Sunday, March 12, 2017

Rick and Hayden Mercil: Dad and co-pilot son share ride through life

Hayden Mercil, 8, at the controls of the Cessna 180 his dad, Rick Mercil, piloted during a recent day trip for a burger to Sunset Lodge on Oak Island of Lake of the Woods.




By Rick Mercil 


LAKE OF THE WOODS, Minn. — Eight years ago in January, my life changed forever when Rosa and I adopted our son, Hayden. Our adult girls had left the nest, and this little guy came into our lives out of our desire to provide him a home.

Fast forward eight years, and I not only have a son, but I have a co-pilot, too. This was never more evident than on Monday, Jan. 16.

Hayden and I both had the day of for the Martin Luther King Day holiday. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful bluebird day to fly my 1957 Cessna 180 from Crookston up to the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods for a burger at Sunset Lodge on Oak Island.

During the flight, Hayden got 50 cents if he pointed out any towers along the route and $1 if he spotted an airport. We made funny noises in the microphone through the headsets and told silly jokes to each other, just the two of us.

It was a perfect father-son day. You can imagine the fun we had!

The flight to the Angle took about an hour, and we landed on the ice road near Oak Island. We taxied up to Sunset Lodge and went in and had the best hamburger this side of U.S. Highway 2.

Before we left, Hayden had the biggest bowl of ice cream he had ever seen.

When we departed, the moan of the old Continental engine tired the little guy out. He put his head on my lap and fell right to sleep. It was only when I radioed the Crookston airport to announce my flight intentions that he awakened. The day ended perfectly, and I couldn't have been happier.

It was one of the best flying experiences I ever had—and I've had a few.

Source:  http://www.wdaz.com

Cessna 177RG Cardinal, Arte Original LLC, N7571V: Incident occurred March 12, 2017 at Centennial Airport (KAPA), Denver, Colorado

Arte Original LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N7571V 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Denver, Colorado 

Aircraft landed gear up.  

Date: 12-MAR-17
Time: 17:23:00Z
Regis#: N7571V
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C177
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: DENVER
State: COLORADO


CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A small plane landed on its belly at the Centennial Airport Sunday morning after the landing gear didn’t come down.

There was one person on board the single-engine Cessna Cardinal, airport officials said on Twitter.

No one was hurt in the “gear-up landing,” officials said.

There was no word on why the landing gear didn’t come down.

South Metro Fire Rescue was responding to the airport.

Runway 10/28 was closed while they worked to remove the aircraft, officials said.

Story and photo:  http://kdvr.com

Progressive Aerodyne Searey, N9888D: Winds from Hurricane Matthew on October 07, 2016 pulled aircraft off the tie-down and pushed it into a fence
































AIRCRAFT:  2004 DEWHURST SEBASTIAN SEAREY N9888D, serial number: 1MK339C
ENGINE:   Rotax 912S, s/n: 4429381.  

The engine was reportedly run without oil and is completely disassembled. 

The intent of the following list is only to verify that these major Components are present, with no guarantee of condition:

2- Case halves
1- Accessory case
1- Crankshaft
1- Camshaft
4- Connecting rods
4- Cylinders
4- Pistons  
4- Heads
4- Wrist pins
8- Lifters
8- Pushrods
2- Carburetors

PROPELLER:  Ivoprop ground-adjustable three blade. 

APPROXIMATE TOTAL HOURS (estimated TT & TSMO from logbooks or other information):

ENGINE:  Unknown

PROPELLER:    Unknown

AIRFRAME:  673.8 in July 2016 according to logbook entry

OTHER EQUIPMENT:  KY 97A, KT 76A

Garmin was reported stolen and is NOT included with the salvage.

DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  Winds from Hurricane Matthew on 10/07/16 pulled N9888D off the tie-down and pushed it into a fence.

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES:  Inspection is highly recommended.  Damage includes but may not be limited to the following:
The leading edge of the left wing appears to be dented.
The left wing tip and the left position light mounting are damaged
The left elevator is scraped
There is a hole in rudder
The right elevator and right wing tip are damaged 
The tail appears twisted/bent
The right wing tip is damaged
The right navigation light is off the mounting
The right aileron skin is damaged.
The pylon attaching the wing to the fuselage has twisted and caused damage at the pylon base. (There were popped mounting rivets around the pylon which indicates the main fuselage had been twisted)
The engine was reportedly run without oil and it is currently completely disassemble
The canopy does not shut tight
The cockpit was found with an inch or more of water in the floor

Read more here:  http://www.avclaims.com/N9888D.htm

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: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

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


Sebastian Aero Services Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N8447R

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:   http://www.wtsp.com





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.

Source:  http://www.tampabay.com

Kens Wingless Wonder, N7195R: Accident occurred March 12, 2017 at Mount Airy Airport (KMWK), Surry County, North Carolina

http://registry.faa.gov/N7195R

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Greensboro 

NTSB Identification: ERA17CA129
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 12, 2017 in Mount Airy, SC
Aircraft: KERNS KENNETH H KENS WINGLESS WONDER, registration: N7195R

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Gyroplane on takeoff crashed onto the runway.

Date: 12-MAR-17
Time: 17:58:00Z
Regis#: N7195R
Aircraft Make: GYROPLANE
Aircraft Model: WONDER
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
City: MT AIRY
State: NORTH CAROLINA



Surry County —  Just before 2 p.m. Sunday, officials say, a call came in about a gyroplane crashing at Mt. Airy Airport.

The crash happened about 30 yards off the runway.

The pilot was the only person on board and he was taken to Baptist Hospital.

Officials are not releasing his name yet, but do know that he is 65 years old.

Airport officials are on the scene right now and have reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Source:  http://www.wxii12.com



 MOUNT AIRY, N.C. - A gyroplane crashed at Mt. Airy Airport Sunday afternoon, according to the Surry County EMS director. 

John Shelton, Director of Surry County EMS, says the gyroplane crashed while the pilot attempted to land. He crashed about 30 yards off of the runway.

According to an airport employee who witnessed the crash, the pilot climbed out of the gyroplane. Shelton says he was taken to the hospital for evaluation. 

The FAA is currently investigating the crash. 

Source:  http://www.wfmynews2.com

Delta Airlines, Boeing 717-200, N965AT: Incident occurred March 12, 2017 at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (KGPT), Gulfport, Harrison County, Mississippi

http://registry.faa.gov/N965AT




GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -   Authorities in Harrison County responded to a plane in distress at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport Sunday morning. The call came in shortly after 9:30 a.m., saying that Delta flight #2312 had a "loss of flight control." 

Emergency responders from Harrison County and Gulfport, as well as the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, responded to assist the airport's emergency crews, arriving at the airport shortly before the plane landed. The plane was able to land safely without anyone being injured. Officials say 98 people were on board the plane.

According to Delta's website, the plane is a Boeing 717-200. It was originally scheduled to proceed to Atlanta from Gulfport but is now delayed a little over three hours.

A representative from Delta Airlines says when a flight has an emergency maintenance issue while in the air, they are able to call for a priority landing to ensure they get on the ground quickly and safely. In this incident, she said the plane calling for a priority landing was more precautionary than anything. The Boeing 717 will receive maintenance and any necessary repairs before leaving Gulfport to go on to Atlanta.

"Pilots are always doing everything they can to make sure every flight is safe," said the Delta representative. "But, in situations like this, it's really a priority landing, not anything massively wrong. It sounds a lot scarier than it is." 

No additional emergency precautions were deemed necessary while in the air, added the representative. 

Story and video:  http://www.wlox.com

Authorities in Harrison County responded Sunday morning to a plane in distress at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, according to ABC News.

The call came in shortly after 9:30 a.m., saying that Delta Flight 2312 had a "loss of flight control."

The plane landed successfully without any injuries to the 98 people on board.

A representative from Delta Airlines said when a flight has an emergency maintenance issue while in the air, they are able to call for a priority landing to ensure they get on the ground quickly and safely.

In this incident, she said, the call for a priority landing was more precautionary than anything.

The Boeing 717 will receive maintenance and any necessary repairs before leaving Gulfport to go on to Atlanta.

Source: http://www.wsbtv.com

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, N865MA and Cessna 172S Skyhawk 172, N269ME

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

N269ME - Aviation Incident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

N865MA - Aviation Incident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

George's Aviation Services: http://registry.faa.gov/N269ME

Schuman Aviation Company, Ltd: http://registry.faa.gov/N865MA

NTSB Identification: OPS16IA009A
Incident occurred Friday, February 26, 2016 in Honolulu, HI
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration:
Injuries: 10 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: OPS16IA009B
Incident occurred Friday, February 26, 2016 in Honolulu, HI
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration:
Injuries: 10 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 used data provided by various sources and may have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

On Friday, February 26, 2016 at 1548 Hawaii standard time (HST), a runway incursion occurred at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Honolulu, Hawaii, when a Cessna 208B, registration N865MA, over flew a Cessna 172, registration N269ME in line up and wait on runway 22L at the taxiway P intersection. The C208B was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 and the C172 was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and there were no injuries to passengers or crew of either aircraft.

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, Makani Kai Air, N865MA: Accident occurred March 11, 2017 at Kalaupapa Airport, Molokai, Hawaii 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Honolulu, Hawaii 

Schuman Aviation Company, Ltd: http://registry.faa.gov/N865MA

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA191
14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, March 11, 2017 in Kalaupapa, HI
Aircraft: CESSNA 208, registration: N865MA


NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Upon landing, aircraft appeared to brake hard.  Ground looped. Veered off runway.  Landing gear collapsed.    

Date: 11-MAR-17
Time: 19:01:00Z
Regis#: N865MA
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 208
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: COMMUTER
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 135
City: KALAUPAPA
State: HAWAII

Flight KDS800,  aircraft on landing, gear collapsed.

Date: 11-MAR-17
Time: 18:40:00Z
Regis#: N865MA
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C208
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Operator: MAKANI KAI AIR
Flight Number: KDS800
Activity: ON DEMAND
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: KALAUPAPA
State: HAWAII




Federal investigators are looking into what caused a close call for a plane at Kalaupapa Airport on Molokai. 

The Makani Kai Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan was arriving from Oahu around 8:30 Saturday morning.  The pilot, traveling with 9 passengers, called in about seven miles out after seeing another aircraft doing practice maneuvers.

“She announced her intention, ‘I’m going to land at Kalaupapa, are you clear of the runway’, and the other aircraft said yes, we are clear of the runway.” Said Richard Schuman, President of Makani Kai Air.  

Schuman said it turned out the other plane, carrying a student pilot and flight instructor, wasn't actually clear.

After maneuvering to avoid crashing into the other plane, Schuman said the pilot was forced to make the hard landing.

One witness, Keahi Hanakahi, was waiting for a friend on that flight.  He prepared for the worst after seeing the plane 'bounce a couple of times and then spin'.

“I saw the whole plane turn sideways, and I thought a gust of wind had taken it. I thought ‘Oh no, here we go. It’s going to be an accident.” Said Hanakahi.

He said the situation could have been much worse.

“They were a lot better off than you’d think.  The pilot was traumatized because she took responsibility for what happened, but it wasn’t her fault. Actually, she saved lives.” Said Hanakahi.   

After the close call, Schuman said the other plane tried to take off.  The student pilot and flight instructor stopped after running out of runway.  They then ran from the scene.

 “In this case we don't know what their intentions are because they’ve run away and to my knowledge nobody has talked to them yet.” Said Schuman.   All 9 passengers walked away safely from the incident.

Source:  http://www.kitv.com




KALAUPAPA, MOLOKAI (HAWAIINEWSNOW) -  Federal investigators are looking into what caused a mishap for a small plane on Molokai.


The president of Makani Kai Air said another pilot's mistake led to the hard landing for his company's Cessna 208B Grand Caravan on Saturday. The nine passengers and the pilot all escaped without any injuries.


The president of Makani Kai Air, Richard Schuman, said the flight from Oahu to Kalaupapa was on final approach around 8:30 a.m on Saturday. The pilot had received the all clear from another aircraft that was on the runway, according to him.


"So she said, 'You are clear of the runway?' and the other aircraft said, 'Yes.' Then she started to touch down and she noticed the airplane was on the runway coming towards her," Schuman said.


There is no air traffic controller at Kalaupapa's tiny airport so the pilots communicate with each other.


"It's a little different in regards to communication there, but all pilots in the vicinity or the airspace around that area have the capability of communicating with other pilots," said Amy Sakurada


Schuman said when his pilot made a last-minute maneuver to avoid the other aircraft, the wing of the Cessna 208 Caravan may have hit the runway. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane had its gear collapse after a hard landing and then went off the runway.


"There was an aircraft on the runway that wasn't supposed to be there. My airplane was trying to avoid it. Now we know what happened, we don't know why they were there. When you get a hold of those guys you'll find out," Schuman said.


According to Schuman, the instructor and student pilot on the other plane walked away after unsuccessfully trying to take off.


"After the accident, that plane came up to the site, turned around, tried to take off, the runway was too short so he stopped. The state workers are on the radio telling him you can't take off you almost caused an accident," he said.


FAA officials said they've heard that another plane was at the end of the runway, but it is undetermined at this time if it had an impact. 


Schuman said the plane is unable to fly due to damage to its wing, propeller and nose.


Story and video:  http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com




The Federal Aviation Administration reports that a plane made a hard landing at the Kalaupapa Airport on Molokai Saturday morning.

A Makani Kai Air flight from Honolulu was arriving when, at around 8:30 a.m., the front landing gear on the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan collapsed due to the hard impact of the landing.

The plane then went off the runway.

Nine people were on board, including a hospital patient, and no critical injuries were reported.

The state Dept. of Transportation reports that the plane was removed around 3 p.m.

The FAA did tell us that there was another plane on the runway at the time of the Makani Kai Air hard landing — a Cessna 172 — but couldn’t confirm if it was in any way involved.

“I seen the plane on the runway, the wheels were damaged,” said Shannon Kalani Aliiloa Crivello. “The park rangers were there already, escorting people off of the plane.

“As far as the patient, yeah, we helped the patient,” he said. “That was our main job, other than the staff took the patient in and the tourists and some of the visitors were fine.”

Because of the small size of the runway, no flights were able to leave or land in Kalaupapa. Its length is under 3,000 feet.

“It’s a two-direction runway,” said George Hanzawa of George’s Aviation. “You don’t have any error for crosswind landings. You have to make sure your runways are set properly and ready to go when you are coming in. You got to really think about it because there is no other crossing runway that you can use.”

As for the other Cessna that was in the area, a witness who wished to remain anonymous told us that that plane landed on the runway shortly before the Makani Kai aircraft hit the runway and lost control.

Hanzawa says when it comes to the runway at Kalaupapa, it’s up to the pilots to communicate when they are landing.

“There is no controller at Kalaupapa. The pilots are talking among themselves, on a discreet frequency, so they are in communication,” he said. “So when a pilot is approaching to land, they make their calls, letting them know what their intention is.”

Story and video:  http://khon2.com

Piper PA-28-151, N43503: Accident occurred July 01, 2015 near Twin County Airport (KHLX), Galax Hillsville, Virginia

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

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charleston, West Virginia 

http://registry.faa.gov/N43503

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA257
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 01, 2015 in Galax Hillsville, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/13/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA28, registration: N43503
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

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

The commercial pilot was conducting a cross-country personal flight and reported that the airplane was on the final approach leg of the traffic pattern when it impacted terrain short of the runway. The pilot stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation; however, he could not recall what occurred just before or during the accident sequence. The pilot-rated passenger noted that the airplane was low during the final approach and that he put his hand on the pilot’s hand to add power but that the airplane impacted the ground about that time. 

Although the pilot indicated that he believed that the airplane might have descended due to a microburst, he noted that it was not raining at the time of the accident. Further, there was no evidence of any microburst activity within 10 miles of the accident site about the time of the accident and no indications of any outflow boundary or gust front.

An airplane performance study using GPS and reported wind data revealed that the pilot was slowing the airplane while on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, and that, while turning onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern, he continued slowing it while turning onto the base and final legs of the traffic pattern. While on the final approach leg of the traffic pattern, he allowed the airplane to slow to near the stall speed. It is likely that the airplane exceeded its critical angle-of-attack during the turn at low airspeed, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and the airplane’s subsequent impact with terrain short of the runway.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed while turning onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern, which led to the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 1, 2015, about 1704 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-151, N43503, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while on approach to Twin Country Airport (HLX), Galax Hillsville, Virginia. The commercial pilot sustained a minor injury and the pilot-rated passenger was not injured. The airplane was privately owned and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from New River Valley Airport, Dublin, Virginia, about 1643, and was destined for HLX.

The pilot stated that after takeoff he flew towards HLX, and the wind direction favored landing on runway 19. He entered a midfield left downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 19, and when the airplane was "abeam the numbers," he lowered the flaps to the first notch (10 degrees), went full rich on the mixture control, and descended 300 feet, but did not turn on carburetor heat. He turned onto the base leg and then onto a short final approach leg for landing. The airplane was 500 feet above ground level (agl) at an airspeed of 80 mph, and the next thing he knew they were on the ground. He indicated the engine was "running OK," and that it did not sputter or experience any type of power loss. He believed the airplane may have descended due to a microburst, and when asked if there was a rain shower nearby, he reported "no." He also indicated that when the airplane was low to the ground, the passenger put his hand on top of his, which was on the throttle control and added full power, but it was too late. He was asked if he stalled the airplane and reported that he did not. On the NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report form submitted by the pilot, he indicated there was no mechanical failure or malfunction with the airplane.

The pilot-rated passenger indicated that the pilot listened to the automated weather observing system (AWOS) prior to entering the traffic pattern and the winds were variable across the runway at 7 to10 mph. He indicated that the pilot entered the traffic pattern for runway 01 at 3,400 feet mean sea level (msl) at an airspeed of 100 mph. The pilot then decided to fly across midfield to look at the windsock and elected to land on runway 19. The passenger indicated all seemed normal except for being lower than the traffic pattern altitude, but later reported that was typical for the pilot since he was a bush pilot in Alaska. The passenger became preoccupied with an I-pad as the flight continued, and noticed a drop in engine rpm as the pilot was turning onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern. He looked up and saw terrain but did not see the runway. He looked quickly at the gauges and saw no irregularity and instantly grabbed the pilot's hand and pushed the throttle. He indicated that at almost the same time he felt a tremendous impact force. He and the pilot then exited the airplane after it came to rest.

A witness reported seeing the airplane fly over the runway at midfield in a steeper than normal left bank; the witness estimated the altitude to be between 200 and 250 feet agl. About 1 minute later, the same witness was notified by an individual that the airplane may have crashed.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

An AWOS report taken at the accident airport at 1655, indicated the wind was from 240 degrees at 7 knots, the visibility was 10 statute miles and broken clouds existed at 4,800, 5,000, and 11,000 feet agl. The temperature and dew point were 25 and 16 degrees Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.00 inches of mercury. The AWOS observation did not detect any significant precipitation during the period. There was no indication of microburst activity (dry or wet) within 10 miles of the accident site, and no outflow boundaries were identified in the vicinity of the accident site.

The Roanoke/Blacksburg (RNK) morning and afternoon upper air soundings surrounding the period were also reviewed. The 1900 sounding depicted a destabilizing atmosphere with a Lifted Index of -3 and supported scattered thunderstorms and rain shower development during the afternoon period. The estimated cloud base was near 4,000 feet agl. Both soundings showed a light low-level wind shear environment below 800 feet agl with an approximately 15 knots shear.

There were no pilot reports of low-level wind shear, but there was a report of moderate turbulence at 7,000 feet.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

GPS Data

The airplane was equipped with a portable Garmin 396 GPS receiver, and although the pilot indicated he was not using it, the GPS receiver was retained and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for read-out. The unit was downloaded and found to contain data covering the entire flight. Review of a plot of the GPS data points revealed the airplane proceeded to the destination airport and flew across the runway, then turned to the left and flew in a northerly direction east of the runway consistent with a downwind leg. While on the downwind leg of the traffic between 1703:07 and 1703:34, the groundspeed slowed from 80 knots to 65 knots, or approximately 75 mph. The data indicated that the airplane turned onto the base leg of the traffic pattern and climbed slightly to 2,831 feet GPS altitude, or about 190 feet above the runway elevation, then turned onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern. It then descended to 2,618 feet (near ground level) and slowed to 62 knots groundspeed, or about 71 mph. The last data point with a valid groundspeed of 62 knots was at 1703:53; the airplane at that time was located about 470 feet from the approach end of runway 19.

Weight Information

Weight calculations were performed using the latest empty weight of the airplane provided by the pilot/owner (1477.2 pounds), and the weights of the pilot and pilot-rated passenger per their last medical examination of 174 and 261 pounds, respectively. The calculations also included the estimated fuel burn for the 21 minute flight subtracted from the full usable fuel load at takeoff, which resulted in a useable fuel load of approximately 272 pounds. The calculation indicated that at the time of the accident, the airplane gross weight was about 2,184 pounds.

Stall Speed Information

According to the Pilot's Operating Manual (POM), based on the airplane's calculated weight at the time of the accident, the approximate power-off stall speed with no bank and flaps retracted was approximately 64 mph. The POM did not specify the stall speed at any flap setting other than retracted or fully extended.

Performance Study

According to the NTSB Performance Study which utilized data from the GPS receiver, and winds aloft of 7 knots from 240 degrees, the airplane was slowing on the downwind leg of the approach. At the last point before the airplane's turn onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern, its equivalent airspeed with the winds was 65 mph. The next two calculated airspeeds showed the airplane continuing to slow through the turn. Based on the radius of turn between the downwind and final legs of the traffic pattern using 65 mph, the necessary bank angle was calculated to be about 27 degrees. Extrapolating stall speed based on a bank angle of 27 degrees resulted in 69 mph for flaps up and 62 mph for flaps down. The study indicated that the accident airplane was lighter than gross weight; therefore, the stall speed was estimated to be 2 to 3 mph slower (67 and 60 mph), respectively.