On August 30, 1997, approximately 0804 Pacific daylight time, a Comeaux Kitfox 1, N594KF, crashed on departure from the Bend, Oregon, municipal airport. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the private pilot-in-command, who owned the aircraft, and a commercial pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 CFR 91 local personal flight and no flight plan had been filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot reported that the takeoff was attempted from runway 16, a 5,005 by 75 foot asphalt runway, and that wind speed was 1 knot at the time of the takeoff. The pilot initially reported to FAA investigators that the takeoff was normal until the aircraft reached an altitude of approximately 50 feet above ground level (AGL), at which point the aircraft began an uncommanded right roll. The pilot's initial account was that the aircraft's right wing tip then struck the ground and the aircraft cartwheeled. The pilot reported on his NTSB accident report that no mechanical failure or malfunction was involved, and an examination of the aircraft flight controls by an FAA inspector revealed that they were all intact and functional.
The pilot subsequently changed his account of the accident to FAA investigators. In his revised account, which was also the account given on his NTSB accident report, the pilot stated that he had asked the right-seat passenger if she wanted to make the takeoff, and that she replied that she did. In the pilot's revised account, the pilot stated that the airplane took off with him applying throttle and the right-seat passenger keeping the airplane straight; and that when the aircraft reached an altitude of 50 to 60 feet AGL following the takeoff, the aircraft started yawing to the right. The pilot stated in this account that because the right-seat passenger was an experienced pilot (copies of her pilot logbook gave her total flight time as of the accident date as 1,272.9 hours), he thought she would correct the yaw; however, this did not occur. The pilot stated that he did not direct her over the intercom to correct the yaw, and that he "did not take back control of my airplane until it was too late." The pilot stated in his revised account that the airplane's nose reached an angle of 90 degrees to the runway, and that the airplane subsequently came down and impacted the ground. The pilot told an FAA investigator that in his original account, he identified himself as the pilot flying the aircraft because he wanted to protect the right-seat passenger from getting into trouble with the FAA.
The right-seat passenger, when asked by the FAA investigator following the accident whether she had hold of the stick at any time, replied, "Not that I can recall." In a telephone conversation with the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) on June 11, 1998, the right-seat passenger denied that she was flying the airplane at the time of the accident. The right-seat passenger faxed a written statement of the accident, dated September 30, 1997, to the NTSB IIC in which she indicated that the pilot asked her to taxi "while he tried to fix [his handheld] radio", but that it was difficult for her to taxi because she could not reach the rudder pedals and "had to scoot down in my seat" to do so (the right-seat passenger's FAA airman record gives her height as 63 inches.) The right-seat passenger's written statement indicated that she passed control of the aircraft back to the pilot for the runup and takeoff.
According to FAA records and the pilot's NTSB accident report, the pilot was issued his private pilot certificate in June 1996 and had a total time of 104.6 hours, including 12.2 hours as pilot-in-command in the accident aircraft type. The left-seat pilot also reported 19.5 hours in the accident aircraft make and model within the previous 30 days. The right-seat passenger had flown in the accident aircraft, with the accident pilot, for 0.5 hours on one previous occasion two days prior to the accident. According to the pilot's NTSB accident report, the right-seat passenger had flown the aircraft in straight-and-level flight on that occasion. Copies of the right-seat passenger's pilot logbook indicated that the right-seat passenger had a current flight review, a tailwheel endorsement, and met the 14 CFR 61 recency of experience requirements for tricycle-gear airplanes, but she had logged no flight time in tailwheel airplanes in the 90 days prior to the accident. The right-seat passenger did not log either the accident flight or the previous flight in the accident aircraft reported by the left-seat pilot.
The propeller on the accident aircraft rotates counterclockwise as viewed from the cockpit, and thus requires left rudder to counteract engine torque.