SEA95LA145
SEA95LA145

On July 9, 1995, approximately 1026 Pacific daylight time, a Kitfox V, N24KF, manufactured by Lance J. Wheeler, collided with trees near Silvana, Washington. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire and the private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The flight had departed from Arlington, Washington, on July 9, 1995, approximately 1000.

It was reported that the purpose of the flight was to demonstrate how quiet the engine was at a fly-in at the Arlington Airport. The pilot was to complete two low fly-bys over the runway then land. However, after the fly-bys, the airplane departed the area to the north. Witnesses at the airport reported that as the airplane was departing the area, heavy rain began to fall and all flight activity was cancelled until the rain decreased.

Prior to the airplane departing, the person who escorted the airplane to the runway reported that while the airplane was taxiing, the pilot made a sharp turn and the left wing collided with and deflected a 5/8-inch diameter runway direction sign. The witness stated that it didn't appear that the pilot was aware that he collided with the sign and the witness took measures to stop the pilot. The pilot shut the engine down and the witness told the pilot that the sign had contacted the underside of the wing and the leading edge of the flaperon. The witness inspected the area for damage while the pilot remained in the airplane. The witness did not see any damage and the pilot then started the engine and departed.

A witness near the accident site reported in a written statement and subsequent telephone interview, that she first noticed the airplane flying in a northerly direction, at a low altitude and in a normal flight attitude above the tree line. The witness stated that the airplane then began to gradually nose down and begin a slow spiral. The airplane continued in this attitude until collision with trees. The witness stated that at first she heard engine noise that didn't seem unusual to her, however, as the airplane got closer to the ground, she stated that the engine noise got quiet and she heard a whistling noise. At the time of the accident, the witness stated that it was not raining, however, dark clouds were moving in from the northeast.

Another witness travelling in a car reported first seeing the airplane already in a nose down attitude and in a slow spiral approximately 1,000 feet above ground level. The airplane continued in this attitude until collision with the ground. The witness stated that it was not raining and the wind was calm.

Documentation of the accident site indicated that the airplane did collide with a multi-branched tree in a nose down attitude. Several branches were broken at the top and down along the tree trunk. The airplane came to rest in an upright position. The right wing separated and remained snagged in the branches. The empennage was wrapped around a large limb. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. A post-crash fire ignited and consumed the airplane.

After the fire was extinguished, a Federal Aviation Administration inspector from the Seattle Flight Standards District Office inspected the airframe and confirmed control continuity to the flight controls. The engine controls were found set for cruise power, and the constant-speed propeller was set for cruise speed. All three propeller blades were broken off at the hub and found at the accident site. Propeller blade impact was noted to a tree trunk and wood particles were found embedded in the carbon-fiber propeller blades. Further examination of the engine after removal from the accident site did not reveal evidence of a mechanical failure or malfunction.

The owner of the airplane reported that the airplane was equipped with a ballistic recovery system. The system is deployed by pulling a firing pin that is hooked to a large tee handle that is located above and just in front of the pilots head. This system was not deployed prior to the collision.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner reported that the pilot's cause of death was due to thermal burns and smoke inhalation. No evidence was found to indicate incapacitation prior to the collision. Toxicological samples were sent to the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for analysis. The results of the analysis indicated 15 percent Carboxyhemoglobin was detected in the blood of the pilot. No Carboxyhemoglogin was detected in the blood of the passenger. The remainder of the tests were negative.

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