Sunday, August 09, 2020

Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six, N4079R: Accident occurred July 05, 2020 near Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport (KEVM), Minnesota

St. Louis County Rescue Squad

Prior to clearing the scene and moments before the heavens opened in a tempest of rain and thunder, Rick (center) leads the group in a quick debrief following the July 5th aircraft crash near Eveleth, Minnesota. In a magnificent piece of dead-stick flying, the pilot brought his aircraft down slowly and (relatively) softly into a spruce bog, enabling him and his wife to walk away with minor injuries. The aircraft, unfortunately, was consumed in a post-crash fire. Twenty-two (22) squad-members and nearly a score of other agencies participated in the July 5th operation.

St. Louis County Rescue Squad

South Marsh Master arrives with one of two survivors of a plane crash on July 5th deep in a spruce bog in Fayal Township southeast of Eveleth, Minnesota. A lot of agencies put forth herculean effort to make this operation a tremendous success. At the risk of missing someone, props, kudos, and many, many thanks to: Central Lakes, Fayal, Gilbert, and Lakeland Fire-Rescue, Hibbing, Eveleth, and Virginia Ambulance, Eveleth PD, Sheriff's Deputies, County Emergency Management, the Minnesota DNR, 911-Dispatchers, County Public Works, St. Louis County Surveyors, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), the Federal Aviation Administration, and Duluth Air Traffic Control. This was a very good day!

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Eveleth, MN
Accident Number: CEN20LA263
Date & Time: 07/05/2020, 1200 CDT
Registration: N4079R
Aircraft: Piper PA32
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On July 5, 2020, about 1100 central daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, N4079R, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Eveleth, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger received minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that the airplane had about 55 gallons of fuel on-board before the flight began including 14 gallons in the left tip tank. He reported that he started the engine on a main tank and then switched to the left tip tank for takeoff. He did not recall switching tanks after that. After takeoff the airplane climbed to 7,500 ft. above mean sea level (msl) and leveled off. Shortly after establishing his cruise parameters, the engine lost all power. Attempts to restart the engine were not successful and the pilot attempted to glide to the nearest airport. When he realized that he had insufficient altitude to reach the target airport, he executed a forced landing to a wooded area. The pilot and his passenger were able to exit the airplane with minor injuries, but the airplane sustained substantial damage. Both wings were separated from the airplane, the fuselage and tail surfaces had impact damage, and various parts of the airplane, including the cabin section of the fuselage received post-impact fire damage.

The airplane and engine were recovered and will be examined.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:Piper
Model/Series: PA32 300
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:No
Operator: Zahasky Richard
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: HIB, 1353 ft msl
Observation Time: 1853 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 5000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 200°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: Tower, MN (12D)
Destination: Menomonie, WI (LUM)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:


  1. Last time I flew a PA32 was probably 40 years ago, but it seems I remember t/o on main tank and then s/w to the tip. Anyone know for sure?

  2. ^^^^^ That's what I always did .... He was probably a bit too eager to get it balanced if the right tip was empty

  3. So he ran the tip tank dry after taking off on it, climbing and establishing cruise at 7,500 ft MSL, which is 6000 ft AGL.

    If he lacked understanding on how to choose and manage tanks, maybe he did not know to turn the electric pump on to get the air out of the line (if he selected a main tank after the power loss).

    Doesn't everyone know to watch the fuel pressure gauge when they are finishing off a tank to bone dry? Sitting there in cruise, it is not difficult to see the needle start twitching and pressure falling off as bubbles start to go through while you are waiting out the final depletion.

    Switch tanks when you see the familiar pressure gauge bubble response "to use it all" without stumbling or starving the engine. Don't let it go dry unwatched.

  4. Wow that looks like a fatal with where they set down in the trees and what is left of the aircraft. And they walked away from that! That said, if I remember correctly, the manual for the Six had a recommendation to burn the mains first before going to the tip tanks down to reduce wing load stress near the root.