MIA96LA043
MIA96LA043

On December 17, 1995, about 1543 eastern standard time, a Pro Star, Pro Tech, N2071H, registered to a private owner, crashed while maneuvering in the vicinity of Sebring, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed. The commercial pilot/flight instructor and student pilot were fatally injured. The airplane departed from Sebring Regional Airport, Sebring, Florida, about 8 minutes before the accident.

A pilot who observed the airplane on takeoff from Sebring Airport stated the airplane became airborne in an estimated 45-degree nose-up attitude. The airplane started to mush into the runway, landed hard, continued the takeoff, and departed the traffic pattern at about 1535.

Two witnesses stated they observed the airplane flying southeast towards Sebring Regional Airport between 500 to 1,000 feet. The airplane was observed to start a shallow descent followed by an abrupt pull up. The left wing was observed to separate from the airplane and fall to the ground in two pieces. The airplane rolled right, pitched down, and collided with the ground.

Another witness stated he was standing in his yard next to his workshop, when he heard a change in engine noise from an approaching airplane. He looked up and saw the airplane at about 1,000 feet flying towards the Sebring Airport. The airplane disappeared from view behind a tree. A few seconds later, he heard a loud bang. He moved to another location and observed the right wing come off the airplane. The airplane rolled to the right, the nose pitched down, and he heard the airplane collide with the ground. He informed his wife to call 911 and inform them of the plane crash, and left to locate the crash site.

The main wreckage of N2071H was located about 4.7 nautical miles northwest of Sebring Regional Airport, Sebring, Florida, in the vicinity of Harts Ranch. Two sections of the right wing were located about 4.9 nautical miles northwest of the airport.

Examination of the crash site revealed the right wing separated from the fuselage at the wing root and 81 inches outboard of the wing root. The right wing strut separated from the wing. The airplane collided with the ground in a nose-down, left wing low attitude, and came to rest inverted. The engine was buried below the ground. The propeller was attached to the propeller flange, and the spinner was crushed and torn. Both propeller blades were bent aft and torsional twisting was present on both propeller blades. The left wing was displaced aft with compression damage extending along the leading edge of the wing. The left wing strut attach fitting and associated hardware revealed no evidence or signature consistent with an overload failure. The fuselage was compressed aft of the baggage compartment. The left and right fuel tanks were not ruptured and contained fuel.

Examination of components of the right wing and wing strut by the NTSB laboratory revealed deformation and fracture patterns consistent with an in-flight separation of the right wing. All fractures in the wing spars and skin pieces were typical of overstress separations. Compression buckling was noted in the skin on top of the wing, especially in the vicinity of the rear spar, and in the upper portions of the spars. Separation of the skin on the lower surface of the wing was from tensile loads. The direction of the bending was as if the wing root piece was moving upward relative to the fuselage structure. Fracture features and associated deformation on the right wing lift strut fittings were typical of bending overstress separations. Elongation was noted in the bolt holes for the strut braces. Some deformation was evident in the aft strut, consistent with bending in the forward direction.(For additional information, see the Metallurgist's Factual Report No.96-38).

Examination of the airframe, flight controls, and propeller, engine assembly and accessories revealed no evidence of a precrash failure or malfunction. Continuity of the flight control system was confirmed for pitch, roll, and yaw.

Post-mortem examination of the pilot-in-command was conducted by Dr. Alexander Melamud, Medical Examiner, District Ten, Bartow, Florida, on December 19, 1995. The cause of death was multiple injuries. Post-mortem toxicology studies of specimens from the pilot-in-command were performed by the Wuesthoff Reference Laboratory, Rockledge, Florida. These studies were negative for alcohol, neutral, acidic, and basic drugs. No determination could be made as to who was manipulating the flight controls at impact based on the injuries described in the autopsy protocol.

Post-mortem examination of the student pilot was conducted by Dr. Alexander Melamud, Medical Examiner, District Ten, Bartow, Florida, on December 19, 1995. The cause of death was multiple injuries. Post-mortem toxicology studies of specimens from the student pilot were performed by the Wuesthoff Reference Laboratory, Rockledge, Florida. These studies were positive for caffeine, negative for alcohol, neutral, acidic, and basic drugs. No determination could be made as to who was manipulating the flight controls at impact based on the injuries described in the autopsy protocol.

The main wreckage was released to Investigator John Chess, Criminal Investigation Division, Highlands County Sheriff's Department, Sebring, Florida, on December 18, 1995. The engine assembly and accessories was released to Mr. Roger E. Smith, Carter Aircraft Inc., Sebring, Florida, on December 21, 1995. Sections of the right wing and right wing strut were released to Mr. Roger E. Smith on January 25, 1996.

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