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On April 12, 1993, at 1550 central daylight time (CDT), a Piper PA-28R-200, N9460N, registered to Larry L. Leoffler of Woodrow, Colorado, and flown by a private pilot, was destroyed during a collision with the ground and subsequent fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot and passenger received fatal injuries. The flight departed Greensburg, Kansas, at 1530 CDT.
Prior to departure from Greensburg, Kansas, the airport manager called the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Flight Service Station (FSS) on behalf of the pilot. The manager obtained a weather briefing and passed the information to the pilot. He stated the pilot looked at the information and asked the manager to explain it to him. The manager stated he explained the information to the pilot and advised him not to depart due to what he considered poor ceilings and visibility. He estimated the ceilings at Greensburg were approximately 300 to 500 feet above ground level with a visibility of 2 miles with a light mist present.
According to the manager, the pilot stated he could not wait and had to get home. The manager stated he advised the pilot not to depart five or six times during the pilot's stay on the ground. During the pilot's pretakeoff activities the manager noted he became increasingly agitated and apprehensive about the flight. During this time frame the airplane was refueled and, according to the manager, the pilot remained insistent that he depart.
Realizing the pilot was going to depart, the manager advised the pilot to fly roads until he encountered what he stated was good VFR weather. He stated he did this because of the many radio antennae along the flight's route. During the conversation between the manager and pilot the manager became aware that the pilot did not possess a sectional navigation chart for the area. He stated he gave the pilot an old chart and suggested a route that would get the pilot to Hays, Kansas, where the pilot could locate Interstate Highway 70 and take it westbound.
The manager stated he asked the friend of the pilot, who drove the pilot and passenger to the airport, to talk the pilot out of departing due to the bad weather. He said the friend "... did not seem inclined to do this... ."
The pilot, according to the manager, "...sprinted to the airplane... ." He stated he observed the airplane takeoff to the north and "...disappear into the soup."
A person driving southbound on Centerview Road observed an airplane flying very low and parallel to the road. Centerview Road is a north-south oriented road located approximately one mile east of the departure airport. Her witness statement stated she "...could hear the engine with the windows closed and the radio on. The plane was single-engine, low wing, white in color- no landing gear observed." This witness stated the "...sky was heavy overcast and there was a light mist in the air." N9460N was white in color and possessed a retractable landing gear. OTHER DAMAGE
According to the Edwards County, Kansas, Sheriff, an approximate half section of contract land program grass was destroyed by fire.
The pilot possessed a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating issued on February 23, 1987. At the time of the pilot's private pilot flight test, the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Airman Certificate Application showed the pilot had 68 hours total time and three hours of instrument flight instruction time. The pilot's personal logbook record was destroyed during the fire which followed the crash of N9460N. According to a statement obtained from the pilot's son, the pilot had approximately 125 hours total flying time. The FAA records show the pilot stated he had 220 hours of flying time when he filled out his medical application form. The pilot's Third Class Medical was issued on December 1, 1992.
The pilot's son stated his father received his biennial flight review "...a while ago." He stated his father last flew the airplane approximately three weeks prior to the accident date.
The pilot's logbook was not available for review. The pilot's total time in the Piper PA-28R-200 was not determined.
N9460N's airframe logbook showed its last annual inspection was on January 15, 1992. The logbook endorsement showed that N9460N had 2,210 hours total time. N9460N's engine logbook confirmed the airframe logbook's annual inspection date and time. Applicable excerpts of the airplane's airframe and engine logbooks are appended to this report.
N9460N's propeller logbook showed the propeller had been overhauled on July 15, 1989. Applicable excerpts of the logbook are appended to this report.
During an interview with the manager of the Greensburg, Kansas, airport it was revealed that the weather was 300 to 500 foot ceiling and two miles visibility. Weather information obtained by the airport manager showed the following existing conditions: 1) Dodge City, KS, (DDC): measured 500 overcast 2 1/2 miles visibility with light rain. DDC is located approximately 34 NM west-northwest of the departure airport., 2) Hays, KS, (HYS): measured 800 broken, 1,200 feet overcast with 10 miles visibility. HYS is located 77 NM north of the departure airport., 3) Garden City, KS, (GCK): estimated 500 broken ceiling with a 1,000 foot overcast sky, visibility 2 1/2 miles with fog. GCK is located approximately 72 miles west-northwest of the departure airport. A copy of the airport manager's weather briefing notes the FAA Flight Service Station specialist is appended to this report. Additional weather information is appended to this report.
The Greensburg, Kansas, airport (Paul Windle Municipal Airport) is a noncontrolled airport. It is located in an area where controlled airspace extends down to 1,200 feet above ground level. The airspace below the controlled airspace is classified as noncontrolled airspace.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
N9460N's first contact point was located approximately 16 feet from the base of an eight foot high north-south oriented berm. The wreckage trail had a general heading of 300 degrees magnetic and extended outward approximately 311 feet to the main wreckage position. Small pieces of green glass were found at the start of the ground scar as well as right wing tip fiberglass type material and the wing tip navigation light lenses mount with a small fragment of green glass positioned within it.
Approximately 15 feet from the first impact point a ground scar, measuring approximately 43 feet in length by three feet in width with a maximum depth of approximately 10 inches had pieces of plexiglass, and right wing tip fiberglass scattered on the north side of the scar. The remainder of the ground scar varied in width between approximately 12 to 18 inches and 1 to 3 inches in depth.
Both front seats of N9460N displayed right side crushing between the seat frame and floor seat mount. The seat's vertical members displayed compressive force damage.
N9460N's fuselage, empennage, and left wing were located at the end of the wreckage trail. The fuselage was observed laying on its left side. The fuselage had been consumed by fire from the aft end of the baggage compartment forward. The cabin/cockpit had been totally consumed by fire. All three landing gear units were observed in the down locked position. The left wing had separated from its root mount and was observed laying across the aft fuselage. The left wing was observed crushed in varying directions from the wing tip inboard to approximately three feet from the main landing gear mount. The right wing's landing gear and associated wing structure was found approximately 210 feet southeast of the main wreckage. The outboard portion of the right wing assembly was found approximately 300 feet southeast of the main wreckage.
The right wing aileron cables were observed with broomed ends outboard the burnt cockpit area. The left aileron cables were observed connected to the aileron bellcrank. The left aileron was separated from the left wing. Control continuity for the rudder and stabilator was observed to the cockpit area. The control yoke mound, yokes, chain drive and attachment assembly were observed in the general area of the forward cockpit. The cables were attached to the yoke bar assembly. The chain drive, chain and upper yoke assembly displayed collision and fire damage. The stabilator trim screw was three threads above its mount.
The aluminum battery cable was observed separated from the battery relay. The battery relay was observed undamaged within its case. The battery cable was observed in its position near the battery mount to what was the forward portion of the cockpit. The cable was not covered with insulation.
The wing flap cockpit extension handle was observed in the fully extended position. The sprocket attached to the wing flap torque tube was positioned with its rotational chain positioned fully forward. The left wing flap actuating rod bracket was sheared from the flap torque tube.
The propeller was positioned approximately 115 feet from the main wreckage along the ground scar. The propeller displayed chordwise scars on both surfaces. The propeller was separated from the engine at the crankshaft flange mount to the crankshaft. The propeller spinner was crushed against the propeller hub and rotated opposite what the propeller's rotation is. Blades of the propeller were able to be rotated to the stops. Both blades were arced forward beginning approximately at one third the blade span from the hub. One blade had rotated forward at an approximate 45 degree angle. The tip of that blade was curled perpendicular to the blades surface.
The heading indicator (HI) and turn and slip indicator (TSI) rotors displayed light rubbing marks on their surfaces and within their cases. The HI and TSI were found separated form the instrument panel mount and approximately 200 feet southeast of the main wreckage. The attitude indicator's (AI) rotor and case displayed no rotational rubbing marks. The AI was found separated from the instrument panel approximately 130 feet southeast of the main wreckage. The vacuum pump vanes were intact, the drive shaft was bent at the pump's mounting base. The shaft could be rotated approximately 180 degrees.
The altimeter's kollsman window was set at 29.88 Hg and 580 feet. The airspeed indicator had its indicator needle positioned at 65 MPH. The tachometer indicator needle was positioned at 1650 RPM and showed a time of 1,415.55 hours. These three instruments were found in the main wreckage attached to a separated portion of the instrument panel. The clock was observed not working and showed 1415 hours. Tapping the clock's case caused the clock's second hand to function.
N9460N's left magneto rotated upon removal form the engine, its right magneto was broken from its mount. Insulation on the ignition wires was burnt and/or melted. Four sparkplugs were able to be removed from the cylinders. Number two cylinder top plug was observed oil filled with no visible metal in the oil. Number four cylinder tip plug was oil filled. Number one cylinder tip plug was light gray/tan in color. Number three cylinder top plug was light gray/tan in color.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
According to the Edwards County Sheriff, both airplane occupants were found approximately 110 feet west-northwest of the main wreckage location. The Sheriff stated the occupants did not display flame damage to their clothing or bodies.
The pathologist's report on the pilot revealed death was caused by massive trauma to the head, thorax, abdomen and extremities. The pathologist's report also includes the following observations: 1) Coronary atherosclerosis with critical obstruction of the left anterior descending, 2) Left ventricular hypertrophy, and 3) Old septal myocardial infarction.
A detailed autopsy of the pilot-in-command was provided by the Central Kansas Medical Center. The report stated, in part, "A section of the interventricular septum shows a zone of dense old fibrous tissue. Left anterior descending shows moderate to marked atherosclerosis with the lumen reduced at least 90 percent in several areas. The right coronary is fairly normal calibur with mild to moderate atherosclerosis producing reduction of the lumen about 60 percent."
The final anatomic diagnosis states, in part, that coronary atherosclerosis with a critical obstruction of the left anterior descending and left circumflex and plaque hemorrhage and luminal thrombosis of the right coronary existed at the time of the accident.
It was the opinion of the pathologist that the pilot's severe cardiac disease may have been a factor in the causation of the accident. The report states the pilot received massive traumatic injury to the head, chest, abdomen, and extremities during the accident sequence.
The Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) toxicology report stated there was no carboxyhemoglobin, cyanide, ethanol, or drugs were found in the blood. The CAMI report is appended to this report.
The wreckage was released to the Sheriff of Edwards County, Kansas.