CHI97LA202
CHI97LA202

On July 5, 1997, at 1730 central standard time, a Niquette Pietenpol GN-1, N46844, piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged when the gear collapsed during a forced landing at the Lake Village Airport, Lake Village, Indiana. The local, personal, 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot and one passenger reported minor injuries.

After flying the aircraft solo, locally for 15 minutes, the pilot reported he returned to the Lake Village Airport and the owner boarded the front seat. The pilot reported doing a pre-takeoff check and said he visually "checked the wind indicators; a windsock, a wind tee, an American flag, and tree leaves all indicated light, variable, generally westerly winds."

They began their take off, established an airspeed of 55 miles per hour and a positive rate of climb, but after attaining an altitude of approximately 50 to 60 feet the pilot reported the aircraft stopped climbing and began to settle. There is a stand of trees approximately 50 feet tall to the left of runway 36. The pilot indicated they were approximately 10 feet above the tree tops when the aircraft began to lose altitude. The pilot said he "pushed the nose down to maintain airspeed," but the aircraft continued to lose altitude. Both the pilot and the passenger (aircraft owner) reported the engine was functioning properly at full throttle.

The pilot stated when he realized they could not maintain flight he decided to attempt to land the aircraft in the overrun of runway 36. As they came down in the overrun area he attempted to flare for landing, but the "aircraft did not seem to have enough airspeed to flare." The airplane landed hard in a level attitude. The right main gear failed at the attach point. The propeller cut into the ground stopping forward movement, flipping the aircraft inverted. Approximately 6 inches of the propeller tips broke off and the propeller splintered. The vertical stabilizer leading edge shattered and the stabilizer broke and folded over mid height. The upper wing center supports collapsed.

Post examination by the South Bend, Indiana FSDO confirmed flight and engine control continuity. Fuel was drained and found to be clear and free of contaminants with sufficient fuel on board for the intended flight. The engine intake had separated from the engine during ground impact. There was fuel in the carburetor and the accelerator pump was functional. Compression was confirmed on each cylinder and the spark plug's condition were normal. Valve train operation was verified and the magnetos were functional. Weight and balance data for the aircraft configuration at the time of the accident was reviewed with no inconsistencies noted.

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