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N4539R accident description

Missouri map... Missouri list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Winchester, MO
38.590331°N, 90.527900°W
Tail number N4539R
Accident date 19 Jun 1998
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-140
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 19, 1998, at 1135 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28- 140, N4539R, impacted the terrain in the Manchester City Park, Winchester, Missouri. The private pilot received fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed by post crash fire. The airplane was being operated as a personal flight under 14 CFR Part 91 when the accident occurred. The flight originated form the St. Louis Downtown Parks Airport, Cahokia, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was on file.

The pilot's wife reported that he departed his residence at approximately 0900 to go to the airport to fly. She stated she did not know where he intended on flying to, but that he flew every chance he had.

There were several witnesses in and around the park when the accident occurred. All of them reported seeing the airplane at a low altitude which was described as just above the trees, about 75 feet above the ground, and about the level of the baseball field lights. The witnesses reported that the airplane circled the area twice in a left bank prior to descending into the trees. One witness thought the airplane contacted the trees while circling prior to the descent. Three witnesses reported hearing the engine running prior to the accident. Two of these witnesses reported hearing the engine power increased before the airplane contacted the trees. Witnesses stated that they saw smoke coming from the area immediately after the airplane disappeared in the trees.

The airplane came to rest in a wooded area in the Manchester City Park, in an area just west of the Schroeder Park Office Building. The wreckage was examined by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration St. Louis, Missouri, Flight Standards District Office, and representatives from Textron Lycoming, and The New Piper Aircraft Company.

The forward fuselage and cabin areas were consumed by post impact fire which destroyed all of the cockpit instruments. The inboard sections of both wings were destroyed by the post impact fire. The left wing flap and aileron remained attached to the wing; however, the inboard section of the flap was destroyed by the fire. The fuel tank was compromised and burnt. The left landing gear fairing was located approximately 100 feet away from the main wreckage. The left gear lower strut was separated and burnt. The right wing aileron was attached at the outboard hinge point. The right wing fuel tank was destroyed. The right wing flap was bent and separated from the wing. The flap also showed thermal damage.

The stabilator remained attached to the airframe. It exhibited both impact and fire damage. The trim tab was intact and the trim drum inner shaft was extended to the full nose up position. The trim cables were wrapped around the drum and had been cut in the forward fuselage area. The rudder and vertical stabilizer were intact with impact and fire damage. All flight control surface cables were either cut during wreckage removal or exhibited signs of overload failures. Inspection of the engine revealed damage from impact forces and the post impact fire. No failures in the engine were identified which would have prevented normal operation.

An autopsy on the pilot was performed on June 19, 1998, by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's Office. Toxicological tests were performed by the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute. All results were negative for those substances tested with the exception of Diltiazem. According to the Physicians' Desk Reference Cardizem (diltiazem hydrochloride) "...produces its antihypertensive effect primarily by relaxation of vascular smooth muscle and the resultant decrease in peripheral vascular resistance. The magnitude of blood pressure reduction is related to the degree of hypertension... ."

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's low altitude flight and failure to maintain clearance, resulting in collision with trees. A factor was trees.

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