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On February 26, 2003, at 1215 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-32-300, N54406, registered to Airamb of Bucks County, Inc., and operated by the private pilot, collided with guy wires on a 450-foot Comcast television antenna in the vicinity of Sylvania, Georgia. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 and visual flight rules. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed, there was a post-collision fire, and the pilot received fatal injuries. The flights departure city in Florida and departure time on February 26, 2003, was not determined.
After departing the undetermined city in Florida, the flight was next seen by a witness in the vicinity of the accident site who reported that he saw the airplane clip the tower, then saw parts of the wing falling off. He said the airplane came across the road in front of him. Then it nose-dived into the ground and exploded. The wreckage was located in a wooded and grassy area near the 1600 block of Harcyondale Road, Sylvania, Georgia. Witnesses also stated that the visibility in the area was poor do to fog. Local authorities also confirmed that when they arrived on-scene, it was very foggy and visibility was extremely poor.
A review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate on August 9, 1991, with ratings for airplane single engine land. The records indicated the pilot had no previous accidents or incidents. A review of records on file with the FAA Aero Medical Records revealed the pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on August 6, 2001, with limitations that the holder shall wear corrective lenses. The pilot indicated on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated 950 total flight hours. The pilot's logbook was not located.
Burned airframe and engine logbooks were found at the accident site. However, no recent inspections were noted on the logbook remains. A search of both and FAA and NTSB database's found no record of previous incidents or accidents involving this registration.
The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was Bulloch County Airport in Statesboro, Georgia, recorded at 1202, were winds from 110-degrees at 4 knots; 4 statue miles of visibility with overcast at 600-feet. Temperature was reported at 15-degrees Celsius, dew point 12-degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.07. According to a weather depiction chart recorded at 1600Z, Sylvania, Georgia and the surrounding area reported instrument weather conditions with ceilings less than 1,000 feet and or visibility less than 3 miles.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site found the overall debris path to be about 1,055 feet long and on a northeasterly heading. The airplane collided with guy wires attached to a Comcast television antenna. Each guy wire consisted of a heavy gauge multi-stranded steel cable. The middle section of the right wing and right aileron were found near the base of the Comcast antenna. Comcast reported no apparent damage to the guy wires or antenna. The Comcast antenna was approximately 450 feet above ground level, and 690 feet above mean sea level. The post-impact fire burned about 1/2 acre of grass and brush surrounding the main wreckage. A crater was observed about 45 feet from the base of the tower. The left aileron balance weight, pitot static mast and broken red lens were found in the crater. The pitot tube was field tested by blowing air through the pitot, static, and drain holes and were all clear. The right inboard wing section was separated and found approximately 75 feet forward from the initial ground impact crater. The propeller was separated from the crankshaft flange. One propeller blade displayed leading edge saw tooth nicks and gouges and was bent and twisted aft approximately 50-degrees. The other propeller blade was bent aft approximately 70-degrees from the hub.
The left wing was mostly consumed by fire. Seven feet of the inboard wing remained attached to the fuselage. The left main gear remained attached. The inboard fuel cap was in-place and intact. The fuel screen was clear of blockage and had fire damage. The left wings leading edge was crushed aft to the main spar. The left aileron had fire damage and was separated from its attachment points. The bell crank was damaged and was separated from its attachment points. One arm of the bell crank was bent. However, both cables remained attached to the bell crank. The balance cable was separated at the turnbuckle. The primary cable was attached to the control chain that was wrapped around the control sprocket.
The right wing was fire damaged and found separated at the wing root. About seven feet of the inboard wing was intact. The fuel cap was secured and locked. The inboard fuel tank leading edge was crushed aft. The fuel tank was ruptured. The fuel screen was clear of blockage. Outboard of the fuel cap the leading edge was crushed aft, and the main spar in the same relative area was bent aft approximately 40-degrees. About a two foot wide section of the wing was found separated into two-pieces, and found near the base of the tower. The separation area was cut uniformly from the leading edge to the trailing edge of the wing and continuing through the two feet wide center section of the aileron. Approximately 5 inches of the inboard aileron was attached to the inboard hinge. This section of the aileron was attached to the bell crank. The push pull rod was bent. The bell crank stops were in-place. Both aileron cables were separated and the separated area was unwound. A two foot mid section of the aileron, was cut/torn and separated and found near the antenna. The separated area on the left and right side of this section displayed approximately 1/2 inch in diameter circular impact damage. The complete flap was attached to the inboard and middle hinge. Two feet of the outboard flap was bent up approximately 70-degrees. The outboard hinge was attached to the wing.
The empennage sustained damage in the post impact fire. The vertical fin and rudder were attached. The rudder stops were intact and the rudder cables were attached to the rudder horn. The left side of the stabilator was displaced aft approximately 45-degrees. The right side of the stabilator was displaced forward approximately 45-degrees. All stabilator stops were in-place except for the top right stop which separated. The stabilator trim drum displayed 7 threads, which translated into a near neutral position. Both stabilator cables were attached at the balance weight. The rudder and stabilator cables were intertwined with the burned fuselage.
The fuselage and interior components including the seats were consumed by the post-impact fire. The flap handle was separated and the handle was found at the 25-degree flap extended position. The stabilator cables were attached to the "T" Bar. The instrument panel was damaged in the post impact fire. The attitude gyro was disassembled and the drum and housing displayed corresponding rotational scoring signatures. The fuel selector valve had fire damage and was found in the off position. Continuity was established from the fuel selector handle to the fuel selector valve. The electric fuel pump was separated and destroyed. A fire damaged handheld Garmin Pilot III GPS was found at the accident site.
Examination of the engine assembly and accessories revealed no evidence of a pre-crash mechanical failure or malfunction. Continuity of the valve train and engine crankshaft could not be confirmed due to impact and fire damage. All of the engine accessories were damaged.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Screven County, Georgia, Coroner conducted a postmortem examination of the pilot on February 27, 2003. The cause of death was Multiple blunt force injuries. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. Carbon monoxide and cyanide testing was not performed. No ethanol was detected in muscle or kidney tissue. Small amounts of the following were identified, Desmethylsertraline and sertraline were detected in blood, kidney, and liver samples.
Attempts were made to acquire radar data from the FAA however, there was no record of this flight. Additionally, several attempts were made by the local authorities, FAA and NTSB to locate the pilot's next of kin or associates. These attempts were unsuccessful.
The wreckage of N54406 was released to the General Manager, Atlanta Air Salvage on February 28, 2003.