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On January 12, 2005, about 1655 central standard time, a Piper PA-23-250, N500KW, was destroyed when it impacted trees and subsequently burned following an overrun during landing. The airplane was flown by a private pilot and was landing at a private turf airstrip near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Marginal visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The accident flight departed from the Boone County Airport, Harrison, Arkansas, at an unconfirmed time.
A witness who lived adjacent to the runway and knew the pilot reported to a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector that he saw the airplane on approach to the airstrip. He reported that the airplane came into the airstrip very fast. He also reported that the weather at the time of the accident consisted of a low ceiling, rain, and misting rain.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single engine land, single engine sea, multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a third class medical certificate that was issued on May 11, 2004. The medical certificate listed the limitation that the pilot have glasses available for near vision. The pilot reported having 1,250 hours of flight experience at the time of application for his medical certificate.
The airplane was a 1973 Piper PA-23-250 Aztec. Two Lycoming IO-540 series engines, each rated at 250 horsepower, powered the airplane. The airplane was a 6-seat twin-engine airplane with retractable tricycle landing gear. The airplane had a predominately aluminum structure. No maintenance records were recovered for the airplane.
At 1635, the recorded weather conditions at the Rogers Municipal Airport (ROG), Rogers, Arkansas, located 15 nautical miles and 249 degrees from the accident site were: Wind, 250 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 18 knots; Visibility, 8 statute miles; Significant weather, thunderstorm; Sky condition, 100 feet broken, 1,600 feet broken, 3,700 feet overcast; Temperature, 14 degrees Celsius; Dew point, 11 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting, 29.55 inches of mercury; Remarks, distant lightning all quadrants.
At 1735, the recorded weather conditions at ROG were: Wind, 150 degrees at 7 knots; Visibility, 9 statute miles; Significant weather, thunderstorm; Sky condition, 100 feet scattered, 1,200 feet broken, 2,500 feet overcast; Temperature, 15 degrees Celsius; Dew point, 14 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting, 29.53 inches of mercury; Remarks, distant lightning all quadrants, thunderstorm began at 1634 and ended at 1726.
At 2253, the recorded weather conditions at the Boone County Airport (HRO), Harrison, Arkansas, located 34 nautical miles and 110 degrees from the accident site were: Wind, 160 degrees at 15 knots gusting to 22 knots; Visibility, 10 statute miles; Significant weather, light rain; Sky condition, few clouds at 3,100 feet, 10,000 feet broken; Temperature, 17 degrees Celsius; Dew point, 13 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting, 29.58 inches of mercury.
At 2353, the recorded weather conditions at HRO were: Wind, 150 degrees at 16 knots gusting to 23 knots; Visibility, 7 statute miles; Significant weather, light rain; Sky condition, 5,000 feet broken, 9,500 feet broken, 11,000 feet overcast; Temperature, 16 degrees Celsius; Dew point, 14 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting, 29.56 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest among trees that bordered the west end of the airstrip at coordinates 36 degrees 37.824 minutes north latitude, 93 degrees 49.128 minutes west longitude. The airplane had sustained post-impact fire damage.
Tire tracks were observed which led up to the wreckage. The last approximately 150 feet of tire tracks leading to the main wreckage had exposed the bare ground beneath the turf vegetation. The center tire track angled to the right becoming closer to the right side tire track. Working eastward from the main wreckage, these tire tracks were traced until their depressions were no longer visible on the turf runway. At this point, there were three marks that left deeper impressions on the turf runway. Each of these marks coincided with the wheel tracks.
The total distance from the approach end of the runway to the main wreckage was determined using a global positioning system receiver to be 1,981 feet. Likewise, the touchdown point was determined to be 1,523 feet from the main wreckage.
The airplane was upright and portions of all of the structural components were identified at the accident site. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage structure. The right wing was separated at the wing root. The cabin and baggage section of the fuselage was consumed by fire with the exception of the steel components of the fuselage structure. The horizontal and vertical tail surfaces remained attached to the tail cone of the fuselage. All of the flight control surfaces remained attached to the airplane.
An examination of the control system was conducted. The rudder cables remained attached to the rudder pedals and to the rudder control horn at the tail. The rudder cables themselves were intact with the exception of a break in the right cable adjacent to the spar carry-through structure. The elevator control system remained intact including the attachments to the elevator and to the cockpit controls. The left aileron control cable was intact from the aileron to the sprocket chain on the cockpit controls. The right aileron control cable was broken at the turnbuckle near the chain sprocket and also about 18" from the wing root. The aileron balance cable was continuous. The right aileron pushrod was broken at the bell crank within the wing. All of the identified control system cable breaks exhibited signatures consistent with overload.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory performed an autopsy on January 14, 2005.
A Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report prepared by the Federal Aviation Administration listed the following results:
53(%) CARBON MONOXIDE detected in Blood
The results were negative for all other tests performed.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
A Pilot's Operating Manual for the PA-23-250 was obtained from the aircraft manufacturer. The performance charts for the airplane contained no data regarding landing distance requirements on unpaved runways. The only landing distance performance chart was for determining landing distance over a 50-foot obstacle on a paved dry runway. The required distance using that chart, for an aircraft weight of 4,000 pounds and no wind, was about 1,400 feet.