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On July 20, 1995, at 2045, eastern daylight time, an experimental Falconar F9, N218DA, was destroyed following loss of control and impact with the ground after takeoff at Grand Haven Memorial Airpark, Grand Haven, Michigan. The private pilot received fatal injuries. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight departed Grand Haven, Michigan, on a local flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.
Witnesses reported that the airplane departed runway 9 at Grand Haven Memorial Airpark. They reported that the airplane was in a climb but it appeared to stall about 1,500 feet from the end of the runway. The witnesses reported that the wings appeared to be "fluttering back and forth," the right wing "dropped severely," and that the airplane "pancaked past the trees and disappeared."
The co-owner of the airplane witnessed the accident and reported that he saw the airplane mushing and swaying from side to side. He yelled, " ...get your nose down. You're climbing too steep... ," prior to the crash. He also reported that, based on the engine noise, it appeared that the airplane was having problems powering up.
A witness reported that he had been working on his ultralight at the time of the accident. He watched the accident airplane takeoff. The witness reported that the engine never missed a beat and sounded good. He reported that he could hear the engine laboring under the takeoff load, but other than that, it sounded okay until the crash.
The pilot was a 68 year old male, private pilot. He held a third class medical certificate and had a current biennial flight review. He had flown 375 total flight hours. He had logged one hour of flight time in the accident airplane, which was also the total number of hours he had logged in the last ninety days.
The airplane was an experimental Falconar F9, serial number F4204, built by in 1987. The Special Airworthiness Certificate was issued on November 20, 1987. The airplane was sold to the pilot and co-owner in 1994 and a registration certificate was issued on September 9, 1994.
The last annual inspection was conducted on August 29, 1994. The total time on the aircraft at the annual inspection was 136.7 total hours. The time on the airplane on the day of the accident was 140 total hours.
Wreckage and Impact Damage
An Airworthiness Inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration reported that it appeared that the airplane impacted an inoperative powerline that was hidden from view by a line of 25 foot tall pine trees. The right wing struck the powerline and the airplane twisted 90 degrees and impacted with the pine trees. The impact sheared the engine and instrument panel from the fuselage. The engine landed ten feet in front of the rest of the wreckage. The wood laminated propeller was shredded by the impact with the wire and pine branches.
The Airworthiness Inspector examined the airplane and reported that the engine had continuity and was not binding. He reported that the flight control cables operated the flight controls in the proper direction. He reported that there were five gallons of aviation fuel on board. He also reported that all the engine accessories were intact.
Medical and Pathological Information
The autopsy was conducted at the North Ottawa Community Hospital on July 21, 1995.
The toxicology report indicated the following results:
0.119 (ug/ml, ug/g) Propoxyphene detected in Blood
0.937 (ug/ml, ug/g) Norpropoxyphene detected in Blood
0.159 (ug/ml, ug/g) Propoxyphene (Darvon) detected in Kidney Fluid
1.088 (ug/ml, ug/g) Norpropoxyphene detected in Kidney Fluid
8.300 (ug/ml, ug/g) Acetaminophen detected in Blood
Darvon is a narcotic analgesic. Use of this drug is not approved while flying an aircraft.
The wreckage was released to the co-owner of the airplane.