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On August 16, 1999, approximately 1800 central daylight time, a Piper PA30 twin-engine airplane, N7178Y, was destroyed during terrain impact following takeoff from the Holdenville Municipal Airport, Holdenville, Oklahoma. The aircraft was registered to Eagle Aviation Enterprises, Inc., and operated by Adventure Aero, LLC, both of Holdenville, Oklahoma. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the aircraft, was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 positioning flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident, with Norman, Oklahoma, as its intended destination.
Earlier in the day, the operator showed the accident airplane to a prospective buyer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The operator then flew the airplane to the University Of Oklahoma, Westheimer Airport at Norman, Oklahoma, and met the flight instructor with the intention of contracting him for flight instructional work. After a discussion, the two departed to Holdenville. During this flight, the instructor demonstrated his flying abilities for the operator. After arrival in Holdenville, the flight instructor made several touch-and-go landings before stopping for fuel.
The flight instructor was to fly the aircraft back to the Westheimer Airport where it would be based for the flight instruction. The operator reported that the flight instructor told him he was going to take his time flying back to Norman and practice touch-and-go landings.
A witness reported observing the airplane takeoff from the Holdenville Airport. The takeoff appeared to be "normal" except for the loud noise, which he believed was coming from the right engine. The noise "sounded like something rubbing against a metal fan." The witness stated that "after the plane was in the air, it started to turn to the left like it was going to gain altitude [and] then suddenly turned right, then it started to lose altitude." He then lost sight of the airplane as it descended behind trees. Subsequently, he heard a "thump (like something hitting the ground hard and solid)," and then he observed smoke.
Another witness described hearing the airplane overhead "backfiring, popping." The witness stated he knew there was a problem and watched the aircraft for about 1/2 mile until it disappeared behind some trees. The witness continued to hear it "pop" about 20 more times before hearing a "large backfire, 'pop'" and 10-15 seconds later he "heard the engines race in rpm (motor revved-up high)." He then heard the airplane impact the ground.
According to FAA records, the pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate on December 13, 1997, with an instrument airplane rating. On January 27, 1998, the pilot obtained a multi-engine land airplane rating. The pilot was issued a flight instructor certificate for single-engine land airplanes on May 5, 1998. On June 26, 1998, the pilot obtained an additional flight instructor rating for instrument airplanes. On August 13, 1998, the pilot attained a multi-engine instructor (MEI) rating. On the application for the MEI rating the pilot reported that he had accumulated 378 hours total flight time, of which 31 hours were in the Beech 55 multi-engine airplane. The MEI check ride met the requirement of a biennial flight review.
The pilot was issued a second class medical certificate on August 31, 1998, with no limitations or restrictions. According to the last FAA medical application, dated August 31, 1998, the pilot reported having accumulated 420 total flight hours, of which 150 hours were in the previous six months.
The pilot's flight logbook was not located. According to an insurance application filled out on October 19, 1998, by the pilot, he had accumulated a total of 507 flight hours, of which 288 hours were accumulated in the previous 12 months and 153.1 hours were accumulated in the previous 90 days. The application also listed 85.6 hours in multi-engine airplanes under 12,500 pounds and 8 hours in multi-engine airplanes over 12,500 pounds. According to another insurance application, which the pilot completed on October 22, 1998, he had accumulated 37.4 hours in the Beech 55 and 12.1 hours in the Beech 58 (both aircraft are multi-engine airplanes under 12,500 pounds). There were no hours listed for the same make and model as the accident airplane. The operator indicated to the NTSB investigator-in-charge that the pilot did not have any previous experience in the same make and model as the accident airplane.
The 1963-model Piper Twin Comanche was a low-wing, 4-seat airplane. The airplane was equipped with two Lycoming IO-320-B1A engines rated at 160-horsepower. The airplane was purchased by Eagle Aviation Enterprises, Inc., on June 3, 1999. The airplane was leased to Adventure Aero, LLC who took possession of the airplane on June 9, 1999. According to the operator, on June 11, 1999, the airplane had accumulated a total time of 5,303.61 hours. The airplane was then flown 27.5 hours prior to the accident.
The maintenance records were in the airplane at the time of the accident and were destroyed by the postimpact fire; however, a few burnt pages which were legible, were recovered. The aircraft and engine underwent their last annual inspection on February 26, 1999, at a total aircraft time of 5,295.41 hours. According to the operator, the last maintenance performed on the airplane was on the fuel gauges, the electric auxiliary fuel pump, the left engine starter, and a manifold crack on the left engine.
Prior to departure, the airplane was fueled, and one quart of oil was added to each engine.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft wreckage was located in a field about 1.25 miles south-southwest of the departure end of runway 17, at latitude 35 degrees 04.099 minutes north and longitude 096 degrees 24.721 minutes west. Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted the ground on a measured magnetic heading of 130 degrees and came to rest upright on a measured magnetic heading of 160 degrees. There were ground scars 12 feet in front of the aircraft, and the size and shape of the scars resembled wing leading edges, both engines, and the nose of the airplane. The airplane was consumed by fire. Flight control continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces through the fuselage to the instrument panel. The flaps and landing gear were found to be retracted.
The left engine was found attached to the firewall, and the firewall was crushed into the accessory section. The engine sustained impact, heat, and fire damage. The oil sump assembly was partially consumed by the fire, and the crankcase was cracked in the area of the crankshaft propeller flange. The left and right magnetos were in place and attached but damaged by the fire. The starter and alternator were broken off and were heat damaged. The crankshaft could not be rotated. The propeller was pulled away from the crankshaft propeller flange and was bent at the propeller hub. The propeller dome was broken away, and one propeller blade was bent aft at the hub. The other blade was loose in the hub and bent back under the engine.
The right engine was attached to the firewall, and the firewall was crushed into the accessory section. The engine sustained impact, heat and fire damage. The oil sump assembly was partially consumed by the fire. The left and right magnetos were in place and attached but destroyed be the fire. The starter and alternator were broken off and had sustained heat damage. The crankshaft could only be rotated about 1/4 of a turn and continuity was confirmed to the accessory gears. The propeller was attached to the engine. Both propeller blades were found in what appeared to be the feather position. The propeller dome was broken away. One propeller blade tip sustained fire damage. The other blade was bent somewhat aft.
The aircraft was recovered to Air Salvage Of Dallas near Lancaster, Texas, where a detailed examination of both engines was performed. On September 29, 1999, a teardown examination of the engines was performed. No evidence of a pre-impact mechanical failure was noted during the examinations.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted an autopsy of the pilot. Toxicological testing was performed by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute's (CAMI) Forensic Toxicology and Accident Research Center at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicological tests were negative for alcohol and drugs.
The airplane was released to a representative of the owner on December 12, 1999.