Sunday, January 26, 2020

Loss of Control in Flight: Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N4511Y; fatal accident occurred March 11, 2018 near Daybreak Airport (WA46), La Center, Clark County, Washington

Mary Rosenblum

Airplane wreckage.
National Transportation Safety Board

Satellite View.
National Transportation Safety Board

First point of impact and main wreckage (satellite view).
National Transportation Safety Board

First point of contact and the wreckage.
National Transportation Safety Board

First point of contact – Broken tree limbs.
National Transportation Safety Board

Right wing.
National Transportation Safety Board

Impact damage on the left wing.
National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Hillsboro, Oregon
Lycoming; Milliken, Colorado 
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: La Center, WA
Accident Number: WPR18FA104
Date & Time: 03/11/2018, 1257 PDT
Registration: N4511Y
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 11, 2018, about 1257 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-18-150, N4511Y, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Daybreak Airport (WA46), La Center, Washington. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Flying M Airport (OR05), Yamhill, Oregon, at 1030.

Earlier that morning, the accident pilot met with another pilot and they decided to fly around the local area as a flight of two. After departing OR05, they proceeded north and landed at Woodland State Airport (W27), Woodland, Washington. On the way to their respective home airports, they decided to fly to WA46 to conduct touch-and-go takeoffs and landings. The other pilot stated that the accident pilot departed W27 first, but when the other pilot arrived at WA46, he did not see the accident airplane in the traffic pattern. He then circled above WA46 and saw the wreckage in a wooded area near the approach end of runway 31.

A witness at WA46 stated that he saw the accident airplane climbing about 150 ft above runway 31. Near the north end of the airport, the airplane started a "low" left turn to the south. The witness estimated that the airplane leveled off about 250 ft and continued out of sight. Moments later, he heard a series of three loud bangs, followed by the sound of a full-power engine, then another loud bang followed by "an abrupt stoppage of all sound."

Review of recorded data obtained from an Appareo Stratus PRX V2 onboard the airplane revealed that the airplane departed W27 about 1250 and flew southeast while climbing to about 450 ft GPS altitude. About 1255:30, the airplane had descended to about 200 ft and entered the left downwind leg of the WA46 traffic pattern. The airplane overflew the grass runway from south to north then turned onto a left downwind leg for the runway. The airplane started to slow from 50 kts at 1256:39 and banked up to 25° right before entering the dramatic left bank. The last recorded data point was at 1256:47 and showed the airplane at a GPS altitude of 130 ft, a groundspeed of 11 knots, a pitch angle of 8°, and a left bank angle of 105°. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 65, Female
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:Yes 
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/09/2017
Occupational Pilot:No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 1053 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot was issued a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class airman medical certificate on February 9, 2017, with the limitation, "must have available glasses for near vision." On the application for that medical certificate, the pilot reported 1,503 total hours of flight experience, 51 hours of which were in the previous 6 months.

Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that, as of the last entry dated July 31, 2017, the pilot had accumulated a total of 1,024.7 hours of flight experience.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N4511Y
Model/Series: PA 18-150 150
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1971
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18-8932
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/21/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1150.49 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed
Engine Model/Series: O-320 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 150 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The two-seat Piper PA-18-150, serial number (s/n) 18-8983, was manufactured in 1971 and equipped with a Lycoming O-320-A2B engine, s/n L-29519-27A, which drove a fixed-pitch, two bladed McCauley propeller.

According to the airplane maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on June 21, 2017, at an engine and airframe total time of 1,150.49 hours.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSPB, 30 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1253 PDT
Direction from Accident Site: 250°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts:
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Yamhill, OR (OR05)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Yamhill, OR (OR05)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1030 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

An automated observation recorded about 2 minutes before the accident at Scappoose Industrial Airpark (SPB), Scappoose, Oregon, located about 10 nautical miles west of the accident site, included calm wind; temperature 16°C; dew point 1°C; no clouds and no restrictions on vertical visibility; and altimeter 30.16 inches of mercury.

Airport Information

Airport: Daybreak (WA46)
Runway Surface Type:Dirt 
Airport Elevation: 25 ft
Runway Surface Condition:Dry 
Runway Used: 31
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2200 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Touch and Go 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 45.830278, -122.637500 (est) 

The wreckage was located about 530 ft from the approach end of runway 31 on a 228° bearing from the runway. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) consisted of several broken limbs at the top of a 140-ft-tall tree. A piece of the left wing landing light lens was found underneath the tree. A debris path of broken tree limbs continued on a heading about 120° to the main wreckage, which came to rest about 142 ft from the FIPC and was oriented on a heading of 270°.

The airplane impacted terrain in a nose-down attitude. The propeller hub and one blade were imbedded about 2 ft in the ground. Both blades remained attached to the hub. The fuselage came to rest on its right side and exhibited twisting throughout. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage and was bent upward. The vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, rudder, and elevators remained intact and were undamaged. Both wings and the fixed main landing gear remained attached to the fuselage. The cockpit area with the instrument panel was crushed and displaced forward into the firewall.

The propeller remained attached to the engine. The crankshaft was rotated by hand and thumb compression was obtained on all cylinders. Engine drive train continuity was established throughout. Both magnetos were rotated by hand and spark was observed at all ignition leads. The oil pickup screen was clear of debris. The carburetor was intact and remained attached to the engine. The throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat cables remained attached. The carburetor was disassembled, and no anomalies were noted.

There was no evidence of pre-impact mechanical anomalies or malfunctions of the engine or the airframe. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Clark County Medical Examiner, Vancouver, Washington. The autopsy report stated that the pilot's cause of death was "multiple blunt impact injuries."

The FAA's Forensic Sciences Laboratory conducted toxicology tests on specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for all tests performed.

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