HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On April 26, 1996, about 0815 eastern daylight time, a Helio H-295, N700HC, registered to an individual, collided with trees and a ditch during takeoff from a private strip near Gaffney, South Carolina, while on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight to Cheraw, South Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed and the commercial-rated pilot was fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.
There were no eyewitnesses to the accident. Witnesses heard the aircraft taking off and then heard the sound of the crash. They then called the sheriff's department.
Information on the pilot is contained in First Pilot Information, on page 3 of this report.
Information on the aircraft is contained in Aircraft Information, on page 2 of this report..
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Information on the meteorological conditions is contained in Weather Information, on page 4 of this report.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The aircraft crashed on the departure end of the pilot's private strip, while taking off in a southerly direction. The strip is located behind the pilot's house at 202 Littlejohn Road, Gaffney, South Carolina. Examination of the crash site showed that about 300 feet from the end of the strip the aircraft veered to the right off of the strip. The aircraft maintained a parallel course with the strip, in the tall grass adjacent to the strip. About 22 cut marks, 14 inches apart, from the aircraft's propeller, were found in the grass.
As the aircraft approached the end of the strip it collided with a berm and became airborne. The aircraft's right wing struck trees and the aircraft rotated to the right. The left wing and nose dropped and the aircraft rotated around the left wing. The aircraft came to rest in a ditch, inverted, with the nose of the aircraft pointing back toward the strip on a northerly heading. Several tree branches with diameters up to 3 inches, had been severed by the propeller. A postcrash fire erupted and consumed the aircraft.
All components of the aircraft necessary for flight were found on or around the main wreckage of the aircraft. Continuity of all flight control cables was established. A drywall screw was found installed in the control lock hole on the pilot's control column. This screw was locking the controls in an aircraft nose down attitude. Members of the pilot's family and the mechanic who maintained the aircraft identified this as the device used by the pilot to lock the controls on the ground.
Examination of the engine showed that it rotated normally and that continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives was established. All cylinders except for No. 3 produced normal compression. The No. 3 cylinder exhaust valve was found to be stuck open and the valve springs were found to be shorter than the springs on other cylinders. The engine fuel and ignition systems were destroyed by the postcrash fire. The spark plugs had deposits consistent with normal engine operation. The turbo charger was free to rotate, all wheels and blades were in place, the waste gate was full open, and the linkage between the waste gate and controller was in place. The engine tachometer was found reading 1900 rpm.
The propeller spinner had rotational damage consistent with the propeller turning under power at the time of the accident. Each propeller blade had rotational damage and fire damage. The propeller was found in the low pitch position after the accident. Tear down examination showed no evidence of precrash failure or malfunction. The propeller governor rotated normally and pumped oil when turned by hand. MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. Joel S. Sexton, Newberry County Memorial Hospital, Newberry, South Carolina. The cause of death was thermal burns and smoke inhalation. No findings which could be considered causal to the accident were reported. Postmortem toxicology studies on specimens obtained from the pilot were performed by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Laboratory, Columbia, South Carolina and the Federal Aviation Administration Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The studies were negative for ethanol alcohol, basic, acidic, and neutral drugs, carbon monoxide, and cyanide. For additional medical and pathological information see Supplement K and toxicology reports.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Propeller cut marks which were found in the grass adjacent to the strip were 14 inches apart. Based on this and a normal engine and propeller takeoff rpm of 2575, the aircraft was traveling about 89 knots at the time it made these marks.
Examination of the No. 1 and No. 3 valve springs was conducted at Lycoming Engines, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, under FAA supervision. The springs for the No. 3 cylinder were shorter than the normal springs. Both sets of springs were found to have been subjected to high temperature and were sooted from the postcrash fire. The No. 3 springs were shorther do to changes in microstructure as a result of postcrash fire damage. See the Lycoming Engines Report.
Metallurgical examination of the right wing upper attach bolt and one propeller blade pitch change knob was performed by the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, D.C. The wing bolt had failed do to overstress separation. The pitch change knob was smeared and had failed do to overstress separation. See the Metallurgist's Factual Report.
The aircraft wreckage was released to Byron Hames on April 27, 1996. Components retained by NTSB for examination were returned to Byron Hames on July 22, 1996.