Saturday, July 1, 2017

Piper PA-23-250, N44HJ: Fatal accident occurred July 01, 2017 in Chatsworth, Murray County, Georgia

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida
Hartzell Propeller; Montgomery, Alabama


Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N44HJ 

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA222
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 01, 2017 in Chatsworth, GA
Aircraft: PIPER PA23, registration: N44HJ
Injuries: 4 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 July 1, 2017, about 1644 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-23-250 airplane, N44HJ, was destroyed during an inflight breakup near Chatsworth, Georgia. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Moton Field Municipal Airport (06A), Tuskegee, Alabama and was destined for McMinn County Airport (MMI), Athens, Tennessee. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to family members, the pilot and his family were returning home after a weeklong trip. Witnesses at the departure airport recalled servicing the airplane earlier that morning. The line service technician at 06A stated that the airplane arrived about 1000 and requested fuel. After the airplane was fueled with about 45 gallons of aviation gasoline, the pilot and the passengers boarded the airplane. The pilot then unsuccessfully attempted to start the engines and after about 5-7 minutes the service technician asked if he needed assistance. The pilot responded, "no we're good…she (the airplane) does this when the engines get too hot." The pilot tried to start the engines a few more times before asking the service technician if he had a battery charger. The technician told the pilot that he did not have a battery charger and offered the use of the airport vehicle to charge the battery. The pilot connected battery cables from the vehicle's battery to the airplane's battery and again tried start the engines, with no success. One of the field tenants offered the pilot use of a battery charger. The airplane was towed into a hangar and the charger was connected. The gauge on the charger displayed that the battery would take 2 hours to charge. The pilot and his family decided to get something to eat while they waited for the battery to charge. When the pilot and his family returned, they boarded the airplane and both engines were started; he taxied to the runway and departed about 1500.

According to information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot was not receiving radar services, nor was he in communication with air traffic control (ATC) while en route or at any time during the accident flight. Radar data revealed a target consistent with the accident airplane heading northeast when it encountered a boundary of advancing thunderstorms from the northwest. Further review of the radar data showed that as the airplane penetrated the thunderstorm radar contact was lost.

According to witnesses, they watched as a thunderstorm approached, it was not raining at the time but they could hear the thunder in the distance. As they continued to watch the thunderstorm they heard a loud "boom" followed by observing pieces of the airplane and personal belongings falling out of the clouds. Shortly thereafter, one of the witnesses stated that they watched as the airplane came "tumbling and spinning" out of the sky. They continued to watch the airplane until it was out of view and then called the local authorities.

The wreckage was scattered over a large area that included very dense vegetation. The debris field was about 1 mile in length, oriented toward 030° true. The first components located along the debris field were fragments of the fuselage. Additional components located along the debris path included fragments of the right and left wing assembly. The left engine remained attached to a section of the left wing assembly and the right engine was separated from the wing and was at the end of the debris path. The fuselage came to rest near the wings. The fuselage, cockpit, cabin section, empennage and engines were destroyed.

The wreckage was recovered from the site and retained for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.


Dexter Lee Gresham, 55, his wife, Mary Jo Yarbrough, 61






MCMINN COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — Neighbors of a McMinn County couple who were killed in a Georgia Plane crash, say they were kind people and they are saddened to hear about their death.

Carl Hicks remembers his neighbor Mary Jo Yarbrough.

“She worked in her garden all of the time. She loved them. Working in her garden. Working flowers,” Hick said.

Yarbrough and her husband Dexter Lee Gresham lived in a home in Etowah.

Officials at the McMinn County Airport say the couple rented a hanger there. They left from the airport a week ago. On Saturday, Yarbrough and Gresham were killed in a plane crash in Murray County, Georgia, along with Yarbrough’s two grandchildren, Austin Day, 10, and Kingsley Wilson,10. Wilson and Day are from Mississippi. Hicks enjoyed having Yarbrough and Gresham as neighbors.

“They were good people.They were hard workers. Had good personalities. Very helpful,” Hicks said.

He’s glad he got to know them.

“You couldn’t ask for a better neighbor,” Hicks said.

Hicks didn’t know what to think when he heard they were killed in the plane crash.

“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. It is just something you don’t expect,” he said.

When the couple would go on vacation, Hicks made sure to look after their property.

“I kept an eye on it when they were gone. And they did the same for me. If I was going to be gone. They would keep an eye on my place,” he said.

Whether it is mowing the grass, or helping out. Hicks and other neighbors plan to lend a hand to the couple’s relatives.

“I am going to do whatever it takes to see if they are taken care of,” Hicks said.

Officials at the Corinthian Funeral Home in Mississippi say they are planning the service for the two children. NTSB is still investigating the crash.


https://wdef.com




July 03--UPDATE: A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board says the pilot of the plane was flying from an airport in Auburn, Ala., to somewhere in Tennessee when it crashed Saturday.

According to the Murray County, Ga., Sheriff's Office, Dexter Lee Gresham filed a flight plan with the McMinn County, Tenn., Airport on June 26, five days before the crash. This was where the owners normally kept the plane, located close to their home in Etowah, Tenn.

A spokesperson for the McMinn County Airport was not sure when specifically the pilot took off last week. The flight plan said they were flying to Mobile, Ala. But a spokesperson for that airport could not immediately find a record of that plane landing or taking off from Mobile.

The plane itself was registered to Mary Jo Yarbrough. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Piper PA-23 Aztec was built in 1966. Yarbrough registered the twin-engine plane in 2013.

Workers for Lycoming, a Williamsport, Pa., company, made the engine.

The NTSB will lead the investigation, with the FAA assisting. Generally, the FAA looks at whether a pilot broke any regulations. The NTSB, meanwhile, determines the cause of a crash.

In this case, the crash occurred near a thunderstorm, which can wreck havoc on a small plane like the Aztec because of the swirls of intense wind.

The NTSB typically releases a preliminary report within 7-10 business days of the plane crash.

ORIGINAL STORY: Murray County Coroner Jason Gibson released the identities of the four people who died in Saturday's plane crash:

* Dexter Lee Gresham, 55, of Etowah, Tenn.

* Mary Jo Yarbrough, 61, of Etowah, Tenn.

* Austin Day, 10, of Corinth, Miss.

* Kinsley Wilson, 10, of Corinth, Miss

Day and Wilson were Yarbrough's grandchildren, Gibson said.

The crash happened at approximately 4:45 p.m Saturday.

The plane is believed to have disintegrated in the air, and the crash site is located near Piney Hill Road and Old Highway 411.


http://www.timesfreepress.com







CHATSWORTH — Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board combed over a wide field of debris Sunday from Saturday’s airplane crash in the Ramhurst area but could offer little in the way of answers.

Four people died Saturday when a twin-engine 1960s-era Piper PA 23 aircraft came apart in midair during a severe storm around 4:44 p.m. Officials had not released the names of those who died in the crash or any information on where the flight took off or was heading.

Eric Alleyne, air safety investigator for the NTSB, said finding out what caused the plane to come apart and crash in the area between Ramsey Road and Piney Hill Road will take time. He said airplanes such as the one in Saturday’s crash don’t have the sophisticated telemetry “black boxes” seen in larger passenger craft.

“This is the first part of the process and it will take time,” Alleyne said after examining larger pieces like the passenger compartment and cockpit in a yard in the 1100 block of Piney Hill Road. “All we know is that the plane broke up in flight, and you can see the pattern of debris consistent with that.”

Alleyne said the debris path began near Ramsey Road, a half mile south of where the bodies of four people were found. He said the plane was flying from the south to the north, but witnesses who came to the site Sunday could be heard telling officials they had seen the plane flying before the crash to the north near Old Federal Road and it appeared to be fine. Alleyne said it will take many pieces to come together before a full picture of what happened can be determined.

“We will take a look at everything,” he said. “It could be six months to a year before we know exactly what happened. We will look at the pilot’s record and maintenance records of the aircraft. As we gather more and more evidence, we will get a better picture of what happened. Right now, I don’t know.”

Several pieces of the craft were not found Sunday morning. At least one engine and the rudder of the tail were not part of the recovered wreckage, which will be taken to Griffin in an attempt to reassemble the craft, Alleyne said.

The path of the crash led from Ramsey Road across a wooded area and creek, over a low-lying field, across Piney Hill and ended with the fuselage and passenger compartment on a hill on the north side of the road. Murray County officials were using drones to fly over areas which were not easily accessible in the wooded areas south of where the cabin was found searching for more debris.

“Witnesses have told us they heard a loud boom and saw parts falling from the sky,” Alleyne said. “It takes time, and as we get parts collected and collect more evidence, we will have answers.”

Sheriff Gary Langford said on Saturday that the victims were believed to be from Tennessee.

http://www.daltondailycitizen.com



MURRAY COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -  UPDATE: NTSB and FAA officials are investigating a deadly plane crash in Murray County, Georgia.

Murray County Sheriff Gary Langford said four people died in the crash that happened on Piney Hills Road at 4:44 p.m.


Langford told Channel 3 it was a Piper PA-23 that went down. 


Officials said the victims are from Tennessee. Right now, it's unclear which airport the plane was coming from and where the four people were heading to on Saturday.


At the time of the crash, Langford said the conditions included heavy rain, strong wind, and lightning.


"Most of the people are telling us that the plane did come apart in mid-air and from what we've found at the scene, that's evidently what had happened," Sheriff Gary Langford of the Murray County Sheriff's Office said.


He said the wings and engine were separated from the plane. The cockpit was the only part of the plane still intact. 


Langford said this is the second crash he's responded to in his time as sheriff. He said the debris from the crash spans a five mile radius.


"We've got a debris field. We've got some from south of this area where we're at now. We've got some from the east of it. Some from the north of it. The debris area is pretty big," Sheriff Langford said.


Right now, investigators are not releasing the identities of the victims.


http://www.wrcbtv.com



Four people died in a plane crash Saturday afternoon in Ramhurst, Georgia, Murray County Sheriff Gary Langford confirmed. 


Two females and two males were killed in the incident involving a Piper PA-23. 


"At the time this happened there was a heavy storm, rain, heavy wind, had lightning...at this point we just don't know what happened," Langford told reporters at a news conference near the scene of the crash. 


The crash happened at approximately 4:45 p.m.


Langford said it's believed the plane disintegrated in the air, and the crash site is located near Piney Hill Road and Old Highway 411. 


It's unclear where the plane left from and where it was going, Langford said, adding that authorities are not yet releasing the plane's tail number.


"So far we have not found a flight plan," Langford said.


The Federal Aviation Administration is on its way to investigate the crash along with the National Transportation Safety Board. 


http://www.timesfreepress.com




MURRAY COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -  NTSB and FAA officials are investigating a deadly plane crash in Murray County, Georgia.


Murray County Sheriff Gary Langford said four people died in the crash that happened on Piney Hills Road at 4:44 p.m.


Langford told Channel 3 it was a twin-engine Piper PA-23 that went down. 


Officials said the victims are from the Tennessee area. Right now, it's unclear which airport the plane was coming from and where the four people were heading to on Saturday.


At the time of the crash, Langford said the conditions included rain, strong wind, and lightning.


"Most of the people are telling us that the plane did come apart in mid-air and from what we've found at the scene, that's evidently what had happened," Sheriff Gary Langford of the Murray County Sheriff's Office said.


He said the wings and engine were separated from the plane. The cockpit was the only part of the plane still intact. 


Langford said this is the second crash he's responded to in his time as sheriff. He said the debris from the crash spans a five mile radius.


"We've got a debris field. We've got some from south of this area where we're at now. We've got some from the east of it. Some from the north of it. The debris area is pretty big," Sheriff Langford said.


Right now, investigators are not releasing the identities of the victims.


http://www.wrcbtv.com



CHATSWORTH, Ga. — Murray County Sheriff Gary Langford says a small plane crashed in Chatsworth, killing 4 on board.


According to the sheriff, the plane was a twin-engine out of Tennessee and it came down near Piney Hill Road.


Deputies arrived around 5:30 pm.


The Sheriff's Office contacted the Federal Aviation Administration.


Langford says there was heavy rain in the area before the crash.


http://newschannel9.com




CHATSWORTH, Ga. -- Authorities confirm there were fatalities from a small plane that crashed during the Fourth of July Weekend in northwest Georgia.

According to Murray County Sheriff Gary Langford, the twin-engine plane crashed on Piney Hill Road in Chatsworth, roughly 90 miles north west of Atlanta. Langford said that there were fatalities with the crash, and now believe there were four victims.


According to a spokesperson with the Federal Aviation Administration, witnesses reported seeing a Piper PA23 go down around 4:45 p.m. The spokesperson initially said that witnesses reported seeing the plane "explode in the air," but later said that information didn't appear to be correct.


At this time, investigators are in the process of combing through the wreckage and have only found one of the plane's engines. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

2 comments:

Jim B said...


When wings are tested to failure in a ground loading fixture the energy released at the time of failure sounds exactly like an explosion (of fuel) or a short duration thunderclap.

I met someone who got down before a thunderstorm arrived yesterday.

They did the right thing and I took them to a local hotel since the FBO was closed and there was no public transportation available.

They will live to fly another day.


Anonymous said...

Jim, you are kind soul. God Bless you!