Monday, January 27, 2020

Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six, N55455: Fatal accident occurred January 25, 2020 near Cannon Creek Airpark (15FL), Lake City, Columbia County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida
Lycoming; Williamsburg, Pennsylvania
Piper; Vero Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Lake City, FL
Accident Number: ERA20FA085
Date & Time: 01/25/2020, 0930 EST
Registration: N55455
Aircraft: Piper PA32
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On January 25, 2020, at 0930 eastern standard time, a Piper PA32-260, N55455, was destroyed when it impacted terrain and a house after takeoff from Cannon Creek Airpark (15FL), Lake City, Florida. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight destined for Walk-Air Airport (38XA), Tyler Texas.

A witness stated that the pilot flew to 15FL from 38XA the weekend before the accident. At that time, the pilot said the engine "cut-out" on short final; however, after landing, the pilot performed an engine run-up which was normal. The pilot and the witness subsequently opened the engine cowling and observed an oil leak. The pilot contacted a local mechanic to fix the oil leak. A couple days later, the pilot ran the engine and no oil leaks were noted. The night before the accident flight, the accident pilot and the witness taxied the airplane to the fuel tank and topped off the wing tanks, and left wing tip tank but they did not put fuel in the right wing tip tank because it had a fuel leak.

The next morning, the witness and pilot performed a preflight inspection of the airplane and no anomalies were noted. The witness watched the airplane take off from runway 36 and noticed that the pilot "turned hard left" after the airplane cleared the trees, which was earlier than normal. The witness returned to his vehicle and was getting ready to leave when he heard a loud bang and then saw smoke. He drove over to the smoke and saw that the airplane was completely engulfed in flames.

The airplane came to rest on the side of a house in a subdivision on the west side of the airport on a heading of 215°. A postaccident fire consumed the airplane, and only the tail section remained intact and undamaged by fire. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. Control cable continuity was confirmed to the respective controls. The cockpit, instrument panel, firewall, fuselage, and wings were all destroyed by the fire.

The engine accessory case was consumed by fire; the magnetos, fuel pump, carburetor, vacuum pump, and oil filter were destroyed. The engine crankcase and cylinders were intact. The top spark plugs were removed, and a lighted borescope was used to examine the cylinder walls, exhaust, intake valves and piston heads. No anomalies were noted. The engine was rotated by hand and thumb compression was established on all cylinders. Valve train continuity was established throughout the engine by observing movement of the rocker arms and rear accessory case gears.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The pilot was issued an FAA third class medical certificate on March 20, 2019. She reported 172.5 hours of total flight experience at that time.

The 0953 recorded weather observation at Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), Gainesville, Florida, which was located about 35 miles south east of the accident site, included wind 330° at 7 knots, clear skies, and visibility 10 statute miles. The temperature was 13° C, the dew point was 7° C; and the altimeter setting was 30.18 inches of mercury.

The airplane was retained for further investigation. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N55455
Model/Series: PA32 260
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KGNV, 123 ft msl
Observation Time: 1453 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 35 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 7°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 330°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Lake City, FL (15FL)
Destination: Tyler, TX (38XA)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 30.156944, -82.669167

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 

Salena Short

The pilot of a single-engine plane is dead after crashing into a home on Inwood Court in the Creekside subdivision Saturday morning. The occupants of the home, a woman and her 7-year-old son, were unhurt.

The pilot was Salena Short, according to Bill Jennings, who purchased a home in the Cannon Creek Airpark about three months ago. Short was visiting Jennings from Texas. Jennings said Short's family had been notified of her death.

"In November, Salena sold me a gyrocopter," Jennings said. "We've been friends ever since." 

Shortly after 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Short took off in a single-engine plane from the airpark, crashing into the home of Shane Renee Thomson not long after being airborne. Thomson and her son Ethan, 7, escaped injury. 

Short, who was 61 years old, had flown into Lake City on Tuesday and was returning to her home in Tyler, Texas, on Saturday when she crashed. On Friday, her plane had undergone some maintenance, mainly to clean out its rocker covers; however, the plane was otherwise sound, Jennings said.

Short had a childhood love of flying and when she started dating her future husband, Gary Buster, a pilot himself, she got to experience flying in small planes first hand. It wouldn't be long before she would be piloting planes herself. 

Buster died of a heart attack in July 2018 while visiting London, less than two months after he and Short married. Short used flying to cope with the loss. 

"Oh how I’ve missed flying, truly the best therapy ever for me," she wrote in a Facebook post in November.

Murray Smith, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office public information officer, was at the scene of the crash. He told the Reporter that the National Transportation Safety Board, out of Cocoa Beach, would be leading the investigation, with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration out of Orlando. The Florida Highway Patrol will also be part of the investigation because the wreckage partly littered a public road. The NTSB arrived on the scene within hours of the accident.

Rhonda and Jack Russell of Lake City were on their way to the home of Thomson, their daughter, to pick up Ethan for a basketball game at Parkview Baptist Saturday morning when they got word a plane had crashed into the house.

“Our daughter said a plane had just hit their house,” Rhonda said at the scene about a half-hour after the crash. “We didn’t know what to expect.”

They got there a few minutes later to find their daughter and grandson outside and unharmed.

“It is a miracle,” Rhonda said.

Shane Renee was standing by the front window of the home when the plane struck and Ethan was playing his keyboard just a few feet away.

“Then all of the sudden it hit,” Rhonda said. “She saw a flash of orange as it exploded.”

The plane struck the roof above a bay window on the front of the home in an apparent glancing blow then disintegrated and burned. 

Shane Renee and Ethan escaped through the garage. “There were flames but they ducked down and got out,” Rhonda said.

On the way out they grabbed Ethan’s toy Chewbacca of Star Wars fame from the laundry room.

“It stunk of smoke,” Rhonda said. “We’re going to get him a new one.”

Shane Renee is upset and Ethan is “pretty scared,” Jack Russell said. “It’s almost like he’s in shock.”

Jack and Rhonda were grateful their daughter and grandson were safe, but their hearts went out to the family of the pilot.

“It’s an awful thing,” Jack said. 

The Red Cross is poised to offer aid to Shane Renee and Ethan but Rhonda said she and Jack were there to take care of them.

Along with all their neighbors.

“They have wonderful neighbors here,” Rhonda said.

The home is damaged with a hole in the roof but appears structurally intact from the outside.

Original article ➤

1 comment:

  1. Clean out rocker covers??? That raises a few questions.

    Sad loss.