Friday, September 17, 2021

Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six, N33022: Accident occurred September 16, 2021 - Orcas Island, Washington

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; Seattle, Washington Location: Orcas Island, Washington
Accident Number: WPR21LA363
Date and Time: September 16, 2021, 18:25 Local 
Registration: N33022
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300
Injuries: 2 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Business

On September 16, 2021, at 1825 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, Cherokee Six, N33022, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Orcas Island, Washington. The pilot sustained minor injuries and the 2 passengers were seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The flight originated from Bellingham International Airport (KBLI), Bellingham, Washington. The pilot reported that he planned to fly with the airplane owner over different business project sites on Orcas Island, and then stop at Friday Harbor Airport (KFHR), Friday Harbor, Washington, to meet a company employee and return him back to their operating base at KBLI.

While on climbout from Orcas Island, the pilot and the passenger observed an oily substance on the windscreen and decided to land immediately at KFHR. After landing, oil was found on the cowling and around the propeller hub.

Two mechanics hired by the owner to inspect the airplane following the precautionary landing reported that they did not find any oil on the upper engine cowling. They verified 10 quarts of oil in the engine, as reported by the pilot at the start of the flight. Oil residue was found at the front of the engine, near the crankshaft seal area. The area was cleaned, and the engine and propeller were respectively started and cycled with no oil leaks detected.

After the inspection the pilot departed KFHR with a planned destination of KBLI. During the climbout, the pilot observed the oil pressure in the yellow range and leveled off at 2,000 ft mean sea level. The pilot reduced engine power and set the propeller rpm between 2,200 to 2,300, and verified all engine parameters and readings were in the green. Shortly after, the engine “hesitated” and then lost all power.

The pilot maneuvered as he configured the airplane for best glide speed. During a turn, the pilot activated the auxiliary fuel pump, and switched the fuel selector from left to right main fuel tank. As the airplane continued its decent, the engine suddenly restarted, but again lost power. When the airplane was about 80 ft above the ground, the owner heard the stall warning horn. The airplane then landed hard on a grass field, bounced, and then came to rest upright.

The airplane and engine were recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N33022
Model/Series: PA-32-300 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting: 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Friday Harbor, WA (KFHR) 
Destination: Bellingham, WA (KBLI)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious, 1 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 48.646286,-122.78279 (est)


  1. N33022
    1975 PIPER PA-32-300
    Fixed wing single engine
    (6 seats / 1 engine)

  2. Well done! So glad to hear of only minor injuries!! From google maps, field appears to be no more than 1000' .... Great dead stick landing!