NTSB Identification: IAD05LA007.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 26, 2004 in Leominster, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/28/2006
Aircraft: SanClemente Zenith CH 601HDS, registration: N166DK
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.

According to the owner/builder of the airplane, which was being flown for the first time, both he and the pilot conducted a thorough preflight, and the pilot subsequently started the airplane per the start-up checklist, with the owner/builder looking over his shoulder. The owner then reminded the pilot to remove the Ballistic Recovery System (BRS) safety pin prior to takeoff, and to double check the trim indications. After taxiing to the run-up area, the owner/builder reminded the pilot again, via hand-held radio, to double check the trim indications and make sure the BRS safety pin was removed. The pilot then taxied the airplane onto the runway, announced his intentions, and stated that it was the airplane's first flight. The owner/builder observed the first part of the takeoff roll to be "completely normal, and there was no side-to-side motion of the aircraft and a rapid acceleration as he brought in full power." However, as soon as the airplane lifted off the runway, it climbed to approximately 40-50 feet, while simultaneously veering to the left. It appeared that the pilot was "fighting for control" as the airplane "veered slightly back towards the runway." The airplane then veered back towards the left, toward a tree line. As it approached the tree line, the engine noise grew "noticeably louder," and the airplane went into a "very nose-high attitude." The airplane "appeared to hang on the prop as it was pulled up and over [the] trees;" however, no stall occurred, and the engine "appeared to be working without any issue." A certificated flight instructor saw the accident airplane 20-50 feet above the runway, near runway centerline, "but apparently experiencing what [he] believed was a stability or control problem." He saw the airplane "oscillating (porpoising?) in pitch, wings approximately level." The pilot then appeared to gain pitch control, and the airplane began a climbing left turn about 90 degrees from the runway heading, toward a tree line. The airplane then descended below and beyond the tree line, but subsequently came back up above it, and made another left turn back toward the airport. The airplane then "banked steeply left, pitched down,...went into the trees in a steep nose-down and banked attitude (possibly stalled)," and impacted a machine shop. The owner/builder also noted that the altitude of the airplane was so low during the flight that the BRS could not have been effectively deployed. In addition, the pilot appeared to have a "control issue from the moment the aircraft left the ground." Because the airplane was consumed in an intense post-impact fire, a detailed examination of the wreckage could not be made. The certificated airline transport pilot had accrued over 5,250 hours of flight time.

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

A loss of aircraft control for an undetermined reason.

Full narrative available

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