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On November 27, 2005, at 1545 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-140, N6485R, registered to a private owner, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with trees on a mountain ridge while maneuvering around a cloud adjacent to Vogel State Park in the vicinity of Blairsville, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. A post crash fire ensued and the airplane was destroyed. The non-instrument rated private pilot reported serious injuries and the passenger was fatally injured. The flight originated from Andrews-Murphy Airport, Andrews, North Carolina, on November 27, 2005 at 1530. The airplane was located by rescue personnel on November 28, 2005, at 1045.
The pilot stated he and his wife arrived at the Andrews-Murphy Airport on November 26, 2005. The airplane was topped off with fuel and they remained overnight in the local area. The pilot and his wife returned to the airport on November 27, 2005, at 0900. The pilot stated he was concerned about the weather obscuring the mountaintops along his route of flight. He checked the weather by using the Aviation Weather Observation Service on the computer and elected to delay the flight. The pilot and his wife returned to the airport and departed at 1300. They returned to the airport 30 minutes later after encountering weather. The pilot and his wife waited at the airport and departed again at 1530. The pilot stated he encountered a cloud while attempting to climb over the mountains. The base of the cloud was about 2,000 feet and he was at 3,500 feet. The pilot attempted to maneuver around the cloud in an attempt to clear a ridgeline to his front. The pilot could not reverse his direction due to insufficient space to turn around. Right before the airplane collided with the trees the stall warning light started to flicker. The airplane collided with trees and came to a stop. The pilot unbuckled his seat belt and fell to the ground in the midst of a fire. He ran around to the right side of the airplane to open his wife's door and the airplane exploded. The pilot walked most of the night trying to find help and located a camper on the morning of November 28, 2005. The camper called the emergency 911 operators and the pilot was transported to a local area hospital. The pilot stated the airplane did not experienced a mechanical failure or malfunction before the accident.
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 July 2, 2004, with ratings for airplane single engine land. The pilot's last biennial flight review was conducted on July 2, 2004. The pilot held a third class medical issued on November 4, 2004, with the restriction "Holder shall possess glasses for near and intermediate vision." The pilot reported on his application for a private pilot certificate on July 1, 2004, that he had accumulated 103 total flight hours in the PA-28-140. Review of the FAA Airman Certificate or Rating Application dated July 1, 2004, revealed the pilot had received 54.3 hours of dual instruction. In addition, the pilot had 48.7 hours of solo and pilot-in-command time flight time, and 3.4 hours of dual instrument flight time. The pilot stated in an interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge that he has over 440 hours in the PA-28-140 with 200 hours flown this year. In addition, the pilot stated he had between 20 to 25 hours of mountain flying experience.
The pilot stated his pilot log book was located in the airplane. He further stated the airplane log books were located behind the passenger seat or at hangar 5 at Metter, Georgia. The log books were not located at the crash site or in hangar 5. An airframe and power plant mechanic with inspection authority stated he completed the last annual inspection on N6485R on December 1, 2004. Review of refueling records on file at Smokey Mountain Aero Inc., Andrews, North Carolina, revealed the airplane had been topped off with 20.5 gallons of 100 low lead fuel on November 26, 2005.
The 1542 surface weather observation at Andrews-Murphy Airport, Andrews, North Carolina, was: wind 230 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 10 miles, 2,700 broken, 3,800 overcast, temperature 63 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter 30.00
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located in a wooded wilderness area adjacent to Vogel State Park 11 miles south of Blairsville, Georgia, and one-half mile west of Highway 19/129. The airplane collided with Blood Mountain 1,261feet below the top of the mountain at an elevation of 3,200 feet. The mountain top is at an elevation of 4,461feet. The airplane collided with trees on a southwest heading and came to rest on its left side on a 45-degree upslope.
The engine assembly remained attached to the firewall, and was displaced to the right with fire damage. The propeller assembly remained attached to the propeller crankshaft flange. The nose landing gear remained attached to the engine mounts.
The cabin area was consumed by fire from the firewall extending aft to the baggage compartment. The right wing was separated at the wing root and was not fire damaged. The outboard section of the right wing separated from the right wing at the wing splice. The right flap remained attached to its attachment points in the extended position. The flap control rod was broken; The leading edge of the separated outboard wing had a semicircular indentation on the leading edge of the right wing outboard of the right wing splice area. The indentation was accordion crushed aft to the main spar. The right aileron remained attached to the piano hinges and the aft spar. The right main fuel tank was ruptured. The right main landing gear remained attached to the main spar.
The aft empennage was intact and received fire damage. The vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly were not damaged. The horizontal stabilators and anti servo trim tab remained attached to the aft bulkhead and the left and right side of the stabilators were bent downward about 10-degrees. The left side of the stabilators along the trailing edge was crushed forward and inboard.
The left wing was separated at the wing root and fire damaged. The left aileron and flap remained attached to the wing. The left flap was extended and the flap control rod was broken. The left main fuel tank was ruptured. The left main landing gear separated from the main spar.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The pilot was transported to North East Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Georgia, with serious injuries. The hospital did not take any toxicology samples.
The Deputy Corner for Union County, Suches, North Carolina, pronounced the passenger dead on November 28, 2005. The cause of death was "blunt force trauma." No toxicology samples were requested or performed.
The wreckage was recovered by Atlanta Air Recovery, Griffin, Georgia, on November 28, 2005.