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On September 25, 2002, about 1408 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N7027W, was destroyed after colliding with forested terrain approximately 900 feet south of the Johnson Creek Airport (3U2), Yellow Pine, Idaho. The airplane was owned by the pilot, and was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal/pleasure flight under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 91. The private pilot and the one passenger aboard the airplane were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the cross-country flight. Impact forces and post-crash fire destroyed the airplane.
A family member of the pilot reported that the flight originated from Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the morning of September 25. The pilot's planned destination was Johnson Creek, with intermediate stops for fuel in Price Utah, and Challis, Idaho. Reportedly, the pilot and passenger were planning on camping at Johnson Creek, and returning to Albuquerque later in the week.
At the time of the accident the pilot-in-command (PIC) held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, issued on August 15, 2002. Logbook records indicate that the pilot's total flight experience was approximately 95 hours, with a total of 26 hours as PIC.
Medical records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration indicated that the pilot-in-command held a third class medical certificate, dated February 7, 2002. The medical certificate carried a restriction requiring the pilot to wear corrective lenses.
The airplane, a 1962 Piper PA-28-180, serial no. 28-711, was registered to the pilot-in-command. The four-seat airplane was powered by a Lycoming O-360 series engine rated at 180-horse power. Maintenance records indicated that the last maintenance inspection, an annual inspection of the airframe, engine and propeller, was completed on May 4, 2002. At the time of the inspection the airframe total time was 2,654. The maintenance records also indicated that a major overhaul of the engine was completed on December 4, 2001.
The 1350 weather observation (ASOS) at McCall, Idaho, 26 miles west of the accident site, reported winds from 290 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clear skies; temperature 18 degrees Celsius; dew point 1 degree Celsius and altimeter setting 30.07 inches.
Local law enforcement personnel reported that the weather, at the time of the accident, was clear skies with light winds from the south.
AERODROME AND GROUND FACILITIES
The Johnson Creek Airport is located in mountainous terrain adjacent to the Frank Church Wilderness area. The airport elevation is 4,933 feet above sea level, and has a single turf runway (17/35), which is 3,400 feet long and 150 feet wide. The U.S. Government Airport/Facilities Directory (A/FD) recommends landing on runway 17 and takeoff on runway 35 when wind conditions allow.
The State of Idaho Airport Facilities Directory entry for Johnson Creek states, "special considerations should be given to density altitude, turbulence, and mountain flying proficiency."
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Personnel from the NTSB, FAA, and Textron Lycoming accessed the aircraft wreckage on the morning of September 26, 2002. The wreckage was located in a wooded area approximately 900 feet beyond the departure end of runway 17, adjacent to Johnson Creek. The wreckage field encompassed an area approximately 230 feet in length, from north to south. A grouping of large trees, with fresh scarring, was noted at the north end of the wreckage track. The magnetic bearing from the trees to the wreckage was approximately 150 degrees.
The main wreckage was located at the southern most end of the wreckage distribution track. The remains of the fuselage were found inverted and oriented on an easterly magnetic heading. With the exception of the left wing assembly, all major aircraft components were located in the wreckage burn area.
The aircraft's instrument panel, cockpit controls, cabin area, right wing assembly and empennage were destroyed by fire and impact forces. The aircraft's left wing assembly, to include the left landing gear and flight controls, had separated from the fuselage at the wing root and was located approximately 70 feet north of the main wreckage. Extensive rearward crushing and deformation was noted to the left wing. The left flap assembly was found intact (in the up position) and attached to its respective hinge points. The left aileron was found partially separated from its respective hinge points.
Extensive thermal and impact damage was noted to the engine and associated engine components. Both crankcase halves, pistons, cylinders and overhead components were intact and showed no evidence of a mechanical failure. Piston, valve train and accessory gear continuity was established by rotating the engine's crankshaft by hand. Portions of the exhaust and intake tubing were crushed and distorted. Internal examination of the piston cylinders, utilizing a lighted bore scope revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunction. Both magnetos and their respective ignition harnesses sustained extensive thermal damage and could not be functionally tested. Spark plugs were removed and normal operating wear patterns were noted. The carburetor was found attached to its mounting flange. The throttle and mixture control linkages were attached to their respective control arms.
The propeller assembly, to include the spinner, was found as a unit attached to the crankshaft flange. Forward bending, leading edge gouges and polishing was noted to propeller blade "A". Propeller blade "B" was also bent forward and significant gouging type damage was noted to the leading edge of the blade.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy on the pilot was coordinated by the Valley County Coroner's Office on October 2, 2002. According to the autopsy report, the pilot's cause of death was blunt force trauma.
The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicology testing on the pilot. According to the postmortem toxicology report, results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol, legal and illegal drugs. See attached report for specific test results.
On December 5, 2002, the airframe, engine and associated components were released to LAD Aviation, Inc., Renton, Washington.