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On September 11, 2000, at 0942 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N2190R, was destroyed during impact with terrain near Centennial Airport, Englewood, Colorado. The instrument rated private pilot and his passenger were seriously injured. The pilot was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight to Neosho, Missouri, that was originating at the time of the accident. The pilot had not filed a flight plan.
According to family friends, the pilot and his wife flew from Neosho to Denver on September 9, to watch a Bronco's football game the following day. On September 11, the pilot had his fuel tanks topped off with 24 gallons of 100LL gasoline in preparation for the trip back to Neosho.
The pilot was cleared by Air Traffic Control (ATC) to depart on runway 17L and exit the traffic pattern to the southeast. Shortly after the airplane became airborne, the controller transmitted to the pilot, "you appear to be low to the terrain." The pilot responded by saying "this is 90R, we're not climbing worth Gra_." The controller replied, "do you want to return to the ramp." The controller reported losing sight of the airplane moments later. Several witnesses were walking north on Peoria Street, near the intersection of Mount Belford. They reported that the airplane was flying eastbound over Mount Belford very low and slow. One witness said that the airplane cleared the lampposts by approximately 15 feet. They said that the airplane flew past them (still flying eastbound) for approximately a quarter of a mile and then started a steep turn to the north. They said that the left wing hit the ground and separated from the airplane. The airplane came to rest in a cloud of dust in an open field. They reported that they could hear the engine running until impact.
The pilot's flight logbook indicated that he started flying on December 5, 1987; he had accumulated approximately 535 hours of flight experience at the time of the accident. The pilot had successfully completed a biennial flight review on July 9, 1999.
The pilot's flight logbook indicated that he had flown into Denver, Colorado, on two previous occasions. The first time was on September 1, 1997; the second time was October 7, 1997. The pilot's flight logbook also indicated that the pilot had 44.5 hours of flight time during the 25 months preceding the accident.
The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven, four seat airplane manufactured by Piper Aircraft, Inc., in 1969. It was powered by a Lycoming O-360-A4A, four cylinder, reciprocating, horizontally opposed, direct drive, air cooled, normally aspirated (carbureted) engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 180 horsepower at sea level. The aircraft logbooks indicated that the last annual inspection was completed on June 21, 2000. At the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated 3,727 hours of flight time. The engine was last overhauled in 1974, and at the time of the accident, it had accumulated 1,755 hours of operation.
The logbooks indicated that the airplane had flown a total of 40 hours from June 4, 1999, to the time of the accident (15 months). According to the Owner's Handbook, under the accident conditions, the airplane was capable of a maximum climb rate of approximately 340 feet per minute. METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION
At 0953, the weather conditions at Centennial Airport (elevation 5,883 feet) were as follows: wind 250 degrees at 10 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clouds scattered at 20,000 feet; temperature 75 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 30 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 30.09 inches. The density altitude was calculated to be 8,177 feet.
The Centennial Airport control tower reported winds at the time of the accident airplane's departure as 260 degrees at 10 knots, a direct crosswind for runway 17L.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was found upright approximately 1.2 nautical miles south of the departure end of runway 17L in a rough and uneven plowed field (N39 degrees, 32.92'; W104 degrees, 50.49'; elevation 5,956 feet). There was a ground scar (with associated airplane debris) leading to the fuselage that extended for 102 feet on an orientation of 010 degrees. The longitudinal axis of the fuselage came to rest on an orientation 225 degrees. The left wing was found separated from the fuselage approximately 65 feet from the beginning of the ground scar.
All of the airplane's structural components were accounted for at the accident site. The flight control surfaces were all identified; control cable continuity was confirmed for all flight controls, except for the left aileron. The trailing edge wing flaps were up, and their actuator (J-bar) was found in the down (flaps up) position. The left main fuel tank had an undetermined amount of fuel in it (it was estimated to be nearly full). The right main fuel tank was found with a large hole in the bottom of it and the tank was empty.
The altimeter read 5,900 feet, and the engine RPM read 2,300. All other gauges were either broken or reading zero. The engine's throttle was found in the full aft position; the mixture was in the midrange position. The engine was found displaced aft approximately 6 inches. The propeller remained attached to the engine. One of its blades was bent back with chordwise striations and some mechanical abrasion on its outer 8 inches. The second blade displayed "S" type bending and chordwise striations with some mechanical abrasions.
The engine was examined on February 1, 2001. The crankshaft was found to freely rotate (establishing internal continuity), and "thumb" compression was found on all cylinders. Valve train continuity was established, and the accessory section gears turned properly. The magnetos produced good spark, except one with a broken wire (impact damage).
No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Toxicology tests were not performed on the pilot.
The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to the owner's insurance representative on August 2, 2001.