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On November 7, 1998, about 1708 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-151, N44240, registered to P & N Corporation, collided with trees and an apartment building during an emergency descent for a forced landing near the Lovell Field, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private-rated pilot, and one passenger sustained minor injuries. One passenger was not injured. The flight originated at 1349 central standard time, from the Evansville Regional Airport, Evansville, Indiana.
The pilot stated that the initial departure point was Marion, Iowa, and before departure of the planned 2 leg cross-country flight of 593 statute miles, he did not receive a preflight weather briefing and as a result, he did not obtain the winds aloft for the flight, but he did determine the distances, headings, and an estimated time en route. He used the indicated air speed as ground speed and did not calculate the true air speed. Additionally, he did not perform fuel consumption calculations. Review of the flight planning paperwork provided by the pilot revealed that the estimated time en route for the first leg was 3.2 hours. The flight departed Marion at approximately 1000 central standard time with the fuel level in each fuel tank 1-1.5 inches below the fuel cap, and landed uneventfully at 1311, as documented by Air Traffic Control (ATC). No fuel was purchased while at Evansville; the fuel gauges were indicating 12 gallons each, and the hour meter difference from takeoff to landing was recorded to be 3.5 hours. The flight departed VFR on a heading of 145 degrees and while flying at 3,500 feet, he reported that he was unable to obtain VOR reception from the Bowling Green VORTAC which was located 97 statute miles from the departure airport. The flight continued, arrived over the Bowling Green VORTAC, then proceeded on a heading towards the Lovell Field Airport, Chatanooga, Tennessee. When the flight was approximately 20 miles away from his destination airport, at 1653 eastern standard time as determined by ATC, he contacted Chatanooga Approach and advised that the flight was inbound for landing. The flight continued and after clearing Signal mountain, he reduced power to idle to descend to traffic pattern altitude. At 1,400 feet msl, he applied power to level off but the engine quit. At that time the fuel gauges indicated 2-3 gallons of fuel remaining per tank. He attempted to restart the engine but was unable and at 1806.24, he declared an emergency and advised the controller that he "...lost the engine." While descending for the forced landing, the propeller stopped. He maneuvered the airplane for a forced landing, extended 10 degrees of flaps, and while descending on a heading of 360 degrees, the left wing of the airplane collided with a tree approximately 24 feet above ground level. The airplane continued and 21 feet later, the right wing collided with a tree at the same height. The airplane then rotated to the right about 100 degrees, collided with the side of an apartment building near the ground, and came to rest on a magnetic heading of 108 degrees adjacent to the building with both wings separated.
Information pertaining to the pilot is contained on page 2 of the Factual Report-Aviation.
According to the airplane type certificate data sheet, the usable fuel quantity is 48 gallons, and the unusable fuel quantity is 2 gallons.
The pilot was in contact with Chattanooga Air Traffic Control Tower. A transcript of communications is an attachment to this report.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site revealed no evidence of fuel leakage from the separated wings. Approximately 1/2 ounce of fuel was drained from the right wing fuel tank. The airplane was recovered to Lovell Field Airport for further examination which revealed a total of 4 ounces of fuel drained from the carburetor bowl and from the gascolator. No fuel was found in the fuel line from the engine driven fuel pump to the carburetor or in the fuel line from the auxiliary fuel pump to the engine driven fuel pump. Examination of the engine revealed crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity. Both magnetos were tightly installed and both sparked when rotated by hand.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Toxicology screen of specimens of the pilot performed at the hospital of admittance was negative for tested drugs.
The airplane had been operated for 5.9 hours as determined by the hour meter since departure on the initial flight. The pilot further stated that during the entire flight time, the mixture control remained in the "full rich" position. Review of the cruise performance charts regarding range and true airspeed revealed they are predicated with having the mixture leaned per Lycoming instructions.
According to FAA personnel, on the day of the accident there was no report of a failure or malfunction of the Bowling Green VOR. Additionally, fuel consumption calculations were performed by FAA personnel using the route of flight described by the pilot and the altitudes flown, winds aloft data obtained for the route of flight, and performance charts for the airplane. The calculations revealed 47.79 gallons of fuel consumed for the flight.
The wreckage was released to Mr. R.B. "Rusty" Romito of Chattanooga Aero Service, Inc., on November 8, 1998. No components were retained.