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On October 17, 1993, at 2023 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140 airplane, N98143, was destroyed upon impact with trees and terrain near Texarkana, Arkansas. The non-instrument rated private pilot and his three passengers were fatally injured. Dark night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area for the personal flight.
According to family members, the airplane departed the North Little Rock Airport (1M1), at 1914 with Luck Field (F71), near Fort Worth, Texas, as their destination. No flight plan was filed or weather briefing obtained for the night cross country flight.
The burned wreckage of the airplane was located by units of the Civil Air Patrol in a wooded area 1.8 nautical miles northwest of the Texarkana Regional-Webb Field Airport (TXK) at 1430 on October 21, 1994. There were no reported eye witnesses to this accident; however, several nearby residents reported hearing the impact.
The non-instrument rated pilot obtained his private pilot certificate on January 31, 1993. The airplane was purchased by the pilot on April 28, 1993.
The airplane was reported to have been topped off with 19.9 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel prior to departing the North Little Rock Airport. The airplane was equipped with a Loran navigation system, and a portable hand held GPS unit was found near the pilot's body.
Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area. In-flight advisories (AIRMETs) had been issued for Arkansas and Texas by the National Severe Storms Forecast Center (NSSFC). Likewise, a convective SIGMET (27C) was issued regarding Texas, calling for an area of severe thunderstorms with tops to 45,000 feet, with tornadoes, hail up to 4 inches, and wind gusts up to 70 knots possible. The weather at the time of the accident at the Texarkana airport (TXK), was reported between 200 and 300 feet overcast, with visibilities between 2 and 3 miles in fog. Weather reports from several nearby residents of the area concurred with the reported weather reports. The official sunset was 1740.
No communication was ever established between the airplane and any Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities along the route of flight during the 68 minute flight. The airplane's radar beacon 1200 code was tracked from the point of departure, to the point of impact, just north of the TXK airport. According to the recorded radar data, the average altitude of the flight was 1,500 feet MSL. On the last radar contact, the airplane was at an altitude of 800 feet. Elevation of the accident site was 400 feet.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Slash marks were found on tree trunks and branches along a measured heading of 023 degrees. A sunvisor and several pieces of windshield plexiglass were found near the initial point of impact with the trees.
The propeller spinner, starter motor, portions of the engine cowling, and engine oil, were found in a crater approximately four feet wide, by ten feet long, with a depth of 18 inches. The crater was located ten feet short of the resting place of the main wreckage. The main wreckage was located approximately 360 feet from the initial point of impact with trees. See wreckage diagram for wreckage distribution.
The engine was found separated from the airframe. The propeller assembly was found separated from the engine crankshaft flange. Both propeller blades exhibited "S" type bending and striations. The wing flaps were found in the retracted position. Evidence of fuel was found in fuel lines. Flight control continuity could not be established.
Examination of the airframe and engine at the accident site did not disclose any mechanical problems. The airframe and engine logbooks were not located.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy and toxicology tests were ordered and performed on the pilot. The autopsy was performed by William Q. Sturner, M.D., of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, at Little Rock, Arkansas, on October 22, 1993. Toxicological tests were positive for ethanol in the liver and muscle tissue; however, the amounts detected were substantially attributable to postmortem production, since the body was not recovered until four days after the accident.
A post crash fire consumed the wreckage. The fire was concentrated in the cockpit and cabin area. No evidence of pre- impact fire was found during the investigation.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on October 28, 1993.