Saturday, April 24, 2021

Piper PA-28RT-201T Turbo Arrow IV, N4303G: Fatal accident occurred April 20, 2021 in Brownsville, Haywood County, Tennessee

Chad Garland and his mother, Marjorie Garland.

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.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Memphis, Tennessee
Piper Aircraft Company; Vero Beach, Florida 

Charles W. Garland

Location: Brownsville, TN
Accident Number: ERA21FA189
Date & Time: April 20, 2021, 20:52 Local
Registration: N4303G
Aircraft: Piper PA-28RT-201T 
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On April 20, 2021, at 2052 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28RT-201T airplane, N4303G, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Brownsville, Tennessee. The student pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the student pilot’s flight instructor, he and the pilot met mid-morning on the day of the accident to discuss a solo cross-country flight from Pearland Regional Airport (LVJ), Houston, Texas to Kyle-Oakley Field Airport (CEY), Murray, Kentucky. The flight instructor reported that the pilot told him the purpose of the trip was to visit a family member that had recently been admitted to the hospital. The flight instructor stated that “it was supposed to be a daytime flight” and he expected the pilot to depart no later than 1300 or 1400, due to the weather coming in later in the day and nighttime conditions.

Review of preliminary flight track and Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) data found that the student pilot departed LVJ at 1720, proceeded southbound for a few minutes, and then headed northeast. After leaving the Houston metro area, the enroute course showed few deviations for a track consistent with a direct route of flight to CEY.

At 2051:20, the airplane’s altitude was about 7,300 ft mean sea level (msl), the course turned to the right which was eastbound, and groundspeed was 165 knots. For the subsequent 30 seconds the course continued eastbound, and altitude and groundspeed remained generally constant. At 2052:17, the airplane’s heading had continued the right turn and was headed south, altitude had descended to about 6,700 ft msl, and groundspeed slowed by 20 knots.

Subsequently, the airplane entered a rapidly descending and accelerating right 360° spiral. In the spiral, groundspeed reached a maximum of 247 knots. At 2052:47, the final data point was recorded about 1/4 mile northeast of the accident site which showed the airplane headed south, at 1,450 ft msl and 224 knots groundspeed. Figure 1 shows the final minutes of the ADS-B flight track.

Review of preliminary air traffic control communications provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that in the final minutes of the flight the pilot was communicating with Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center. About 2 minutes and 30 seconds prior to radar contact being lost, the pilot radioed to Memphis Center stating that he was flying at 7,500 ft mean sea level (msl), his final destination was CEY, and added that he was planning to “start my descent now” for his final approach and he was going to make it a “gradual descent.” The controller responded by providing the CEY altimeter setting and advised the pilot of moderate precipitation “starting now lasting all the way to the [destination] airport.” The controller further stated in part that “everything between now and [CEY] is on the verge of being [instrument meteorological] conditions, it looks likes ceilings are down to about 1,500 ft most everywhere.”

The pilot responded, “ok affirmative I’m gonna still descend down” to “2,000-3,000 ft”. He further added that he was looking at a screen for weather and he would begin his final descent once he was within 10 miles of CEY. The controller responded by advising the pilot to maintain visual flight rules and then provided additional weather observation reports for airports along the pilot’s route of flight that were reporting instrument meteorological conditions. The controller advised that a course to the east may help him remain clear of the weather. The pilot acknowledged the controller. About 50 seconds later a “mayday” call was announced over the radio. There was no call sign associated with the distress call, nor any further information given with the call. The controller attempted to reach the pilot several times after the mayday call, however, no further communications were received.

The FAA issued a missing aircraft alert shortly after radar contact was lost. Local authorities discovered the wreckage about 0730 the next morning. 

According to FAA airman records, the pilot held a student pilot certificate. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on January 14, 2019. The flight instructor estimated the student pilot had about 90 flight hours of experience. He added that the student pilot had a solo cross country route endorsement for the flight and an endorsement to solo the accident airplane.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the 4-seat, single-engine, low-wing airplane was manufactured in 1983. It was powered by a Continental TSIO-360-FB 201-horsepower engine. According to the FAA registration records, the student pilot purchased the airplane in July 2019.

The main wreckage was located partially submerged in a creek and along a muddy ravine in a forest. All major components of the airplane were located within about a 100-ft-long debris path, and the wreckage was heavily fragmented. There was no evidence of a postimpact fire. Flight control cable continuity could not be established from the flight control surfaces to the cockpit due to the heavy fragmentation of the wreckage. The control cables that were observed displayed fracture features that were consistent with separation due to overload.

The main and nose landing gear were found in the debris. The left main landing gear actuator was consistent with an up position. The right and nose main landing gear actuators were not located. The flap control cable remained attached to the flap; however, a flap position could not be determined due to the impact damage. The fuel selector valve had separated from the airframe and was selected to the right fuel tank valve.

The cockpit and instrument panel were heavily fragmented. The standby attitude indicator was found in the debris. When disassembled, the gyro remained intact, and its housing exhibited rotational scoring. No other flight instruments, including the primary flight display, were observed or readable.

The engine was found co-located with the main wreckage mostly submerged in water and thick mud. The engine displayed significant impact damage and the crankshaft could not be rotated due to the damage. Each cylinder, with the exception of the No. 5 cylinder, showed that the valves remained intact and were unremarkable. The No. 5 cylinder sustained significant impact damage. The forward valve was impact damaged and was found loose in the cylinder and its spring had separated. All top sparkplugs displayed normal combustion signatures, with exception to the No. 5 cylinder sparkplug, which was impact damaged and could not be removed.

The fuel manifold was found partially attached to the engine; when disassembled fuel was observed in the unit and the screen was clean, with exception of a small glob of mud that was consistent with the mud observed on the outer casing of the unit.

The rear and bottom portions of the crankcase were fractured allowing an unobstructive view of the engine’s drive gears, which all appeared unremarkable. 

The propeller flange and propeller hub had separated from the engine and were located within a few feet of the main wreckage. Partial s-bending, leading edge gouges, and chord wise scratches were observed on the propeller.

The 2055 recorded weather observation at Covington Municipal Airport (M04), Covington, Tennessee, located about 10 miles west of the accident site, included an overcast ceiling at 1,200 ft above ground level, visibility 5 statute miles, mist, wind 350° at 18 knots. The temperature was 5° C, and the dew point was 4° C.

Preliminary review of radar and satellite data indicated that precipitation and cloud cover was located near the accident site. According to Leidos Flight Service and Foreflight, there was no record that the pilot filed a flight plan or requested an official weather briefing via telephone or online.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N4303G
Model/Series: PA-28RT-201T NO SERIES 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown 
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KM04,280 ft msl 
Observation Time: 20:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 5°C /4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 1200 ft AGL 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 18 knots / , 350°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1200 ft AGL
Visibility: 5 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Houston, TX (LVJ) 
Destination: Murray, KY (CEY)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 35.554109,-89.391813 

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

Charles Chad Wayne Garland
August 10, 1965 - April 20, 2021

Mr. Chad Garland, 55, of Friendswood, TX, passed away on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Chad was born on August 10, 1965 in Murray, KY to Paul Garland and Marjorie McDaniel Garland. Chad loved living life in the fast lane. From hot rods, Harley's, dirt bikes, boats, planes, he wanted to experience everything he could as fast as he could before he got too old. He loved his family and would have given anyone the shirt off of his back. He had such a giving heart. Chad was a member of the Calloway County High School class of 1983. His mantra was "Fly Higher Than High".

He is preceded in death by his mother, Marjorie Garland.

Chad had recently had a second child name Axel Miguel Wayne Garland. His first baby boy was born in June of 2020. Many who knew Chad up close and personal, knew that he had cherished and loved his first son dearly. Chad had been in his little angel's life for 10 months and if you had asked his family about him, we assured you that he would respond with pure happiness and excitement of his child. He spoiled and adored his baby. Axel had filled his father's last 10 months  with joy and laughter. Although Axel wasn’t Majorie's First grandson, he still part of the Garland Family, and still was a grandson.  The baby boy was loved by his late father and grandmother.

Also left to cherish many wonderful memories include his daughter, Kelsey Garland of Friendswood, TX; his father, Paul Garland (Vickie) of Murray; brothers, Brad Garland (Debbie) of Cypress, TX, Trent Garland (Erin) of Murray; sisters, Angie Garland of Tomball, TX, Kandis Morris (Trey) of Murray; nephews, Nick Wuest, Zack Hale, Landen Hale, Brandon Garland, Strader Garland; nieces, Sydney Hale, Lexi Garland and Madi Garland; aunts, Barbara Barnett (J.L.) of Murray, Lottie Garland of Murray and Joyce Vance (Tommy) of Murray. 

Service times are pending and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Please join family and friends in honoring the life of Mr. Chad Garland by visiting and posting your tributes and memories.

The Heritage Chapel of Imes Funeral Home is entrusted with caring for the family of Mr. Chad Garland.

Ms. Marjorie Garland, 74, of Friendswood, TX, formerly of Murray, passed away on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Ms. Garland was born on January 15, 1947 in Miami Beach, FL to the late Charles and Geraldine Paschall McDaniel.

Marjorie loved being outdoors. Fishing, camping and anything that involved being outside. Her pride and joy were her two dogs, Prissy and Holly. She was a member of the Murray High School class of 1965 and of Sinking Spring Baptist Church. She lived life to the fullest and will be missed dearly.

In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by a son, Chad Garland.

Those she lovingly leaves behind include a son, Brad Garland (Debbie) of Cypress, TX; a daughter, Angie Garland of Tomball, TX; a sister, Barbara Barnett (J.L.) of Murray; grandchildren, Kelsey Garland, Nick Wuest, Zack Hale, Landen Hale, Syndey Hale, Brandon Garland, Lexi Garland, Axel Miguel Wayne Garland.

Services times are pending and will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

Please join family and friends in honoring the life of Ms. Marjorie Garland by visiting and posting your tributes and memories.

The Heritage Chapel of Imes Funeral Home is entrusted with caring for the family of Ms. Garland.

Haywood Sheriff

It’s with heavy heart to express our condolences to the two victims that passed in a plane crash in Haywood County today. A big thank you goes out to our deputies, the Rescue Squad volunteers, Mr. Pat Hughes and others who helped locate the plane wreckage and recover the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.



  2. According to the FAA Database updated to March 25 2021 Chad Garland is listed as having a student pilot cert. dated 08/04/2019.


    Airman opted-out of releasing address
    Medical Information:
    Medical Class: Third Medical Date: 1/2019
    BasicMed Course Date: None BasicMed CMEC Date: None
    Certificates Description
    Certificate: STUDENT PILOT
    Date of Issue: 8/4/2019


    It also appears He bought the plane around the same time
    Hopefully, he got his Private sometime after 03/25/2021

    1. Hopefully, yes. But having only a student ticket for an entire year and a half prior to this raises a lot of suspicion. No matter, sorry for their family's and friend's losses.

    2. Maybe I'm missing something, but the accident report says there were two people on board. How do we know that the other person wasn't a licensed pilot? The photo above is of Chad and has mother, but was his mother the other person on board or is that photo the only one of Chad available? If she was onboard, was his mother a licensed pilot? I feel we don't have enough information here.

    3. Note story below identifies who was on board. Airmen Registry check doesn't find an entry for the second person.

    4. No he never received his ppl, nor had he passed his written. in fact it was quite the opposite. He flew with several instructors and each of the instructors refused to sign him off for solo. local flying clubs refused his membership due to attitude issues. the fly in community where he owned a home refused to have his aircraft on the field due to his reckless behaviors. He in fact attempted to land on a city street that parallels the fly in community runway. The instructor finally had to assume command of the aircraft when it became blatantly obvious of his intentions to land. he had no interest in the bookwork portion of learning to fly, rather he wanted to be shown how to manipulate the controls and expected that a licences could be bought. Dare i say everyone with direct knowledge of his machismo attitude and arrogance warned him of the consequences of that type of behaviour. myself included. Outside of aviation he was a nice enough guy, but what makes you a successful business man does not translate to being a successful aviator. I'm sorry for the family's loss however this was 100% preventable. ***INSTRUCTORS*** this is a perfect learning opportunity for your current students. Numerous people tried to break the accident chain early on. At the end of the day it is up to you the PIC to identify problems early and make the right decision. It might not be popular or convenient however at the end of the day everyone involved will be alive.

  3. This beautiful plane came out of the sky fast! Last ADSB point was a rate of descent over 5,000 ft/min. Pretty normal log, flying along at 7,400' and then into the ground within about 2 min. In-flight breakup?

    1. The track also shows the plane was flying just east of strong radar returns from a major squall line stretching south to north across multiple states. Weather radar should never be used to tactically maneuver around storms.

    2. He actually was in a storm cell when he crashed at 8:52 CDT. That radar snapshot shown on the Flightaware track is time tagged "8:05PM EDT", which is 7:05PM CDT, one hour and 47 minutes before the crash.

      Here is radar at the time of the crash. Brownsville is between Memphis and Jackson - big cells there at the time:

    3. Tried to find some audio from 03G on Memphis Center during the last 5 min of the flight, but was unsuccessful. Perhaps I had the wrong time or he was talking to some other controller; was hoping there would be something there that would be a clue as to what happened.

    4. Can you guys keep searching for audio? He was a dear friend of mine.

    5. LiveAtc doesn't record comms for KMEM. FAA does, but you will have to wait and see what might be included in the NTSB preliminary report about possible communications with controllers.

  4. Pilot had in-cockpit weather resources. Data latency has contributed to some mishaps.

    N4303G, 1983 PIPER TURBO ARROW IV FOR SALE. 1983 Turbo Arrow IV - Wow Factor Avionics! - 3501 TT, 2050 SMOH, King KAP-150 Autopilot, Aspen EFD-1000 Pro featuring SVT, Garmin GTN-750 GPS, Garmin 530W GPS, XM WX, GDL-88 ADS-B In & Out Compliant, Flight Stream 210, JPI GEM with FF, Upgrade with Several Desirable Modifications, Excellent Cosmetics! USEFUL LOAD: 980 Pounds.

    1. The effort required to be proficient in the full capabilities of this avionics package, would be at least equivalent to a private pilot with instrument rating, neither of which the pilot seemed willing to obtain.

    2. Nicely equipped panel. Just because someone may have money to afford all that, it's just additional ballast that leads you do the scene of the crash if it's not known how to use it.

  5. I'm thinking that icing and subsequent loss of control might be the cause here. The KAP-150 has an altitude hold mode and the flight profile certainly indicates he flew most of the route using the autopilot. The loss of speed could be caused by the autopilot trying to maintain altitude while picking up ice. Since he told MEM Center that he was going to begin his descent, he may have disconnected the autopilot (or perhaps it disconnected itself), causing the airplane to immediately descend due to the ice. Trying to maintain control in IMC, at night, with a load of ice would have been beyond the scope of this student pilot's capabilities in my opinion, precipitating his mayday call, and the familiar death spiral.

  6. A 180 degree turn upon learning of the IFR conditions would have been a wise choice for most VFR pilots. This pilot believed he could beat the odds and carry on. It did not work.

  7. His mother was his passenger, how tragic for the family.

    1. Strange way to write the article. When the article talks about Chad it says he was preceded in death by his mother, Marjorie. But when it talks about Marjorie’s life it says she was preceded in death by her son Chad.

      I’d say they unfortunately entered death at the same time. Condolences to their surviving family.

  8. he never read the saying there are old pilots and bold pilots
    but no old bold pilots either big ego or can't fix stupid

  9. Wow. A turbo Arrow and a student pilot? That's a handful of airplane for a student for sure. Even as an experienced pilot, I've flown an Arrow and it's not on my list of favorite airplanes.
    Sounds like he was an arrogant a***hole. Tragic that his ego killed his innocent mother who probably had no clue that he wasn't properly trained.
    I've had an occasional student like this in the past. I never soloed anyone with this attitude, I always had them fly with other CFIs to get a second opinion and in most cases they were kicked out of our flying club. Sadly, they usually found a CFI elsewhere with low standards that would sign them off.

  10. Wow, another student pilot kills themselves as well as an unauthorized passenger. Real anti authority attitude going for that guy, at least he wont have to live with the knowledge he killed his mother. As a CFI I find this really appalling. As far as we know he flat out lied to his CFI during the review of his flight plan, and then loaded up mom in the plane and took off into deteriorating weather. Yeah, who needs a stupid license...right?

  11. Spatial disorientation. This whole report reeks of it.

  12. Read an article about his daughter's comments to NTSB, in which she defends his actions....even though she is a student pilot too. Seems to me she has the same hazardous attitudes as her dad, hope a DPE notices that.


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