Sunday, February 07, 2021

Aircraft Propeller Contact With Person: Piper PA-28-151 Warrior, N228JS; accident occurred February 29, 2020 at New Castle Airport (KILG), New Castle County, Delaware

 Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Wilmington, Delaware 
Accident Number: ERA20CA117
Date & Time: February 29, 2020, 09:25 Local 
Registration: N228JS
Aircraft: Piper PA28 
Aircraft Damage: None
Defining Event: AC/prop/rotor contact w person 
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


A witness reported seeing the pilot walking around his airplane while his son sat inside it. The witness then saw the pilot laying unresponsive on the ground in front of the engine. According to the police report, the pilot sustained a serious head wound, and blood spatter was observed on the propeller. The report also stated that, after the pilot was taken to the hospital, the power and fuel had to be turned off and that the airplane had to be tied down.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot being struck in the head by the propeller before flight, which resulted in a serious injury.


Not determined (general) - Unknown/Not determined

Factual Information

History of Flight

Standing-engine start-up AC/prop/rotor contact w person (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 50, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: None
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:No 
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/23/2019
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 827 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Model/Series: PA28 151
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28-7415103
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2326 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 150 hp
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: ILG, 80 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1351 EST
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 15 knots / 23 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 300°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.96 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 0°C / -12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Wilmington, DE (ILG)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Morgantown, WV (MGW)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  EST
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: New Castle (ILG)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 79 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 39.678611, -75.606667 (est)


  1. N228JS is flying, owned by same owner since 02-Jun-2006.

  2. Hoping there was full recovery and return to flying.

  3. am I reading this correctly ? Did the kid turn the key and hit dad on the head ?

    1. The writer's narrative does not imply that. A likely explanation is that the pilot forgot to de-chock the plane and already had the engine running when trying to do this.

    2. Not enough information here and it could be either way if the engine was already running or the son cranked it. The witness who was the one to shut the aircraft down and secure it doesn't say in this report if the engine was running when he saw the father walk around the aircraft.

    3. This article, dated March 2020, states he was trying to hand prop the plane when the accident happened.

  4. The police report says the victim was trying to start the warrior by hand propping when he was struck in the head.

  5. Like Gretna said, the airplane is still actively flying and it is still registered to the victim.

  6. Hand-propping an airplane is risky business and has caused a lot of accidents and injuries. I hope this man recovers but from what I read it doesn't look good. I feel sorry for the boy who witnessed this awful accident.

  7. The emergency powerpacks are getting cheap enough to have around for occasions like this. I'm assuming he had a dead (discharged) battery.

  8. I just came across this. I am the man who was injured. I am ok. I have no memory of what happened, but I doubt I was trying to hand prop the plane because I never did that before and I didn't tell my son that that was my intention. From speaking to my son, I was having difficulty starting the plane and exited to inspect. My son said I moved the prop with my hand once, and then twice, when it rotated and I fell. Not sure what I was doing! A few months later, the battery still had enough charge to start the plane. I had injuries on the front and back of my head that may have been caused by the prop and the ground. My skull wasn't fractured but I did have serious internal bleeding in my head. I was in the hospital and rehab for about a month. No damage to the plane and I'm still flying it, but with a renewed drive to always be safe!

    Stay safe everybody!


    1. Great news that you have recovered!

      Sounds like the impulse mags fired one cylinder when you moved the prop. Be sure to have the P-lead grounding continuity of the mags checked out, while rocking the key at the off position.

    2. Oh thank you Drew! I remember reading this story in February and your story was always in the back of my mind of "I wonder if that man ever recovered fully...".

      You are here for a reason so please take care!

    3. I ended up doing the Pilots N Paws flight you were scheduled to do (my first flight) for Zeus. I spent weeks trying to find out if you were okay, and I'm glad you are!!

    4. Drew- as I read the incident report, tears came to my eyes just thinking about what happened. I kept saying “man I hope this guy is OK”. i can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was for you and your family. Thank you for your post,

    5. Drew- as I read the incident report, tears came to my eyes just thinking about what happened. I kept saying “man I hope this guy is OK”. i can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was for you and your family. Thank you for your post,

    6. I am glad you are safe. i fly Pipers out of KILG and remember reading this. Keeping flying!

    7. Surely the Lord was watching after you.

    8. Great to finally read a non-tragic ending on here. Happy to hear you are well, and fantastic that you are back in the saddle! Stories like yours remind us that these machines we love are also due a great amount of respect both in the air an on the ground.

      Tailwinds and fair skies to you sir!

  9. Say, could I get you to buy a lottery ticket for me? lol Seriously, you are indeed a lucky man. Congrats on your recovery.

  10. I'm really glad to hear that you have recovered.

  11. Awesome to hear a good ending to a tragic accident for a change

  12. So glad you are OK. I was terrified for you and your son. Thanks for updating this with the outcome.