NTSB Identification: LAX96LA258.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, July 02, 1996 in PASO ROBLES, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/02/1998
Aircraft: Davis CHALLENGER I CW, registration: N75489
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The accident occurred during the pilot's maiden flight of the homebuilt following completion of construction the preceding week. According to a witness, the pilot took off and climbed 100 feet above the runway surface. During the climb, an airframe component separated from the wing and contacted the wood pusher propeller. A blade separated and all engine power was lost. The airplane then porpoised several times, turned 90 degrees from its runway heading, and collided with the ground in a 45-degree nose-down pitch attitude. A bent plastic (Lexan) strip was found about 300 feet downwind of the main wreckage and in close proximity to the separated propeller blade. The strip had been attached to the center section of the wing, forward of the engine, with Velcro self-adhesive tape. The adhesive remained attached to the wing, but it failed to adhere to the Lexan. In November, 1994, the FAA denied the pilot's last application for an aviation medical certificate because of his cardiovascular condition. Toxicology tests on the pilot revealed the presence of tranquilizers chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and diazepam (Valium), and the antidepressant amitriptyline (Elavil). Use of these drugs could adversely influence the pilot's mental processes, reaction time, and ability to control the airplane.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the owner/builder/pilot's impairment of judgment and performance due to drugs which led to his improper handling of the airplane and failure to maintain an adequate airspeed margin above stall speed, resulting in an inadvertent stall/spin. A factor which contributed to the accident was the owner/builder/pilot's use of an inadequate adhesive material in the construction of the airplane which resulted in a portion of the wing root surface skin to debond, separate, and impact a propeller blade, which also separated.

Full narrative available

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