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On September 16, 1999, at 0846 eastern daylight time, a Piper J-3, N3223N, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed on impact with level terrain and a post impact fire approximately 0.5 miles north of the Brookville Air-Park Airport, Brookville, Ohio. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The flight was originating from the Brookville Air-Park Airport for a local flight.
Witnesses to the accident reported seeing the aircraft flying slowly and then enter a spin. One witness said, "We saw the plane facing northeast, the plane appeared to be hovering, or facing into the wind and hardly moving forward. He banked out of that, flew a circuit and did the same hovering maneuver again, then went into a spin. We heard the engine cut off, come back on, then go off again. It disappeared below the trees and we saw smoke rise above the trees."
The pilot, born on October 28, 1960, was the holder of a private pilot certificate with privileges for single and multi-engine land airplanes. He also held an instrument rating for airplanes. He held a third class medical certificate issued on February 25, 1997. On the application for the medical examination he stated a total pilot time of 3,300 hours. The pilot logbook was not located.
The airplane was a 1947 Piper J-3, N3223N, serial number 22415. According to the aircraft logbook, the airplane had accumulated 4,753.8 hours as of the last annual inspection performed on April 1, 1999. The recording tachometer time was 80.2 hours when the annual inspection was performed. The engine had received a major overhaul on May 16, 1980, at a recording tachometer time of 8.7 hours.
At 0851 edt, the weather reporting station at Dayton, Ohio, about 11 miles east of the accident site, was reporting clear skies, 9 miles visibility, winds from 330 degrees at 7 knots, an altimeter setting of 30.08 inches of mercury, a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and a dewpoint of 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wreckage and Impact Information
The airplane impacted the terrain in a level open farm field about 1/2 mile north of the Brookville Air-Park, Brookville, Ohio. The aircraft came to rest with the fuselage oriented in a northerly direction.
The fuselage fabric covering from the engine aft to the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer was consumed by fire. Both wing panels evidenced fire damage. The fuselage aft of the cockpit was bent downward approximately 30 degrees. Control system continuity was established from each control surface to the appropriate cockpit control. All flight control cables were found intact with no breaks. The horizontal stabilizer jackscrew indicated nose down trim. The seat belts were consumed by fire. The seat belt buckles were found engaged. The left rear seat belt attach cable was found to be broken.
The engine was examined and was found to rotate freely. Accessory drive and valve train continuity was established. The upper set of spark plugs was removed and all were noted to have light brown deposits with no anomalies detected. Thumb compression was established on cylinders 2,3 and 4. Cylinder number 1 was removed. Water was poured into the cylinder and was observed to be leaking into the exhaust port. The exhaust valve was removed and no anomalies were detected with respect to the exhaust valve or valve seat. The left magneto was removed and was found to produce a spark when rotated by hand. The right magneto did not produce a spark. The right magneto case exhibited sooting on the exterior surfaces. Upon disassembly, the right magneto coil was noted to be distorted, and internal wiring was found to be brittle consistent with heat damage.
Medical and Pathological Information
The Montgomery County Coroner, Dayton, Ohio, conducted a post mortem examination of the pilot. The report listed the cause of death as "Multiple blunt force trauma.
A toxicological examination of specimens from the pilot revealed the presence of the following drugs: Dextromethorphan present in the blood and liver; 0.217 ug/ml Doxylamine detected in the blood; Doxylamine detected in the liver fluid; Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine and Phenylpropanolamine detected in the blood; 64 ug/ml Acetaminophen detected in the urine. According to the Physicians Desk Reference, Dextromethorphan, Pseudoephedrine and Phenylpropanolamine are ingredients found in over the counter cold medications, Doxylamine is a sedating antihistamine, Ephedrine is a bronchodilator found in asthma medications, and Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol.
The New Piper Aircraft, Inc., Vero Beach, Florida, and the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office, Cincinnati, Ohio, were parties to the investigation.
The aircraft wreckage was released to a representative of the owner on September 17, 1999.