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Tue, Jun 29, 2010

NTSB Issues Preliminary Report On Arizona Fatal Accident

Witnesses Said PA-32 Appeared To "Have Trouble Gaining Altitude"

A preliminary report from the NTSB in the crash of a Piper PA-32 which fatally injured a family of four indicates that the aircraft struggled to gain altitude on departure from Springerville Municipal Airport (D68). The family, which lived in Tampa, FL, was on their way to a vacation at The Grand Canyon when the accident occurred. Conditions reported at the time of the accident would have put the density altitude of the runway at nearly 9,760 feet

NTSB Identification: WPR10FA287
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 11, 2010 in Eagar, AZ
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32R-300, registration: N7699F
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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.

On June 11, 2010, about 1354 MST, a Piper PA-32R-300, N7699F, was substantially damaged when it impacted a high school building near Eagar, Arizona, during takeoff initial climb from the Springerville Municipal Airport (D68), Springerville, Arizona. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight. The private pilot and three passengers were killed. There were no reported ground injuries. The personal flight was originating at the time of the accident with a reported destination of Grand Canyon, Arizona.

A witness located on taxiway A6 at D68 reported that while watching the airplane takeoff, the airplane "used more runway then used by most of the other small aircraft during takeoff." The witness stated that after takeoff, the airplane was "rocking side to side" and appeared to be "having trouble gaining altitude." The witness further reported that the airplane "gained altitude" then "lost altitude" three or four times. He added that prior to impacting the school building, the airplane banked in a counterclockwise direction.

A second witness, who was located within the courtyard area of the high school near the initial impact area, reported that while repairing a walk-in freezer in the southwest corner of the Round Valley High School courtyard, he heard the sound of an airplane. The witness looked up and observed the accident airplane flying over his position at no more than 30 feet above him in a level attitude. The witness stated that he “ducked for cover” and subsequently heard the sound of the airplane impact the side of the school building. The witness added that the "engine was wound up" and "seemed to be running strong."

A third witness reported that while driving south on Main Street, she heard and then saw a small white airplane fly over her position, traveling to the east at a very low altitude. The witness stated that the airplane appeared to be "losing altitude very fast" as it went overhead towards the Round Valley High School. The witness further stated that she turned onto 5th Avenue toward the high school and watched the airplane "turn its wings at an angle" as it impacted the school building. The witness added that the engine did not sound as if it was missing or sputtering as the airplane went over her car.

Examination at the accident site by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the airplane impacted a high school building about 0.96 statute miles on a heading of about 104 degrees from the departure end of runway 11. A post impact fire consumed a majority of the northern class rooms of the Round Valley High School. All major structural components of the aircraft were located within the wreckage debris path.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

At 1355, the automated weather observing system (AWOS) located at D68, reported wind from 170 degrees at 24 knots gusting to 31 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 8,500 feet, temperature 25 degrees Celsius, dew point -2 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.99 inches of Mercury.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

 


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