On May 10, 2004, at 1612 central daylight time, a Piper PA-38-112 single-engine airplane, N24007, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power after takeoff from the Thackers Airport (5F8), near Oil City, Louisiana. The private pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight was destined for the Texarkana Regional Airport (TXK), near Texarkana, Texas.

Despite attempts made by the investigator-in-charge (IIC), a Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Form (NTSB Form 6120.1/2) was not completed by the pilot.

According to a witness, who was at the airport and observed the airplane takeoff from the 2,900-feet long by 50-feet wide turf runway, the airplane made a "slight" descent after liftoff, pitched up, then subsequently stalled. Another witness recalled hearing a "chugging" noise coming from the airplane's engine. The airplane impacted terrain at a nose-low attitude, left bank, rotated 180 degrees, and came to rest in an open grass field, approximately 100 feet to the left of the centerline and 102 feet from the departure end of the runway. Upon impact, the pilot was ejected through the right side door of the airplane. Restraint devices (seatbelt and shoulder harness) were installed in the airplane; however, the pilot was not wearing any type of restraint.

An examination of the wreckage by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, who responded to the accident site, revealed that the fuel selector valve was found in the right tank position, the throttle was full forward, the primer was locked, and the mixture was near the idle cut-off position. Flight control continuity was established. Both main fuel tanks were breached. The gascolator was observed to be dry. An area several feet in diameter of dead grass was evident beneath both fuel tank areas. The propeller, spinner, and starter ring gear support were separated from the crankshaft flange, and located in the initial impact crater. Examination of the ground near the propeller found one blade strike approximately 18 inches long. Blade A was bent forward about 10 degrees near the outboard end, and there was light erosion along the leading edge. Blade B was bent aft slightly, and the outboard end of the leading edge had most of the paint missing. The spinner exhibited impact damage, and compression damage was observed at the front of the propeller blade cut outs. The engine was separated from its mounts, and came to rest in an inverted position in front of the firewall. The upper engine cowling had come to rest back on top of the engine.

An on-scene examination of the engine was conducted by representatives from the engine and airframe manufacturers, under the supervision of the FAA, on May 19, 2004. The spark plugs were removed and the engine was rotated by hand from the propeller flange. Compression was noted on all cylinders and spark was obtained from both magnetos during rotation. Valve train continuity was established through the accessory gears. All of the cylinders were inspected using a lighted borescope. No anomalies were noted. The number 1 and 3 cylinder bottom spark plugs were found to have excessive lead fouling at the electrodes. Fuel was observed in the electric boost pump. The fuel screen was observed to be clean. The induction air filter was found fuel soaked. The carburetor fuel inlet screen housing was fractured. The carburetor was removed and dissembled. Metal floats were observed, and the fuel bowl was found empty. The engine fuel lines were destroyed. The crankshaft propeller flange and exhaust system were bent aft. The oil cooler exhibited impact damage, and a hole was observed in the oil sump at the rear of the engine below the accessory housing. An approximate weight and balance computation was performed, and the airplane was found to be approximately 60 pounds below gross weight at the time of the accident.

The airplane departed from TXK earlier that day, and arrived at the Shreveport Downtown Airport (DTN), near Shreveport, Louisiana. The airplane was fueled with 17.9 gallons of 100LL aviation grade fuel. The airplane then flew to the Shreveport Regional Airport (SHV), near Shreveport, Louisiana, and both fuel tanks were topped with 4.1 gallons of fuel. The airplane departed SHV and flew 21.7 nautical miles to 5F8.

Examination of the maintenance logbooks revealed that the last inspection was a 100-hour inspection, completed on July 30, 2003, at a tachometer time of 5,381.5 hours. The inspection was signed off by an airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic. The last annual inspection was completed on February 7, 2003, and was signed off by an A&P. The engine had been removed from another airplane on July 25, 2001, at a time of 283.42 since major overhaul (SMOH). The approximate time since major overhaul (TSMOH) was 1,520.75 hours.

Examination of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated a total of 131 flight hours, and had completed the private pilot checkride on May 7, 2004. The pilot held a valid FAA third-class medical certificate, with no waivers or limitations.

The weather at the SHV, located 22 miles southeast of the accident site, at 1556 reported winds from 150 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 5,500 feet, temperature 29 degrees Celsius, dew point 16 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.00 inches of Mercury.

The reason for the reported loss of engine power could not be determined.

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