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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 43914
Last updated: 17 July 2019
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Type:Silhouette image of generic PA24 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-24-260
Owner/operator:Comanche Trails Inc.
Registration: N9073P
C/n / msn: 24-4542
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Bucyrus, OH -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Tulsa, OK (RVS)
Destination airport:Belfast, ME (BST)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The airplane was destroyed on impact with terrain following a descent from cruise. An in-flight break up occurred during the descent. Night visual meteorological surface conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot had received a weather brief from a Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS) for the flight. Radar data showed the airplane was on a northeast heading. At 1902:14.0, the airplane's radar return showed the airplane was about one mile southwest of the accident site at 11,600 feet above mean sea level (MSL). At 1902:18.8, it was at 10,700 feet MSL. At 1902:23.6, it was at 9,800 feet MSL. At 1902:32.7, it was at 7,300 feet MSL. A witness who lived within 300 feet of the crash site stated, "I heard ... something coming [through] this complex that was out of control (real fast) a lot of rumbling (loud whizzing/roaring sounds) then all of a sudden I heard a[n] engine sound like it was at full throttle wide open, then an explosion/impact." A second witness stated, "We heard a really loud noise above us. We were looking up at the plane as we heard the noise, and then we saw lights on the plane start spiraling down. We watched it spiral to the ground and it crashed. The ground shook and [debris] starting flying around us." The pilot was not instrument current. The airplane's stalling speed at gross weight with flaps and landing gear up was 75 mph and its top speed was 194 mph. A pilot near the area reported that the cloud tops were at 11,300 feet above mean sea level and that he encountered moderate rime icing. The moon was below the horizon. Continuous Data Recording (CDR), which is airplane radar track data, was plotted on Doppler weather radar base reflectivity depictions. That plotted data showed that the airplane cruised along an area of weather aloft consistent with moisture and temperatures below freezing. Calculated speed plots from the CDR data showed that the airplane was cruising at an airspeed of about 95 -100 knots before decreasing to 78 - 80 knots just prior to the beginning of the high rate of descent. A review of the speed plots showed that the airplane's airspeed had increased to about 225 knots at the last radar return. One of the accident pilot's co-owners reported the pilot told him that he routinely flew at 10,500 and 11,500 feet MSL and that he avoided using air traffic control flight following services. The pilot had a history of high risk flights: once flying non stop from Minnesota to central Texas during the winter, IMC, at night, and landing with a few gallons of fuel remaining; flew with family direct from New Orleans to Tampa, FL, no flotation gear over the Gulf.

No pre-impact anomalies were detected during an on-scene investigation of the airplane wreckage.
Probable Cause: The inadvertent stall the pilot encountered during cruise flight while inadvertently entering an area of icing and his exceeding the design limits of the airplane during the subsequent descent. Factors were the reported icing weather present aloft, the airplane not equipped with a deicing system, and the moonless night conditions.



Revision history:

28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
05-Dec-2017 09:33 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
15-Jul-2018 20:10 Anon. Updated [Narrative]

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