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On November 14, 1993, at 1220 central standard time, a Piper, PA-28-180, N32303, operated by Associated Air Activities, Lansing, Illinois, crashed near Cedar Lake, Indiana. The airplane was destroyed, and the private, instrument rated, pilot who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The local flight originated at the Lansing Municipal Airport at 1200. No flight plan was filed, and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time.
An employee of the fixed base operator which owned the airplane stated the pilot had waited for several hours to go flying. She reported he remarked, "I'm going to do a cloud check," when he signed out the airplane. A flight instructor who was practicing for a Part 135 flight check landed about five minutes before the mishap pilot took off. He reported the ceiling was 700 feet (agl), with multiple layers to 5,000 feet (msl). There was no record of a weather brief given to the pilot by the Automated Flight Service Station, Kankakee, Illinois.
The farmer who owned the property where the airplane crashed heard the impact. He stated he and his wife had just gotten home from church, and were in the house. He reported: "The motor was really buzzing, and it sounded like an explosion when it hit." The house is about 100 yards from the crash site.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane, single engine land rating, which was issued on June 16, 1989. He held an instrument rating which was issued on December 12, 1992. From the Federal Aviation Administration records it was determined that the pilot's experience was 475 hours total flight time, 225 hours in this model airplane, and 50 hours of flight time under simulated instrument conditions. No determination of the pilot's experience under actual instrument meteorological conditions could be made. The pilot held a class 2 medical certificate with the limitation that he wear glasses when flying.
The airplane was a Piper PA-28-180, serial number 28-7505047. At the time of the accident, the total time on the airframe was 2631 hours. The last inspection was an annual inspection completed on August 27, 1993. The airplane had flown 88 hours since the last inspection. The airplane's transponder and static system checks were completed January 29, 1992.
The recorded 1245 observation at the Gary Regional Airport, Gary, Indiana was: Ceiling, estimated 600 feet overcast, Visibility 2 miles in light rain and fog, Temperature 44 degrees F, Dew Point missing, Wind 030 degrees at 14 knots, Altimeter 29.88 inches Hg.
The airplane crashed in an open farm field. There was a ground scar which resembled the shape of an airplane at the point of initial impact. There were pieces of airplane debris scattered along a path which was oriented 260 degrees magnetic. At the approximate midpoint in the debris path there was a second ground scar which was circular in shape. The propeller was located 8 feet from the second ground scar in the direction of the debris path. The wreckage was located 210 feet from the initial impact point. The heading of the wreckage was 080 degrees magnetic. The engine, firewall, and instrument panel were under the left wing of the airplane and were attached to the main wreckage by control cables.
The propeller had multiple twists and bends, and had separated from the engine at the mounting flange. The cockpit mixture and throttle controls were both full forward. Control continuity was established from the cockpit pedestal to the stabilator, rudder, and ailerons. The vacuum pump was examined and found to turn freely and create suction. The vacuum pump drive spline was intact. The attitude gyro was destroyed.
The underside of both wings were crushed upward. The belly of the fuselage was crushed upward and was in contact with the floor of the cabin. No preimpact mechanical irregularities were found with the engine or airframe during the investigation.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy and toxicological examination were performed. The autopsy was performed by Young M. Kim, M.D., at the Eller-Brady Funeral home, Cedar Lake, Indiana. The toxicological examination detected nicotine metabolite in the blood and urine.
The wreckage was released to Mr. Wade Palmer, the owner, on November 15, 1993.