Sunday, April 18, 2021

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N7242F: Accident occurred April 12, 2021 near Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (KSHD), Staunton, Virginia

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; Richmond, Virginia

Location: Weyers Cave, VA
Accident Number: ERA21LA183
Date & Time: April 12, 2021, 19:20 Local
Registration: N7242F
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140 
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On April 12, 2021, about 1920 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140 airplane, N7242F, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Weyers Cave, Virginia. The pilot was seriously injured, and the passenger received minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, he was aspiring to get his commercial pilot certificate. He had taken the commercial pilot written test and was building the hours needed to take the practical test.

On the evening of the accident, he planned on flying to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), Weyers Cave, Virginia, perform a touch and go landing, then return to the area around Front Royal-Warrenton County Airport (FRR), Front Royal, Virginia, where he had departed from, do maneuvers until dark, and then land at FRR.

Before departing he did his normal preflight inspection and did all his checklist items, as well as filling both fuel tanks with fuel. He then departed FRR under visual flight rules. The visibility was unrestricted, and the ceiling was broken around 6,000 feet.

He then flew down the valley to SHD, and at the end of the mountain range, made the first radio call to the SHD common traffic advisory frequency. There was one airplane that was 5 miles out and was landing at SHD. He then entered the traffic pattern (a little high) on the left downwind for runway 23, at 2,100 feet msl.

The winds were 320° at 8 knots. As he approached the runway, he went through his landing checklist which consisted of using the fullest tank, mixture rich, and fuel pump on. He then decreased the engine power back to 2,000 rpm and selected the first notch of wing flaps. At 1,800 msl, he turned on to the base leg of the traffic pattern.

After only losing 200 feet on the base leg of the traffic pattern, he selected the second notch of wing flaps. Upon turning on the final leg of the traffic pattern, he opted to land with only two notches of flaps because of an 8-knot crosswind. Around 100 feet above the runway, his airspeed was fast around 90 mph, and at this point he had the engine power all the way back to idle.

Since he was fast, and it felt like it was an unstable approach, he decided to go around. He smoothly applied full power, but did not gain any altitude, and the airplane started banking hard to the left. By this time, he was about 50 feet agl, was to the left of the runway, and was applying right aileron, and right rudder in an attempt to level the wings.

The next thing he remembered was a first responder saying he smelled gas, and at that point he pulled himself together and cut the mixture off. Before he could turn the fuel selector to off, and turn the magnetos and battery off, a first responder began yelling at him to get out, and one first responder began approaching with the jaws of life. That is when he saw that his passenger was already out of the airplane.

At this point there was blood in his eyes, his vision was blurry, he could feel deep wounds in both his legs, and he was unable to walk. A first responder then proceeded to help him out of the airplane and put him on his back. He then carried him out of the tree line where the airplane had come to rest, to an open field. He was then transported to a hospital and treated for his wounds, then transported to another hospital to receive further treatment.

The airplane was retained by the NTSB for examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N7242F
Model/Series: PA-28-140 
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:
Observation Facility, Elevation: SHD,1201 ft msl
Observation Time: 19:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0.2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C /0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 300°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 6000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.84 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Front Royal, VA (FRR) 
Destination: Weyers Cave, VA (SHD)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 38.263833,-78.896444 (est)

WEYERS CAVE — Two men were transported to Sentara RMH Medical Center after surviving a plane crash Monday night.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Sean Simmons said that around 7:15 p.m. officers responded to a call of a plane crash near Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport off Little Run Road.

Simmons said two passengers occupying the plane were traveling from Front Royal when they initiated a touch-and-go sequence, hit the fence bordering the airport and crashed into nearby trees.

Simmons did not know the extent of the passengers’ injuries.

Jacob Shifflett, a flight instructor with Blue Ridge Aviation, witnessed the plane crash and said the plane appeared to roll to the left, came over the embankment then dropped down before crashing into the trees.

“I saw the left wing drop,” he said.

Shifflett was with a student at the time of the crash and was taxiing down the runway when he saw the plane.

Shifflett said he waited for the plane to climb out of the embankment, but when he didn’t see anything he called the airport to notify it that a crash had occurred.

Shifflett said he saw one person climb out of the right side of the airplane and looked as if he was trying to help someone else.

No smoke or fire was seen.

Shifflett had been with Blue Ridge Aviation for two weeks and said he had not seen anything like Monday’s crash before.

“It is something we prepare for,” he said.

VSP will guard the plane crash until the Federal Aviation Administration arrives on scene, and the agency will take over, Simmons said.

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