HISTORY OF FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On August 15, 2000, at 1409 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-161, N8126V, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with the terrain and subsequent post-impact fire. The airplane was on initial climb from runway 11 (2,801 feet by 75 feet, dry/asphalt) at the Watertown Municipal Airport (RYV), Watertown, Wisconsin. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. The pilot and his two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and had the intended destination of Baraboo Wisconsin Dells Airport, Baraboo, Wisconsin.
According to written statements and witness interviews, the pilot announced over the Unicom frequency that he was going to depart to the north and was going to utilize runway 11 for his departure runway. Another pilot, who was entering the airport area from the northwest, announced his intentions of performing touch & goes on runway 29. He reported that he did not hear any response from the accident airplane and continued to enter the traffic pattern for runway 29. He stated that he announced his traffic pattern position and intentions for touch & goes on runway 29 multiple times prior to the accident aircraft's takeoff roll on runway 11. He reported that the accident airplane departed runway 11 and then started a right, nose-high turn. He stated that the accident airplane was in a 45-degree bank turn and that the airplane's landing light, located on the nose of the airplane, was clearly visible during the right turn. He stated that he was at an altitude of approximately 1,800 feet above mean sea level (msl) when he saw the accident airplane in the nose-high turn at an altitude of 200 to 300 feet above ground level (agl). He reported that he maneuvered his airplane to remain clear of the projected flight path of the accident airplane, subsequently losing sight of the accident airplane. He stated that when he was on base-leg for runway 29 he noticed smoke rising from a field below his position.
Another witness reported that, "The plane [airplane] took off heading southeast, with the wind. When it got about as far as 12th Street the tail dropped way down. It [the airplane] was almost straight up & down. The person [the pilot] powered up the engines just before the line of trees, it [the airplane] just barely made it over them. The plain [airplane] was still pointing almost straight up & down. Just before it dropped below the tree line and out of sight we saw it bank [to the] right."
Witness statements are attached to this factual report.
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot was the holder of a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. The FAA issued the private pilot certificate on August 1, 1996. According to FAA records, the pilot's last aviation medical examination was on March 17, 1997, and he was issued a third-class medical certificate with no restrictions or limitations.
The pilot's logbook was destroyed in the post-impact fire. According to the pilot's father, the pilot had accumulated a total time of approximately 300 flight hours, all of which were flown in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot was reported to have flown 12 hours in the last 90 days and had completed his last flight review, as required by Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 61.56, on November 15, 1999.
The aircraft was a Piper PA-28-161, serial number 28-8016150. The Piper PA-28-161 is a single-engine, low-wing monoplane of all metal construction, equipped with a fixed landing gear, and can accommodate a pilot and three passengers. The FAA issued a Standard Airworthiness Certificate on October 19, 1979, and the airplane was certificated for normal and utility operations.
The airplane had accumulated a total-time of 2,208 hours at the last annual inspection, which was completed on October 14, 1999.
The aircraft Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) included a "Weight and Balance Record" sheet, last updated on June 21, 1995, which listed the following information:
Basic Empty Weight: 1,592.0 lbs
Basic Empty Weight Moment: 142,305.95 inch/lbs
According to FAA records, the pilot weighed 230 lbs at his last aviation medical examination.
According to Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) records, the front passenger weighed 240 lbs and the rear passenger weighed 134 lbs.
According to fueling records and a written statement, the airplane had been serviced with fuel prior to the accident flight. The fuel records and written statement indicate that both of the airplane's fuel tanks were completely full prior to engine start-up. The PA-28-161 POH lists the useable fuel as 48 gallons. The weight of the fuel was calculated, at 6 lbs/gallon, to be 288 lbs.
A bicycle, pilot supplies, luggage, and assorted personal artifacts were located at the accident site, but were partially consumed during the post-impact fire and actual weights could not be accurately determined. The collective weight of the above-mentioned items was estimated to be approximately 30 lbs.
Based on the above information, the aircraft's approximate weight was determined to be 2,514 lbs at the beginning of the flight. The center-of-gravity location was determined to be approximately 90.537-inches aft of the datum point.
The POH listed the PA-28-161 certificated maximum gross weight as 2,325 lbs.
The accident aircraft had a useful load of 733 lbs.
The weight and balance record sheet and selections from the POH weight and balance section are appended to this factual report.
The aircraft was powered by a 160-horsepower Lycoming, O-320-D3G, serial number L-9470-39A, and at the last annual inspection had accumulated 2,208 total hours since new. At the last annual inspection, the engine had accumulated 221 hours since the last major overhaul, which was completed on February 13, 1997.
The propeller was a Sensenich, 74DM6-0-60, serial number A48784, and was installed on March 15, 1997. No service history was found for the propeller.
An automatic weather observing station, located at RYV, reported the weather about seven minutes prior to the accident as:
Observation Time: 1402 cdt
Wind: 300-degrees magnetic at 10 knots
Visibility: 10 statute miles
Sky Condition: 2,700 feet agl scattered
Temperature: 31-degrees Celsius
Dew Point: 27-degrees Celsius
Pressure: 30.02 inches of mercury
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The National Transportation Safety Board's on-scene investigation began on August 15, 2000.
A global positioning system (GPS) receiver reported the accident site position as 43-degrees 09.861-minutes north latitude, 88-degrees 42.329-minutes west longitude. The accident site was located on a residential property, approximately 0.6 nm southeast of the approach-threshold for runway 29 at RYV. All components of the aircraft were identified and accounted for at the accident site. A post-impact fire consumed the main passenger cabin from the engine firewall aft to the empennage.
The aileron control cable circuit and associated hardware were examined and no pre-impact anomalies were noted. Flight control continuity for the entire right and left aileron control cable circuit was established. The control cable continuity for the balance cable, the cable that links the right aileron to the left aileron, was established. The stops for both ailerons were examined and no anomalies were noted.
The stabilator control cable circuit and associated hardware were examined and no pre-impact anomalies were noted. Flight control continuity for the stabilator was established from the control surface to the cockpit controls. The stops for the stabilator were examined and no anomalies were noted.
The stabilator trim control cable circuit and associated hardware were examined and no pre-impact anomalies were noted. Flight control cable continuity for the stabilator trim was established from the control surface to the cockpit area. The stabilator trim was in a neutral-travel position.
The rudder control cable circuit and associated hardware were examined and no pre-impact anomalies were noted. Flight control continuity for the rudder was established from the control surface to the cockpit controls. The stops for the rudder were examined and no anomalies were noted.
Approximately 10 gallons of a fluid, blue in color, consistent with 100 low-lead aviation fuel, was found in the left fuel tank. The right fuel tank was ruptured and was void of any fluids.
No anomalies, relative to the airframe or its systems, were found that could be associated with any pre-impact condition.
Engine continuity was established throughout the engine and its accessories by rotating the engine crankshaft at the propeller flange. There was compression and suction on all cylinders when the crankshaft was rotated. The left and right magnetos provided spark on all leads when rotated by hand. All of the spark plug electrodes were a light gray color. The propeller blades exhibited S-shape bending, leading edge gouges, and chordwise scratching of the propeller face and back.
No anomalies, relative to the engine or its accessories, were found that could be associated with any pre-impact condition.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Watertown Hospital, Watertown, Wisconsin, on August 16, 2000.
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The toxicology results for the pilot were:
* 14% Carbon Monoxide detected in Blood
* No Cyanide detected in Blood
* No Ethanol detected in Vitreous
* No Ephedrine detected in Urine
* Pseudoephedrine detected in Urine
TEST AND RESEARCH
The PA-28-161 POH states in section 6.1,
"In order to achieve the performance and flying characteristics which are designed into the airplane, it must be flown within the weight and center of gravity (C.G.) position within the approved operating range (envelope). Although the airplane offers flexibility of loading, it cannot be flown with the maximum number of adult passengers, full fuel tanks and maximum baggage. With the flexibility comes responsibility. The pilot must ensure that the airplane is loaded within the loading envelope before takeoff.
Misloading carries consequences for any aircraft. An overloaded airplane will not take off, climb or cruise as well as a properly loaded one. The heavier the airplane is loaded, the less climb performance it will have.
Center of gravity is a determining factor in flight characteristics. If the C.G. is too far forward in any airplane, it may be difficult to rotate for takeoff or landing. If the C.G. is too far aft, the airplane may rotate prematurely on takeoff or tend to pitch up during climb. Longitudinal stability will be reduced. This can lead to inadvertent stalls and even spins; and spin recovery becomes more difficult as the center of gravity moves aft of the approved limit."
The PA-28-161 POH states in section 6.7,
"IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PILOT AND AIRCRAFT OWNER TO INSURE THAT THE AIRPLANE IS LOADED PROPERLY."
The effect of wind on airplane takeoff performance is discussed in FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 61-84B, entitled Role of Preflight Preparation, and states in-part:
"Effect of Wind.
(1) Every aircraft manual gives representative wind data and corresponding ground roll distances. A headwind which is 10 percent of the takeoff airspeed will reduce the no wind takeoff distance by 19 percent. A tailwind which is 10 percent of the takeoff airspeed, however, will increase the no wind takeoff distance by about 21 percent.
(2) Although this consideration is basic to a successful takeoff, the number of accidents involving the selection of the wrong runway for the existing wind and taking off into unfavorable wind conditions indicates a need for many pilots to reevaluate their preflight planning to ensure that the effect of wind is considered fully."
Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, The New Piper Aircraft and Textron Lycoming.
The wreckage was released to the manager of the Watertown Municipal Airport on August 16, 2000.