Saturday, April 25, 2020

Piper PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior, N33005: Accident occurred April 25, 2020 at East Hampton Airport (KHTO), Suffolk County, New York

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: East Hampton, NY
Accident Number: ERA20LA163
Date & Time: 04/25/2020, 1340 EDT
Registration: N33005
Aircraft: Piper PA28
Injuries:3 None 
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On April 25, 2020, about 1340 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-151, N33005, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near East Hampton Airport (HTO), East Hampton, New York. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, they departed Igor I Sikorsky Memorial Airport (BDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut about 1045. He landed at HTO about 1115 and parked the airplane. He subsequently returned to the airplane with the passengers about 1315. The pilot then reviewed the weather and performed a preflight inspection of the airplane with no anomalies noted.

The pilot started the engine and taxied to the delta intersection of runway 28, where he performed the engine run-up procedure and configured the airplane for takeoff. During the takeoff roll, the oil pressure was good, and the engine was running normally, but after rotation during the climb, the pilot noticed a vibration and diminished engine power, though the throttle was in the full throttle position. At 400 or 500 ft mean seal level (msl), the engine began sputtering. The pilot made a 180° turn to the right and entered the right downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 28 at an altitude of 300 to 400 ft msl.

As the airplane proceeded on the downwind, the engine continued to sputter and then incurred a total loss of power. The airplane descended and the pilot made a right turn toward runway 10, reduced the throttle to the idle position, pitched to 73 mph (best glide speed), and checked that the electric fuel pump, master switch, and magnetos were on. The airplane touched down about 3/4 down the runway, went off the end, through a deer fence and came to rest in a field.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage. The propeller displayed scratches on the leading edges of both blades with no curling of the blade tips. No visible damage was present in the engine compartment. No oil or fuel leaks were noted. Engine oil on the dipstick showed the correct level and appeared clean. Examination of the throttle, mixture and carburetor heat controls revealed that they were intact, displayed correct movement, and no evidence of binding. The left wing and right wing fuel tanks were sampled, and no debris or water contamination was visible. Examination of the fuel strainer showed no debris or water, and fuel was present in both wing tanks with the fuel quantities at a level just below the tabs. The drive train was rotated by turning the propeller and compression was evident on all four cylinders.

After the examination, the fuel selector was turned on, the engine was primed using the electric fuel pump and started. The engine was first idled at 1,200 rpm, and then power was increased to 1,500 rpm. The engine ran normally, and no vibrations or sputtering were noted. After 8 minutes, the engine was shut down.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:Piper 
Registration: N33005
Model/Series: PA28 151
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: HTO, 55 ft msl
Observation Time: 1355 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / -3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots / , 160°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.08 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: East Hampton, NY (HTO)
Destination: Bridgeport, CT (BDR) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 40.959444, -72.251667 (est)

A small plane that had just taken off from the airport in East Hampton experienced engine trouble and the pilot turned the plane around, landed, and crashed off the runway Saturday afternoon. While the plane was damaged, the pilot and her two passengers were not hurt, officials said.

The Piper PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior had just departed runway 28 and was about 400 feet up in the air when it made a sharp turn, according to Justin Ricks, a pilot who witnessed the April 25 incident. On Saturday evening, he said that he and three other former Sound Aircraft Services employees were riding their motorcycles and made a pit stop at the airport when they noticed the plane turn 180 degrees.

“We call that the impossible turn — it’s a real hard one to make at that altitude,” Ricks said. They knew the maneuver meant the plane had lost power and the pilot was trying to land the plane, though they did not hear the engine fail. “The pilot maneuvered excellently.”

The pilot, who he declined to name and whose name officials have not yet released, landed the plane on runway 10, and it went off the runway and crashed through a fence.

“She made an emergency return and she did exactly all the right things to make it back,” Ricks said. “Her aviation ability was beyond question.”

The plane traveled across Daniels Hole Road in Wainscott and came to rest in the field across from the airport. The crash was reported at about 1:50 PM.

Ricks and his friends Michael Norbeck, Matthew Conrad, and Matthew Monk all drove over to the field where the plane came to rest. The plane was “banged up,” but Ricks said the pilot and her two passengers were not injured.

Those involved in the incident were able to get out of the plane on their own, though there was substantial damage to the wings and fuselage, East Hampton Fire Department Chief Gerard Turza Jr. said. The three women were checked by East Hampton Village Ambulance Association personnel, but refused medical attention.

Firefighters helped to secure the plane. They ran through a checklist to ensure there were no fuel leaks and that the electric power was turned off, which the pilot had already done. Turza said she was “very skilled and very knowledgeable.”

The fire department also stood by as airport personnel towed the plane back to the airport. It will be examined by the Federal Aviation Administration, which will investigate the cause of the accident, a normal procedure. Jim Brundige, the airport’s manager, who was reached earlier on Saturday afternoon, said the airport will put together an official report.

Daniels Hole Road, which was closed for about an hour, was reopened after the plane was towed.

A small plane overshot the end of a runway at East Hampton Airport on Saturday afternoon, knocking down a section of fence and crossing a road. There were no reports of injuries.

Howard Sherman of East Hampton said he had been on his way to buy gas, driving south on Daniels Hole Road, when he noticed the plane.

"I was intrigued and stopped.  As I got out of my car and started taking pictures, a guy on his bike started to ride by, I asked if he knew what had happened, and he said somebody overshot the runway and went through the fence, but nobody was hurt," he said.

The aircraft appeared to have suffered minor damage on its undercarriage, he said. "There was no indication of anything burning, everything seemed fine," Mr. Sherman said. "The pilot kept her wits about her."

An East Hampton Fire Department crash truck kept at the airport was summoned as a precaution.


  1. “The pilot maneuvered excellently.”
    “Her aviation ability was beyond question,”
    “very skilled and very knowledgeable.”

    What's up with all the glowing comments about how this pilot? Was it because she was a female? I've never read such gushing comments about any other pilot regarding an incident here.

    1. Only if it's a female or a 'celebrity'....

    2. Then you must not read much. I've seen several. No need to get all bent out of shape because someone is saying something nice about a female pilot.

    3. They have establish facts about the incident. If the plane ran off runway,I would guess there was plenty of altitude to allow to land at proper speed. There would a tail wind to benefit the return, have a greater ground speed.

  2. >[His] training performance as very good
    >had excellent stick and rudder skills and was an above average student who learned in various airplane types and was able to handle them all.
    >He also exhibited good decision making and judgement.

    Those above were said about Roy Halladay.

    Little to do with being a female - people tend to say good things about pilots even after they objectively do bad things.

  3. Lot's of folks die every year attempting this kind of maneuver. Will be interesting to hear if she was really at 400 ft. I still think it's safer to land straight ahead unless you're above 1,000 ft. Just because she got lucky doesn't mean the next pilot will.

  4. Landing safely is a welcome story compared to reading about a triple fatality crash. Was the motorcycle riding pilot who was nearby and saw the landing too exuberant in his praise? He had just watched someone beat the odds and walk away, with the piper still able to roll on its wheels afterwards. As a pilot himself, he could say she did it right.

    The Fire chief's comment about skill and knowledge are no surprise. You can bet he did not expect to find the situation had turned out so well when the call came in. He interacted with someone who had pulled off the safe emergency landing, not a party girl who ran off the road and hit a tree after a hard night on the town. Of course he had good things to say.

  5. We had a turbine powered Bonanza lose power on takeoff about 70-100 feet in the air, prop feathered and I thought for sure I was going to witness a fatal crash. The pilot got it down on the airport property and although the aircraft was pretty much destroyed, they both walked away unharmed. I couldn't say enough good things about his skill in handling this emergency!!

  6. Now that's a pilot in command! Well done.

  7. We can't say whether performing a 180 back to the airport while at low altitude was the best choice in this instance. It turns out she did not have enough altitude and distance from the airport to fully land on the runway. However, the fact that she did not stall the aircraft and ultimately performed a landing without injuries is a testament to her abilities and decision making. Too often we hear of fatal stall accidents during attempted sharp returns to the airport.

    1. She didn't come up short, it says she ran off the end of the runway. Looking at a satellite map, , it would appear she took off to the west, made a 180 back to the east, and ran off the runway, going thru the fence on the east side of the airport. The plane ended up on the east side of the road, more than 500 feet off the end of the runway.

  8. When your log book shows an equal number of takeoffs and landings, you've done well. Good for her.

  9. She and the airplane will fly again...guess that's what really matters.
    Reminds me of when I was 17 and Dad handed me his primo C-172 keys and said.. "son, we can always replace an airplane but we cant replace you."
    but he went on to say..."I really like that airplane"
    I took that as don't do anything stupid to put yourself in a position to wreck his bird.

  10. 'The Impossible Turn' worked out fine for the pilot this time, but I would say to not make a habit of it.