On October 18, 2000, about 1230 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-161, N47881, registered to Zeller Aircraft Corporation, operating as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, ran off the runway run-up area prior to takeoff at the Jesup-Wayne County Airport, Jesup, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane received substantial damage, and the private-rated pilot and a passenger suffered minor injuries.

According to the pilot, he was taxiing on the runway to the pretakeoff run-up area when his brakes lost effectiveness. With what little directional control remaining, to avoid runway construction equipment and personnel straight ahead, he veered off the pavement to his right and down an embankment. He stated that the surface winds were, 280 to 290 degrees at 8 knots, and that the runway sloped downard as he taxied eastward. He stated the damage to the aircraft to be a smashed cowling and collapsed nose landing gear.

An aircraft inspector on the field confirmed damage to the longerons behind the firewall, in addition to the damage reported by the pilot. He added that the aircraft had been loaded with full fuel, a passenger, and luggage for two at the time of the accident.

According to an FAA inspector, examination of the aircraft revealed the brakes system to be intact in proper operating order. The brake disc assemblies revealed evidence of extreme heating.

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