NTSB Identification: WPR11FA474
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, September 29, 2011 in Chualar, CA
Aircraft: POE G L/POE S Y 540, registration: N42GP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.

On September 29, 2011, about 1850 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Zivko/Poe Edge 540 aerobatic airplane, N42GP, was substantially damaged when it impacted the pilot's vineyard property in Chualar, California. The certificated private pilot/owner received fatal injuries. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight.

The airplane was based at Salinas Airport (SNS), Salinas, California, and was one of several registered to the pilot. According to information provided by Lockheed Martin Flight Services (LMFS), the pilot did not contact them or the Direct User Automated Terminal System for weather or flight planning information. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) information, the airplane departed SNS about 1841 PDT. Witnesses and family members reported that the pilot frequently performed aerobatics in that airplane in the airspace over his property. Witnesses reported that the airplane was performing aerobatics when the accident occurred.

The initial impact point was evidenced by a ground scar on a dirt road that separated two planting areas in the vineyard. The ground scar measured about 20 feet long, and increased in width and depth along a magnetic heading of about 082 degrees. That scar terminated at a row of 3-inch diameter metal posts, spaced about 8 feet apart, that supported the vineyard trellises. Two posts were fracture-separated near their bases, and three more were bent over in the direction of the debris path. The primary debris field extended approximately 160 feet beyond the initial impact point. The airplane was highly fragmented, and most of the wreckage was entangled in the vineyard trellises and grapevines. The first two items in the ground scar were a segment of fuselage structural tubing and a propeller blade tip. One magneto, the tailwheel, and an aerodynamic surface balance weight were found about 500 feet beyond, and 150 feet above, the initial impact point. All major components of the engine and airplane, including all aerodynamic control surfaces, were accounted for at the accident site. A handheld global positioning system unit and an engine monitor were recovered from the wreckage and sent to the NTSB recorders laboratory in Washington, DC, for possible data download. The remainder of the wreckage was recovered to a secure facility for additional follow-up examination.

FAA records indicated that the airplane was equipped with a Lycoming IO-540 series engine, and was first registered to the pilot's family in 2009. FAA records indicated that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter, and single- and multi-engine land airplane ratings. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued in July 2011, and his most recent flight review was completed in September 2009.

The 1853 automated weather observation at SNS, located about 9 miles north of the accident site, included winds from 320 degrees at 14 knots; visibility 10 miles; and an overcast cloud layer at 1,100 feet above ground level.

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