Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, N7588Y: Accident occurred March 22, 2021 in Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana

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 Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Chicago, Illinois

J-Bird Flight Training LLC

Location: Valparaiso, IN 
Accident Number: CEN21LA171
Date & Time: March 22, 2021, 12:30 Local 
Registration: N7588Y
Aircraft: Piper PA-30
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On March 22, 2021, about 1230 central daylight time, a Piper PA-30 airplane, N7588Y, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Valparaiso, Indiana. The two commercial pilots were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot was practicing instrument approaches with a safety pilot. While in cruise after 2.6 flight hours, the left engine rpm decreased and the pilot diverted toward Porter County Airport (VPZ), Valparaiso. The pilot subsequently feathered the left engine propeller to reduce drag. While the airplane was on final to VPZ, the right engine lost power and the pilot made a forced landing into a field, which damaged the fuselage.

Initial examination revealed both auxiliary fuel tanks were empty. When each engine lost power, the pilots recalled the respective fuel selector was in the auxiliary tank position and the respective fuel gage indicated more than ½ tank full. The airplane was retained for
examination of the fuel system.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N7588Y
Model/Series: PA-30
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot school (141)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: VPZ,770 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C /3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / 22 knots, 200°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Valparaiso, IN (VPZ)
Destination: Valparaiso, IN (VPZ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 41.451359,-86.93296 (est)

LaPorte County Sheriff's Office

This afternoon (03/22/21) at 12:45 PM, Deputies Jake Pisowicz and David Francis were dispatched to the area of US 421 and CR 1100 South, rural Clinton Township, reference an airplane that went down in the area.

Deputies arrived minutes later and located an airplane in a field on the northeast corner of US 421 and CR 1100 South. The airplane was located approximately 300 yards east of US 421.

The deputies met with the pilot and passenger, both of whom were uninjured. The pilot of the 1965 Piper Twin Comanche reported to the deputies that the aircraft’s engines failed, resulting in the emergency landing.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will continue the investigation.

Assisting: Captain Dallas Smythe, Sergeant Jeff Wright and Deputy Alex Pishkur.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A plane force landed in the middle of a LaPorte County field in northwest Indiana Monday afternoon.

Chopper 7 flew over the scene, about 5 miles east of the Porter County Regional Airport, around 4 p.m.

So far, there are no reports of any major injuries.

The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office has responded to the scene.


  1. Right prop bent, left prop not bent. Easy to tell which engine was turning and which was not. That said, this aircraft if totally capable of flying and even shallow climbing on one engine - otherwise it would never have been certified. In any event, no better place to put down than in a harvested cornfield - best cushioning you can get. It will fly again. Now...what did the pilot do or not do.

    1. Actually certification did not require the ability to fly or climb on one engine in all conditions. Certification only required that single engine climb performance be “demonstrated”. It could be a negative number.

    2. ^^That's true BKLott. It depends on density altitude and payload. But there were only two people on board and DA was certainly not an issue in Indiana this time of year. By all sense and purpose it should have been at the bare minimum sustainable altitude single engine ops in that situation. Something else happened here.

  2. The above comment is right on. Pilot made a good decision to land with the gear up considering the rough field.

  3. PIC reported that BOTH engines were inop. My educated guess would be something fuel related.