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Tue, May 02, 2023

NTSB Prelim: Piper PA-32-260

Witness: Airplane Was On Final Approach And Appeared Slower Than Normal And The Wings Were Wobbling As It Approached

Location: Sebastian, FL Accident Number: ERA23FA185
Date & Time: April 7, 2023, 14:43 Local Registration: N44588
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-260 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On April 7, 2023, at 1443 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-260, N44588, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Sebastian Municipal Airport (X26), Sebastian, Florida. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. 

Preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) data revealed that the flight departed X26 about 1330 to the east and flew over the coast of Florida for about 1 hour; during the flight the pilot flew north and south along the coastline about 4,000 ft mean sea level then performed several turns, climbs and descents before returning inland where he conducted several other maneuvers before returning to the airport. He entered a 5 nautical mile straight-in approach to runway 10 and the wind was reported as from 120° at 10 knots. Several eyewitnesses located in the skydive drop zone that was located about 600 ft adjacent to the approach end of runway 10, stated that the airplane was on final approach and appeared slower than normal and the wings were wobbling as it approached. As the airplane descended to the runway, it touched down “hard” on the nose before bouncing back up into the air into a high nose up attitude simultaneously there was a rapid increase in engine power. The left wing then dropped. As the airplane rolled to the left, the left wing contacted the ground, and the airplane went off the side of the runway.

The airplane cartwheeled for about 75 ft before coming to rest on its left side inverted on flat level terrain north of the runway at an elevation of 22 ft. The wreckage path was oriented on a heading of 345° magnetic and ground scars at the initial impact point contained red anticollision light glass and portions of the auxiliary fuel tank. During the impact sequence, the left wing sheared off and the propellers struck the ground and created 6-inch-deep symmetrical scalping. The left wing was located next to the engine compartment; its fuel tank contained about 15 gallons of aviation fuel. The right wing fractured at the wing root and was laying over the underside of the airplane supported by cables and fuel lines; it contained about 15 gallons of aviation fuel. All major components of the airplane were located at the accident site. 

The onsite engine and airframe examination revealed that the airplane was configured for landing, the trim was in a slight nose-up setting with full flaps and the throttle, propeller, and mixture were all forward to their respective stops. Flight control continuity was established, and the engine examination did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The airplane was retained for further examination. 

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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