On June 27, 1998, at 0959 central daylight time (cdt), a Piper PA-28-235, N8903W, operated by a private pilot, was destroyed when just after takeoff, the airplane departed controlled flight. The airplane subsequently struck a telephone pole and impacted the ground. A post-crash fire ensued. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. There was no flight plan on file. The pilot was fatally injured. The local flight originated from a road, 15 miles north of Liberal, Kansas. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
A witness said that the pilot had landed his airplane on a county road near the witness' house to bid a concrete job for him and his wife. At the conclusion of their meeting, the pilot got back into his airplane and attempted to takeoff from the road. The witness said that as the airplane was making its run down the road away from him, he noticed that the airplane's tail seemed to strike the crest of a hill, but not takeoff. Further down the road, the witness said that the airplane got airborne and began to turn to the left. The airplane then descended rapidly and hit the ground left wing first. The witness said that the airplane seemed to be rolling and going inverted before it struck the ground. About three seconds after the airplane hit the ground, it burst into flames.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the wreckage at the site. The airplane's remains rested in a shallow ditch approximately 15 feet east of a north-south running dirt road, and 25 feet south of a severed power pole. The power pole, was approximately 1/2 mile from where the airplane began its takeoff run. The airplane's vertical stabilizer and rudder, and horizontal stabilator were found resting at the base of the severed power pole. The vertical stabilizer showed a 12-inch wide "C-shaped" dent in its right skin running vertically from the base of the stabilator to the top where the broken rotating beacon was. The tailcone was crushed and charred.
The main wreckage laid on a burned grass, road-shoulder area approximately 30 feet long and 30 feet wide. Preceding the burned grass area were strikes in the road, approximately 8 to 10 inches apart, and perpendicular to the airplane's longitudinal orientation.
The airplane's entire fuselage, including the cockpit area, instrument panel, and engine cowling, were consumed by fire. The left wing rested inverted, next to the wreckage on the east side of the fuselage. The fuel tank and inboard four feet of the wing was melted and consumed. The right wing rested next to the fuselage on the west side. It was charred and melted. The engine and propeller were broken off and resting south of the wreckage. The engine was charred and melted. The propeller showed torsional bending, chordwise scratches and tip curling. Flight control continuity was confirmed. Examination of the engine and other airplane systems revealed no anomalies.
The results of FAA toxicology testing of specimens from the pilot revealed the following volatile concentrations: 49.00 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in heart fluid. 17 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in lung fluid. 9 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-Propanol detected in heart fluid. 3 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-Propanol detected in lung fluid. 17 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde detected in lung fluid. 16 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde detected in heart fluid. 2 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-Butanol detected in heart fluid. 82 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Methanol detected in heart fluid. 1 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Isobutanol detected in lung fluid. 4 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Isobutanol detected in heart fluid.
The manager of the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory stated that the concentrations of Ethanol, N-Propanol, Acetaldehyde, Methanol, and Isobutanol revealed were most characteristic of post-mortem putrefaction.
According to the Piper PA-28 Cherokee 235 "B" Pilot Operating Handbook Takeoff Distance versus Density Altitude Chart, the takeoff distance needed to clear a 50 foot obstacle, for a 2,900 pound gross weight airplane with a density altitude of 6,364 feet mean sea level (msl), is approximately 2,550 feet.