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On December 12, 1998, about 1530 Eastern Standard Time, a Taylorcraft BC12-D, N43778, was destroyed when it collided with trees during landing practice at Greenville Municipal Airport (4G1), Greenville, Pennsylvania. The student pilot received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the local instructional flight, which was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to a witness who was flying in the airport traffic pattern at the time, the accident airplane touched down in a grassy landing area to the right of, and parallel to, a paved Runway 15. It then appeared to veer to the left, and crossed the paved runway, towards a large briar patch. The witness thought the airplane would hit the patch, but it managed to fly over it, and headed towards the "wide open space" of a turf cross-runway. Then, instead of continuing toward the cross-runway, the airplane entered a steep left turn with a steep climb. It looked like it was in a stall attitude, and flying very slow. The witness then saw the airplane's nose drop, and the airplane "go over," but felt it may have been the result of hitting a tree.
Another witness saw the accident from inside the airport office. He looked outside the window, and saw the accident airplane cross over the briar patch. He then saw it make a climbing left turn, but "not excessively steep, not like a stall climb." He wasn't sure of the angle of bank, but it was "maybe 25 degrees, it wasn't less." The airplane then leveled off and hit trees, and the witness "saw wood flying."
The witness said that if the airplane had continued to climb straight ahead instead of turned, it would have avoided the trees. He also felt that the student pilot did not see the trees, and that the airplane didn't stall before hitting the trees. He said the winds were calm during the event, and that it was a perfect day to fly.
A third witness stated that the student pilot had been flying earlier in the day, for about an hour, at the most. The student pilot landed the airplane, got some fuel, and went into the airport office to chat. He then decided that since it was still a nice day, he'd go flying again. He took off about 15-20 minutes prior to the accident, and remained in the airport traffic pattern for touch and go's. The witness stated that she was inside the airport office, and that her attention was drawn to the accident airplane when someone else said: "Hope he makes it over those trees." She then looked out the window, and saw the accident airplane in a climb, with its wings level. Then, "it just hit trees." She felt the student pilot probably didn't see the trees because the nose of the airplane was high in the climb. She said that the initiating event did not look like a stall - that the airplane was climbing wings level, but "not so nose up that it would stall."
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, and the accident site was located at 41 degrees, 26.96 minutes north latitude, 80 degrees, 23.44 minutes west longitude.
The student pilot was 79 years old, and had 109 total flight hours. He had some initial flight training in 1944, then began flying again in 1995.
Approximately 20 minutes after the accident, at an airport about 17 nautical miles to the southwest, the observed weather included a broken cloud layer at 23,000 feet above ground level, and a visibility of 10 statute miles. The sun was in the southwest quadrant.
The wreckage was found approximately 800 feet northeast of Runway 15 and 200 feet northwest of Runway 23. It was just inside the edge of a wooded area with 70-foot trees. There were cut tree branches, commencing about 60 feet above the ground, in a descending 45 degree path, on a heading of 030 degrees magnetic. The airplane was found on its left side, with the left wing broken upwards. The wooden propeller was shattered, still attached to the engine, and wedged up against a tree trunk.
Cockpit examination revealed that the mixture knob was full rich, and the throttle knob was full forward. The magnetos had been turned off by rescue personnel. The main and left fuel controls were on, and the right fuel control was off. Control continuity was established to the rudder and elevator, and within both wings. The right wing held about 2 gallons of fuel, while the left wing held only trace amounts. When the wreckage was removed, there was a moist area underneath the left wing, with a strong odor of fuel.
Engine examination revealed the presence of fuel in the strainer. All spark plugs were grayish brown in color except bottom number 2, which was saturated in oil. Throttle continuity was confirmed, and compression established in all cylinders. Magnetos were not tested due to impact damage, but appeared new. The carburetor heat was on.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
On December 13, 1998, an autopsy was conducted on the pilot by the Forensic Pathologist, Elwood City Hospital, Elwood City, Pennsylvania.
Toxicological testing was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and illegal drugs. Verapamil was detected in the blood and urine, and norverapamil was detected in the urine.
On December 12, 1998, the wreckage was released to the president of Motovation Air, Incorporated.