Sunday, March 12, 2017

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, Sebastian Aero Services Inc., N8447R: Accident occurred March 12, 2017 near Peter O. Knight Airport (KTPF), Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Tampa, Florida 

Sebastian Aero Services Inc:

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA128
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 12, 2017 in Tampa, FL
Aircraft: PIPER PA28, registration: N8447R
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 12, 2017, about 1537 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N8447R, impacted the water during a forced landing shortly after takeoff from Peter O Knight Airport (TPF), Tampa, Florida. The private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight to Sabastian Municipal Airport (X26), Sabastian, Florida. The personal flight was conducted the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he rented the airplane two days prior to the accident flight, to fly from X26 to TPF for several days. The flight on March 10 was uneventful. On March 12, he arrived at the airport around 1230 and started his preflight inspection of the airplane. The pilot stated he "sumped" the tanks and the fuel was clear of debris. The rest of the preflight inspection was normal and no anomalies were noted. The engine run-up and magneto checks were normal, and he started his take off roll on runway 22.

At 60 knots airspeed, he rotated and started to climb. Upon reaching about 100 feet above ground level, he noticed a loss of engine power and the rpm started to drop. He verified fuel and oil pressure were good and started looking for a place to land. He further stated he could not abort the take-off and land safely on the runway, so he decided to try to turn back to the airport and land on the cross runway. During the turn, he realized he would not make it back to the airport and decided to ditch the airplane into the surrounding water. Once he ditched the airplane, he exited through the cockpit door and a local boater picked him up and took him to shore.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the left wing separated from the airplane. The windshield was fractured in several areas and the right wing leading edge was damaged.

The airframe and engine were retained for further investigation.

TAMPA -- First responders were on the scene of a downed Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee in the waters off Peter O. Knight airport on Davis Islands in Tampa.

According to Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, only one person was aboard the Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee at the time of the crash around 1:37 p.m.

The pilot was pulled from the water from nearby boaters and is reportedly uninjured, according to Tampa Police Department.

HCSO said that the Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee experienced a loss of power after takeoff and landed in the water.

TPD Marine units will assist in pulling the plane out of Tampa Bay.

The dive team for the Tampa Police Department was able to finally pull the Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee from the shipping channel several hours following the crash. 

The Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee will be kept at the Peter O' Knight Airport for further investigation into the cause of the crash. 

Story and video:

TAMPA — Those spending their Sunday afternoon at the Davis Island Yacht Club knew the small plane was in trouble the moment they spotted it.

The Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee was less than 200 feet in the air when it started circling back to Peter O. Knight Airport just moments after takeoff, its engine already sputtering.

"It sounded terrible," said Robert Woithe, 14.

The plane didn't make it back, however. Seconds later Woithe saw it hit the water tail first, falling just short of the runway.

"It looked like it was going to snap in half," Woithe said.

It was worse than it looked, however. Tampa police said the pilot was the plane's lone occupant and managed to escape injury — and the plane, before it sank into the waters off Davis Islands.

The incident took place about 1:37 p.m. The pilot was not identified. Tampa police said the plane lost power shortly after takeoff and couldn't make it back to the airport in time.

Witnesses said the pilot opened the cockpit in time to swim away from the plane before it sank into the water.

A motorboat rushed over to pick the pilot out of the water.

A second boat, captained by Michael Zonnenberg, arrived and started tossing buoys into the water around the sinking plane so officials could find it later.

Zonnenberg, 24, of St. Petersburg is a sailing coach at the yacht club and was teaching kids at the moment of the crash. He does not know who was in the boat that rescued the pilot.

Woithe, who participated in the yacht club's Fireball and Friends Regatta earlier in the day, said he and other club members rushed to the water with life preservers just in case.

"I'm glad they weren't needed," he said.

Tampa police divers were sent to the scene to recover the plane. The plane flipped over under water and came to rest on its roof. The divers placed large balloons beneath the wings and inflated them, bringing the plane — wheels first — to the surface. Then they used the balloons and two boats to maneuver the plane to a nearby boat slip.

Police called in a heavy duty tow truck to lift the plane out of the water.

The plane will be transported and stored at the airport pending an investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident, police said.


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