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On March 29, 2011, the wreckage of a Piper PA-32R-300, N4085F, was found in a wooded area about 9 miles west-southwest of Fredricktown, Missouri, after an alert notice was issued due to a family concern of a missing aircraft on March 28, 2011. The non instrument rated private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and wings. The airplane was registered to Neplusultra Corp and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 flight. Night marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight originated from Flagler County Airport, Palm Coast, Florida, and was en route to Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
An invoice from a fixed base operator (FBO) at Ormond Beach Municipal Airport (OMN), Ormond Beach, Florida, dated March 26, 2011, at 1034 eastern daylight time, showed a charge for a tie down for N4085F. A credit card receipt from the same FBO, dated March 26, 2011, at 1353 eastern daylight time, showed a charge for 67 gallons of 100 low lead fuel charged to Neplusultra Corp.
There was no contact with N4085F for weather and flight plan services in the 45 days preceding the accident. There was also no Direct User Access Terminal Service access for these services.
The pilot, age 61, was issued a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, which was followed by the issuance of a multi-engine land ratings on January 15, 1977.
The pilot was last issued an airman medical certificate dated September 27, 2007. At that time, he reported his total pilot flight time as 2,900 hours and his flight time in the past 6 months as 20 hours.
Pilot logbooks were requested from the pilot's family by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The pilot logbooks were not received following the request.
The 1976 Piper PA-32R-300, serial number 32R-7680427, was registered to Neplusultra Corp. The airplane was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-K1G5, serial number L-18419-48A, engine.
The aircraft logbooks were requested from the pilot's family by the FAA. The aircraft logbooks were not received following the request.
The Chicago (CHIC) Aviation Area Forecast (FA) issued March 26, 2011, at 2045 central daylight time (CDT), and was valid for clouds and weather until March 27, 2011, at 0900 CDT. The CHIC FA outlook was valid for March 27, 2011, from 0900 to 1500 CDT.
The CHIC FA included northwestern (NWRN), southwestern (SWRN), northeastern (NERN), and southeastern (SERN) sections of Missouri. The forecast for these sections were as follows:
NWRN: overcast - 3,000 feet mean sea level (MSL); cloud tops - 15,000 feet MSL. At 0700: broken - 15,000 MSL; cloud tops - flight level 180. Outlook is visual flight rules (VFR).
SWRN: overcast - 3,000 feet MSL; cloud tops - 15,000 MSL; visibility 3 statute miles (SM), mist. Outlook was for instrument flight rules (IFR) due to ceiling and mist. At 1100 conditions becoming marginal visual flight rules due to ceilings and mist.
NERN: overcast - 8,000 feet MSL; cloud tops - 15,000 feet MSL. Outlook was VFR.
SERN: overcast - 2,000 feet MSL; cloud tops - 15,000 feet MSL; visibility - 3 to 5 SM; mist. Outlook was IFR due to ceilings.
The Farmington Regional Airport (FAM), Farmington, Missouri, automated weather observing system (AWOS), was located about 15 nautical miles (NM) and 020 degrees from the accident site, at an elevation of about 946 feet MSL. On March 27, 2011, FAM AWOS recorded the following observations:
0035 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; overcast - 800 feet above ground level (AGL)
0055 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; scattered - 800 feet AGL; broken - 1,500 feet AGL; overcast - 5,500 feet AGL
0115 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; few - 800 feet above ground level AGL; scattered - 1,500 feet AGL; overcast - 5,500 feet AGL
0135 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; scattered - 1,000 feet AGL; broken - 1,600 feet AGL; overcast - 5,500 feet AGL
0155 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; broken - 1,000 feet AGL; overcast - 5,500 feet AGL
0215 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; overcast - 1,000 feet AGL
0235 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; broken - 1,000 feet AGL
The Cape Girardeau Regional Airport (CGI), Cape Girardeau, Missouri, automated surface observing system (ASOS) was located about 54 NM and about 105 degrees from the accident site, at an elevation of about 342 feet MSL. On March 27, 2011, CGI ASOS recorded the following observations:
0008 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; overcast - 1,400 feet AGL
0053 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; overcast - 1,400 feet AGL
0113 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; overcast - 1,600 feet AGL
0153 CDT: visibility - 10 SM; broken - 1,600 feet AGL
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The pilot's airman medical certificate dated September 27, 2007, was a third class medical certificate with the following limitation: must wear corrective lenses. A review of the pilot's FAA airman medical records revealed that the pilot had an expired medical certificate. A review of the pilot's autopsy revealed that he had disqualifying heart disease that had not been reported to or evaluated by the FAA.
An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the Madison County Coroner on April 3, 2011. The pathologist's opinion was that the pilot died as a result of multiple injuries resulting from a plane crash.
The FAA Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report of the pilot was negative for all substances tested.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage path was about 180 feet in length along an approximate heading of 028 degrees. The elevation of the main wreckage was about 1,338 feet MSL.
The fuselage was in an upright position and was oriented on a tail to nose heading of about 152 degrees. The engine was separated from the airplane. The fuselage exhibited a post crash fire. The landing gear was in the retracted position, and the flap actuator extension equated to a flaps retracted position.
The southwestern end of the wreckage path consisted of broken tree tops estimated to be approximately 30 feet in height. There were pieces of airplane structure embedded in the tree tops. The elevation of the southwestern most tree that exhibited impact damage was about 1,325 feet MSL. The northeastern edge of the wreckage path was at an elevation of about 1,353 feet MSL.
Both propeller blades were attached to the propeller hub and engine. The propeller blades exhibited S-shaped bending and chordwise twisting consistent with engine power during impact. One propeller blade was loose in the hub, and the other propeller blade exhibited leading edge damage, both of which were consistent with impact damage.
Examination of the flight control system confirmed flight control continuity of all the control surfaces to the cockpit controls.
The left and right wing fuel caps were in place. The outboard wing tank sections were broken open and exhibited fire damage. The cockpit fuel selector was positioned to the left fuel tank. The engine driven fuel pump was rotated by hand and a liquid consistent in smell with 100 low lead (100LL) aviation fuel was discharged. A liquid consistent in smell with 100LL was present in the fuel line from the fuel pump to the fuel servo, in the fuel line from the fuel servo to the fuel manifold/flow divider, and within the fuel manifold/flow divider. The fuel servo screen was unobstructed.
Borescope examination of the cylinder assemblies revealed no mechanical anomalies.
The engine was rotated by turning the propeller with the top spark plugs removed. Air was drawn into and expelled through the top spark plug holes. Engine, engine valve train, and engine accessory section continuity was confirmed.
The engine oil filter did not have a date of installation nor an engine time at installation of the oil filter annotated on it. The engine oil filter element did not contain debris. The engine oil suction screen did not contain debris.
The propeller governor was separated from the engine and exhibited impact damage. Examination of the governor oil screen revealed no debris.
The ignition harness sustained impact damage. Both magnetos were rotated by hand and were able to generate a spark upon rotation.
The engine driven instrument pneumatic pump was attached to engine. The pump was removed from the engine and rotated by hand using the pump's drive coupling, which was unbroken. During rotation, air was expelled from its outlet.
The emergency locater transmitter (ELT) was found along the debris path. The ELT housing was broken apart and its internal components were not found.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
A Garmin GPSMAP 296 hand-portable GPS unit was recovered from the airplane wreckage and downloaded by the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorder Division. Recorded GPS data showed that the last calculated velocity and direction of travel was 128 knot ground speed with a track of 0.7 degrees magnetic approximately 11 NM west of Fredricktown, Missouri. The GPS altitude showed a descent below approximately 1,700 feet to 1,374 feet.