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On August 11, 2002, at 2005 eastern daylight time, a Piper J3C-65, N6658H, owned and piloted by a commercial pilot, was destroyed on impact with terrain and postcrash fire following a takeoff from a private airstrip near Hillman, Michigan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.
According to a Michigan State Police report, a witness reported the he saw the airplane takeoff from one runway and bank towards the other runway. The airplane tipped to its right side and the right wing hit the ground. The plane inverted immediately and burst into flames. Another witness was interviewed and both stated that they observed the plane banking but further advised they heard the engine "cutting" in and out and running roughly.
The pilot, age 66, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He received his last airman medical certificate on September 27, 1982, at which time he reported a total flight time of 5,235 hours, of which 0 hours were in the past 6 months. No pilot logbooks were found in the wreckage nor were any received by the National Transportation Safety Board or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was reported to have been located about 1/2 mile south of the runway. Both wings were separated at the root and exhibited fire damage. Both ailerons were attached to the their attachment points and the stops were in place. Aileron continuity was confirmed to the aileron to the wing root. Rudder and elevator continuity was confirmed to their respective cockpit controls.
The engine was attached to its engine mounts and exhibited fire damage. The top spark plugs were removed and the engine was rotated by hand. Thumb compression from each cylinder and valve train continuity was confirmed. The spark plugs were black in color with white deposits. The propeller had "UN AIRWORTHY" marked on it.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed on August 13, 2002.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report reported the following substances with a note that states, "The ethanol found in brain and muscle may potentially be from postmortem ethanol formation and not from the ingestion of ethanol." The report indicated that samples taken tested positive for ethanol, acetaldehyde, N-butonol, and N-propanol.
The FAA and The New Piper, Inc. were parties to the investigation.