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N1198C accident description

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Crash location 36.968334°N, 89.497500°W
Nearest city Sikeston, MO
36.876719°N, 89.587858°W
8.1 miles away
Tail number N1198C
Accident date 31 Oct 2009
Aircraft type Piper PA-18-135
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 31, 2009, at 1159 central daylight time, a Piper PA-18-135, N1198C, was destroyed by post impact fire when the airplane impacted a metal carport type structure during takeoff roll from a private grass airstrip near Sikeston, Missouri. The pilot and pilot rated passenger received fatal injuries. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight was departing the airstrip with Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as the destination. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed.

No witnesses observed the airplane’s takeoff roll and impact with the metal structure. One witness reported that he heard the airplane during the takeoff roll and that the engine sounded like it was operating normally. When he heard the airplane hit the metal structure, he ran to the accident site. As he was running toward the burning airplane, a fuel tank exploded. He was able to pull the pilot from the rear seat of the aircraft, but the fire prevented the extraction of the pilot rated passenger from the front seat of the airplane.


The 55-year-old pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multi-engine land rating, a commercial certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, and a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine sea rating. He also held a mechanic’s certificate with airframe and power plant ratings. During his second-class medical examination on March 31, 2009, the pilot reported that his total flight time was 3,300 hours. A separate logbook page indicated that he had flown about 21 hours during April and May of 2009, but it did not indicate the type of aircraft flown. The pilot’s flight time in a Piper PA-18-135 was not determined. The pilot was not a certificated flight instructor (CFI).

The 48-year-old pilot rated passenger held a private pilot’s certificate with airplane multi-engine land, airplane single-engine land, and airplane instrument ratings. During his third-class medical examination on December 2, 2008, the passenger reported that his total flight time was 800 hours. During the course of the investigation, there was no documentation obtained that indicated that the pilot rated passenger had received a tail wheel endorsement to pilot the accident airplane as required by 14 CFR Part 61.


The airplane was a single-engine, tail wheel equipped Piper PA-18-135 with a 160-horsepower Lycoming O-320-A2B engine. The last annual maintenance inspection was conducted on May 11, 2009. The airplane had a total time of 4,222 hours, and the engine had 108 hours since its last major overhaul. The airplane was registered to the accident pilot.

The Piper Owner’s Handbook for the PA-18-135 stated the following about the control system:

“Conventional dual flight and engine controls are provided in the Super Cub. In the Model “135”, which is equipped with flaps, the flap control is located for front seat operation only. Solo operation of both models is normally from the front seat although rear seat operation is entirely feasible.”


At 1153, the surface weather observation at Cape Girardeau (GCI), located about 20 nautical miles north of the accident site, were: Wind 270 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 13 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 4 degrees C, altimeter 29.99 inches of Mercury.


A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector arrived at the airstrip about 1600 on the day of the accident. He reported that the private grass airstrip had a north/south running runway which measured approximately 2,000 feet by 150 feet. The metal carport type structure that was struck by the airplane was located about 10 feet from the west side of the runway about midway down the runway. The runway was covered in short grass and the surface was relatively uniform and smooth. Despite a large amount of rain from the previous week, the runway was relatively dry and firm. The wind sock indicated that the wind was approximately 250 – 260 degrees at 10 knots. The inspector stated that the wind direction at the time of the accident was approximately a direct right crosswind.

He reported that the airplane departed to the south. There was a single tire imprint about 445 feet long on the runway grass which led from the right side of the runway centerline to the impact area on the metal structure. The northeast corner pole of the metal structure had a white scuff mark at the impact point about 2 1/2 feet above the ground. The airplane wreckage was located about 85 feet past the metal structure. Ground scars that were consistent with propeller strikes were found between the metal structure and the airplane wreckage. The airplane was found facing an easterly direction resting on its right side with fire damage over a majority of the fuselage and wings. The empennage did not experience fire damage. The right wing was found pushed up and outward. The left wing was found on the right side of the burned fuselage lying next to the right wing. The engine had broken away from its mounts and the propeller was still attached to the engine.

FAA inspectors examined the airplane and were able to establish control cable continuity from both the front and rear pilot controls out to all flight control surfaces. Aircraft braking operation could not be determined due to fire damage to the brake lines and master cylinder. The engine was rotated by the propeller and continuity was confirmed through the drive train. All four cylinders exhibited vacuum and compression. The magnetos, carburetor, fuel and oil lines were all damaged due to the post accident fire. The tips of the propeller blades were bent forward.


An autopsy of the pilot was conducted on November 2, 2009, at the Mineral Area Regional Medical Center Morgue, in Farmington, Missouri. The autopsy indicated that the cause of death resulted from a combination of Carbon Monoxide toxicity and third degree burns suffered during an on-ground airplane accident. A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. Atenolol was detected in the blood and urine.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during a crosswind takeoff.

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