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On July 8, 2006, at 1250 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-260, N3380W, registered to MASI LLC, and operated by a private pilot, collided with a house and the ground during a go-around at High Valley Airpark (GA87), Suches, Georgia. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The private pilot and one passenger were seriously injured and died several days after the accident, and three additional passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by post crash fire. The flight departed from Hilton Head Island Airport, Hilton Head, South Carolina, on July 8, 2006, at 0949.
Witnesses stated they observed the airplane enter a left downwind for runway 02. The airplane touched down at midfield and bounced, touched down and rolled about 100 feet. The airplane was about three quarters down the runway when the witnesses heard an increase in engine power. The witnesses observed the airplane become airborne, and make a sharp left turn about 60 feet off the ground and the airplane disappeared from view behind a tree line. The witnesses heard a "bang," observed black smoke, and called the emergency 911 operator to report the accident.
The witnesses said that when they arrived on scene, they reported that the airplane had hit a home and that the fuselage of the airplane, including the only available exit, was on fire. Two of the occupants in the airplane, the pilot and one passenger, managed to escape from the burning wreckage but sustained severe burn injuries and died days later.
Union County Emergency Management personnel who responded to the crash scene stated, the pilot was outside the airplane and informed them that he landed the airplane long on the grass strip and decided to conduct a go-around. He added full power and then pulled up to avoid the trees at the departure end of the runway. He stated that, as he climbed the airplane out, he turned it left, and it collided with a house.
The pilot, age 37, held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land issued on July 5, 2005, and a third-class medical certificate issued on November 16, 2004, with no limitations. The pilot's logbooks were found in the wreckage and were not legible due to fire damage. The pilot's certified flight instructor estimated the pilot had about 200 total flight hours.
The six-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number (S/N) 32-235, was manufactured in 1965. It was powered by a Lycoming O-540-C4B5, 250-horsepower engine, and equipped with a Hartzell model HC-C2Y-1BF constant speed propeller.
The airplane's logbooks were not recovered for review. The Hobbs meter and tachometer were destroyed by post crash fire. The last annual inspection, engine, and airframe times were not determined. Review of servicing records revealed that the airplane was refueled on July 8, 2006, at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with 31 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation fuel.
GA87 is surrounded by high terrain and has a field elevation of 2,800 feet. Runway 2/20 is 2,000 feet long and 60 feet wide, and the runway surface is turf. It is a private-use airport operated by a private individual.
The wreckage was located in a field adjacent to a residence. Examination of the crash site revealed that the airplane impacted a house. The airplane came to rest on a 228-degree heading northwest of the airport. The crash-debris line extended 50 feet from the house.
Examination of the airframe and flight control system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. Examination of the cockpit area revealed that the flap handle was found in the third notch position, consistent with a 40-degree flap setting. Additionally, the flap torque tube was in a position consistent with a 40-degree flap setting. The engine revealed it remained partially attached to the airframe. The propeller assembly remained attached to the propeller crankshaft flange. The propeller spinner remained attached to the propeller spinner back plate. Scratches and dents were present on the circumference of the spinner. Both propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub. One blade was observed with a bend mid-span in the aft direction. The other propeller blade had a four-inch aft bend on the tip. Chordwise scarring and nicks were present on both blades. Examination of the engine assembly and accessories revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot on July 11, 2006, by Georgia Bureau of Investigation, State of Georgia, as authorized by the deputy coroner of Union County, Georgia. The autopsy findings reported cause of death was complications of thermal injuries.
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated no ethanol was detected in the liver or muscle, and Lidocaine was detected in the liver.
The Deputy coroner of Union County, Georgia, pronounced three of the passengers deceased at the scene due to smoke and soot inhalation. The fourth passenger was transported to Grady Hospital in Atlanta before being transferred to Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he later died. No other information was obtained on the fourth passenger.
According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) for the Cherokee Six-260, the landing distance over a 50-foot obstacle at sea level is 1,000 feet at 3,400 pounds (lbs) gross weight, 850 feet at 2,900 lbs gross weight. The POH states that the flaps-down landing roll at sea level is 630 feet at 3,400 lbs gross weight, 540 feet at 2,900 lbs gross weight. The published takeoff ground run with 10 degrees of flaps at sea level is 1,325 feet at 3,400 lbs gross weight, 750 feet at 2,900 lbs gross weight.
The POH also states: " The gross weight stalling speed of the Cherokee Six with power off and full flaps is 63 MPH. With flaps up this speed is increased 8 MPH.