Saturday, October 10, 2020

Collision During Takeoff: Piper PA-18-150, N4138Z; accident occurred October 10, 2019 in Big Flats, Chemung County, New York

Pictures are available upon request. 

Federal Aviation Administration documents concerning Federal Aviation Administration investigation of the accident that occurred on October 10, 2019, in Big Flats, New York, involving N4138Z. 


Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Harris Hill Soaring Corporation

Location: Big Flats, NY 

Accident Number: GAA20CA008
Date & Time: 10/10/2019, 1745 EDT
Registration: N4138Z
Aircraft: Piper PA18
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Collision during takeoff/land
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Ferry


The pilot reported that, before takeoff from an off-airport grass field, he consulted his mentor on best practices to takeoff and avoid obstacles. During the takeoff roll, he realized that the planned flightpath was "risky," so he "made a ground track deviation." Subsequently, the left wing struck a guy wire and folded back, and the right wing struck another guy wire. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper flight planning and his subsequent failure to maintain clearance from wires during takeoff. 


Personnel issues
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)
Flight planning/navigation - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Wire - Effect on operation (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Collision during takeoff/land (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 57, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider; Gyroplane; Helicopter
Restraint Used: 
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Glider; Gyroplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/26/2019
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/30/2019
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 697 hours (Total, all aircraft), 44 hours (Total, this make and model), 519 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 37 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N4138Z
Model/Series: PA18 150
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1964
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18-8210
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/12/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 7699.3 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320-A4M
Registered Owner: Harris Hill Soaring Corp
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: Harris Hill Soaring Corp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KELM, 954 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2153 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 25°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 30°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.24 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 10°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Big Flats, NY
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Elmira, NY (4NY8)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1745 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  42.117222, -76.918333 (est)