CHI96FA034
CHI96FA034

History of Flight

On November 17, 1995, at 1802 central standard time (CST), an Ercoupe 415-C, N93726, was destroyed when it impacted power lines one half mile south of the Stafford Municipal Airport, Stafford, Kansas. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The local 14 CFR Part 91 flight had departed from the Stafford Airport on a local flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed.

There were no eyewitnesses to the airplane crash. It was not determined when the airplane departed Stafford Airport.

A witness reported seeing the airplane flying near his home at about 1720 to 1730 CST. He reported that the airplane was not going very fast and was about 500 feet above ground level. It was almost dark and he could see the wing lights on the aircraft. The witness reported that the weather was clear with no overcast or wind. He reported that he did not hear any change to the engine or propeller noise. The witness reported that at 1802 CST the electric power to his house went out. He walked out to the road and saw the airplane burning at the crash site.

A volunteer EMT who worked as a lineman for a local power company reported that at about 1800 CST the city of Stafford, Kansas, had a power failure. The volunteer emergency ambulance was dispatched soon afterward for a reported airplane accident 1/2 mile south of the Stafford Airport. The witness reported that when the EMT crew arrived at the site, they observed the field and aircraft on fire. He reported that two transmission power lines had been severed and were lying near the wreckage. A third line had been hit by the aircraft but had not been severed.

Personnel Information

The pilot was a 66 year old private pilot. He had been issued a third class medical certificate on July 12, 1995, with the restriction: Must Wear Corrective Lenses. Eyeglasses were found at the accident site but it was not determined if the pilot had been wearing them at the time of the accident. He had flown about 442 total flight hours. He had not logged any night flight time since he had logged 1.5 hours of night time on March 15, 1993, 21 months prior to the accident.

Aircraft Information

The airplane was a 1946 Ercoupe 415-C and was owned by the pilot.

The aircraft logbooks were not recovered. The last recorded annual inspection was performed on August 1, 1995, and the total hours on the airplane were about 1100 hours.

A witness reported that the aircraft had no landing light installed.

Wreckage and Impact Information

The aircraft impacted the ground about one half mile south of the approach end of runway 35 at the Stafford Airport. The magnetic heading from the break in the transmission wires to the impact site, extending to runway 35, was 350 degrees.

The transmission power lines were about 165 feet south of the impact site. The transmission poles were 45 feet in height. Two neutral wires were suspended from the poles at 39 feet. The neutral wires had not been damaged. Three hot wires were suspended from the poles at about 35 feet. The center wire and the southern most wire had been severed and were lying near the aircraft wreckage. The northern wire had not been severed, but had two strike marks on the wire. A piece of transmission wire about two feet in length was found where the airplane first impacted the ground. The wire had been bent in a curlicue fashion. (See photo)

The airplane first impacted the ground 136 feet north of the transmission wires. It traveled an additional 29 feet before coming to rest. There were no indications that the airplane skidded from the first impact site to the wreckage site. The right wing spar was broken at wing station 312. The nose of the aircraft was pointing 250 degrees. The aircraft and the prairie grass near the aircraft, extending to about 75 feet southwest of the aircraft, had been burned by fire.

The flight controls were connected and reflected continuity via control cables, push pull tubes and bell cranks except the right hand aileron. The push pull tube for the right hand aileron had been severed due to aircraft impact and subsequent fire.

The flight compartment instrument panel was burned and melted. All aircraft instruments were destroyed and unreadable.

It was determined that the engine had continuity by rotating the propeller and observing the movement of the rear accessory drive gears. The right and left magnetos, starter, and generator were destroyed by fire and impact damage.

The propeller shaft was bent. The attaching bolts were sheared and bent. The propeller ends had been melted. There were chordwise marks on the blades.

The wings and fuselage around the cabin had been burned by fire. The empennage and horizontal and twin vertical stabilizers had not been burned. Both vertical stabilizers had about 3/4 inch creases in the same location on both leading edges.

Medical and Pathological Information

Autopsies were performed on the pilot and passenger at the Central Kansas Medical Center, 3515 Broadway, Great Bend, Kansas.

A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared on the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute. The report indicated negative results except for pseudoephedrine detected in the blood and urine, and phenylpropanolamine detected in the urine. The examiner reported that the levels of pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine were innocuous.

Additional Information

The Federal Aviation Administration was a party to the investigation.

The aircraft was released to the pilot's family on November 18, 1995.

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