, the most recent annual inspection was completed on the morning of the accident. He stated that the airframe had accumulated about 3,071 hours. The airplane was flown throughout the day for about 3.5 hours. The owner stated that the airframe and engine logbooks were in the airplane at the time of the accident and were destroyed by fire. No other maintenance records were located.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest in a heavily wooded area north of the departure end of the pasture. Several tree branches were found cut along the airplane's path through the trees.
Flight control continuity was established to all flight control surfaces. The throttle control linkage at the carburetor was found in the full open position. The mixture control linkage was found in the idle cutoff position. The engine sustained moderate fire damage and remained attached to the airframe. The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand and continuity was established to the valve train and the accessory gear case. There was thumb compression on all 4-cylinders. Both magnetos remained attached to the engine but were severely burned. The 2-blade propeller was found attached to the engine. One propeller blade was bent slightly forward, and the other blade was not bent. Both blades exhibited chordwise scratching and scoring. The wing flaps were found in the fully retracted position.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy and toxicological tests on the pilot were requested and performed. The autopsy was completed by the Arkansas Crime Lab at Little Rock, Arkansas, on January 20, 1998. No pre-existing medical condition of the pilot was revealed as a result of the autopsy. Toxicological tests were performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Toxicological tests were negative.
The wreckage was released to the owner of the airplane at the accident site. The owner returned a partially completed Pilot/Operator Report to the NTSB. Attempts to obtain a completed report were not successful.