Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk, N9879T: Fatal accident occurred November 30, 2020 in Franklin, Izard County, Arkansas

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Little Rock, Arkansas 
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, FL

Location: Franklin, AR 
Accident Number: CEN21LA070
Date & Time: November 30, 2020, 12:13 Local
Registration: N9879T
Aircraft: Piper PA38
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted
Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On November 30, 2020, at 1213 central standard time, a Piper PA-38-112 airplane, N9879T, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Franklin, Arkansas. The certificated flight instructor and the private pilot being instructed were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 instructional flight.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data was obtained for the accident flight. The airplane departed the Country Air Estates Airport (1AR9), Lonoke, Arkansas, at 0931, flew to the Carlisle Municipal Airport (4M3), Carlisle, Arkansas, and arrived at 0946. The airplane remained at 4M3 for about 16 minutes before it departed at 1002. The airplane then traveled about 100 nm north-northwest, turned to a northeast heading and overflew the Marion County Regional Airport (FLP), Flippin, Arkansas, and the Baxter County Airport (BPK), Mountain Home, Arkansas, before it turned eastbound.

The airplane did not land at FLP, and due to a gap in the ADS-B data it could not be determined if the airplane landed at BPK. After the airplane passed BPK, it turned to the east. The flight contacted the Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) and obtained an instrument flight rules clearance (IFR) from BPK to the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport (ARG), Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. ARG was about 76 nm east of BPK. During the portion of the flight from BPK to ARG, air traffic control initially established radar contact and voice communication with the flight. When the airplane was about 60 nm west of ARG, radar contact was lost and voice communication became intermittent and were eventually lost.

FIGURE 1. Map showing the airplane’s ADS-B track (red), the relative positions of airports, the straight-line course from BPK to ARG (white), and the accident location.

The airplane did not follow a straight-line course between BPK and ARG, it first deviated 2.8 nm north of the straight-line course before it turned toward the south. The airplane then deviated to the south of the straight-line course by as much as 4.5 nm. During the final 5-1/2 minutes of the flight, the airplane made 3-3/4 complete left turns of varying radius, followed by 1-1/4 complete right turns before the end of the recorded ADS-B data. The accident site was located about 0.2 nm south southeast of the last ADS-B position, 4.7 nm south of the straightline course, and about 35 nm from BPK.

FIGURE 2. Map showing the final 7.5 minutes of the accident flight path (red), with the last recorded ADS-B position, the accident location, and the straight-line course from BPK to ARG (white).

The airplane impacted trees and terrain. The debris path was about 230 ft long and oriented on a magnetic heading of 320°. The airplane was severely fragmented, and the main portion of the wreckage came to rest about 160 ft from the initial tree impact point. The airplane’s engine was located about 230 ft from the initial impact point. There was no fire. Examination of the wreckage by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors and an investigator from Piper Aircraft revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N9879T
Model/Series: PA38 112 Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BVX 
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 30 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 2°C /9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Unknown 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots / 19 knots, 320°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 5000 ft AGL 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.21 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Carlisle, AR (4M3)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 36.178333,-91.771539

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

IZARD COUNTY, Arkansas- Two men were killed in a plane crash in Izard County on Monday night.

Izard County officials said 70-year-old David Rottman of Lonoke County and 44-year-old Lucas Parker of Conway were both killed.

The plane was found near franklin, about 75 yards north of California Drive.

“I was devastated,” said Donald Warren, Friends of both victims.

News of the fatal plane crash in Izard County shook a Central Arkansas pastor who knew both victims.

“I knew both of them to be excellent and outstanding men and men of faith,” said Warren.

Donald Warren knew David Rottman for two years and Lucas Parker for more than five years.

“I know that Luke was an extremely safe pilot and I know that Dave was an extremely confident instructor,” said Warren

Warren said Rottman was a flight instructor who owned and operated Arkansas Pilot Development.

He also said Parker was an experienced pilot close to finishing his next level of training.

“I had spoken with Luke Sunday evening and he was telling me about his progress in his instrument training which is the next level after private pilot training and he was making great strides toward completing his instrument rating,” said Warren.

Warren said Rottman was his flight instructor too and they fly together several times a month so he was shocked when he found out about the crash.

“You prepare for loss. Luke was a minister and I’m a pastor as well and we know this is part of the process. There’s also that part of you that never really expects it to be someone so close without any preparation,” said Warren.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.


  1. Flightaware track abruptly ends. Weather was clear VFR with few clouds. Strange.


    ARCHIVED METAR OF: 20201130 // FROM: 16 TO: 20 UTC

    KBPK 301653Z AUTO 35013G21KT 10SM FEW043 01/M11 A3023 RMK AO2 SLP243 T00111106
    KBPK 301753Z AUTO 36008G18KT 340V040 10SM FEW049 02/M11 A3021 RMK AO2 SLP234 T00221106 10022 21022 58001
    KBPK 301853Z AUTO 01007G17KT 10SM CLR 03/M11 A3018 RMK AO2 SLP225 T00331111
    KBPK 301953Z AUTO 35008G16KT 10SM CLR 04/M13 A3015 RMK AO2 SLP216 T00441128
    KBPK 302053Z AUTO 34009G19KT 280V020 10SM CLR 05/M13 A3014 RMK AO2 SLP210 T00501128 56023

    1. In the clear format @ https://en.allmetsat.com/metar-taf/arkansas.php?icao=KBPK
      might be helpful in deciphering
      ‘ KBPK 301653Z AUTO 35013G21KT 10SM FEW043 01/M11 A3023 RMK AO2 SLP243 T00111106 '

    2. Didn't mean to say "clear VFR", I think I meant to say it was clearly vfr.


  2. According to 1 news article a witness called 911 to report low flying aircraft prior to crash.

  3. I received my license in 1980 in a Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk, N9878T. Now, what's the chances of that? Sad to hear of this unfortunate accident.

    1. There are 465 Tomahawks with active registrations now, so 1 in 465?

  4. Per Wikipedia Article on The Tomahawks. " The Tomahawk has a higher spin rate of Fatal Spin Accidents per flying hours per flying hour". At this early stage of investigation of this fatal accident it would be premature to speculate what actually happened. We must rely on the due process of the NTSB at this point. We must uplift the remaining family members!

  5. Looking at their flight path and knowing two qualified pilots were on board in VFR conditions makes this report very puzzling. The only thing that came to mind while reading it was their potential exposure to carbon monoxide. It was a cool day, VFR conditions, an instructor on board and a flight path that doesn't resemble their previous legs. Very sad and my heart goes out to the family and friends of these two great men.

  6. I was lucky enough to fly with David in May this year in prep for my CFI checkride. A wonderful man, and very expereinced and knowledgable. Based on flight track etc, had to be something way unusual. Such a loss for both men