On July 16, 1998, at 1925 central daylight time, a Shoemaker S-12 Aeraile experimental homebuilt airplane, N82584, owned and operated by the pilot, was substantially damaged following impact with the ground while in the traffic pattern near Marion, Arkansas. The pilot and passenger were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 local personal flight. The flight originated from the Finley Airstrip, located 3 miles east of Marion, about 10 minutes before the accident.

Witnesses reported observing the aircraft make three or four passes over the runway to the east. The witnesses then observed the aircraft turn left from a downwind leg north of the airstrip onto a final approach for a landing to the east. The turn was made at a 50 degree angle of bank at an altitude of approximately 150-200 feet agl. During the left turn, the aircraft's nose dropped and it descended to the ground, impacting approximately 0.4 miles west of the runway. The witnesses further reported that the engine was operating during the descent and continued to operate on the ground.

The pilot reported to the FAA inspector that the "controller locked up in the turn, because the nose of the aircraft could not be raised during the descent by further back pressure." The pilot stated to local law enforcement officials that "the cable on the control lever may have failed."

Examination of the wreckage by the FAA inspector revealed that the right wing was twisted, the cockpit was crushed to approximately half its normal height, and the ballistic parachute's teleflex cable was found wrapped around the propeller hub. The tail boom was displaced down and to the left. All flight controls were found to have continuity.

The pilot reported to the FAA inspector that he was not and never had been a certificated pilot or student pilot, and his only aviation experience was having "flown in an ultralight style aircraft, owned by his cousin, two years ago in St. Louis." The pilot further reported that he "thought the aircraft, which he had just purchased the day before the accident, was an ultralight vehicle, requiring no pilot's license to operate." This was the pilot's first flight in the aircraft. The pilot also reported that he did not know the whereabouts of the aircraft logbooks.

The builder of the aircraft reported to the FAA inspector that the Rans S-12 Aeraile kit built aircraft was constructed in 1995 "as an amateur built aircraft, and was issued a Special Airworthiness Certificate/Experimental - Operating Amateur Built Aircraft, by the Atlanta FAA."

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