CHI06LA187
CHI06LA187

HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On July 11, 2006, about 1125 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-18-135, N9841Q, piloted by a commercial pilot, was substantially damaged when it impacted wires and the ground near Steubenville, Ohio. The 14 CFR Part 91 positioning flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The pilot received fatal injuries. The airplane departed from the Metcalf Field Airport, Toledo, Ohio, about 0930 and was en route to the Allegheny County Airport, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying at a low altitude along the roadway and then striking the power lines.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate that was issued on December 2, 2004. The pilot certificate listed ratings for airplane multiengine land, airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. The pilot's most recent first class airman medical certificate was dated July 25, 2005, and listed the limitation that the pilot wear corrective lenses.

A review of the pilot's flight records indicates that he had accumulated a total of 660.9 hours of total flight experience including 27.1 hours in multiengine airplanes, 633.8 hours in single engine airplanes, 101.6 hours in tail-wheel airplanes, and 72.1 hours in PA-18 airplanes.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION
The airplane was a two-seat, single engine Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, serial number 18-3519. The airplane was a high wing monoplane with a steel tube fuselage structure and fabric covering for the wings, fuselage and tail surfaces. This particular airplane had been modified by the substitution of a Lycoming O-320-B2B engine, which was rated at 160 horsepower.

According to the aircraft maintenance records, the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on March 17, 2006. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accumulated a total of 7,466.06 hours in service and the engine had accumulated 891.0 hours since its most recent overhaul.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION
At 1153, the recorded weather at the Wheeling Ohio County Airport, about 20 miles south of the accident site was: Wind 200 degrees at 5 knots; Broken ceiling at 5,500 feet AGL; Visibility 5 statute miles; Temperature 27 degrees Celsius; Dew point 19 degrees Celsius; Altimeter setting 30.13 inches of Mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest on the westbound entrance ramp to U.S. highway 22 at coordinates 40-degrees, 22-minutes, 50-seconds north latitude, 80-degrees, 39-minutes, 11-seconds west longitude. The highway at this location runs through an east-west gap in a line of small mountains. Power lines cross this gap approximately perpendicular to the roadway and were strung between towers on ridges on either side of the road. The towers stood about 80 feet tall and the ridges were about 380 feet above the roadway. The power line that was struck was not the uppermost wire and was about 243 feet above the road. The power lines were not marked with high visibility devices, nor were the towers lighted.

The damage to the aircraft was consistent with a steep nose down impact. The leading edges of both wings were pushed rearward toward the main spar. The fuselage nose section was crushed rearward by the impact. The front seat was detached from the fuselage. A mark consistent with that produced by a wire strike was observed on one propeller blade. Burn marks were also visible on the left wing lift struts. Examination of the control system revealed no preimpact deficiencies.

The fuel selector was set to the left tank position. Both 18-gallon fuel tanks were removed from their mounting in the inboard wing sections and examined; both were empty. The left fuel tank was dented but intact. The right fuel tank was split open along the weld on one side. The right side sight glass fuel gage in the cockpit was about 1/4 full. An FAA inspector who was at the accident site reported the smell of aviation fuel at the site.

No preimpact deficiencies were found with respect to the airplane, or its systems.

Examination of the engine revealed the crankshaft aft of the propeller mounting flange was broken. Both sides of the engine case were broken at the front of the engine. The firewall was wrapped around the engine accessory section in the nose-down impact. The firewall was removed and the engine examined. The spark plugs from all cylinders were removed and examined. The carburetor was completely removed from the engine and disassembled. The metal floats were intact; there was no fuel in the carburetor bowl. The carburetor fuel screen was clean. No preimpact anomalies were found with respect to the engine.

The blades of the two-bladed fixed-pitch propeller were straight; one blade had a wire strike mark on the leading edge and heavy leading edge scoring. Both blades had scuffing along the front faces of the blades.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A "Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report" prepared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) listed negative results for all tests performed.

TESTS AND RESEARCH
The straight line distance from the departure airport to the accident site was 145 nautical miles. Using a fuel burn of 10 gallons per hour and an estimated ground speed of 100 knots, the airplane would have used about 14.5 gallons of fuel.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The FAA and Piper Aircraft were parties to the investigation.

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