Friday, April 12, 2019

Piper PA-28R-201 Cherokee Arrow III, registered to the Westchester Flying Club and operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, N38658: Accident occurred April 11, 2019 near Meriden Markham Municipal Airport (KMMK), New Haven County, Connecticut

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Enfield, Connecticut

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Meriden, CT
Accident Number: ERA19LA149
Date & Time: 04/11/2019, 1854 EDT
Registration: N38658
Aircraft: Piper PA28R
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 11, 2019, at 1854 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA28R-201, N38658, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in Meriden, Connecticut. Both the private pilot and pilot-rated passenger were seriously injured. The airplane was registered to the Westchester Flying Club and operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated from Meriden Markham Municipal Airport (MMK), Meriden, Connecticut at 1850.

The pilot reported that he intended to fly in the airport traffic pattern after routine maintenance "to see how the plane was working." He checked the fuel level during his preflight inspection of the airplane and noted that the fuel was "to the tabs." After completing an engine runup, he departed runway 18 at MMK. He extended the downwind leg to allow time for another airplane in the traffic pattern. After reaching an altitude of about 500 ft above ground level on the base leg, he attempted to add power to maintain altitude. The engine did not respond, and he then noticed the RPM was decreasing. When he determined that he would not reach the runway, he attempted a forced landing on a baseball field. During the approach, the airplane impacted power lines which caused the airplane to "rotate straight up" and then fall tail-first to the ground.

A private pilot witness who lived under the MMK traffic pattern observed the accident airplane from his front yard. He lost sight of the airplane on its downwind leg when it passed behind his house. It was at that time that he heard the engine RPM increase, a "pop" and then the sound of decreasing RPM. The airplane came back into view as it turned to the base leg. The witness stated that the airplane appeared to be too low and descending too quickly, and he heard no engine sound. He watched the airplane strike the power lines and heard several loud "booms" as the wires shorted out.

Initial examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the fuselage aft of the wings and the empennage were impact damaged and crushed forward, and the trailing edges of the both wings were impact damaged in multiple areas. A wire had torn through much of the left wing, and the left fuel tank was fractured and devoid of fuel.

According to FAA airman records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued December 4, 2017, at which time he reported 311 hours of total flight experience.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the airplane was manufactured in 1977. It was equipped with a Lycoming IO-360 series engine that drove a variable-pitch propeller.

The airplane was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N38658
Model/Series: PA28R 201
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Westchester Flying Club Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MMK, 103 ft msl
Observation Time: 1853 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 8°C / -5°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 170°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 9500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.25 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Meriden, CT (MMK)
Destination: Meriden, CT (MMK) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 41.526944, -72.831389 (est)

Meriden police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Fry speaks about the plane crash during a press conference Thursday. 

MERIDEN — Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and state police were on scene Friday at the site of a small plane crash on the grounds of Wilcox Technical High School.

The crash knocked out power to much of the city. Eversource crews worked through the night to restore power and listed no affected customers as of Friday morning.

Meriden police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Fry said the department received a call reporting the crash shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday. Initially two people were trapped inside the small plane, which was tangled in live electrical wires. 

Fry said the two male passengers — one in his 30s and the other in his 50s — sustained non-life-threatening injuries. One was able to get out of the plane on his own. Medical personnel were able to remove the other. 

Both were taken to MidState Medical Center. One was later transported to Hartford Hospital via LifeStar helicopter, Fry said. Police on Friday said their injuries were considered minor.

No one was on the athletic field at the time of the crash. 

“This is about the best-case circumstance you could possibly get in any type of plane crash,” Fry said. 

Wilcox will be closed today, Fry said.

The Federal Aviation Administration was expected to arrive on scene today to investigate, Fry said. He also said it was unclear Thursday night how the crash would affect classes at Wilcox. 

Fry said the occupants told first responders they were practicing a “touch-and-go” maneuver, or touching down and immediately taking off again, when the plane lost power. He said that was “very preliminary, don’t have any evidence to support that.”

It would “make sense” that the pilot would have been using nearby Meriden Markham Municipal Airport.

Eversource reported that as many as 13,366 customers were without power. Area fire departments, including Cheshire and Southington, provided assistance.

City Manager Tim Coon, who also responded to the scene, said Eversource officials told him they expected all power to be restored in short order, but that some areas could experience ongoing issues.

“They anticipate full power restoration in 12 hours,” Coon said.

Firefighters were tied up at several emergencies caused by the power outages in addition to the plane crash.

While no one was on the field at the time of the crash, Fry said first responders did have to direct people who were at the school and in the surrounding neighborhood. In particular, he said they had to direct people away from the wires.

“I don’t think they understood what type of danger they were in at the time,” he said.

Tucker Sperry, who lives on nearby Glen Place, said he was in his backyard when he heard the sound of the plane coming down.

“I was at my house and heard the crash. It sounded like thunder,” he said.

He walked toward Wilcox and could smell fuel. He said the plane came to rest on the baseball field and both wings appeared to be snapped.

Kieara Parker, a senior at Platt High School, also was able to view the plane before being moved back.

“Thank God this didn’t happen while we were in school,” she said.

Original article ➤


  1. Can't believe that anyone survived that crash. The plane looks like it hit the tower then came down tail first. If it would have came down nose first I think we'd be talking about two fatalities. Plane leaking fuel plus live wires could have lit up like a torch. Arrows are fuel injected so we can rule out carb ice as the reason for the power loss.

  2. I'm just astounded that breaking one wire would leave 13366 people without electricity for 12 hours. Does not sound very fault tolerant.

  3. I live less than a half mile from the crash site. The electrical wires above the field are feeders to a large distribution substation just on the other side of the pond that services a good portion of the city and parts of surrounding towns. Most of the power was actually restored in about 2 hours. It does appear that the plane hit the ground tail first. It was fortunate that the ball field was empty. The other likely emergency landing option would have been Hanover Pond.,-72.8313412/@41.5263168,-72.8320896,1281m/data=!3m1!1e3