Thursday, October 31, 2019

Piper PA-32R-301T, N181AG: Fatal accident occurred October 31, 2019 near Barkley Regional Airport (KPAH), Paducah, Kentucky

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. 

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Louisville, Kentucky
Piper; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Location:Paducah, KY
Accident Number: ERA20FA026
Date & Time: 10/31/2019, 1926 CDT
Registration: N181AG
Aircraft: Piper PA32R
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On October 31, 2019, at 1926 central daylight time, a Piper PA32R-301T, N181AG, was destroyed during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power while on approach to the Barkley Regional Airport (PAH), Paducah, Kentucky. The private pilot, who was also the owner of the airplane was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which originated at the Mitchell Municipal Airport (MHE), Mitchell, South Dakota, about 1628, and was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the purpose of the flight was for the pilot to return to PAH, which was his home airport, after a hunting trip. In a telephone interview, a representative from the fixed-base-operator at MHE stated that the accident airplane arrived on November 27, 2019, and he serviced the airplane with 31 gallons of fuel, which filled the tanks. He further commented on the smoothness of the engine as the airplane approached the fuel pumps.

Preliminary radar and voice communication information from FAA air traffic control (ATC) facilities for the accident flight revealed the airplane was receiving flight following services from the Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) and all communications were routine before the ARTCC controller issued a frequency change to the local controller at PAH.

In an interview at the accident site, the local controller said he was familiar with the pilot and the accident airplane. He said that the pilot checked in on the tower frequency and he provided the pilot with the current altimeter, wind, and active runway information. The pilot informed him that he was "lined up" for a straight-in landing to runway 14 which he requested, and the controller approved. The controller advised the airplane was "cleared to land" which the pilot acknowledged. Approximately 1.5 minutes later, the pilot advised, "I've lost power." The controller asked the pilot if he thought the airplane would reach the runway, and the pilot responded, "Yes." Soon after, the pilot advised, "I'm not going to make it, I'm in the trees." There were no further communications from the accident airplane.

The airplane collided with trees and terrain, aligned with runway 14 at PAH, about 1.5 miles prior to the landing threshold.

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 November 13, 2013. The pilot reported 120 total hours of flight experience on that date. Interpolation of FAA and aircraft records revealed the pilot had an estimated 570 total hours of flight experience, of which 450 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the airplane was manufactured in 2006 and was powered by a Lycoming TIO-540-AH1A, 300-horsepower engine. Its most recent annual inspection was completed February 19, 2019 at 1,588.7 total aircraft hours.

The airplane wreckage was examined at the site, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented about a 140° heading and was approximately 100 ft in length. The initial tree strike was about 60 ft above the ground, where the outboard 8 ft of the left wing was observed suspended.

The main wreckage came to rest adjacent to a railbed on approximately a 090° heading. The baggage compartment, cockpit, cabin area, the inboard sections of each wing, and the empennage were consumed by post-crash fire.

The instrument panel and engine control quadrant were consumed by fire. The T-bar assembly exhibited thermal damage but the aileron and stabilator cables remained attached to their respective attachment points on the T-bar assembly. The rudder pedals were thermally damaged, and the rudder control cables remained attached. Flight control continuity was established from the rudder pedal assembly to the rudder. Stabilator control continuity was established from the T-bar to the stabilator. Right aileron control continuity was established from the T-bar to the right aileron bellcrank. Left aileron continuity was established from the T-bar and through overload separations to the left aileron bellcrank. Measurement of the electric flap actuator jackscrew corresponded to a wing flap setting of 40° (full flaps).

The nose landing gear remained attached to the engine mount and was partially extended during recovery. Thermal damage was observed to the nose wheel assembly. The engine cowlings remained attached to their attaching points and exhibited impact and thermal damage. The induction air filter was impact-damaged and the alternate air door was in the "open/alternate air position."

The engine was rotated by hand at the propeller, and continuity was confirmed from the powertrain through the valvetrain to the accessory section. Compression was confirmed on all cylinders using the "thumb" method. Borescope examination of each cylinder revealed signatures consistent with normal wear and lubrication. The magnetos sustained thermal damage. There were removed and rotated by hand, but neither produced spark. The fuel pump was removed, actuated with a drill, and drew and expelled air into the intake port and out of the output port. The fuel inlet screen and the fuel injector nozzles were clear and absent of debris.

The turbocharger was removed, and both the compressor and exhaust impellers rotated freely and displayed no visible damage.

The fuel lines were consumed by fire and the fuel selector valve exhibited thermal damage. The fuel selector control lever was observed near the right fuel tank position. However, examination of the fuel selector valve revealed the selector plate was out of the detent and not fully seated in the right fuel tank position. The fuel selector valve's bowl was thermally damaged, and its filters were consumed by fire. Further examination of the selector valve revealed its lever was seized in position. Upon disassembly, the selector plate indicated an intermediate selector valve position.. During disassembly, when the selector valve could be rotated and was placed in the left or right fuel tank position detent, it was noted that the associated ports were unobstructed.

At 1853, the weather recorded at PAH included winds from 250° at 3 knots, clear skies, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature was 0°C, dew point -3°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.27 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N181AG
Model/Series: PA32R 301T
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Cloud Hugger Transportation Llc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAH, 410 ft msl
Observation Time: 2353 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 0°C / -3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 250°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.27 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Mitchell, SD (MHE)
Destination: Paducah, KY (PAH)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 37.103333, -88.817222 (est)

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

Dr. Clint Hill, MD

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Kentucky — In the crisp, cool fall air, there was a somber silence along the railroad tracks on Metropolis Lake Road on Friday as investigators continued working to figure out what caused Dr. Clint Hill's plane to crash the night before. 

Hill's plane took off from Mitchell South Dakota around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, and it was last seen that night around 7:20 p.m. near Paducah. It crashed near railroad tracks several miles away from Barkley Regional Airport. Hill died in the crash.

"Just a tragic event," McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter said.

Carter and his deputies are working with federal investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to find out what happened. He said at this point it's too early to know what caused the crash. It's a case that's tough to deal with.

"We just ask that the community keep this family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult and tragic time," Carter said.

Hill was very well known throughout the Local 6 region. He was a spinal surgeon at the Orthopedic Institute of Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky. Friends and family are heartbroken that Hill is gone.

"He was just a good man who did good work," Orthopedic Institute CEO Greg Thompson said.

Thompson knew Hill well. He said anyone who knew Hill felt a personal connection to him.

"If you got to meet Dr. Hill, you had a story, because that man left you with some sort of impression that you would never forget. That's the type of person he was," Thompson said.

Thompson said there will never be another Dr. Hill.

"He was a unique individual that this region will never be able to replace," Thompson said.

In addition to Hill's medical background, he was also a NASCAR pit-crew member for four years, and served in the Army National Guard for nine years. Hill leaves behind a wife and five children.

Original article can be found here ➤

PADUCAH — One person was killed when a plane crashed near Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah Thursday night. 

Airport Authority Board Chair George Bray confirmed a plane went down off of runway 14. 

The plane crashed near railroad tracks in a wooded area, which McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter says is just south of Woodville Road and west of Metropolis Lake Road. 

A firefighter at the scene told Local 6 the pilot of a plane died in the crash. 

Carter confirms that the pilot was killed, and says there was only one person in the plane. He says investigators are working to identify the pilot and notify the family. 

Barkley Regional Airport Manager Dennis Rouleau says the plane is a general aviation aircraft, not a commercial plane. He says the craft went down north of the airfield.

The plane is a Piper PA-32R Saratoga, which is a small, single-engine aircraft. Airport Marketing Director Eddie Grant says the plane was on final approach to the airport when it crashed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration have been alerted about the crash and will assist local authorities in the ongoing investigation. 

Grant says the airport is still open and operational, and commercial flights are continuing as scheduled. 

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Makes no sense that a wealthy spine surgeon would be flying a Piper!

  2. Not all doctors are wealthy and some like to fly! RIP

  3. I knew Clint and worked with him professionally for several years. He was amazingly talented and intelligent. I am a commercial rated pilot and he and I discussed aviation frequently. He appeared to be a good stick to me. Really Sad! He will be greatly missed!

  4. Orthopedic spine surgeons are, generally speaking, quite wealthy but planes are expensive and unfortunately also deadly in this tragic case.

  5. "On July 16, 1999, about 2141 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-301, Saratoga II, N9253N, was destroyed when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean approximately 7 1/2 miles southwest of Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts."

    Same model as JFK Jr. JFK Jr. was pretty wealthy.

  6. N181AG Flight Activity History
    No History Data (searched last 3 months)

  7. I guess if you are wealthy, you could be flying a more modern capable aircraft

  8. And bad things can still happen . . .

  9. Wealth has nothing to do with this. Plus any house in Amercia is now worth several times what a plane is.... most boats are also more expensive.
    Having a kid is 10X as expensive too.
    And if you have cancer... kiss millions of $$$ bye bye with the for profit healthcare system.

    Still bewilders me how many off the street jackasses assume everyone who flies is a gazillionaire. My Taylorcraft costed me 15k to buy and I run it on mogas at $10 an hour ($3 per gal at 3 gal per hour!).

    Meanwhile my neighbor who owns a boat kisses 1-2k bye bye everytime he takes his glitter barge out to sea.

  10. Flightaware shows 17 flights since August 7. Comment above about no flight history is inaccurate. Beechtalk shows screenshot of track and link.

    2006 Piper Saratoga - turbocharged retractable sold for about $575K new and there are several for sale now for $350K - $400K. It is a high performance single with service ceiling of 20,000 ft. which has the capability to get a pilot into instrument conditions rather quickly.

    The pilot was not Instrument Rated and his 3rd Class Medical expired in 11/2016 according to the FAA Airman Database. I wonder if Pierce Nunley (comments above) was aware.

  11. For what it is worth, the pilot announced "MAYDAY MAYDAY .... ENGINE PROBLEMS" right before the crash. No emergency declaration was given to any controller or ATC person.

  12. Where was it reported that the pilot made a "mayday-engine problem" announcement? Is there an ATC or tower recording? If it was not given to ATC or the tower controller, then who received this announcement? The definition of "mayday" means declaring a life threating emergency. How could he declare "mayday" yet not declare an emergency? Please clear this up.

  13. It will come out that he made a distress call announcing mayday mayday -engine problem. This was heard over the CTAF and reported to NTSB. He wasn't on a filed flight plan so he wasn't talking to ATC and hence didn't declare an official emergency. This is info from the family.

  14. The tower at KPAH was open at 7:20 PM when he was approaching the airport. There is no "CTAF" at that time because the CTAF frequency (one way common transmissions used when the tower is closed after 11 PM), 119.6, is the same as the tower frequency, 119.6, used during the day and evening. If he made a mayday call (declared emergency) then it was on the active tower frequency to the controller and recorded. Furthermore, even if he didn't file a flight plan, he still was supposed to talk to the tower at Barkley Regional while on approach before entering the airspace and landing.

  15. So according to the Prelim was this fuel starvation secondary to a poorly positioned fuel switch ?? #NotAPilot