NTSB Identification: WPR09FA234
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 09, 2009 in Ramona, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2013
Aircraft: Upton Bakeng Duce, registration: N86YP
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot and pilot-rated passenger departed for a personal flight in the borrowed experimental amateur-built airplane, which was equipped with dual flight controls. No determination could be made regarding which occupant was handling the controls during the flight. Recorded radar data indicated that 11 minutes into the flight, a series of maneuvers were performed. A witness stated that he observed the accident airplane spiral downward until it impacted the ground. He also reported observing a wing, which was separated from the main body of the airplane, fall to the ground nearby. Right wing spar fragments and the right aileron were found between 0.1 and 0.3 mile from the main wreckage, indicating that the right wing had separated in flight.

Postaccident examination of fragments from the right wing’s broken wood wing spar revealed that the spar had been constructed with a wood grain orientation 12 degrees from the spar's longitudinal axis. This angle was inconsistent with published Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidance stating that grain deviation from the longitudinal axis of the spar should be no more than 3.8 degrees. The maximum grain deviation is limited because the relative strength and stiffness of an airplane’s wood wing spar is reduced when the grain structure within the spar is not oriented parallel to the longitudinal axis of the spar. With a 12-degree grain orientation, the spar’s load-carrying capability was compromised and reduced to between 30 to 70 percent of that of a spar with a 0-degree (parallel) grain orientation. It is likely that the wing spar failed when the pilot performed a maneuver that produced aerodynamic loads exceeding its degraded strength.

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

An in-flight separation of the right wing, which resulted from the pilot's performance of a maneuver that produced aerodynamic loads that exceeded the wing spar’s degraded strength. The wing spar strength degradation was due to the builder's failure to comply with Federal Aviation Administration recommended guidelines to select and incorporate wood in the spar with a grain pattern aligned with the longitudinal axis of the spar.

Full narrative available

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