SEA94LA202
SEA94LA202

On August 1, 1994, at 1415 mountain daylight time, an experimental Groce Vans RV-4, N7GJ, was destroyed when it collided with terrain after takeoff from runway 20 at Glendive, Montana. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured in the crash. There was no flight plan filed for the flight, which was conducted in visual meteorological conditions. The aircraft was destroyed by post-crash fire. No report of an ELT was made.

The pilot had stopped at Glendive to refuel his aircraft after visiting a fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The aircraft was fueled with 17.5 gallons of auto gas. Before leaving, the pilot stated that he thought the fuel required to top off the aircraft would have been 16 gallons.

A Big Sky Airlines customer service agent observed the aircraft during takeoff, noting that he was airborne at 10 to 15 feet above the ground and "not really gaining altitude." She did not witness the crash. The captain of the commuter flight noted that "after rotation approx 25' or so, his left wing dipped downward, aircraft seemed under powered. It was hot, Density alt(itude) 5200' lite gusty winds." The commuter captain did not see the aircraft crash.

During on-site inspection, FAA inspectors noted that the aft cockpit was loaded with camping gear, including a tent, campstove, six cans of food, a large clothing bag, camera, headset, and five or six jars, as well as an extensive collection of aviation literature. Witnesses observed the takeoff, but did not see the crash. They noted that the aircraft became airborne in the first quarter of the runway.

When the wreckage was inspected, no mechanical discrepancies were noted by FAA personnel.

Empty weight of the aircraft was noted to be 875 pounds, May 23, 1987. At the time of weighing, the aircraft was unpainted, landing gear leg fairings and wheel pants, metal wing fairings, seat cushions, rear control stick, and avionics were not installed on the aircraft. Maximum gross weight is 1500 pounds, and total fuel capacity is 32 gallons. Density altitude was calculated to be 5332 feet.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by Pathology Consultants, PC, Billings, Montana, for the Dawson County Coroner. The Pathologist noted that the pilot died from blunt force injuries. No causes predisposing to the accident could be seen on post morem examination. Toxicological testing was done by the FAA with negative results for drugs and ethanol.

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