Monday, November 01, 2021

Piper PA-30, N30SH: Accident occurred October 29, 2021 in Waverly, Humphreys County, Tennessee

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; Nashville, Tennessee Location: Waverly, Tennessee
Accident Number: ERA22LA037
Date and Time: October 29, 2021, 19:13 Local
Registration: N30SH
Aircraft: Piper PA-30 
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N30SH
Model/Series: PA-30 
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: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 36.024276,-87.819159


  1. A crystal ball tells me that I should never trust the fuel gauges on an airplane and the fuel level should be verified visually and preferably with a calibrated fuel stick during preflight inspection.

  2. Unreal.

    "According to my source, John David was flying at the time and he’s allegedly told people that the fuel gauge was not working. He believed he had more fuel than was in the tank. The crash has allegedly left Abbie shaken up. My source claims that Abbie doesn’t want to fly anymore with John."

    So he allegedly through a source "believed" he had more fuel than he really did even with a non-functioning fuel gauge(s). If true, she has more brain cells than he does.

    1. That aircraft was not airworthy with a malfunctioning fuel gauge.

    2. totally untrue. one of the very first things a decent flight instructor teaches a student is don't EVER trust fuel guages on ANY airplane. all pilots know this including you if you were a pilot which you are obviously NOT! IF you own or fly any particular aircraft you note what the guages said before you fill the tanks and then you note how much fuel it took to fill the tanks. soon you know what the guages are telling you. you also should know the rate this aircraft burns fuel in fight so you do the math on how long it will take to your chosen destination and how much fuel it will take to get there. moral of the story, don't ever go fly with this goofball. can't you just look at his face and know that? he sure does have a cute little wife though.

    3. Sorry Chuck, but it's obvious that you are the one here who is not a pilot. One of the basic things every private pilot learns for their checkride is the required equipment for an aircraft to be airworthy. Per CFR 91.205(b)(9)
      For VFR flight during the day, the following instruments and equipment are required: Fuel gauge indicating the quantity of fuel in each tank.

      So yes, an aircraft with a malfunctioning fuel gauge is NOT airworthy and if you knew that before the flight and chose to fly anyway, you are breaking the law. If the FAA ramp checks you and discovers that, you can (and should) face an enforcement action.

    4. I dont think I have ever flown a GA plane with a proper working fuel gauge.
      If this was the case, no Cessna would be allowed to leave the ground and it would mean all GA planes are not air worthy.

      How do you verify the gauge is working correctly anyway while statically sitting on the ground?

    5. Thank you for the excellent demonstration the hazardous attitudes of resignation "Fuel gauges never work, so why should I care." and anti-authority "The rule making it illegal to fly with a broken fuel gauge doesn't apply to me." Keep it up and I'm sure Kathryn's Report will soon have a page dedicated to you too.

      Your statement is so ridiculous it's hard to know where to start. "No Cessna would be allowed to leave the ground?" You think there are any Citation pilots out there that would even think to fly their jet without a functioning fuel gauge?

      "All GA planes are un airworthy." I don't know what crap planes you fly, but I've flown hundreds of different GA aircraft of many types including Cessnas and only once did I find one with a broken fuel gauge and instead of breaking the law and flying it anyway (which you apparently think would be ok), I immediately grounded it and had our A&P fix it.

      "How do you verify the gauge is working correctly while statically sitting on the ground?"

      Um, plenty of ways. The easiest is note the indicated fuel level and then fill the tanks and crosscheck that indicated level against how many gallons went in.

  3. Don’t buy the fuel gauge story; that sounds more like a ground-pounder's explanation of what happened when they have no real information to go on.
    This pilot is trained in the modern era. The checklist for both the Cessna 172 and the Piper twins have you inspect the fuel tank levels visually. He has certainly learned that the fuel gauges may be wonky, but he would know how to estimate how how much fuel he needs, plus reserve, for his flight and how to verify that amount by dipping the tanks.
    More likely that he took off with a mis-configured fuel crossfeed valve.

    1. Not having AUX selected while the toggle switches were on for tip tank burn is another possibility, as in the N7663Y fuel starvation crash by an ATP-cert pilot who didn't actually burn his tip tanks off as he had thought:

      Lost fuel out aux tank vents is another possibility from tip tank leakage through solenoid valves with debris or o-ring trouble, per page 37, here:

  4. Fuel gauges in GA aircraft need only be correct in two instances - when full and empty - at certification in the US, IIRC. Either way, only a foolhardy pilot would trust them. Any blame placed on fuel gauges shows a basic lack of understanding of GA and is coming from someone hopefully not a pilot.

    Simple pilot error notwithstanding, I thank God we’re not reading about another deceased family as is too often the case.

    1. They only have to be accurate when empty.

    2. OWT based on prior version of FAR 23.1337(b)(1). The current version states that "There must be a means to indicate to the flightcrew members the quantity of usable fuel in each tank during flight. An indicator
      calibrated in appropriate units and clearly marked to indicate those units must be used." It can't indicate the quantity of usable fuel unless it's accurate at all fuel levels.

    3. GA includes pretty much everything besides transport category. I only hope that fuel gauges in business Jets and helicopters work.
      I always found (old design) small GA aircraft kind of shitty, probably due to designs from half a century ago, and have not flown a Cirrus, Diamond, Pipistrel or other newer companies‘ designs. It’s 2022, we have more computer in our pockets than NASA had for some space missions at the time those bugsmushers were designed, but yet here we are taking dysfunctional fuel gauges for granted. Cognitive dysfunction.
      Tailwinds and be careful up there.

    4. GA is pretty much everything besides transport category, military and specialty aircraft. I surely hope that business Jets and helicopters have precise fuel gauges under all or most circumstances…
      I have always felt small (old designs) GA aircraft to be, frankly, shitty, probably largely due to their designs from half a century ago. I have never flown newer companies‘ designs, like Cirrus, Diamond, Pipistrel.
      It’s 2022, we have more computer in our pockets than NASA had for some missions when those bug smashers were designed, yet here we are “defending“ equipment not functioning for its intended purpose AND even have regulations supporting that. I wouldn’t call that lack of understanding of GA but cognitive dysfunction. There is nothing to understand here, just to accept shitty designs, supportive regulations and good marketing, the hallmark of

    5. The whole "only needs to be accurate when empty" line is a myth. See

  5. I've never used a fuel gauge in my pre flight or inflight. Why would you.

  6. All these ratings and he ran out of gas. Just wow. He should have them all revoked.

    Certificate: COMMERCIAL PILOT
    Date of Issue: 11/14/2021


    Type Ratings:

    Certificate: FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR
    Date of Issue: 5/31/2021


  7. It's comical that the news media is reporting that Abbie is a "licensed pilot."

    John David and Abbie, both licensed pilots.
    His wife Abbie is also a pilot — she earned her student pilot license in August 2020, FAA records show.

    From the FAA database:
    Medical Information:
    No Medical Information Available
    Certificate: STUDENT PILOT
    Date of Issue: 8/20/2020

    Sure, she has a "student pilot certificate" which to "earn" you simply have to be over 16, be able to speak English, and have a pulse. There is absolutely no knowledge or skill requirement whatsoever. Over 17 months after applying for her student pilot certificate, she doesn't even have a medical certificate yet. Getting your medical is one of the first things any student pilot does and is a requirement to be able to solo, so it would seem she is in no way a serious student pilot.

  8. Three months later and the NTSB preliminary report is suspiciously devoid of almost all information on this one.

  9. None of the recent flight track logs for the accident airplane on show any ADS-B data. Either John David doesn't know how to properly operate the transponder to transmit the required ADS-B information, or the aircraft is not properly equipped with the appropriate ADS-B equipment in violation of 14CFR.

    1. It's not a violation to not be ADS-B equipped if you fly below 10,000 feet and avoid class B, C, and the mode-C veil. Is there any evidence that this aircraft was flown in ADS-B required airspace? Most TRACONs that require ADS-B can tell if the aircraft doesn't have it and will not allow them to enter unless they requested a waiver in advance to operate in ADS-B required airspace.

      It is important to note that it IS a violation to not have ADS-B turned on at all times in ANY airspace if your aircraft is equipped with it.

      Also, why it may not be illegal for this aircraft to not have ADS-B, it certainly IS pretty odd. You can afford to fly a twin, but not afford a couple thousand dollars to put ADS-B on it??

  10. Taking off with a known defective FAR 91 required instrument - is foolish. Period Old pilot statements about accuracy are stupid and when exposed to daylight make no sense - A tachometer that is only accurate at zero and full rpm is a defective instrument - same for any other functional gauge. Fix your aircraft, make it airworthy prior to flight. Use the fuel stick to beat some sense into your head

  11. I earned my private certificate in 1969, back before digital gauges and sight tubes for fuel levels.
    My instructor, a Korea war jet jockey with tens of thousands of hours handed me a dowel on my first ever flight. The dowel was notched, “full” “1/2” and “low”. Before every flight since, I dipped the dowel into the tank, verified the quantity. That .25 cent dowel served me well in that old 40hp Cub all the way through the check ride.
    Now I fly a fairly new Baron G59, all glass panel. Fuel guages, fuel burn, fuel remaining, range .. all computed and displayed in a flat panel presentation.
    What’s changed? I paid $8 from Sporty’s for a calibrated fuel stick instead of making my own from a 1/2 dowel. I use that stick every flight, no fail. From that number, in flight I still keep a knee board with scratch paper to compute my fuel burn, when to switch ranks and my endurance. The flat panel is there to cross reference only.

  12. prefer to top off when putting the plane away ... reduces the amount of air and possible water condensation entering the tanks when air cools and you have more time when u land than depqrting.

  13. I've also never flown a GA plane with a working fuel gauge. Visual inspection, and monitor fuel flow rate.

    1. "Monitor fuel flow rate." Nice theory, but unlike fuel quantity, fuel flow is not a required instrument, so how does that work when your plane either doesn't have a fuel flow gauge, or it's inaccurate (like most of them are) or broken? Since you are talking about some ghetto GA plane that has a busted fuel quantity gauge, do you really think that plane is going to have an accurate working fuel flow gauge that you can trust? Also, you better hope this plane doesn't develop a leak in the fuel tank, fuel lines, reservoir, or any other spot before the fuel flow meter, or you're screwed if fuel flow is all you are using to figure out how much gas you have in the tank.

    2. Flow is already a rate (per time unit) just saying.

  14. Boy, the casual attitude, acceptance/ indifference and makeshift solutions some show about an inoperative critical instrument one should be able to trust is mind blowing on several levels.
    Sure, all measurement techniques have premises and limitations as well as specific precision and accuracy the operator ought to understand and know, now obviously also "entirely useless" is a specification when before it was base for a warranty claim.
    Hard to fathom this is the so called First World, but maybe it never was.
    Read the manuals (horse's mouth) before believing myths and be safe up there.

  15. There are two fuel level indicating instruments in the PA-30 panel, one for the tip/aux/main tanks on the left and another for the right. Rotating contacts at the fuel selector valves connect the sending units to the indicators.

    Even if a tank sending unit, switch contact or indicating instrument is acting up, the indication from the corresponding tank on the other side still provides a reference sufficient to conservatively manage tank depletion with correlation to burn times.

    The rumored story is not credible for a maintained aircraft.

    1. Yes, thank you. I was thinking the same thing. You have two engines, two fuel flow indicators, two fuel quantity indicators, and multiple tanks with their own sending units to those indicators. To run all tanks dry and try to blame your incompetence on a bad gauge defies belief.

  16. I have been a pilot for more than 25 years. It looks like that all pilots here are “experts” and “top guns” of gettho GAs. I wouldn’t fly with anyone here. Sorry guys, all of you are full of crappy. God bless your souls behind the yoke (stick)


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