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On May 4, 1999, about 1839 eastern daylight time, a homebuilt amphibious Kitfox IV-1200, N314PG, registered to a private individual, experienced an in-flight loss of control and collided with terrain during an uncontrolled descent near Lake Kannapolis, Kannapolis, North Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was destroyed and the pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.
According to a transcript of communications with Savannah, Georgia, Air Traffic Control Tower, the flight departed there earlier in the day at approximately 1443, and radar service was terminated when the flight was 15 nautical miles southeast of the departure airport. There were no other known communications with FAA air traffic control facilities after radar service was terminated.
According to a witness who is an airplane mechanic and an airline transport-pilot rated pilot, he observed the airplane land on Lake Kannapolis and reported that the airplane remained on the water for about 30 minutes. He reported seeing the airplane taxi to the far south end of the lake and takeoff to the north. After takeoff, he observed the airplane flying 5 feet above the water in a "slow cruise." He noted that the pilot was wagging the wings of the airplane and as the airplane approached a bridge that crosses the lake, he heard what he reported to be full throttle applied. The airplane entered a "steep" angle of ascent of approximately 65-70 degrees and climbed to an estimated maximum height of 100 feet above the water. The airplane then stalled and spun to the left. He further stated that the engine sounded fine, the weather was clear, and he did not witness the impact due to obstructions.
Another witness reported hearing a loud noise coming down the lake and observed the airplane "trying to gain altitude"; the engine was running at full throttle. He stated that the airplane stalled, nosed over, and entered a spin. He then lost sight of the airplane but heard the impact.
Review of the pilot logbook revealed his first flight was logged on January 4, 1996, and the last flight logged was October 12, 1997. His first flight in the accident airplane was logged as taking place on September 30, 1996; he logged a total time of 172.8 hours in the accident airplane. Based on the aircraft total time near the time of the pilot's first logged flight, and the hour meter reading at the time of the accident, he had accumulated an estimated 413.5 hours in the accident airplane. Review of FAA records revealed he was not issued a repairman certificate and he was not a certificated airframe and/or powerplant mechanic. Additional information pertaining to the pilot is contained on page 3 of the Factual Report Aviation.
According to personnel from SkyStar Aircraft Corporation, the kit was not shipped with an airspeed indicator or static system and review of their files by airplane serial number revealed no purchase from them of an airspeed indicator or static system. Their records reflect that the accident pilot purchased rudder pedals in November 1998, and a muffler in April 1998. Additionally, the Kitfox type airplane equipped without a static port will typically show a lower indicated airspeed than calibrated airspeed from stall up to around 65 miles per hour. Review of the "Static System Installation Instructions" which is an option, indicated that a static port is installed on the left side of the fuselage 27 inches forward of the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer and 5 inches up from the bottom of the fuselage.
According to the builder of the airplane, a stall warning system was not installed, and there was no static port installed. He did recall tubing for the static system being secured to an unknown object beneath the instrument panel in the cockpit, but the tubing was not connected to a typical static port.
Review of the airplane maintenance records revealed an entry in the aircraft logbook dated October 5, 1996, which indicates that an in-depth inspection of the airplane and the engine was completed and no deficiencies were noted. The aircraft total time at that time was approximately 74 hours; the aircraft total time at the time of the accident was approximately 487 hours. An entry dated October 10, 1996, indicates that a prepurchase inspection was accomplished. According to FAA records, the application for aircraft registration in the pilot's name was dated October 11, 1996. An entry in the aircraft logbook dated April 10, 1998, indicates that the landing gear was removed and Aerocet 1102 amphibious floats were installed. The entry was signed using the name of the pilot. An entry dated April 11, 1998, indicates that a FAA designated airworthiness representative (DAR) issued an unlimited special airworthiness certificate with phase 1 and 2 operating limitations in accordance with 14 CFR Part 21.191 (g). According to the DAR who inspected the airplane, his primary purpose of the inspection was to verify that the float installation was airworthy. He did not consider the inspection of the floats to be a condition inspection of the airplane. There was no further entry in the aircraft logbook which would indicate compliance with a condition inspection on or after November 1, 1997.
According to a fuel receipt, 8 gallons of 100LL fuel were added to the fuel tanks on May 4, 1999, when the flight was in Savannah, Georgia.
A surface weather observation taken from the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, at 1854 local, indicates that the wind was from 210 degrees at 5 knots, 10 miles visibility, with few clouds at 18,000 feet, the temperature and dew point were 77 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 29.93 inHg. The accident site was located 035 degrees and 23.6 nautical miles from the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
There were no known communications with any air traffic control facility immediately prior to the accident. A copy of a transcription of communications with the Savannah, Georgia, Air Traffic Control Tower is an attachment to this report.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident site was located as determined by Global Positioning System to be located at North 35 degrees 31.36 minutes and West 080 degrees 38.55 minutes. That location when plotted was determined to be located 004 degrees and 205 nautical miles from the previous known departure point. According to FAA personnel, the airplane crashed on the east edge of Lake Kannapolis, on the north edge of Upper Enochville Road, which crosses Lake Kannapolis. The airplane was partially resting against a guard rail; all components necessary to sustain flight were in the immediate vicinity of the accident site.
The airplane was recovered for further examination by the FAA which revealed that the airspeed indicator indicated 25 knots, the glass was cracked; two fittings were located on the back of the instrument. The pitot and static lines were broken off near both of the fittings. The vertical speed indicator indicated 1,100 feet per minute descent. The static line connected at the altimeter was found broken off at the fitting on the back of the instrument. All three composite propeller blades were sheared off near the hub. Both flaperon pushrods were connected at the fuselage, rudder control cable continuity was confirmed from the control surface to the cockpit. Impact damage was noted to the elevator and flaperon flight controls; though no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction was noted. The header tank was found to be approximately 1/3 full; both fuel tanks were ruptured at their seams. The fuel filter was found to be clean, and both wing fuel tank vents were clear. Cursory examination of the engine revealed valve train continuity. Impact damage to the engine was noted. The elevator trim tab mounted on the right elevator was found to be in the neutral position with the elevator placed in the neutral position. Examination of the floats revealed each compartment appeared to have a siphon tube; a manual siphon pump was located in the wreckage. No static ports were located in the wreckage. The flap handle position could not be determined. Copies of the FAA inspector statements are an attachment to this report.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Karen E. Chancellor, M.D., Pathologist, for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The cause of death was listed as blunt force injury to the head. Postmortem examination of the passenger was performed by Thomas B. Clark III, M.D., Pathologist, for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The cause of death was listed as multiple traumatic injuries sustained in airplane crash.
Toxicological analysis was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. The results were positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (.002 ug/ml), and tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid, in the blood. Tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid was detected in the urine. Toxicological analysis for ethanol only was conducted of specimens of the pilot and passenger by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The results for both were negative.