March 24, 2008, Venice, Fla., Piper PA 28-161


The airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted water at about 2240 Eastern time, shortly after takeoff. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Night visual conditions prevailed. The accident flight was the pilots first solo flight after completing a checkout with a local FBO. According to preliminary information, the airplane departed Runway 31 and was on a left crosswind leg when it descended and impacted the Gulf of Mexico, approximately -mile west of the shore.

The wreckage was recovered the following day. Fifteen threads were measured on the stabilator trim jackscrew. According to the aircraft manufacturer, fifteen threads corresponds to a near full nose-up trim position, with 16 threads equating to full nose-up trim, and five threads equating to neutral trim. The airspeed indicator displayed 75 knots, the attitude indicator was tumbled to the right, and the vertical speed indicator displayed an approximate 2000-fpm descent.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, instrument airplane, and glider aero tow. He also held a flight instructor certificate, with ratings for airplane single engine and instrument airplane. He recently reported 4000 hours total time.

Review of maintenance logbooks revealed that the airplanes most recent 100-hour inspection was completed three days before the accident.


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