NTSB Identification: ERA13FA424
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 20, 2013 in Hamilton Township, NJ
Aircraft: BROWN ROBERT K RV7A, registration: N174BK
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 20, 2013, about 1651 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur built Vans RV-7A, N174BK, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near the Hamilton Township, New Jersey. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal flight conducted under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, which departed Cross Keys Airport (17N), Cross Keys, New Jersey. 
 
According to preliminary radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane departed 17N at approximately 1640, turned to an approximate magnetic heading of 120 degrees, and climbed to an altitude of 6,500 feet above mean sea level (msl). Approximately 13 minutes later, the airplane turned right to a southeasterly heading. It then rapidly lost altitude while reversing direction before descending through 300 feet msl where it was lost from radar as it descended below the floor of radar coverage.
 
According to witnesses, the airplane was observed traveling in a northwesterly direction and “pieces” of the airplane were observed to fall to the ground. 
 
Examination of the wreckage path revealed that it was approximately 1 mile long and contained three distinct areas of debris. The first area contained the lower half of the rudder. The second area contained numerous pieces all of which were separated from their mounting locations. This included the vertical stabilizer (which was found in the top of a tree), the rudder balance weight, the left horizontal stabilizer, the left elevator, the left wingtip, the left elevator balance weight, and the cockpit canopy. The third area contained the main wreckage (the fuselage, engine, and wings), which had remained attached to each other until striking the top of a tree, falling to the forest floor and coming to rest inverted, where they were further damaged by exposure to a postcrash fire.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on July 11, 2013. He reported that he had accrued approximately 400 hours of total flight experience on that date, 85 hours of which was in the previous six months.
 
According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane received its special airworthiness certificate on June 6, 2006. The airplane’s most recent conditional inspection was completed on March 15, 2013. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accrued approximately 461 total hours of operation.
 The wreckage was retained by the NTSB for further examination.

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