On February 22, 2007, about 1330 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-140, N32285, was substantially damaged when it impacted water after takeoff from Hummel Field Airport (W75), Saluda, Virginia. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to witnesses, they observed the airplane during its pre-takeoff runup. During the runup, the engine ran rough at first, but after about 10 minutes it cleared up and began to run smoothly. They next saw the airplane takeoff from Runway 19 and begin to climb. It did not appear to climb at a normal rate, and about 1,000 feet beyond the end of the runway, it passed over some trees, turned to the left, and descended out of sight.
According to the pilot, the runup was "rough" but he was able to "burn it off." He performed a high-speed taxi prior to the takeoff, and noted no problem with the engine. During the takeoff roll the engine was a "little sluggish," and only produced 2,200 rpm, which was "a little lower than normal." After takeoff, the engine would not produce enough power to continue the climb. At approximately 500 feet above ground level, the pilot switched fuel tanks, turned the electric fuel pump on and then off, turned the carburetor heat on and then off, and "jiggled" the throttle without result. The airplane then began to "mush" and "dropped in to water."
The airplane came to rest after impacting the water in Locklies Creek. The pilot was able to extricate himself despite incurring back injuries, and was assisted to shore. The airplane sank to the bottom of the creek shortly thereafter.
The airplane was recovered on February 26, 2007. According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, an aluminum bracket on the throttle body that attached to the carburetor heat control cable had broken. The bracket displayed evidence of having been previously repaired by welding, and the break was discovered to be located at the weld. The carburetor heat plate was discovered to be approximately half open. The carburetor heat control in the cockpit was noted, however, as being in the "OFF" position. No other preimpact anomalies were discovered with the airplane or engine.
According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1974 and was equipped with a replacement engine. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on April 11, 2006. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accrued 3,345.1 total hours of operation.
According to FAA and pilot records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine-land. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on February 2, 2006. He reported 318 total hours of flight experience, with 60 hours in the accident airplane make and model.
A weather observation taken 24 minutes after the accident, at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF), Newport News, Virginia, located approximately 28 nautical miles south of the accident site, included winds from 270 degrees at 21 knots, gusting to 27 knots, visibility 10 miles, broken clouds at 7,500 feet, temperature 18 degrees Celsius, dew point 3 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.56 inches of mercury.