Factual Report: Meridian crashed in swamp

 - September 28, 2006, 4:49 AM

Piper PA-46-500TP Meridian, Daytona Beach, Fla., Dec. 17, 2003–The noninstrument-rated 1,914-hour private pilot and passenger were killed when his Meridian crashed in a wooded swamp in marginal VMC. The airplane was destroyed. No flight plan was filed. The pilot had received seven hours of simulated instrument flight training and had 35.8 hours in PA-46s, but there was no record of flight training in PA-46s. The flight originated from Spruce Creek Airport en route to Nacogdoches, Texas.

An autopsy on the pilot’s body revealed the presence of citalopram, a prescription antidepressant.

The airplane had been in a previous landing accident and was considered a total loss by Piper. Damage to the underside of the fuselage resulted in holes in the pressure vessel. The accident pilot purchased the damaged aircraft from the previous owner and had it repaired extensively.

A cold front south of the accident location produced a large area of marginal conditions, with ceilings between 1,000 and 3,000 feet agl, and/or visibility between three and five sm. Daytona Beach International Airport, about nine miles east of the accident site, recorded wind 260 degrees at 19 knots gusting to 24 knots; visibility 10 sm; scattered clouds at 1,900 feet, ceiling broken at 2,400 and 8,500; temperature 20 degrees C; dew point 17.

The accident pilot responded to a query on the common traffic advisory frequency, reporting the ceiling was 1,500 feet. The pilot who asked about the ceiling said it was “pretty solid.”