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On May 11, 2004, at 1245 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N7123R, registered to and operated by a private pilot collided with a tree during a low approach to runway 13 at Lawrence County Airport, Cortland, Alabama. The personal flight was operated under the provision of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the private pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed Lawrence County Airport on May 11, 2004 at 1200.
Circumstances and the purpose of the flight were unknown , however according to witnesses, located on a golf course, the airplane was flying low towards the airport when the right wing "clipped a tree". The airplane "spun" to the right and collided with the ground. The witnesses went the location of the downed airplane.
Review of the pilot's records revealed the pilot held a private pilot certificate issued on August 7, 1998 with ratings for airplane single engine land. The pilot held a third-class medical issued July 7, 2003, valid when wearing corrective lenses. The pilot log book review revealed that he had accumulated a total of 1262 flight hours. The pilot's total flight hours in the Piper PA-28 were not determined.
Review of the maintenance records revealed that the last recorded annual inspection was conducted on May 7, 2003.The current tachometer time was 3783.30, and the engine time since overhaul was 299.1 hours. The last overhaul was on July 21, 1994 at a tachometer time of 3483.39 hours.
The weather at Northwest Alabama Regional Airport, 13nm west of Lawrence County Airport reported at 1253 CDT, Clear, 10sm visibility, wind 060 degrees at 7 knots gusting to 14 knots, temperature 29 degrees Celsius, dew point 17 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.14.
Examination of the wreckage site revealed the airplane was on final approach for runway 13 and came to rest 600 feet from the approach end of runway 13. The airplane came to rest in a golf course in a nose down attitude. The engine compartment of the airplane was crushed aft towards the firewall and displaced to the left. The right wing tip leading edge was crushed and the leading edge was damaged. The left wing assembly was buckled. The engine compartment was buckled upward towards at the engine mount and crushed towards the firewall. One propeller blade was bent forward and exhibited chord-wise scoring on the outboard section. The pilot did not report any flight control or mechanical anomalies prior to the accident.
Examination of the engine revealed when the crankshaft was rotated, compression was noted at all four cylinders, and spark was observed at the spark plug leads for all four cylinders. The oil suction screen was removed and no contamination was found.
The fuel strainer screen was removed for examination and no contamination was found. The lower half of the carburetor was broken off and the floats were crushed. Pumping action from the fuel pump was observed when the crankshaft was rotated. An undetermined amount of fuel was found in the fuel lines and in both main fuel tanks. The post-accident examination of the airplane and engine assembly failed to disclose a mechanical malfunction or component failure.
The pilot initially survived the accident but expired on May 12, 2004. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Department of Pathology, preformed the postmortem examination of the private pilot on May 13, 2004. The reported cause of death was "multiple blunt force trauma." The toxicological examinations were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, drugs and alcohol. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. No ethanol was detected in the vitreous, urine, blood, brain or muscle. Methanol was detected in the vitreous, blood, brain and muscle. Isopropanol was detected in the vitreous, blood and brain. The body was partially embalmed prior to the autopsy.
The wreckage of the Piper PA-28-140, N7123R was released to America Insurance Group on July 2, 2004.