Aircraft: Piper Malibu. Injuries: 3 Fatal.Location: Monroe, Mich. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, 58, had a private pilot certificate and an instrument rating. At the time of his last medical certificate application, he reported a total flight time of 1,600 hours. He had no FAA record of previous incidents, accidents, or enforcement actions.
The accident happened while he was performing a high-speed pass over the runway. A witness stated that as the airplane leveled low over the runway, the propeller began striking the runway surface. The damage from repetitive propeller strikes resulted in a loss of the thrust and airspeed necessary for flight. The airplane hit the ground and caught fire.
The post-accident examination revealed the pilot was operating the airplane outside of its certified weight and center of gravity limits.
Forensic toxicology performed on the pilot showed the presence of Hydrocodone and Dihydrocodeine, indicative of the pilot using disqualifying sedating cough or pain medications. These medications can impair performance in high workload environments. The level of medication found in the pilot’s blood at the time of the accident could not be determined.
Additionally, Nortriptyline was detected in the pilot’s tissues, indicating that the pilot was being treated for an unreported psychiatric condition. While the medications and possible psychiatric condition could have had degrading effects on the pilot’s performance, the investigation was not able to determine what role they may have played in the accident sequence.
Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to attempt a low, high-speed pass over the runway that resulted in the airplane’s impact with the runway and terrain.
NTSB Identification: CEN11FA253
This March 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.