On September 6, 1998, about 0930 eastern daylight time, a Piper J3L-65, N26712, was substantially damaged while maneuvering after a touch and go landing at the Perras Field Airport (VT44), Morrisville, Vermont. The certificated flight instructor (CFI), and the certificated private pilot were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the instructional flight that originated at the Morrisville-Stowe State Airport (MVL), about 0900. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the airplane's operator, the private pilot was receiving flight instruction in the tail-wheeled airplane from the CFI. The operator also observed the airplane perform two touch and go landings at MVL, before he went inside, to his office.
Witnesses near VT44, observed the airplane perform a touch and go landing on runway 16, a 2,000 foot long, turf runway.
A witness near the airport stated he saw the airplane landing and it looked look it was "fighting the crosswind." The airplane bounced a couple of times and then started to climb. During the climb, he heard the airplane's engine "sputtering and choking." He last observed the airplane, 20 to 25 feet above the corn field located at the departure end of the runway.
A witness who was located at the end of the runway stated the airplane came overhead and the persons in the airplane waved to him. The airplane looked "very low," and was "not more than 20 feet above the ground." The airplane remained "pretty low," and then made a left turn. During the turn, the airplane pitched down and impacted the ground at "more than a 45 degree angle." When asked to describe the engine noise, he stated the engine sounded loud and he did not hear any sputtering; however, he also stated that he was standing near an operating tractor which made it difficult to hear.
Neither occupant was able to remember any details surrounding the flight or accident.
The airplane impacted and came to rest, on a rural road, about 1/4 mile from VT44.
Examination of the wreckage was performed by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit controls to their respective control surfaces. Compression was obtained on all engine cylinders, and there was no fouling of the spark plugs noted. Due to the position of the engine, the carburetor, which had separated during the impact, and the magnetos, which were pressed against the firewall, could not be examined. The airplane's wooden propeller remained intact and the Inspector noted that the propeller damage appeared to be caused by forward motion. The engine was retained, and shipped to it's manufacturer, Textron Lycoming, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for further examination.
The engine was disassembled under the supervision of an FAA Inspector, and there were no discrepancies noted. Additionally, during the disassembly both magnetos were rotated by hand and produced spark.
Examination of the carburetor by an FAA Inspector did not reveal any pre-impact malfunctions. The float chamber, metering jets, and air orifices were absent of debris. The fuel line from the fuel tank to engine had been compromised, and the amount of fuel which remained in the airplane at the time of the accident could not be verified. According to the airplane's "sign out" log, the airplane was last flown on September 4, 1998, for 1.4 hours, and was returned with a tachometer time of 380.89. The pilot did not report any problems with the airplane after the flight, and stated he added 5.5 gallons of gasoline to the fuel tank, which "completely filled the tank." The refueling was not indicated on the airplane's refueling log.
The tachometer at the accident site was 381.48.
According to maintenance records, the airplane had accumulated about 44 hours of operation since it's last annual inspection, which was performed on May 22, 1998.
The private pilot reported about 72 hours of total flight experience, of which, 11 hours were in the make and model of the accident airplane.
According to the aircraft operator, the CFI had 631.8 hours of total flight experience, of which, 30.5 hours were in the make and model of the accident airplane.
The weather reported at MVL, which was located about 2 miles west-northwest of the accident site at 0954, was:
Winds 210 at 8 knots; Visibility 10 statue miles; Clear Skies, Temperature 73 degrees F; Dewpoint 57 degrees F; Altimeter 29.81 in/Hg.
Review of an FAA Carburetor Icing Probability Chart placed the temperature and dewpoint recorded at MVL, in the "serious icing at glide power" range.