On August 9, 1997, about 1135 eastern daylight time, a homebuilt Ryelong LE, N4YC, was destroyed as it impacted the terrain during a low altitude maneuver at the Wurtsboro-Sullivan County Airport, Wurtsboro, New York. The certificated private pilot/owner was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
Numerous witnesses watched as the airplane departed on runway 23. The airplane climbed into the left traffic pattern, and the pilot extended the downwind while maintaining altitude. The witnesses stated that the turns to base leg and final were done in such a way as to lose altitude and accelerate the airplane. The airplane arrived over the approach end of runway 23, about 20 feet above the ground and at an estimated airspeed in excess of 180 MPH.
About two thirds of the way down the runway, the airplane nosed up and, about 100 feet AGL, commenced a left roll. Witnesses stated that half way through the roll, in an inverted attitude, the nose of the airplane dropped below the horizon. The airplane began to descend, and as the airplane continued to roll, the rate of descent increased. The airplane impacted the ground in a 30-45 degree right wing down and 30 degrees nose down attitude. A witness stated that the engine was running the entire maneuver.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspectors examined the wreckage and the debris field. Their examination revealed that the Initial Impact Point (IIP) was 135 feet left of the approach end of runway 5, and the debris field was oriented about 300 degrees magnetic. The Inspectors stated that the airplane broke into multiple parts upon impact with a piece of wreckage found over 380 feet from the IIP. The Inspector reported that the airplane was too fragmented to obtain a flight control continuity check, and the engine was so badly damaged, that compression and valve train continuity could not be checked.
All witnesses interviewed stated that they did not notice any problems with the airplane as it flew over the runway at a high rate of speed and a low altitude. They stated that the maneuver appeared to be deliberate, and the pilot would have been successful if not for the low altitude.
No log books for the pilot's flight time nor any maintenance logs were recovered by the FAA Inspector.