Friday, August 20, 2021

Piper PA-24 Comanche, N8262P: Fatal accident occurred August 20, 2021 near Anson County Airport (KAFP), Wadesboro, North 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.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlotte, North Carolina
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Location: Wadesboro, NC 
Accident Number: ERA21FA333
Date & Time: August 20, 2021, 10:13 Local
Registration: N8262P
Aircraft: Piper PA24
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On August 20, 2021, about 1013 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250, N8262P, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Wadesboro, North Carolina. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the previous owner of the airplane, he had purchased the airplane as a restoration project about 3 years prior to the accident but was unable to complete the restoration. He sold the airplane on August 4, 2021, to the pilot, who also held and airframe and powerplant certificate with inspection authorization. At the time of the accident, the airplane had not been flown for about 15 years. The pilot drove from Florida to Darr Field Airport (NC03), High Point, North Carolina, where the airplane was based. He planned to complete repairs, perform an annual inspection, and fly the airplane to LaBelle Municipal Airport (X14), LaBelle, Florida. The repairs included replacing hoses, rebuilding a jammed fuel selector valve, repairing a corroded fuel line, and removing and checking one magneto. On the day of the accident, the airplane flew from NC03 to Anson County Airport (AFP), Wadesboro, North Carolina uneventfully.

The pilot purchased 51 gallons of fuel at AFP and departed for X14. Witnesses reported that during startup, the engine sputtered and backfired. Shortly after takeoff from runway 34, the engine sputtered and backfired again. The airplane then turned left and descended nose down into wooded terrain, where a postcrash fire ensued. 

The wreckage came to rest inverted, oriented east, about 1/2 mile north-northwest of the runway 34 departure end. The cockpit and cabin were partially consumed by fire. The throttle, mixture and propeller levers were observed in the full forward position. The magnetos were selected to both and the electric fuel pump switch was in the on position. The fuel selector valve was separated, exhibited thermal damage and was positioned to the left main fuel tank.

Measurement of the flap actuator jackscrew corresponded to the flaps retracted setting and measurement of the landing gear actuator cable corresponded to the landing gear retracted position. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit area through cable impact and recovery separations to their respective flight control surfaces (ailerons, rudder, stabilator, and stabilator trim.)

The engine came to rest inverted. One propeller blade remained attached to the propeller hub and the other blade had separated and was located underneath the engine. Both blades exhibited tip curling and the attached blade exhibited leading edge damage. The engine sustained front impact damage and the crankshaft could only be rotated about 90° by hand. Camshaft and crankshaft continuity were confirmed to the rear accessory section of the engine. Holes were drilled into the top of the engine crankcase to facilitate borescope examination. Additionally, fire consumed the oil sump and a portion of the lower crankcase, which allowed visual and borescope examination from the underside of the engine. Visual and borescope examination of the cylinders, and crankcase did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions.

The carburetor was impact separated from the engine and sustained thermal damage. Disassembly of the carburetor revealed the two floats present at the bottom of the bowl and all seals destroyed. The carburetor fuel inlet screen was absent of debris. The engine driven fuel pump remained attached to the engine and was destroyed. All fuel and oil hoses were destroyed by fire. Both magnetos remained attached to the engine and were thermally damaged. The right magneto was rotated by hand, but no spark was produced. The left magneto could not be rotated by hand. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N8262P
Model/Series: PA24 250 
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: AFP,299 ft msl 
Observation Time: 10:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C /23°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 290°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Wadesboro, NC 
Destination: LaBelle, FL (X14)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 35.030833,-80.089167
Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

John David Styles
Fort Myers, Florida
July 3, 1950 - August 20, 2021

John David Styles, age 71, of Port Charlotte, passed away August 20, 2021 in North Carolina. He was born July 3, 1950. He was a Veteran of the United States Army. He was a pilot, and inspected and rebuilt all types of aircraft. Survivors include his wife: Larissa Styles, grandson Lance Hellmans, 4 brothers and 3 sisters.  Graveside services will be held Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at 10:00 am at Alva Cemetery, Alva with Pastor Chris Mason officiating.

WADESBORO — A plane crashed after taking off from the Anson County Airport on Friday, claiming the lives of the pilot and a passenger.

The deceased have since been identified. They are John Styles, 71, of Port Charlotte, Florida and Jason Hodson, 42, of Punta Gorda, Florida, according to Trooper Ray Pierce with the Highway Patrol. The Federal Aviation Administration did not respond to requests for comment about the cause of the crash on Monday.

Pierce added Monday that the investigation revealed that the two men had travelled north North Carolina and took off from High Point before landing in Anson County.

Airport Manager Rex Edwards said plane took off sometime around 10 a.m. Friday and crashed shortly after takeoff, making impact in a wooded area about a mile north of the airport near Valley Protein.

Edwards said he believes, based on a brief conversation with the two men, that the pair had stopped into Anson County Airport to refuel on their way to Florida.

“They didn’t mention any problems [with the plane] when they were coming in to land,” Edwards said.

An airport employee witnessed the crash, and told Edwards it looked like they attempted to turn back around towards the airport before losing control. The employee then alerted 9-1-1, and the FAA arrived on the scene to investigate the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the incident.

Pierce said the plane “burst into flames” upon impact, and smoke was visible over the trees shortly after they descended.

As a safety precaution, the airport has halted sales of fuel until its fuel distributor determines whether there is an issue with the fuel, according to Edwards. The FAA may look into the airport’s fuel if they suspect it was related to the crash, but Edwards said there “shouldn’t be any issue” and that there hasn’t been any concern over the quality of the fuel in the past.

The airport is functioning normally, apart from the shut down of fuel sales.

The agencies who responded to the scene were as follows: Anson County Emergency Mangement, Wadesboro Fire Department, Anson Rescue Squad, Anson County EMS, Lilesville Fire Department, Ansonville Fire Department, Morven Fire Department, Anson County Airport, Anson County Sheriff’s Office, NCSHP, Anson County 911, NC Forestry and NCDOT.

Anson County Emergency Services

We had a small aircraft crash in a wooded area this morning just north of Wadesboro, at approximately 10:15. The aircraft caught fire and completely burnt. There were no survivors. There will be no more information released at this time pending notification of next of kin. FAA and NTSB are enroute to investigate. Thanks to the responding department’s at the scene and those covering for the department’s that are on scene. Anson County Emergency Management, Wadesboro Fire Department, Anson Rescue Squad, Anson County EMS, Lilesville Fire Department, Ansonville Fire Department, Morven Fire Department, Anson County Airport, Anson County Sheriff’s Office, NCSHP, Anson County 911, NC Forestry and NCDOT.


  1. Piper Comanche, according to FAA statement.

    1. Crash location is adjacent to the pinned map location below. News video linked below shows remnants wedged in tree fork but does not clarify whether north or south side of Little Duncan Road.

  2. The impossible turn claims two more victims.

  3. Attempting a low-slow 180 degree turn is nothing more than suicide if you do it intentionally. AOPA ASI is irresponsible for promoting the impossible turn.

    1. What a ridiculous moronic statement. You do the best you can in that type situation, it is what it is. No guarantees through life, and each one of us has an appointed time.

    2. Anonymous must not be a pilot. If they are, I would never fly with them. ASI did push the narrative that maybe the impossible turn is not quite so impossible. I think they were irresponsible too. Under 1000' AGL? Straight ahead, if you do turn no more than 30 degrees and INTO the wind. Anything else can get you killed.

    3. John B -- Spot on the money.

    4. Rehearsing the “impossible turn” at a safe altitude, with another pilot ( for safety and input ) will generally tell you that trying to make the runway after a power loss is NOT a sound idea. Doing so in a twin will convince you in short order that it is a lousy choice.
      I’ve rehearsed the scenario in my A36 and B60 several times. In my case, anything less than 1500 feet in the A36 is not going to work. The twin is a no go below 2500 feet.
      Of course, there are Super Cubs and the like that can pull it off at 500 feet or less. I saw a Wilma do it at 300 feet. If the idea rests in your mindset that you’ll try to turn around and put the wheels on the runway, then you had better know what you and your airplane are capable of. Don’t let yourself get into that “test pilot” scenario, you don’t have an ejection seat.

    5. World class training house teaches it in the PC12 from 1200 AGL and it’s very effective. For a proficient pilot 1000 AGL would probably work.

  4. Depends on the airplane and pilot. If you can't turn and maintain airspeed you probably shouldn't try it.

    1. If you look you will find a video of a guy from Flyonspeed do it from 300' in an RV-4. I can do it easily from 500'. Below 500' I will pick a spot straight ahead.

    2. Stanford, anyone can do a maneuver when you know it is coming. I have had 4 complete engine failures in my 55 years and 27000 hours of flying. 2 in singles and 2 in twin Cessnas. First off, for 4 to 10 seconds you will be in denial of the failure. By then if you are low, all options are out the window. The plane belongs to your insurance company, and you can buy another. You can't replace your or your families lives. Land the damn thing as slow as flaps and gear down will let you. Practice slow flight every time you can, it will save your life.

  5. Literally straight ahead of the departure was a field, next to that a mile straight road.. Especially in a twin, making an attempt at a turn around while low and slow engine out is pure suicide. I understand panic, I fully understand the desire to have pavement under you in order to land .. but training must defeat the instinct to turn back.
    I’ve flown into my share of unfamiliar airports, not knowing the terrain as good as I do airports near my home base. I make it a habit of using Google Maps before I depart to thoroughly scan the departure area for emergency landing areas. Takes all of ten minutes max, and my IPad is right there for use every time. I generally do this BEFORE I depart my home base in the event reception is poor. When I establish a field or road suitable, I set my Aspen 1000 before departure to align my departure along with the Garmin Pilot on the iPad.
    Emergency engine out procedures in my Bonanza are simple, the procedure works with most GA
    Immediately push the nose down, trim trim trim for descent and airspeed.
    Fly to the pre set field at 95 indicated, never less. I use a small red stripe on ASI for best glide
    Gear up, flaps up ( flaps up until field or road is made)
    Entry door unlatched. If there are rear seat pax, they eject emerg egress windows.
    Master off, flare as normal with slightly higher nose up attitude.

    Have used this this chain of planning for decades and 6 years ago it paid off, likely saved my life along with 2 pax. Airplane was totaled but we all egressed quickly without injury. Sincerely hope someone reads this and helps change their approach to safety.

    1. Yep. The pre-takeoff mental prep is what is most important. Even when I was flying single-engine turbines, immediately after takeoff my mantra was always: "Engine quits here I'm going there, etc."

      There's little room for optimism when flying airplanes. Pessimism, even a bit of paranoia, greatly increases safety.

    2. Leo and Muyoku: you both nailed it! My Yankee glides like a simonized manhole 🕳 cover! I would never ever dream of the impossible turn on initial climb out.

    3. And another vote for Leo's/Muyoko's/SD's "preparation & paranoia" approach to (at the very least) post-liftoff (and landing pattern base-to-final) issues, this time from a 35:1 glider pilot w. 2600+ hours. So far, so good...

    4. These are all great points. I’ll add that I think it’s imperative to couple this with 3D or ground-based graphical views. ForeFlight and other apps have good solution for this.
      I live in a very hilly and mountainous area; overhead satellite views would mislead a top-view-only analyst into thinking that there is/was an open field here or there and completely miss the fact that the field being referenced is on the side of a 600-ft tall hill.

    5. Leo, Why the reference to a twin in your post?

    6. People are commenting on oddities in other stories of Leo's:

    7. Perhaps the word “clarify” would appropriately replace “oddity”. My contributions to this site and others will always be non judgmental, non speculative and certainly respectful of those involved. My input hopefully puts a memory key into those pilots who need them most, at the most critical time.

    8. @Leo - A reader wondered if you just didn't know that not every Comanche is a twin.

      Your recent contributions included a story of having experienced wire rope elevator control pulley failure on a Pitts 12. You wrote that story not knowing that the Pitts 12 design uses a push pull rod to control the elevator.

      Problems with details, circumstances and terminology are a risk when fabricating stories. Oddities is the polite form of what was noticed about the Pitts story.

    9. Pitts 12s, Super 12s as mine was use pulleys and cables for elevator trim, as well off of the push rod for tensioners in keeping elevator flutter zeroed. It was a tensioner cable on mine that jumped.
      It’s not as simple as just a single push tod tube from stick to tail.

      As for the Comanche, my mistake. The first reference on the internet I came across showed it as a PA-30B. I now see the corrections.

    10. Leo. Excellent comments. Appreciate your insights.

    11. @Leo - No pulleys are used anywhere in the Pitts 12 or Super 12 elevator trim and no pulleys exist in the design to "keep elevator flutter zeroed".

      Your claim of a pulley related failure in the elevator system is not factual. You continue to tell a false story. Drawing of the trim rigging linked below for everyone to see.

    12. Pitts 12 push-pull rod elevator connected from stick to tail is visible in fully rigged photo linked below. No pulleys.

      Impossible to say "It’s not as simple as just a single push rod tube from stick to tail."

    13. @Leo, who is now posting as "CFII". Copy on your name change. You can use that fresh start to offer helpful perspectives without fabricating stories that mislead people who read them.

      Highlighting the true nature of Pitts 12 elevator control was important to do out of respect for the N112JH crew that perished.

    14. “Anonymous” .. what happened? Your toast get burnt? Your “face mask” authority badge get taken away? What ever your mental state, I’m still here as Leo, but yes I am a CFII. It seems that you are a self appointed censor, no background with Pitts builds, their modifications and STCs, and most certainly you are a troll.
      Take a break, give it a rest. You don’t impress me, nor do you deserve any more of my attention. That sound you hear is static, as when your mic no longer works.
      PS .. develop a profile here, use a name. Adds to your accountability.

    15. Good reply Leo. You know a lot more about the subject matter than the clown. That's easy to determine when reading your comments and comparing those with the clown's comments.

    16. LOL...still, Leo was factually inaccurate on the Pitts....and he never acknowledged it. Tells me he's more interested in appearing to be an expert and actually researching a subject than he is putting in the time to get it right.

  6. Here's the location of the accident.'52.5%22N+80%C2%B005'23.0%22W/@35.0312775,-80.0901766,229m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0x0!7e2!8m2!3d35.0312458!4d-80.0897152?hl=en

    Street view of location,-80.09011,3a,75y,80.6h,86.79t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s_j5QAkXONN_sKSnVDHj9XQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

  7. According to the info listed above, neither of the two occupants were the owner of the plane. The registered owner is listed as Charles D Henley

    1. The plane was being purchased by the pilot. He was up making repairs and flying back with it. The plane apparently hadnt flown for quite some time. The pilot was my neighbor...

  8. RIP John and Jason. An opened and almost completed NTSB case in less than 8 days!

    1. John was a great mechanic and a good friend. He will be missed. RIP

  9. A lot of 'expert' assumptions and lectures here about the PIC trying to do a return based on one loosely worded witness statement. Looking at the pinned map above it appears more likely he was trying to make it to the larger field off to the left, there were zero options within range straight ahead except small fields and lots of large trees. Not sure why any of you experts evidently could not see this. It is pretty damned obvious to me and I am fairly sure it would be to most other pilots. That's where I'd be heading.

    1. as "Runway 34 Dimensions: 5498 x 100 ft., Obstructions: 85 ft. trees, 2687 ft. from runway, 254 ft. right of centerline, 29:1 slope to clear
      17 FT HILL 0-200 FT FROM END OF RY AND 364 FT LEFT OF CNTRLN" thus I agree that field across US-52 was an inviting option.

  10. To answer … “Leo, Why the reference to a twin in your post?”

    Loss of an engine in a twin introduces critical variables you don’t encounter in singles

    When a twin is departing, and low and slow, the loss of thrust on one side mandates keeping the airspeed above the blue line ( usually an instant push down on the yoke ), wings level and rudder to correct yaw. At low altitude and low airspeed, any attempt to turn starts a chain of events that happen quickly and generally result in a crash..
    Here is a brief, concise article from Rod Machado .. a good read.

    1. Post Script .. I understand the confusion. I initially did a quick internet scan for news stories on this crash, one source referred to the accident plane as a PA30 .. a twin Comanche. I now see that was incorrect and in fact it was a single.
      Clutter and noise aside, my purposeful contribution was to cite the importance of thoroughly planning your departure, to include emergency landing spots. In some cases, you may need to alter your departure path to place the best spots in front of you. A previous commenter suggested 3D terrain maps such as ForeFlight provides, excellent idea to scope obstacles.

    2. @Leo- Where was that? Searching for a source referencing PA30 for this crash doesn't find it. My initial search before posting the link in the first comment to this KR page led to lots of stories, but none showed PA30.

      The FAA's statement that it was a PA-24 was included in the news story that appeared on line two hours after the crash, linked in the first KR comment that was posted. Other news stories began with: "A single-engine airplane crashed leaving Anson County Airport..."

  11. "Witnesses reported that during startup, the engine sputtered and backfired. Shortly after takeoff from runway 34, the engine sputtered and backfired again." In many cases the plane will whisper to you when it is about to fail...oil pressure falling, oil temp higher than normal or something else that you have to pay attention to. This old girl was screaming at them...

    1. The pilot killed the passenger and he has 2 minor children and a wife he left behind.

  12. Someone's comment here on KR for a different crash a while ago nailed it when saying that the moment an engine fails, the plane belongs to the insurance company and no efforts to save anything beyond lives should be made. It's no longer your plane. That statement really changed my view.
    Put it down where the slowest deceleration can be achieved, fly it all the way into the inevitable crash - but not through it, as that's aerodynamically quite impossible when airfoils and the kinetic energy of the entire aircraft start to meet other molecules than air ;-)

  13. sputters and backfires....and he still takes off. Unbelievable. In a car, yes. In a plane? Hell no.