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N5601U accident description

West Virginia map... West Virginia list
Crash location 39.576667°N, 79.656111°W
Nearest city Valley Point, WV
39.580084°N, 79.636717°W
1.1 miles away
Tail number N5601U
Accident date 26 Oct 2014
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-140
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On October 26, 2014, about 1330 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N5601U, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Valley Point Airport (WV29), Valley Point, West Virginia. Both the commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight, which was departing at the time of the accident. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

A witness reported that he heard the airplane's engine "rev up," and subsequently heard the sound of impact. The witness responded to the accident site to render assistance, and stated that there was an odor of fuel at the site.

Both occupants were hospitalized for several weeks and could not be interviewed until about 90 days after the accident. During a telephone conversation, the pilot stated that he could not recall any details about the flight, but did state that the accident flight was his first flight in the accident airplane.

Future attempts to contact the pilot after the accident were unsuccessful, and the pilot did not provide a completed NTSB 6120.1, Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, as requested.

The passenger stated that he had previously seen the pilot at the airport, but had not flown with him prior to the accident flight. He arrived at the airport on the day of the accident with the intent of working in his hangar, but changed his mind when the pilot invited him to fly. The passenger also remembered very little about the accident flight, but recalled that he was in the right seat when they departed, and that the last thing he remembered was pulling back on the yoke during departure.

The pilot, age 54, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot reported 2,000 total hours of flight experience, 100 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on June 25, 2013. The pilot stated that prior to the accident, he had not flown in several months.

The airplane was manufactured in 1969 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-E2A 150 horsepower reciprocating engine. According to the pilot, he purchased the airplane about two months prior to the accident, but never registered it in his name. The pilot was not familiar with the airplane's maintenance history and could not provide either airframe or engine maintenance logbooks. The engine oil filter installed on the engine indicated that had been installed in March 2012.

Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the airplane came to rest in a grass area about 700 feet from the approach end of runway 08. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. Control continuity was traced from the cockpit to each of the respective control surfaces. The left wing fuel tank was found ¾ full, and the right wing fuel tank was breached and void of fuel. The fuel tank selector was found in the left tank position. The fuel found in the left tank was consistent in color and odor with automotive fuel. The carburetor was removed from the engine: the accelerator pump functioned normally, the carburetor inlet screen was free of debris, and the float bowl contained fuel. The throttle and mixture control arms were free to rotate through their complete range of travel.

The engine's spark plugs were removed and examined; all exhibited carbon fouling. The crankshaft was rotated at the propeller flange, and thumb compression was confirmed on each of the four cylinders. Borescope inspection of the cylinders further revealed no anomalies. Both left and right magnetos were rotated by hand; the right magneto exhibited spark on all towers and the left magneto produced no spark with the primary lead separated. When the lead was reattached, the left magneto produced spark on three of its four towers.

The left magneto and its primary lead were recovered and sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory. Examination revealed no evidence of long term wear to suggest that the connector had worked its way out in service, and signatures consistent with the lead having been secure in its housing at the time of impact.

NTSB Probable Cause

Undetermined based on a lack of available information.

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