NTSB Identification: ERA15FA245
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 21, 2015 in Holly Ridge, NC
Aircraft: CZECH SPORT AIRCRAFT AS PIPER SPORT, registration: N35EP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On June 21, 2015, at approximately 1530 eastern daylight time, a Czech Sport Aircraft, Piper Sport; N35EP, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain after a loss of control during climb, after departing from Topsail Airpark (01NC), Holly Ridge, North Carolina, The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, destined for Albert J. Ellis Airport (OAJ), Jacksonville, North Carolina.
According to the pilot's wife, on the day of the accident, the pilot attended church with her and then they went out to lunch. The pilot then dropped his wife off at their condominium and then he went to 01NC to check on his airplane. When he arrived at the airport, the mechanic was there who had finished the conditional inspection on the airplane. The pilot then paid him for his services and received a receipt.
The pilot then then decided to pick up his wife at their condominium and fly the airplane back to OAJ where he based it.
When the pilot and his wife returned later to 01NC, they found that the gate was closed so they could not drive up to the airplane. The pilot then walked to the airplane from the access road. This was 100 to 200 feet from the road. It was now around 1500 and the temperature was in the "upper 90s." The humidity was high, and there was little or no breeze at all, and with the "clear roof" (canopy) it would get hot inside of the airplane. The pilot then called his wife from the airplane before he took off at 1524 and advised her that would take her 45 minutes for her to reach OAJ and he would be there in 15 minutes. He also advised her that he would meet her in the air conditioned fixed base operator (FBO) at OAJ. However when she arrived at the FBO, he was not there.
According to a mechanic, on June 19, 2015, the airplane had been ferried to 01NC on a ferry permit, as the pilot had previously been sick and could not fly the airplane somewhere to have the conditional inspection performed when it was due.
On June 20, 2015, the mechanic along with another mechanic began the conditional inspection. On that date, the pilot advised the mechanics that he had accidently "put oil" into the coolant fill port on top of the engine because it looked low. The mechanic advised that the pilot was pretty upset about it. The mechanics then flushed the cooling system and added new coolant. The mechanics also noticed that the bushings holding the radiator on to the engine were cracked and broken and replaced them.
The pilot advised them that the engine oil had been changed only 23 hours earlier and that the oil should not be changed. The mechanics then discovered that the spark plugs needed cleaning but after advising the pilot of the cost of new spark plugs, the pilot had them install new plugs instead of cleaning the old ones.
The next day (day of the accident), the pilot arrived at the airport about 1030 and went home to get some rest, advising the mechanics that he would return about 1600. One of the mechanics advised him that they would leave the gate unlocked for him. At this time, the only thing still required to be done as part of the inspection was to open up all of the inspection panels on the airplane. This was accomplished, the inspection panels were then closed, and the airplane was returned to service at approximately 1400. The mechanics then locked up the hangar and went home.
At 1711, one of the mechanics received a call from the airport owner who advised that he had received a telephone call from the pilot's wife and that the pilot had not arrived at OAJ and that he was probably was still at 01NC. The airplane however was not at 01NC. After looking around the area adjacent to the airport for the airplane without result, the mechanic called 911. Downed airplane procedures were then initiated, and then about 1900, a search for the airplane by federal, state, and local authorities was initiated.
At approximately 2130, the wreckage of the airplane was discovered in a wooded area approximately 1.1 miles west of 01NC.
Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane had struck trees in a steep nose low attitude and the pilot had been ejected from the cockpit. The airplane then fell nose first to the forest floor below, impacted in a 90 degree nose down attitude, nosed over, and then came to rest inverted.
Examination of the wreckage revealed that the majority of the airplane's wreckage was present on-scene. Numerous areas of crush and compression damage and evidence of fuel staining on the leading edges of the wings were also present. There was no evidence of any inflight structural failure, inflight fire, or inflight explosion.
Both wing fuel tank fuel caps were closed, both wing locker doors were closed and secured, all of the inspection panels were closed and secured, and the Pitot tube was clear and free of debris
The wing flaps were in the up position, and flight control continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder to the control stick and rudder pedals in the cockpit. The rudder trim was approximately neutral.
The magneto switch was in the both position, the throttle was in the full throttle position, and the choke lever was in the off position. The fuel selector was in the right tank position. The carburetor heat control was in the off position. The pilot's four point harness was intact and attached to its attachment fittings however; the center buckle assembly was unlatched. The emergency locator transmitter had not been armed, and the ballistic recovery system activation handle safety pin was still in place.
Examination of the propeller speed reduction unit (PSRU) revealed that it was impact damaged and the case had been breached. Examination of the propeller, the PSRU propeller gear assembly, and the PSRU overload clutch revealed evidence of rotation. Smearing was evident on the metal faces of the overload clutch. The propeller drive shaft was also sheared, displayed a 45 degree conical break at the shear face, and evidence of torsional rotation.
Examination of the engine revealed that it was impact damaged, both carburetors had separated from their mounting locations and the float bowls had separated from the carburetors. Portions of the air intake system, exhaust system, and the ignition harnesses, had separated from their mounting positions.
Examination of the cockpit canopy revealed that it was detached from its mounting location and was lying underneath the aft portion of the inverted fuselage. The majority of its clear bubble was broken into multiple pieces however, they were not scattered around the accident site but were instead collocated with the canopy frame. One of the canopy lift struts was also missing, and the damage patterns observed on the canopy frame and cockpit sill did not match and could not be correlated with each other. The canopy latching mechanism hooks were also found to be partially retracted, the canopy latching mechanism and activation handle were in the "OPEN" position and the slots in the canopy frame that the hooks engaged when the canopy was closed showed no evidence of tear-outs.
The wreckage was retained by the NTSB for further examination.
FAA FSDO: FAA Greensboro FSDO-39
PENDER COUNTY -- A Cary attorney was killed Sunday when his single-engine plane crashed south of Topsail Airpark.
Dillard M. Powell, 89, was the sole occupant of his Czech Sport PiperSport. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Pender County Sheriff's Office deputies discovered Powell's plane in a heavily wooded area near Holly Shelter Game Land, said Pender County Emergency Management Director Tom Collins.
Powell was expected to land Sunday at Albert Ellis Airport in Jacksonville after he took off sometime after 3 p.m. When he did not arrive, family members called the airport after 7 p.m. asking about his status, Collins said.
Peggy Powell, his wife, said she and her husband were going to meet at the airport in Jacksonville and it was a 45-minute drive for her, but 15 minutes for him by plane. The plane passed its annual inspection Saturday and Powell said they were taking the plane back to Jacksonville where they store it. When he did not show up, Powell said she knew something was wrong.
"I knew the plane must have crashed somewhere and so I called the Topsail (Airpark) immediately and they said they did not see the plane," she said, and added how thankful she was for the responding agencies that helped locate the crash site.
The sheriff's office, working with N.C. State Highway Patrol, was able to ping Dillard Powell's cellphone to the area near Holly Shelter, Collins said. SABLE, the Wilmington Police Department's helicopter, assisted in locating the crashed plane and sheriff's deputies traveling on ATVs got to the crash site at 1:30 a.m., he said. The crash site was not far from U.S. 17.
Collins said no one saw or heard the plane go down Sunday.
Powell was ejected from the plane during the crash, said Sgt. M. King of the highway patrol.
He was a World War II veteran who at the time of his enlistment wanted to be a pilot, but was told by the military he was too small.
Powell would often joke, "So they put a 90-pound backpack on me and marched me across Africa into Italy," said family friend Brian White.
According to friends and family Powell learned to fly as young as 15 or 16 years old. He worked as a crop duster to pay his way through college, said White.
He was a University of North Carolina School of Law graduate and practiced law in Cary for decades. He represented many families, some for four generations, White said.
"He was the most honest man there ever was," he said.
Peggy Powell said her husband was "one of the nicest, most caring people you have ever met." The two were married in October 2014, but have known one another since 1999, she said.
Todd Gunther, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, was conducting an initial investigation Monday and recording the details of the wreckage site, said NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss.
Federal Aviation Administration records show his pilot's license, registered to a North Topsail Beach address, was issued in June 1954. FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said Powell had no prior accidents or incidents and no FAA enforcement actions.
Original article can be found here: http://www.starnewsonline.com