On July 31, 1996, at 1128 central daylight time, a Hoffman H-36 motor glider, N86PS, was destroyed when it impacted the ground while attempting an emergency landing. The pilot had just departed and was attempting to return to the airport for landing after he reported to the control tower that the left engine cowling was loose. The private pilot was fatally injured. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight had departed the Waukegan Regional Airport, Waukegan, Illinois, on a local flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The tower transcript indicated that the pilot was cleared for takeoff on runway 32. The pilot acknowledged the clearance and departed. About 45 seconds after the takeoff clearance was acknowledged, the pilot informed the tower that, "Six Papa Sierra, we'd like to turn around and land. I have a cowl that came open."
The tower responded, "Very well, ah, do what you need to do, to land."
About five seconds later, the pilot again informed the tower, "Six Papa Sierra, I'd like the airport. I have a cowl that came open."
The tower responded, "Six Papa Sierra, whatever it need, you need to do, just land on whatever runway."
The pilot responded by saying, "Papa Sierra, I'd like...ah, 5, go north."
The tower responded, "That's fine. Cleared to land runway 5."
The pilot responded with an unintelligible utterance.
About 30 seconds later, the tower controller instructed a Cessna to make a right turn and to keep holding. The reason for the instructions was that N86PS had crashed near the intersection of runway 32 and runway 05.
A witness had viewed the accident from the Baxter aviation ramp on the south side of runway 32's departure end. He reported that the motorglider entered a tight downwind leg for runway 32 at about 150 feet. He reported that the left engine cowling on the pilot's side was open and knocking back and forth. He report the cowling was making a lot of noise and that you could not hear the engine noise. The airplane was not loosing altitude and the airplane appeared to be stable. He reported that the only thing that he could see wrong was the flapping of the cowling. He reported that the airplane crossed the intersection and was turning back to the west. The witness reported that as the motorglider came out of the turn it was at about 100 feet and the wings were rocking. He reported that the motorglider then turned real sharp and then went straight down.
Another witness reported that the cowling was making an "unbelievable noise." He reported that the engine was running with no sputtering. He reported that the airplane stalled and hit left wing first, and then the left nose hit.
The pilot was a 73 year old male, private pilot. He had about 3,495 total flight hours. He held single and multiengine land airplane ratings and an airplane instrument rating. He did not hold a glider rating but had passed a check flight in the motorglider on October 27, 1987. On August 2, 1992, the pilot passed a biennial flight review flying the motorglider. There were no further flights after August 2, 1992, recorded in the pilot's logbook.
The pilot was the original owner of the Hoffman H-36 motorglider. The last annual inspection was conducted on March 4, 1996. The total tach time on the aircraft was 178.8 hours. The tach time on the day of the accident read 183.7 hours.
The aircraft held 21.1 gallons of fuel. The last fuel receipt indicated that the plot had last purchased fuel for the aircraft on June 12, 1996. Fuel was present at the accident site.
Wreckage and Impact Information
The aircraft impacted the infield of the Waukegan Airport near the intersection of runway 32 and runway 05. The aircraft's left wing tip impacted the ground about 75 feet north of runway 05. The leading edge of the left wing had crush damage, and about a 6 foot outboard section of the left wing had separated on impact. The nose impacted the ground about 35 feet from the first wing strike. The aircraft spun on its nose and slid backwards on its belly for 40 feet before it stopped. A path of oil ran from where the nose impacted the ground to where the aircraft came to rest.
The wreckage was examined. Fuel was found leaking from the fuel lines. The flight controls exhibited continuity. The engine had compression and spark. The wooden propeller had one blade broken at the hub, and the second blade was intact. The prop hub had indications of rotational scoring. The leading edge of the left wing had crush damage. The nose of the aircraft had been pushed back and up into the cockpit area.
The engine cowling was examined. The left section of the engine cowling exhibited about a 14 inch tearing of the cowling. The tearing was parallel to the longitudinal axis of the aircraft, and started from the aft edge of the cowling and tore forward. Both the dzus fasteners from the left cowling were missing.
Medical and Pathological Information
The autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Lake County Coroner's Office, 26 N. Utica Street, Waukegan, Illinois.
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared on the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute. The report indicated the following results:
No Carboxyhemoglobin detected in blood.
No Cyanide detected in blood.
No Ethanol detected in blood.
No drugs detected in blood.
The Federal Aviation Administration was a party to the investigation.
The aircraft wreckage was released to the Waukegan Airport manager on September 5, 1996.