FTW96FA268
FTW96FA268

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 22, 1996, approximately 0822 central daylight time, a Jones Peckerwood 1A1, N92506, was destroyed following impact with terrain shortly after take off from La Porte Municipal Airport, La Porte, Texas. The home built experimental airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot, the sole occupant, received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

The following events preceding and during the accident were witnessed and recorded on video tape by a friend of the pilot. During initial flight testing, the pilot made several practice take off rolls down runway 12 with the tail wheel never lifting off of the ground. After each of the practice rolls, the pilot taxied back down the runway and commenced another roll. On the final roll, the aircraft became airborne and turned to a left downwind (approximately 200-300 feet AGL). The video tape showed the aircraft flying downwind with the nose oscillating up and down along the longitudinal axis. As the aircraft turned onto the base leg the pitch oscillations continued. While turning to final, the nose pitched up and the aircraft spun to the left until ground impact.

In an interview with the investigator-in-charge, the aforementioned witness stated that he thought that the aircraft appeared to be "on the verge of a stall" as it was flying around the pattern. Additionally, he stated that the pilot seemed to be "struggling" with the pitch control of the aircraft (i.e. when the nose pitched upward, it was followed by abrupt downward pitch).

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to FAA records, as of the pilot's last airman medical examination conducted on August 18, 1994, the pilot had reported a total of 450 hours of flight time. A friend of the pilot stated that he thought that the pilot had approximately 600 hours of total flight time, and was flying "off and on" for the past 30 years. He also stated that the pilot had taxied but not flown the aircraft prior to the accident flight. The pilot held a Private Pilot certificate dated May 29, 1996, and an Experimental Aircraft Repairman certificate dated November 30, 1979.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The aircraft's data plate showed that it was a Jones Peckerwood 1A1, serial number 001, built on 1/96 with an empty weight of 765 pounds and a maximum take off weight of 1026 pounds. The aircraft's registration certificate was dated January 26, 1996 and a FAA Special Airworthiness certificate (experimental category) was issued on April 11, 1996. The only entry in the airframe maintenance record book was the initial inspection (conducted by the pilot/builder) in compliance with the issuance of the aforementioned airworthiness certificate. According to the pilot's friend, the pilot had personally designed, and had been constructing the airplane over the past 9 years. Attempts to retrieve the plans/blue prints for the unique aircraft were not successful. The primary structure of the 1 seat aircraft consisted of wood and fabric.

The engine maintenance records were not recovered. Therefore, the total engine time and total time since overhaul is unknown. The tachometer time recorded at the accident site was 2.53 hours.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The aircraft impacted the ground in the back yard of a residence adjacent to the threshold of runway 12. Coming to rest on a heading of 180 degrees magnetic, the aircraft appeared to have impacted in a slightly left wing down and nose low attitude. The left wing was splintered along the outer portion of the leading edge and the forward portion of the fuselage was crushed rearward. The right wing was relatively undamaged. Both horizontal stabilizers were separated at the spar. The horizontal stabilizer appeared to be attached to the fuselage by the means of wood support blocks that were glued to the fuselage. The front right side of the horizontal stabilizer attachment point was found partially separated from the fuselage. Inspection of the separation revealed a that very small amount of glue residue was found on the inside of the support block that attached to the fuselage. The left horizontal stabilizer attachment point was found secure. No impact related damage was found near the separated support block on the right side. Both left and right elevators were found partially separated from the horizontal stabilizer forward of their hinge assemblies.

The airplane did not have an in-flight elevator trim system. The trim is manually adjusted on the ground by adjusting bolts adjacent to fuselage/ horizontal stabilizer attachment points.

Control rod and cable continuity was established from the cockpit rearward to the wing box beam and outboard to the ailerons. The elevator control cable was intact and connected. Terminal connections of the control cable were secured by thimble-eye splices with crimped copper clamps (Nicopress hardware). During inspection of the cable it was found that the top elevator cables thimble-eye splices were pulled through. The remaining cable was free to move several inches by hand within the crimped clamps. Additionally, it was found that copper material was smeared along approximately 3 inches of the steel cable in the location of the pull through. No impact damage was found in the area of the splice and the forward portion of the cable was securely attached to the control stick with the same thimble-eye splices.

NOTE: Nicopress hardware is basically a 1 inch long copper sleeve which fits over the ends of steel cable to form a thimble-eye terminal splice. According to Nicopress manufacturer's instructions, the copper sleeves should be secured with a certain number of crimps depending on the diameter of the cable to be spliced. The cable utilized in this aircraft was 3/16 inch diameter. Nicopress instructions state that 3/16 inch cable should be spliced with 4 crimps on the copper sleeve. The copper sleeves found throughout this aircraft's control system cables were found to have 2 crimps per sleeve.

A portion of the top rail of a chain link fence that was surrounding the yard, was found cut. The cut corresponded to the width of the propeller blades (painted black) and exhibited black paint transfers. Both propeller blades exhibited gouges along their leading edges. No anomalies were found during an inspection of the engine and the engine mounts did not show any evidence of failure or shifting prior to impact.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy on the pilot was performed by the Houston Medical Examiner's Office, Houston, Texas. Toxicology tests were negative for carbon dioxide, alcohol, and drugs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative.

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