On November 19, 1998, at 1446 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, N1685H, was destroyed when it collided with trees during a forced landing, shortly after takeoff from the Accomack County Airport (MFV), Melfa, Virginia. The certificated commercial pilot and the passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight, conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot reported that the airplane first departed Kentmorr Airpark (3W3), Stevensville, Maryland, about 0930, and landed at the Sussex County Airport (GED), Georgetown, Delaware, about 1010, to pick up a passenger. The pilot had trouble starting the engine at GED, but after a battery jump, the engine started, and the airplane departed about 1040, for MVF.
After landing at MFV about 1120, the airplane was topped off with 22 gallons of aviation gasoline. The pilot conducted a preflight check of the airplane and found no contamination of the fuel. The engine was then started without any problems, and the pilot noted no abnormal indications during the taxi or engine run-up.
After an uneventful takeoff, the airplane climbed to about 300 feet, and the engine ceased operation, restarted, and then quit completely. The pilot checked that the electric fuel pump switch was on, but had difficulty visually verifying the switch's position due to glare. The pilot lowered the nose of the airplane to maintain flying airspeed, and executed a steep turn to the right. Unable to reach a suitable landing area, the pilot leveled the wings and descended straight ahead. The airplane struck a tree, and the right wing was sheared off. The airplane then descended through more trees, and came to rest in about a 30 degree nose-down attitude on the ground.
In a written statement, a witness at MVF reported hearing a departing airplane with an engine that "did not sound right." The witness saw the airplane at an altitude below 500 feet. He heard the engine misfire, then backfire and sputter, but did not hear any engine sounds when the airplane collided with the trees. The witness drove to the crash site and noticed a man walking around. The man, who was the passenger, stated the airplane's fuel had been "sumped" prior to take-off, and no water was found. The witness also noted a strong odor of fuel at the crash site.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspectors who examined the wreckage, noted that the airplane came to rest in an approximately 45-degree nose-down angle, in a heavily wooded area about 1/2 mile west of the end of the runway. The right wing was found embedded at the top of a 50-foot tree, about 150 feet from the main wreckage. Both fuel tanks were ruptured. The propeller, still attached to the engine, was embedded in the ground. One blade was straight and the other was bent aft, with no damage to the leading edge of either blade. The fuel selector was set to the right tank, the electric fuel pump switch was on, the throttle was full forward, and the fuel mixture was at the idle cut off position. The flap handle was in the up position and the flap on the left wing was up.
A post accident engine test run was accomplished at Hagerstown Aircraft Services, Hagerstown, MD. The engine demonstrated uninterrupted operational power when run. No discrepancies were noted with any engine components or systems.
Examination of a fuel sample revealed it was absent of contaminates.
The pilot reported a total of 1,240 total flight hours with 150 total hours in make and model. In the last 90 days, the pilot reported a total of 4 flight hours in make and model.