On September 5, 1993, at about 0958 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N6312W, collided with trees and terrain during takeoff from the Britt Memorial Airport in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The private pilot was fatally injured, while the passenger was seriously injured. The aircraft was owned and operated under 14 CFR Part 91 by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the personal flight to Cleveland, Ohio. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The right seat passenger was interviewed via telephone on December 17, 1993. He reported the following: He was cognizant of the events that occurred at the time of the accident. About 15 seconds after takeoff, he felt that the aircraft was sinking, and he stated so to the pilot. He then said that he did not think that the aircraft was going to clear the departure end trees, and the pilot verbally agreed. He did not feel that the engine was at full rpm, but he did recall that the engine was running throughout the time of the accident flight.

The airport manager reported that the aircraft was serviced with 14.1 gallons of fuel, and that the fuel tanks were filled to capacity. He had spoken with the accident pilot about looking over the pilot's weight and balance calculations for the flight. When he saw the pilot shortly before the accident, the pilot informed him that he had checked his figures, and that he was "OK for the flight." The airport manager observed the latter portion of the takeoff. He reported that after the aircraft had become airborne, it was being flown at a high, nose-up pitch attitude. He estimated the altitude of the aircraft at the airport boundary to be about 100 to 125 feet above ground level (AGL). He then observed the aircraft nose lower, then rise again before rolling to the right, into the trees. He stated that the aircraft appeared to have stalled and broke to the right.

Several other people were witnesses to the accident. One witness reported that the aircraft climbed out at an "extreme angle"; another witness reported that the aircraft "over- rotated", and climbed out at an excessive angle of attack. Some witnesses reported that the engine noise was not as loud as normal; others reported that the engine sounded normal throughout the accident flight.


Information on the pilot, Mr. Woodrow M. Gonzales, is included in this report under "First Pilot Information." An examination of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had logged about 19 hours during the 12 months prior to the accident. The last logged flight was on April 29, 1993. His last documented biennial flight review was recorded on September 1, 1990.

The passenger, who was seated in the right, front seat, holds a private pilot certificate. He reported that he was acting only as a passenger during the accident flight, and that he had no intentions of flying the aircraft at any time. The passenger reported that he did not have a current biennial flight review or medical certificate.


Information on the aircraft is included in this report under "Aircraft Information."


Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident. The weather information for the Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta is included in this report under "Weather Information." The Britt Memorial Airport in Stone Mountain has no weather reporting facilities on the airfield. Several witnesses reported that the winds were calm at the time of the accident.


The main wreckage was found on wooded terrain, about 700 feet from the departure end of runway 17, on the extended runway centerline. The main wreckage consisted of the engine section, the fuselage, the empennage, and the tail cone. The left wing was separated from the fuselage at the wing root, and was found about 12 feet north of the main wreckage. The left wing section exhibited leading edge crushing, and was extensively burned. There was evidence of a ground fire around the left wing, extending to the main wreckage. The right wing was also separated at the wing root, and it was found about 41 feet to the east of the main wreckage. There was no evidence of fire damage to the right wing; there was extensive crushing signatures at the outer half of the wing surface. Several pieces of smoothly-cut tree limbs were found in the vicinity of the main wreckage. There were two smooth gouges on a pine tree which was located at the main wreckage area.

There was fire damage and sooting on the fuselage and empennage skin surfaces at locations where ground fire was evident. The left half of the horizontal stabilator was bent down about 50 degrees. Leading edge surface crushing was observed on the vertical stabilizer and the left half of the horizontal stabilator.

The engine remained attached to the airframe. One propeller blade was bent forward about 30 degrees. The other blade was bent aft about 30 degrees. Both blades had chordwise scratching signatures on their surfaces.

The wreckage was moved to a nearby hangar where a closer examination could be performed. There was flight control continuity confirmed on the stabilator, rudder, and ailerons. The top cylinder spark plugs were removed and examined; two plugs were normal in color and wear when compared to a manufacturer's inspection chart. The other two plugs were oil soaked. Engine continuity was confirmed to all internal components. Exhaust and intake valve action was correct, and compression was observed on all four cylinders. The carburetor was inspected; the venturi was in place, and there was no contamination observed in the carburetor bowl. The intake screen to the carburetor was clean.


A post mortem examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. Gerald T. Gowitt, M.D.M., for the Dekalb County Medical Examiner's Office. He reported that the cause of death was from generalized trauma. Tests were negative for carbon monoxide, alcohols, basic, acidic, and neutral drugs.


The takeoff weight of the aircraft was estimated based on the following information:

1. Aircraft empty weight 1269.75 lbs. (From aircraft records)

2. Fuel (50 gal. @ 6 lbs./gal.) 300.00 " Oil 15.00 "

3. Personal effects (Weighed at hangar) 172.00 "

4. Pilot 198.00 "

5. Passenger 200.00 " ________

Takeoff Weight 2154.75 lbs.

The wreckage was released to:

Mr. William C. McCranie (Wife's Representative) 2738 E. College Avenue Decatur, Georgia 30030.

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