Report: Engine failure, fuel system might have caused Graniteville plane crash

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 11:50 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 10:51 AM
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Preliminary reports show that a faulty fuel delivery system might have caused last month’s fatal plane crash at Twin Lakes Airport near Graniteville, officials said.

About 6 p.m. on Nov. 25, Richard Showalter, of Graniteville, was flying his newly purchased Piper Apache when he lost engine power and crashed in the woods near R
achel Avenue, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Witnesses at the scene told officials they were in a nearby hangar when they began to hear chatter on the radio. Seconds later, Showalter’s airplane passed behind the hangar and sounded as though it was “possibly running on one engine,” according to the Dec. 5 report.

One witness told authorities that he thinks Showalter was trying to land on Rachel Avenue, which is used as a taxiway for the fly-in residential community.

Investigators said that the wreckage showed no evidence of “pre-impact malfunction or failure of either engine” but that further examination revealed that the
left engine was not running at the time of impact.

According to the report, Showalter had flown the plane to Pennsylvania to visit a relative a few weeks before the accident. When he returned, he contacted a mechanic about the plane’s fuel selectors.

Showalter complained that the fuel selectors were stiff and difficult to move, and the mechanic advised Showalter to have the system examined further and have the linkages lubricated to make sure everything was in proper order.

Showalter, however, never called the mechanic back before the his final flight, the report said.

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