LAX95LA325
LAX95LA325

On September 4, 1995, at 1313 hours Pacific daylight time, a Chambers C1C homebuilt experimental racer, N177GE, collided with the ground following an in-flight loss of control while attempting an emergency landing at the Turlock, California, airport. The emergency landing was precipitated by a loss of power during the takeoff initial climb. The aircraft was owned and operated by One More Time Air Race Team, Inc., of Grand Prairie, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed in the collision sequence and the certificated airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident as a local area maintenance test flight.

An Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector from the Fresno, California, Flight Standards District Office responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage and interviewed witnesses. He reported that the pilot was an airframe and powerplant mechanic, and was supervising the maintenance team which was preparing the aircraft for the upcoming Reno Air Races. An annual inspection was performed during the process in addition to the installation of new wings of a different design.

On the morning of the accident a ground static run-up of the engine was accomplished and the engine performed poorly due to fuel flow problems. The carburetor was examined and water was found in the float bowl. According to statements from the maintenance technicians, about 1 quart of water was drained from the fuel system to clear any remaining contamination. A second check of the system found no contamination. The statements reflect that the engine was again subjected to a ground static run-up and found satisfactory to the maintenance technicians and the pilot.

The purpose of the accident flight was a final maintenance test verification flight following completion of the maintenance activity. Prior to the final lift off, the pilot performed two high-speed full power taxi tests followed by external checks for leaks by the ground crew. The pilot then initiated a takeoff and flew down to the runway departure end before a climb was started. About 100 feet agl in the takeoff initial climb, the engine quit, then went back to full power. The pilot then began a steep climb to gain pattern altitude and the engine began surging as the aircraft reached 700 feet agl.

According to witness statements, after the aircraft turned crosswind, the engine would quit, then restart again and surge, which continued throughout the rest of the aircraft's flight. The pilot was able to fly a downwind and base leg. After turning final, the witnesses heard the engine sounds decrease and observed the aircraft begin to slip. The witnesses estimated the aircraft lost about 400 feet before the pilot exited the slip and re-established runway alignment. The aircraft still appeared high and the pilot entered a second slip, which continued to about 150 feet agl and 1/8 of a mile from the runway. The pilot then entered an S-turn maneuver, which reached a bank angle of 60 degrees, then suddenly increased to 90 degrees. The aircraft then stalled, snapped over inside onto it's back and spun to the ground.

The inspector reported that the carburetor and fuselage-mounted fuel tank were destroyed in the collision sequence. Control system integrity was established. No other discrepancies were noted during the examination of the wreckage.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Stanislaus County Coroner with specimens retained for toxicological analysis by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute. The tests were negative for alcohol and all screened drugs.

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