On July 8, 2000, about 1840 Eastern Daylight Time, a Piper PA-18-150, N4456Z, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a field shortly after take off with a glider in tow from Dansville Airport (DSV), Dansville, New York. The certificated airline transport pilot and passenger were not injured, and the certificated private pilot of the glider was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the glider tow flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
Shortly after take-off, the airplane had climbed to about 150 feet above the ground when the engine stopped producing power. The glider successfully released itself from the tow-line and landed uneventfully in a nearby field. The airplane maneuvered to the right to avoid a fence and tree line, and came to rest in a field on airport property.
In a written statement, the pilot of the airplane said:
"On July 8, 2000, I was at the Dansville Airport. We were in route to Harris Hill, Elmira, New York. I was going to fly the plane while towing a glider. We were departing runway 32 on the grass. The plane and glider were both lifted off the ground normally. We obtained an altitude of approximately 150 feet. At that time, all the power was lost in the plane. The aircraft started to descend. I was waiting for the glider to release, and when he did, I made a right turn to avoid the oncoming fence and trees. When the plane touched the ground the landing gear broke, and the plane came to an abrupt stop. I checked to make sure my passenger was all right and checked to make sure there was no fire in the plane. The plane was secure."
In a written statement, the passenger of the airplane said:
"On July 8, 2000, I was a passenger in a plane being flown by [the pilot]. We took off and were towing a glider. A short distance after we got off the ground the plane just quit. I noticed [the pilot] working at everything, to make sure all the controls were correct. It did not appear that the plane was going to make it over the trees, so [the pilot] turned the plane and all obstacles were cleared. The plane did not have enough altitude, and came to a stop on the ground. "
In a written statement, the pilot of the glider said:
"I had flown a glider from Elmira to Dansville. I left about 2:30 PM on July 8, 2000, and arrived at 4:30-5:00 PM. I called Harris Hill Company for an air retrieve. Their plane (N4456Z) arrived at Dansville at 5:30 PM. It was going to tow me back to Elmira. We took off and gained about 100-150 feet of altitude. Usually you cannot see the propeller of the plane, but when I looked I saw it. The plane was losing altitude. I released from the tow-rope and the plane banked to the right. I landed in a field a short distance away. I was not hurt."
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed and on-scene examination on July 11, 2000. According to the inspector, the landing gear was sheered off the airplane, the left wing was bent outboard of the wing strut, and the fuselage and empennage were twisted. Both propeller blades were bent aft.
The inspector also reported the wing tanks were filled with fuel. Automotive gasoline was found in the wing tanks, fuel strainer, and carburetor bowl. The fuel was absent of debris and water. The airplane had a supplemental type certificate (STC) for use of automotive gasoline.
The pilot reported he had turned the fuel selector valve to the 'off' position after the accident. All fuel lines were clear of blockage.
An FAA inspector started and ran the engine on the airframe utilizing the airplane's own fuel system. According to the inspector, the engine started immediately and ran smoothly at various power settings.
The pilot held an airline transport certificate for multi-engine land airplane. He was a certified flight instructor in single-engine land airplanes and gliders. He reported a total of 2,247 total flight hours; 1,273 hours in single-engine land airplanes, and 40 hours in make and model.
Examination of the airplane and engine revealed there were no mechanical malfunctions.