Investigators noted that the blades were secure in

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investigators noted that the blades were secure in their grips, and the blade angles corresponded to a feathered position relative to normal direction of flight.The cockpit and passenger areas were crushed and destroyed, mostly beyond recognition.The seats were broken and twisted. All instruments were destroyed, along with the throttle quadrant, but did indicate all levers, props, throttle, mixture and feathering levers to be pushed forward-into the cockpit panel. Rescue personnel at the scene stated they were unsure if they haddisturbed any devices, controls or levers. Pieces of the cargo were thrown around in the aft cabin, but larger parts of the photo trunks were also noticed scattered around the cockpit area and outside, forward of the crash site. No tie down straps or other restraint cables were noted in the wreckage, nor where they found around the aircraft. After reviewing the records from Zonk Air, the aircraft was carrying 1000 pounds of fuel,with four passengers having a combined weight of 800 pounds, the pilot weighing 180 pounds and the 4 cargo trunks weighing approx. 900 pounds. Through analysis of these documents, the center of gravity of the aircraft was aft and outside the normal envelope.1.3 Airport information and weather- The Lake Tahoe Airport (KTVL) is an FAA certified airport, with the mishap aircraft departing on Runway 18. According to NOAA data
AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT REPORT PROJECT5from accident date, the mishap airport density altitude was within operating limits of a properly operating PA-31.A one-on-one interview with a retired LAPD police helicopter pilot working as a bartender at the airport café saw the plane depart and wondered if the “guy was going IFR” as the weather was quickly going down at the airport. He said he saw some smoke coming off the right engine and though he didn’t see it, “knew the right engine had flames.”1.4 Flight information and mission- The Zonk Air Charter pilot and 4 passengers boarded a light twin Piper Navajo and departed KTVL at dusk, with the weather reported from AWOS as 2 miles in lowering clouds and 900 feet overcast and deteriorating. The aircraft departed on from Runway 18 and had arrived a day before from Burbank, CA and was returning to KBUR after a brief photo flight around the local area. After takeoff, the aircraft rotated and entered the lowering mist. At approximately 5 milespast the departure end of the Runway 18, the airplane was seen exiting the clouds in a steep left “rolling like” bank, trailing smoke. The aircraft then impacted the top of a 100-foot communication tower, with the first ground impact with the right wing 400 feet from the base of the tower. The aircraft traveled another 100 feet until the left wing impacting the ground and thenanother 50 feet until the fuselage finally impacted the ground. The aircraft burned during the collisions with the ground and after it came to a rest. All on board received blunt force trauma, which was not survivable.

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