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On September 2, 2000, about 0555 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, N2102X, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in Apple Creek, Ohio, shortly after takeoff from Stoltzfus Airport (OH22), Kidron, Ohio. The certificated airline transport pilot, the certificated private pilot-passenger, and two additional passengers were fatally injured. A fourth passenger received serious injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight was destined for the Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL), Cleveland, Ohio.
According to Stoltzfus Airport records, the airplane arrived at OH22 the previous day. The pilot requested that the airplane be fueled, and received 45.2 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation gasoline. An airport employee stated that he heard the airplane takeoff from runway 36, a 3,450-foot long asphalt runway, but did not see it. He further said that the airplane sounded normal and did not hear any apparent problems.
A passenger, who was seated in the aft right seat of the airplane, stated that he arrived at OH22 early the morning of the accident. Some light fog was present and it was still dark. The passenger observed the pilot performing some routine checks on the airplane. The pilot then "keyed" the runway lights and the lights were illuminated all the way down to the end of the runway. When the pilot completed his checks, the passenger asked him if he should bring a large or small cooler, which the pilot replied, bring the large one. The passenger estimated that cargo load in the airplane consisted of one 50-pound cooler, two 5-pound duffle bags, and one bag containing a set of fold up chairs. After the cargo was loaded, all of the occupants entered the airplane and the pilot briefed everyone on how to open the doors. The pilot then completed what appeared to be standard checks, and the engine was started. The airplane was taxied out of the ramp area, and continued to the runway run up area, where the pilot parked the airplane and "revved" the motor up.
The airplane was then taxied onto the runway. The pilot prepared all of his charts to BKL, set the radios, and departed to the north. As the airplane proceeded down the runway, about where "Preferred Airparts parks cars at large gatherings," the airplane went into the air and settled back down on the runway. The airplane continued down the runway, bounced a second time and became airborne again. Once the airplane was in the air, a stall-warning light and stall-warning buzzer activated. Seconds later the stall warnings stopped. The pilot-passenger in the right seat then stated out loud, "oh no," and the airplane clipped some power lines. The pilot passenger then stated "looks like we are going to hit the house," and the airplane hit a second object, but continued to fly. The passenger did not recall any other events until he realized that flames were around him and he attempted to egress from the airplane.
The passenger additionally stated that, during the startup, taxi, run up, and takeoff, there were no abnormal engine noises at all
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, at 40 degrees, 46.29 minutes north, 81 degrees, 46.95 minutes west.
The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate for multi-engine land airplanes, and a commercial pilot certificate for single-engine land airplanes. According to an application for insurance, dated August 14, 2000, the pilot had accumulated about 2,093 hours of total flight experience, with about 2,044 hours in single-engine airplanes, and 51 hours of instrument experience in the last 6 months. His total flight experience in make and model was about 872 hours.
The pilot's most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration second-class medical certificate was issued on September 10, 1999.
The weather reported at a nearby airport, at 0553, was winds from 340 degrees at 3 knots, 1/4 statute mile visibility with fog, broken cloud layer at 100 feet, overcast clouds at 600 feet. The temperature and dew point were both 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
The wreckage site was in a wooded area, about 3/4 statute mile, and 338 degrees magnetic from Stoltzfus Airport. The accident site was disturbed prior to the arrival of Safety Board personnel for emergency rescue procedures. In addition, the area had been doused with water to contain the post crash fire from ruptured fuel tanks and lines.
About 1/2 statute mile north of the airport, downed utility lines and a broken utility pole were located on the ground. Utility lines, which remained attached to adjacent poles, were about 35 feet above the ground. About 120 feet beyond the wires, damage was observed to a 20-foot high flagpole at the 8-foot level. The damage consisted of rubber tire marks and red paint transfer similar to the paint that was observed on the airplanes wheel pants. Damage at the 50-foot level of a 13-inch diameter oak tree was then observed forward another 140 feet from the flagpole. At the base of the tree was a four-foot section of the outer left wing. Four other trees, which were sheared off about 40 feet above the ground, were observed along the impact swath. The upper portion of the vertical stabilizer and the rear portion of the fuselage came to rest at the bases of these trees. The main fuselage was located about 165 feet from the first tree impact and came to rest next to an abandoned trailer. It was oriented on about a 090-degree magnetic bearing, and was inverted. The engine and nose gear assembly was located about 45 feet beyond the main wreckage, imbedded between two trees. The propeller remained attached to the engine. Both propeller blades exhibited s-bending and chord-wise scarring to their leading edges.
The main fuselage was consumed by a post-crash fire and destroyed. No flight or engine instruments were recovered. All crew and passenger seats were destroyed and separated from their attachment points. The flap selector handle was found in the "retracted" position. All major control surfaces of the airplane were accounted for at the accident scene.
The left wing separated from the main fuselage and was inverted. The post-crash fire consumed the inboard section of the wing. The forward, main, and aft wing attachments were destroyed and separated from their respective attach points. The aileron was attached to the outboard hinge. The bellcrank was found at its respective attach point. Flight control continuity was established from the bellcrank to the inboard wing root, where the aileron cables were found separated and frayed. The aileron cables were examined and no evidence of corrosion was noted at the separation point. The outboard section of the wing was located near the first tree impact area. The forward, main, and aft wing attachments were destroyed and separated from their respective attach points.
The right wing was also separated from the main fuselage and inverted. The post-crash fire consumed the inboard section of the wing. The aileron remained attached to the wing. The bellcrank was found at its respective attach point. Continuity was established from the bellcrank to the inboard wing root, where the aileron cables were found separated and frayed. The aileron cables were examined and no evidence of corrosion was noted at the separation point.
The empennage was separated from the main fuselage aft of the rear passenger seats. Continuity was established from the rudder and stabilator to the fuselage separation point. The cables exhibited frayed ends consistent with tension overload. The rudder and stabilator control stops were examined, and revealed normal wear.
The engine was recovered from the accident site and examined on September 3, 2000. The crankshaft was rotated through the propeller hub. Thumb compression and valve train continuity was confirmed to the number 1 though number 5 cylinders. The number 6 cylinder intake and exhaust push rods were bent, which restricted the movement of the rocker arms. The rocker arm pins were removed, and thumb compression to the cylinder was confirmed. The top and bottom spark plugs were removed; their electrodes were intact and light gray in color. The left magneto was removed from the engine and rotated by hand, producing spark on all towers. The right magneto was destroyed and was not tested. Fuel was present at the fuel distributor, injector screen, and the engine driven fuel pump.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on September 3, 2000, by the Office of the Coroner, Stark County, Massillon, Ohio.
Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Approximate weights of the occupants and baggage were obtained for weight and balance calculations. Due to impact damage, the exact weight distribution could not be determined, and several weight and balance computations were performed. The estimated weight of the airplane in all scenarios was approximately 3,685 pounds. The published maximum gross weight for the airplane was 3,400 pounds.
The estimated density altitude at the published airport elevation for OH22 was calculated to be about 1,716 feet msl at the approximate time of the accident.
Review of the Piper PA-32-300 Information Manual performance data revealed that the normal takeoff roll, at 3,400 pounds, was about 1,300 feet. The rate of climb, at 3,400 pounds, was about 930 feet per minute.
According to a representative of OH22, the distance from the departure end of runway 36, to where "Preferred Airparts parks cars at large gatherings," was about 800 feet.
The airplane wreckage was released, on September 3, 2000, to Preferred Airparts, Kidron, Ohio.