Friday, May 21, 2021

Piper PA-31P-425 Pressurized Navajo, N575BC: Fatal accident occurred May 21, 2021 near Myrtle Beach International Airport (KMYR), Horry County, South Carolina

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; Columbia, South Carolina
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 
 

Location: Myrtle Beach, SC 
Accident Number: ERA21FA224
Date & Time: May 21, 2021, 18:14 Local
Registration: N575BC
Aircraft: Piper PA-31P
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On May 21, 2021, at 1814 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-31P, N575BC, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The flight was the airplane’s first flight after maintenance was performed and prior to the flight, the airplane was fueled with 167.5 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel.

The airplane departed Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR), Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at 1812 with the intended destination of Grand Strand Airport (CRE), North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. According to preliminary ADS-B and air traffic control radio communications data, prior to takeoff the pilot established communications and reported that he was ready for departure from runway 18. He was instructed to fly runway heading, climb to 1,700 ft, and was cleared for takeoff. Once airborne, the controller instructed the pilot to turn left; however, the pilot stated that he needed to return to runway 18. The controller instructed the pilot to enter a right closed traffic pattern at 1,500 ft. As the airplane continued to turn to the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, it reached an altitude of about 1,000 ft mean sea level (msl). While on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, the airplane descended to 450 ft msl, climbed to 700 ft msl, and then again descended to 475 ft msl prior to the loss of radar contact. About 1 minute after the pilot requested to return to the runway, the controller asked if any assistance was required, to which the pilot replied, “yes, we’re in trouble.” There were no further radio communications from the pilot.

The airplane impacted in a field about .1 mile beyond the last radar return, at an elevation of 20 ft. A postimpact fire ensued, and the debris field was about 400 ft long by 150 ft wide. All major components of the airplane were located in the vicinity of the main wreckage. Each engine came to rest in about a 5 ft crater and remained attached to the fuselage.

The left engine crankcase was impact damaged in multiple locations. The gearbox was impact separated. All valve covers remained intact and attached to the cylinders. The valve covers were removed an no anomalies were noted. Crankshaft and camshaft continuity were confirmed by using a lighted borescope to examine the internal components of the engine. In addition, the cylinders were examined using a lighted borescope and no anomalies were noted. All engine accessories were impact separated and fragmented. The left engine turbocharger was impact separated, would bind when it rotated, and scoring was noted on the casing.

The right engine crankcase was impact damaged in multiple locations. All valve covers remained intact and attached to the cylinders. The valve covers were removed an no anomalies were noted. Crankshaft and camshaft continuity were confirmed by using a lighted borescope to examine the internal components of the engine. In addition, the cylinders were examined using a lighted borescope and no anomalies were noted. All engine accessories were impact separated and fragmented. The oil suction screen was removed was not occluded. The right engine turbocharger was impact separated and would bind when it rotated.

The left propeller was impact separated from the engine. Two of the three blades were separated from the hub. All blades exhibited polishing. One blade was bent forward, one exhibited tip curling, and the last blade was bent aft. The blade that was bent aft remained attached to the propeller hub.

The right propeller was impact separated from the right engine. Two of the three blades were impact separated from the hub. All blades exhibited polishing. One blade was bent forward, one blade was bent aft, and one blade remained straight. The straight blade remained attached to the propeller hub.

Flight control cable continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit through multiple overload breaks in the cables. A majority of the wings and fuselage were consumed by fire. The remaining skin and structure exhibited accordion-like impact damage that was symmetrical on both wings.  The landing gear was in the extended position. The flaps were in the retracted position. The empennage was separated from the fuselage and located about 50 ft from the main wreckage. The top section of the vertical stabilizer and the rudder were impact crushed downward. The elevator remained attached to the right horizontal stabilizer. The right trim tab remained attached to the right elevator, was deflected up, but was impact separated from the connecting rod. The left trim tab remained attached to the left elevator, the connecting rod remained attached to the flight controls, and it was deflected up.

Further examination of the elevator trim tabs revealed that they were installed upside-down and reversed. The connecting rod that attached the trim tab to the trim drum that should be located on the top of the trim tab was located on the bottom side.

The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed on May 19, 2021. Maintenance performed at that time included removing, repainting, and reinstalling the primary and secondary flight control surfaces.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N575BC
Model/Series: PA-31P
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: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MYR,25 ft msl
Observation Time: 17:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C /18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 110°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.4 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR)
Destination: North Myrtle Beach, SC (CRE)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 33.685597,-78.968609 

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.

James Marklin "Mark" Harper

James Marklin "Mark" Harper

James Marklin "Mark" Harper
January 3, 1961 - May 21, 2021


James 'Mark' Harper, born January 3, 1961, in Clarksville, Tennessee, aged 60, was tragically lost to us on May 21, 2021, as a result of a mechanical failure during a private plane flight over Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. While he did not survive the crash, he was hailed a hero for avoiding homes and power lines by guiding the plane to the only open land for miles around.

Mark started his lifelong 'affair' with aviation with a 1979 Seminole High School graduation present from his parents of a private pilot's lesson. This was followed by a bachelor's degree in Aeronautics and Aviation from Embry-Riddle University in 1983.

During his early career he built up his flight hours by flying commercial freight for AmeriJet based in Ft. Lauderdale. This led to a 30-year career with US Air and American. Mark finished his career as Captain "Mark" flying American A321 commercial jets with over 35,000 accumulated flight hours.

During his off-hours, Mark was known for his entrepreneurial spirit by building Imperial Homes and Imperial Aviation of Mooresville from the ground up.

Mark was known for his unbridled energy, his love of all things that go on land, sea, or air. But most importantly, Mark was known for his love of family and his selfless attitude. He was always willing to lend a hand, teach a skill or offer support anyway he could.

Mark is survived by his children Bradley and Olivia Harper of Statesville, NC, his parents Kaye and Sidney Harper of Largo, FL and his brother Todd Harper of Belleair Beach, FL.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 4:00pm on June 4, 2021, at Heritage House of Cavin-Cook Funeral Home located at 494 E Plaza Dr Mooresville NC 28115. For those who are unable to attend the Celebration of Life service, you may go to the following link for the live stream https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC864hAs96dTRLVVL1la0Qlw/videos?view=2&flow=list

Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, is serving the family of Mr. Harper. Condolences may be made to the family at www.cavin-cook.com.



A 60-year-old Horry County man has been identified as the pilot who died in a Socastee plane crash Friday.

James Marklin Harper, who lived in the North Myrtle Beach area, died from injuries sustained in the crash, Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler said in a news release Saturday night. The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and local authorities.

The crash happened around 6:15 p.m. in an open field at 3833 Socastee Boulevard, authorities said.

The FAA told myhorrynews.com's news partner WMBF that the Piper PA-31P-425 Pressurized Navajo departed Myrtle Beach International Airport and was heading to Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach. The pilot, who was the only person in the plane, was trying to return to the Myrtle Beach airport when the plane crashed. 

Neighbors described hearing a loud boom and seeing large cloud of thick smoke when the plane went down. 

Some people who were near the crash site, including an off-duty county police officer, rushed to the scene to try to help. An explosion after the initial impact caused minor injuries to some of those trying to render aid, including the officer.

"We are incredibly proud of our officer’s actions, our community’s response, and of all the first responders on scene, and at the dispatch center, who responded yesterday," Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill said in a news release Saturday.  "Our officers run toward danger every day, and we remain grateful for their commitment to service and to the people of Horry County. As we celebrate the heroic actions of these first responders, we mourn the loss of the pilot. Our hearts are with this family during an incredibly difficult time."




A man from North Myrtle Beach died in a Friday evening plane crash near Myrtle Beach, the Horry County coroner announced Saturday.

James Marklin Harper, 60, who lived near North Myrtle Beach, died on scene from multiple injuries received in the crash.

The plane went down around 6:15 p.m. Friday. Around 7:15 p.m. the remains of the small aircraft were still smoldering in a clearing off of Socastee Boulevard near Buck Hill Drive. Dozens of spectators were gathered in the parking lot of Thai Palms Restaurant.

A handful of people saw the plane go down and rushed to help, including an off duty Horry County policeman. The plane exploded as they ran towards it and a few people had minor injuries.

The death is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and Horry County authorities.



HORRY COUNTY, South Carolina  (WMBF) - The pilot who died in a deadly plane crash in Horry County has been identified.

Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler said 60-year-old James Marklin Harper, died after his plane crashed along Socastee Boulevard Friday night.

Fowler added that Harper was from the North Myrtle Beach area.

First responders were called to the 3800 block of Socastee Boulevard, near Highway 17, at around 6:15 p.m. Friday where the plane went down in a field.

The FAA said the Piper PA-31P-425 Pressurized Navajo departed from the Myrtle Beach International Airport.

Harper was intending to go to the Grand Strand Airport but was trying to return to MYR before the crash happened.

He was the only person on board, officials said.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating.



SOCASTEE, South Carolina (WBTW) — One person was killed Friday evening in a plane crash in Socastee that also injured an off-duty Horry County police officer who witnessed the crash and tried to help, authorities said.

In a Twitter post, HCPD Chief Joseph Hill said the officer, who hasn’t been identified, was knocked off his feet when the aircraft exploded. He was resting at home Saturday morning after being taken to the hospital. Hill called him a “true hero.”

“Our officers run toward danger every day, and we remain grateful for their commitment to service and to the people of Horry County,” Hill said. “As we celebrate the heroic actions of these first responders, we mourn the loss of the pilot. Our hearts are with this family during an incredibly difficult time.”

The pilot killed in the crash will be released after relatives are notified, according to Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler said, adding that it could take a few days.

The plane crash was reported in the 3800 block of Socastee Boulevard, according to Horry County Fire Rescue.

The plane was registered to PJS, LLC based in North Myrtle Beach, according to FlightAware. The website shows the plane is a Piper PA-31P-425 Pressurized Navajo. Data from FlightAware shows the plane took off from Myrtle Beach International Airport at 6:12 p.m. and shows a flight path that ends near the location of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it is investigating the crash and an investigator is expected to arrive on scene Saturday.

Two witnesses told News13 they saw the plane going down and went over to help.

“We saw this plane going super low overhead, heard a noise like a bang or a pop and just ran over across the street through the traffic seeing if we could help, seeing what happened,” Sarah Ortega said.

“It come right above the trees and you could see it dropping, so I grabbed my cell phone and called 911 and told them that a plane was going down,” Yana Mintz said. “I heard someone say they smelled gas. I was too busy trying to find somebody, and then it just exploded.”

“I’m just thankful it’s in an open field,” Ortega said. “I can’t believe how they didn’t hit any of these wires and luckily none of these houses, the restaurants.”

Socastee Boulevard was closed for some time but has since reopened. No other information was immediately available.



Horry County Police Department

Update from Chief Hill on yesterday’s plane crash:

An Horry County Police Officer, while off duty, witnessed yesterday’s plane crash near Socastee Blvd. and ran to see how he could help. As the officer approached the smoking aircraft, the plane exploded knocking the officer off his feet. He suffered injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital by Horry County Fire Rescue. He is now at home resting. This officer is a true hero.

He was not alone in his actions. Other nearby community members also rushed in to see how to help. In this community, we lift each other up and we answer the call to serve our neighbors.

We are incredibly proud of our officer’s actions, our community’s response, and of all the first responders on scene, and at the dispatch center, who responded yesterday.

Our officers run toward danger every day, and we remain grateful for their commitment to service and to the people of Horry County.

As we celebrate the heroic actions of these first responders, we mourn the loss of the pilot. Our hearts are with this family during an incredibly difficult time.






























Eyewitnesses Yana Mintz (sunglasses) and Sara Ortega


HORRY COUNTY, South Carolina (WPDE) — One person is dead after a small plane crash in Horry County, according to Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler of Horry County.

Horry County Fire Rescue responded to the crash in the area of 3833 Socastee Boulevard Friday at 6:16 p.m.

A release from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said a twin-engine Piper PA-31 crashed in a field about 2.5 miles north of Myrtle Beach International Airport around 6:25 p.m.

The plane left from Myrtle Beach for Grand Strand Airport, and the pilot was the only person on board, according to FAA.

The pilot was trying to return to the departure airport when the crash occurred, the FAA said.

The FAA will release the tail number of the aircraft after investigators verify it at the incident location.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates.

The FAA said that this information is preliminary and may change as a result of the investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board said they are investigating the plane crash and an investigator is expected to arrive on the scene by Saturday.

ABC15 reporters on scene confirmed that Socastee Boulevard is back open for traffic.

One woman on scene recounted what she saw shortly after the crash. She said she could smell fumes from the crash but wasn't thinking it would explode.

"If he hadn't said there's fuel, we need to move, we need to get out of here, I wouldn't have run."

She said she was in shock and remembers saying "where is the rest of it?"

Another woman on the scene said she was kneeling and praying after witnessing the crash.

"Praying was the most I could do to help."

25 comments:

  1. Mark was a very high time, experienced pilot. He was a great all round guy. He will be missed, condolences to his family. God Bless

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  2. Looks like possibly an onboard fire. Maybe he said something to atc

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  3. Reportedly before departure, pilot told another pilot at MYR that this flight was first flight after annual and there were problems with the aileron rigging and pilot lost control on flight to Lake Norman airport near Charlotte, NC.

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  4. Reportedly the Pilot told another pilot at airport This was first flight after annual with ailerons not being rigged right. Pilot lost control after takeoff.

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  5. According to the preliminary report:

    "Further examination of the elevator trim tabs revealed that they were installed upside-down and reversed. The connecting rod that attached the trim tab to the trim drum that should be located on the top of the trim tab was located on the bottom side."

    So when the pilot selected normal nose-up trim for takeoff, the airplane would actually experience nose-down behavior? It must have been very confusing and startling, as well as physically demanding, to fight aircraft pitch in the traffic pattern. That would explain the excursions in altitude. That should have been found in post-maintenance inspection.

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    Replies
    1. You make the assumption that there was a post-maintenance inspection. This is not a requirement and it's the pilot's responsibility for an airworthy aircraft. After any maintenance, the pilot/owner should double check any work performed on the aircraft prior to flight.

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    2. I have been an aircraft mechanic for 40 years and I have never known of a mechanic not to perform a post maintenance inspection and operational check on any system, especially flight controls. And yes, it is a requirement. Please read FAR 43.13, Performance Rules. Also, the mechanic must signoff that the work he performed was done properly and the aircraft is airworthy. These mechanics failed in their responsibilities and have blood on their hands.

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    3. A mechanic doing the functional check can misinterpret the response when trim is run up and incorrectly installed tabs deflect upwards instead of the correct downward tab deflection that is required to lift the elevator for nose up.

      Very likely that the mechanic did do a function check but did not comprehend the incorrect "polarity" of the response. Same interpretation problem can happen when the owner runs trim and looks.

      This was a terrible mistake, but misinterpretation, not failure to test is the most plausible explanation.

      Watch people back up trailers - misinterpreting deflection is common.

      Delete
  6. So will the mechanic who did the mistake be jailed for involuntary manslaughter?

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  7. Will the mechanic who installed the trim incorrectly be jailed for involvement manslaughter?

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  8. Pre flight and before takeoff checklist most often will have a "controls free and correct". It will now include include "trim Tabs free and correct" on mine. We can learn from others mishaps...sad this happened and condolences to family and friends.

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  9. I have a suggestion for the FAA. Make it a requirement to have a course covering maintenance mistakes that cost lives, for A&P mechanics training schools. This website is all they need to do that.

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  10. I have a suggestion for the Piper Corporation - these parts should be designed so that they CANNOT be assembled upside down and reversed. Of course, that doesn't negate the PIC's responsibility to make sure his airplane is 100% airworthy before it's flown. It's a shame - condolences to friends, family and loved ones.

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  11. The direction of trim tab deflection presents a subtle verification trap, as follows:

    Trimming nose up is accomplished by the trim tab deflecting downward to make the elevator deflect upward. Trimming nose down is accomplished by the trim tab deflecting upward to make the elevator deflect downward.

    Verification by running the trim to the limits and watching the tabs move will fail to catch the unexpected functional reversal if the person checking does not have their mind straight on what is supposed to happen.

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  12. playback at https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?icao=a76118&lat=33.635&lon=-78.953&zoom=13.0&showTrace=2021-05-21&timestamp=1621635246

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  13. the only site maintence per web is, "Executive HeliJet MX is an aviation maintenance company located in Myrtle Beach South Carolina (KMYR). We’ve been servicing private, charter and corporate aircraft for the better part of the last decade. Our maintenance staff has been hand-selected from many applicants and come from a variety of backgrounds."
    reference "The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed on May 19, 2021. Maintenance performed at that time included removing, repainting, and reinstalling the primary and secondary flight control surfaces."

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  14. This is very unfortunate for the mechanic and especially the pilot.
    Rigging whether it be painting ,adding lead weights, using a protractor for degree adjustment should all be taken very seriously.

    This has happened before that I know of with cable miss rigging on ailerons on a Cessna resulting with reversed direction and a crash shortly after take off.

    Part of the fault now days is just lack of experience from new and few trainees coming into the maintenance field on smaller aircraft. It takes a lot more knowledge then the big MRO's.

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  15. Dan Gryder has an interesting discussion of incorrect trim tabs. He actually shows a P-Navajo that has its elevator trim tabs hooked up wrong but plane still flies fine. Watch his vid for the explanation
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfv9q6dPtiM

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    1. Just to highlight the claim in the video, reversed trim tabs can be fine if you hook up the internals reversed as well on that model. So on a preflight inspection, finding the trimtabs reversed or not is no indication of malfunction or not unless you try actuating the controls to see if in synch.

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    2. Still surprising that a pilot looking over his own aircraft after control surfaces were serviced does not visually detect that the trim steerhorn brackets are not on whichever surface (top or bottom) where he is accustomed to seeing them.

      It is almost as if during all those pre-flights where he was supposed to wiggle the tabs while looking at the actuation pivots for wear, he never developed a memory of top or bottom being his look point.

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    3. Dan Gryder is wrong. Reverse trim tabs are not "fine". Read the note in the parts manual that states "UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL THIS CATALOG BE USED FOR RIGGING AND INSTALLATION PURPOSES" Use the SERVICE manual which is readily available and shows the trim tab horns on top.

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    4. Anyone who commented how "outstanding" Dan Gryder is should hang there head in shame. It is not difficult to use the correct manual. The mechanic who installed the trim tabs upside down quite likely used the parts manual as reference. If the horns are underneath, the elevator tab control tube assembly,47707-00, is at the wrong angle.

      Delete
  16. § 65.81 General privileges and limitations.
    (a) A certificated mechanic may perform or supervise the maintenance, preventive maintenance or alteration of an aircraft or appliance, or a part thereof, for which he is rated (but excluding major repairs to, and major alterations of, propellers, and any repair to, or alteration of, instruments), and may perform additional duties in accordance with §§ 65.85, 65.87, and 65.95. However, he may not supervise the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alteration of, or approve and return to service, any aircraft or appliance, or part thereof, for which he is rated unless he has satisfactorily performed the work concerned at an earlier date.

    If he has not so performed that work at an earlier date, he may show his ability to do it by performing it to the satisfaction of the Administrator or under the direct supervision of a certificated and appropriately rated mechanic, or a certificated repairman, who has had previous experience in the specific operation concerned.

    (b) A certificated mechanic may not exercise the privileges of his certificate and rating unless he understands the current instructions of the manufacturer, and the maintenance manuals, for the specific operation concerned.

    [Doc. No. 1179, 27 FR 7973, Aug. 10, 1962, as amended by Amdt. 65-2, 29 FR 5451, Apr. 23, 1964; Amdt. 65-26, 45 FR 46737, July 10, 1980]

    ReplyDelete