A piper pa-28, n3011f, was in vfr cruise flight heading eastbound at about 5700′ msl, as a cessna 210 (parachute jump plane) had just completed a clearing turn to a westbound heading, into the sun, at 7300′ msl. A parachutist jumped from the jump plane & struck the vertical stabilizer of the pa-28 after a few seconds of free fall. Control of the pa-28 was lost, & it crashed in an uncontrolled descent.
The reserve parachute of one of the skydivers inadvertently deployed and pulled him out of the airplane, striking the left horizontal stabilizer. Examination of the reserve parachute revealed no evidence of any fault with the automatic signaling device.
The passengers(parachutists) reported that after the airplane became airborne they heard ‘backfiring’, a ‘bang’ and ‘….Saw white smoke…’ the jumpmaster reported that the engine quit after the airplane turned downwind. The airplane continued to lose altitude on downwind and during the turn to the runway. It crossed the approach end of the runway at a 45-deg angle and dragged a wing on the runway, coming to rest next to the runway.
Opening act was for 3 jumpers to exit from jump-plane (j/p) at 3500′ agl; 2 jumpers were to join at 2000′ to display flag, while 3rd jumper was to circle above. N90bc & n31485 were to circle jumpers in opposite directions. N90bc was to circle clockwise, outside turn radius of n31485, which would circle counterclockwise. When 2 of 3 jumpers exited from j/a, pilot of n31485 banked left into spiral, apparently unaware of 3rd jumper.
The airplane was at 8000 feet, four parachutist had jumped, and the pilot then descended the airplane to the pattern altitude of 1,400 feet. During this descent, carburetor heat was not applied. The pilot then initiated the approach and landing to runway 19. During the approach the pilot applied carburetor heat twice for short periods of time. On final approach the pilot needed additional power to reach the runway.
Shortly after takeoff, both engines lost power. The pilot said he selected different fuel tanks, but could not restart the engines. He subsequently made a wheels-up forced landing in a field below his flight path. The pilot stated that he had performed a preflight inspection and that there was 4.1 gals in both the front left and right main fuel tanks. Examination of the airplane after the accident revealed a combined total of about 5 gals in the forward left and right tanks.
The pilots were completing a parachute/orientation flight. After the parachutists exited, the airplane, with the first pilot at the controls, returned to the airport, descending at the maximum descent rate. The second pilot, a company check pilot, reported that the first pilot touched down simultaneously on the nose and right main landing gears at a high airspeed. The airplane subsequently swerved to the left and struck a bush located about 150 feet from the runway centerline and nosed over.
The pilot stated that on initial climb, at about 400 ft agl, the crew smelled something burning, followed by light smoke in the cabin. Both engines appeared normal visually. The odor and smoke increased, and the left fire warning light illuminated. The left engine was shut down & the prop feathered. The pilot increased power on the right engine; however, the airplane would not climb or maintain airspeed.
The airplane was being used to haul skydivers. According to the pilot, after about the third or fourth flight, there was a partial loss of power, due to a fuel tank vent that had been blocked by a mud dauber nest. The pilot noted that when a fuel cap was removed, he heard a ‘hiss’ as differential air pressure was relieved. Maintenance was performed to clear the vent, then the pilot continued hauling skydivers.