HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On July 31, 1993, at approximately 1603 central daylight time, a Harral built Glasair 1, N16LA, was destroyed when it impacted the ground following an engine power loss and loss of control near Rusk, Texas. The airplane, owned and operated in partnership by the commercial pilot, had just taken off on what was to have been a local personal flight. There was no flight plan filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area. The pilot and the one passenger received serious injuries.
The airplane had arrived at the Cherokee County Airport on the day prior to the accident for the purpose of participating in a static display during an air show.
According to witnesses and another co-owner of the airplane, the purpose of the flight was to take one of the FBO personnel for a ride. The non-flying co-owner stated that after helping strap in the passenger, he observed the pilot perform a normal start, taxi out, and run up at the end of the runway. The witness stated that the run up sounded normal. He further stated that he observed the pilot make a normal takeoff on runway 13. Shortly thereafter, the witness observed the airplane level out and heard the pilot call on the UNICOM frequency stating he was returning to the airport, but the pilot did not state why. The co-owner then saw the airplane enter a right bank and lost sight of it as it descended below trees in a dive.
Another pilot witness stated that the airplane appeared to be making its cross wind turn to downwind when he observed the airplane enter a "severe nose down and hard right turn attitude" about 400 feet above the ground. A third pilot witness stated that he watched the airplane make a normal run up and then execute what he described as a "short field max angle climb and departure." This witness further stated that he heard the engine "quit with one loud backfire" and that it immediately began a right descending turn. The passenger, who had recently begun to take flying lessons, stated that the takeoff appeared normal and at about 200 feet AGL, the engine lost power. He stated that the pilot attempted a restart and switched tanks without success. The passenger further stated that the pilot then began a right turn back toward the airport. The passenger told his father that "he stalled it." The passenger was asked to provide a written statement; however, one was not received during the investigation. The airplane impacted in an open pasture, about 1/2 mile south of the departure end of runway 13. EMS personnel from the airport were on scene within three minutes to begin rescue operations.
According to the pilot's personal log book, he had received 1 hour of dual instruction in the accident make and model when he purchased the airplane about 6 months prior to the accident. The pilot received severe head injuries during the accident and did not recall anything about the flight. He was unable to fill out the Pilot/Operator Accident Report.
The airplane was certificated in the experimental category and being maintained in accordance with appendix D of 14 CFR Part 43. A review of the maintenance records did not reveal any outstanding discrepancies.
According to the co-owner not involved in the accident, the airplane had last been topped off prior to their departure from Greenville, Mississippi, on July 29, 1993. The co-owner stated that from Greenville, they flew to Monroe, Louisiana, where they remained overnight, and subsequently flew to Rusk on July 30, 1993. The airplane was not refueled in Monroe. The he further stated that the airplane was not serviced on arrival at the Rusk airport and it subsequently flew three other flights at low altitude and high power settings in the local area prior to the accident departure. The co-owner estimated that the total flight time accumulated after the last refueling was between 3.3 and 3.6 hours. He also stated that his records indicated that the airplane normally burned between 8 gallons and slightly over 10 gallons of fuel per hour. He stated that the figures were for cruise power settings and incorporated normal leaning. These figures translated to a total fuel usage for the time flown of between 26.4 and 33.0 gallons at the 8 gallons per hour (GPH) rate and between 28.8 and 36.0 gallons at the 10.0 GPH rate.
The airplane's fuel system consisted of a 34 gallon main tank, located between the leading edges of the wings and the main spars and a 6.5 gallon header tank located between the instrument panel and the fire wall. The co-owner stated that it was their habit to refuel the main tanks when they became low and maintain the header tank as an auxiliary. The Airplane Flight Manual contained a limitation precaution that stated "slips longer than 30 seconds in duration are prohibited while drawing fuel from the main fuel tank. If less than ten (10) gallons of fuel remains in the main tank, slips are prohibited entirely when drawing fuel from the main tank." The prohibition on slips was to prevent fuel starvation.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted on a measured heading of 075 degrees. The initial ground scar was a gouge mark which contained a piece of the right wing navigation light support. It was followed by an impression which led up to the principal impact crater. The nose gear and pieces of the forward engine cowling were found in the crater and imprints corresponding to the main gear were found immediately aft of the crater. The main wreckage came to rest 75 feet from the initial gouge mark, oriented 335 degrees from that point.
The engine cowling was found in several pieces throughout the wreckage distribution area. Both wing tip extensions were found separated. The aft fuselage separated immediately aft of the cockpit seat backs and the empennage separated immediately forward of the vertical stabilizer fillet. All of the flight controls remained attached; the rudder and left elevator balance weights separated, but were found in the area. Continuity was established to the flight controls; however, the control rods for the flaps were found separated and the flaps were loose when examined. The main fuel tank was compromised along the leading edge of the wing. The fiberglass header tank was found ruptured. The fuel selector was found positioned mid-way between the "auxiliary" and "off" positions. The selector was separated from its associated plumbing.
Both blades of the wood and composite propeller had separated just outboard of the hub and were found in their entirety at the accident site. The tips of the blades were undamaged and the paint had a new appearance. The engine remained attached to the fire wall and was displaced aft and to the left about 8 inches in both directions. The fire wall remained attached to the fuselage structure by means of various cables and wire bundles.
Both seats remained mounted in the fuselage structure. The left seat was equipped with a three point restraint system. The pilot was found restrained by the lap belt only when the rescue personnel arrived. The right seat was equipped with a four point system, which was used. The right seat shoulder harness attachment anchor was found pulled out of the structure. The lap belt remained attached. No evidence of either inflight or post- crash fire was found. Some spillage stains were noted in a fan shaped area that extended from the principal impact crater to the wreckage; however, no determination as to its origin could be made.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Engine Disassembly and Examination: External examination revealed impact damage consistent with that observed at the site. The carburetor had separated. Fuel stain deposits were present in the area of the mixture control arm. The throttle linkage attachment was found finger tight and the bolts attaching the air box to the carburetor were not safety wired. The finger screen was clean and a few drops of clean fuel were present. The carburetor bowl was clean and the composite float did not sink after prolonged immersion in fuel. The engine driven fuel pump was manually checked and found capable of pumping fuel. No evidence of pre-impact mechanical failure or malfunction was noted during the examination.
Wreckage Release: The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on August 10, 1993. All of the retained aircraft and pilot records were returned at that time.