First Point Of Impact (FPI) Was Identified By A 12-Foot-Tall Juniper Tree

Location: Page, AZ Accident Number: WPR21FA352
Date & Time: September 22, 2021, 16:24 Local Registration: N3906X
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200 Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On September 22, 2021, about 1624 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28R-200, N3906X, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Page, Arizona. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration captured the airplane’s climb out at 1211 Pacific daylight time about 1 nm north of its departure airport in San Martin, California. The mean sea level (msl) altitudes below are reported as geometric altitudes and were obtained from the ADS-B data. The airplane slowly turned to the southeast as it continued to climb. At 1302, the airplane reached a cruise altitude of about 12,000 ft msl and subsequently turned to the south about 15 minutes later, at which time it arced around the southern base of the Sequoia National Forest. At 1528, the airplane descended to about 7,700 ft msl while passing to the north of Las Vegas, Nevada. The airplane then descended further about 1615 and 30 nm west of Page Municipal Airport (PGA), Page, Arizona near the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument to about 7,250 ft msl (1,100 ft above ground level (agl). At 1623, the airplane descended to about 6,600 ft msl where it remained until about 1623:46 when it began its final descent from 500 ft agl. The final ADS-B data point was captured at 1624:15, when the airplane was 200 ft agl and about 0.5 nm northwest of the accident site.

The airplane was located about 11 nm west of PGA on a mesa at a field elevation of about 6,150 ft msl. The airplane came to rest at a level attitude on a heading of 227° magnetic. The first point of impact (FPI) was identified by a 12-foot-tall Juniper tree and several broken tree branches. A debris path was marked by parallel ground scars that began about 20 ft forward of the FPI and was oriented on a heading of 155° magnetic. The outboard right stabilator was located on the left side of the debris path. The main wreckage marked the end of the debris path and was located 62 ft beyond the FPI. The nose and main landing gear had collapsed and the fuselage was flush with the ground. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage; the left wing displayed a large compression wrinkle about midspan at the leading edge and the top skin.

The inboard section of the right wing exhibited compression wrinkles about midspan. Both wings were punctured inboard above the right and left main landing gear. The ailerons and flaps were connected to their respective wings and were mostly undamaged, with exception of the right and left flaps, both of which exhibited upward bends at the inboard trailing edges. The left side of the stabilator had advanced forward several inches in a divergent path to the right stabilator, which had moved aft. Additionally, the right stabilator leading edge was crushed aft along the outboard leading edge about midspan. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were not damaged. The cowling and engine were displaced slightly downward, and the engine had separated from some of the upper mounts.

Three propeller blades remained attached to the engine at the propeller hub. One blade was bent aft about midspan, one blade was bent at the blade root beneath the engine and the last blade was straight. Two of the propeller blades did not contain any visible chordwise scratches, nicks, or gouges. The third propeller blade was observed beneath the engine and could not be inspected. All major structures were accounted for at the accident site.