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On April 12, 1995, about 1127 eastern daylight time, a homebuilt RV-4, N233AB, crashed on Interstate 75 about 19 nautical miles west-southwest of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was destroyed and the private-rated pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The time of departure from the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Lakeland, Florida, has not been determined.
According to the co-owner of the airplane, it was based at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and on April 7, 1995, the pilot flew the airplane to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Sun 'n Fun Fly In located at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. The pilot advised him after landing at Lakeland that en route he landed at the Airglades Airport, Clewiston, Florida, due to adverse weather. No fuel services were provided while at Clewiston. The flight then departed for Lakeland and the pilot stated to him that during the flight, he observed Tampa Bay. The eastern edge of Tampa Bay is located about 21 nautical miles southwest from the Lakeland Airport. Review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) VFR arrival procedures for Sun 'n Fun indicate that all arriving airplanes are required to enter the traffic pattern at a point about 8.5 nautical miles and 055 degrees from the airport. The co-owner also stated that the pilot flew to Lakeland about 1,000 to 1,500 feet above ground level and he would have operated the engine about 2,300 rpm at an indicated airspeed of about 140 miles per hour or about 122 knots. The co-owner also stated that the average fuel burn for the airplane is about 8 gallons per hour. The airplane remained at Lakeland until April 12, 1995, during which it was not operated according to an acquaintance of the pilot. No fuel services were provided while at Lakeland. Before departure the pilot obtained an in-person weather briefing about 0825, and there were no reported witnesses who observed the airplane depart.
According to a witness who was driving eastbound on the highway and looking to the south, she observed the airplane flying low in a northerly direction and thought the airplane was attempting to land. She then observed the wings of the airplane "waving." The airplane impacted the ground in a nose low and right wing low attitude then caught fire. She further stated that she did not hear the engine operating nor did she see any smoke trailing from the airplane before impact.
Another witness who was driving west on the highway near mile markers 26 & 27, first observed the airplane flying in a westerly direction about 200-300 feet above ground level (agl) south of the eastbound lanes. She estimated the ground speed of the airplane at 65-70 miles per hour based on her driving speed. The airplane completed a 180-degree turn to the right and while flying eastbound about 17-20 feet agl. The airplane then pitched nose down and impacted the ground near mile marker 28. She further stated that she could not hear the airplane engine because her car windows were up and the eastbound lanes were congested with traffic at the time of the accident.
Information pertaining to the pilot is contained in the NTSB Factual Report-Aviation.
Information pertaining to the airplane is contained in the NTSB Factual Report-Aviation and Supplements A & B. Additionally, by design the fuel tanks are integral to the wing and sealed.
Information pertaining to the weather is contained in the NTSB Factual Report-Aviation.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site revealed that pieces of the broken right wing navigation light bulb lens was adjacent to the first impact point on the southern most side of the eastbound lanes of the highway near mile marker 28. The first ground scar adjacent to the lens was determined to be on a magnetic heading of about 045 degrees. Propeller contact on the roadway was determined to be 13 feet 1/2 inch on a magnetic heading of 085 degrees from the first ground scar. The airplane was observed to be inverted on the grass median on a magnetic heading of about 090 degrees. A postcrash fire damaged both wings, the cabin, and portion of the fuselage. The airplane was recovered for further examination.
Examination of the aileron and elevator flight controls revealed continuity from each respective control surface to the fuselage. Postcrash fire destroyed the push/pull tubes in the fuselage area. Examination of the rudder control cables revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. All components necessary to sustain flight were in the immediate vicinity of the accident site. The fuel selector was examined and found to be positioned to the right fuel tank. The fuel tanks were visually examined with evidence of greater impact and heat damage to the right tank than the left tank. The wings were placed on the ground in a upright position and the fuel tanks were attempted to be filled with water. Greater leakage was noted from the right fuel tank than the left fuel tank. Both fuel tanks fuel caps were found to be installed. Examination of the remaining fuel tank supply lines from each fuel tank revealed no obstructions. Each remaining section of the fuel tank vent lines for each fuel tank were also examined and found to be free of obstructions. Examination of the fuel strainer which was impact damaged revealed the bowl to be clean. The auxiliary fuel pump was heat damaged which precluded testing. The control stick was observed to be secured in the front seat and the flap position could not be determined. The engine was removed for further examination.
Examination of the engine revealed crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity. Thumb compression was verified for all cylinders. The carburetor bowl which was separated from the carburetor body was examined which revealed that the bowl and inlet screen were clean. The float and venturi were not located. The magnetos were found to be tight against the accessory case and during rotation of the propeller, arching across the left magneto point contacts was initially observed. Each magneto to engine timing and internal timing of each magneto was not determined. The engine-driven fuel pump was found separated from the accessory case but the allen head bolts were found to be pulled from the accessory case. Heat damage to the pump precluded testing. Examination of the air induction system revealed no obstructions.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL
A post-mortem examination of the pilot was performed by Lance G. Davis, M.D., Associate Medical Examiner of the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office. The cause of death was listed as blunt head trauma. Contributing to the cause of death was thermal burns.
Toxicological analysis was also performed by the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office. The results were negative for alcohol, cannabinoids, and tested drugs. The results were positive for nicotine and less than 5 percent carbon monoxide.
A postcrash fire damaged the cabin, sections of each wing, and a portion of the fuselage. Witnesses did not report observing smoke trailing the airplane before impact.
Refueling records indicate that the fuel tanks were filled on April 6, 1995.
No determination could be made as to the exact distance flown on the two-leg flight to the Lakeland Airport and the accident flight. The direct distance for the two-leg flight to Lakeland was determined to be about 148 nautical miles and the direct distance to the crash site from the departure airport was about 136 nautical miles. Fuel consumption calculations based on information provided by the co-owner, winds aloft data, and direct distances between airports revealed about 20.7 gallons of fuel used for the two-leg flight to Lakeland and the accident flight. Each fuel tank capacity is 16 gallons. No determination could be made as to the fuel used flying from the location where the pilot observed Tampa Bay to the entry point which is located about 8.5 nautical miles northeast from the Lakeland Airport. The eastern edge of Tampa Bay is located about 21 nautical miles southwest of the Lakeland Airport. Additionally, the time between engine start and takeoff from the Lakeland Airport was not determined.
The wreckage and all retained components were released to Mr. Barry H. Squire on April 14, 1995.