MIA99LA156
MIA99LA156

On May 19, 1999, about 1537 eastern daylight time, a Champion Glastar, N75419, registered to a private owner, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, crashed while on downwind at Charlie Brown Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, in the vicinity of Mableton, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed. The commercial pilot flight instructor (CFI) and private pilot dual student sustained fatal injuries. The flight originated from Charlie Brown Airport, about 3 minutes before the accident.

The FAA controller stated the pilot had made a full-stop landing to runway 08 at Charlie Brown Airport, cleared the runway, and taxied back for another VFR departure. The pilot was asked by ground control if he was going to stay in the pattern or depart. The pilot stated, "we're gonna stay in the pattern." The local controller cleared N75419 for takeoff at 1533:55 (UTC). The pilot stated at 1933:59, "four one niner cleared for takeoff runway. There was no other known recorded conversation with N75419. The local controller observed N75419 lift off, turn crosswind, and then turn downwind. He turned his attention to another airplane calling for departure. He cleared the departing airplane and turned back to locate N75419. N75419 was not on the downwind leg or on radar. The controller attempted radio contact with negative results. He asked another airplane that had reported inbound for landing to make a low pass over runway 8, with a left turn out to see if they could locate N75419. A short time later, the inbound pilot reported seeing emergency vehicles but no wreckage. A helicopter (N11TV) was asked to assist in locating the crash site, and he reported over the wreckage at 2002:54.

Two witnesses observed N75419 in the vicinity of Charlie Brown Airport. Both witnesses stated the airplane was observed in straight and level flight between 100 to 200 feet above the trees. One witness stated he observed the nose of N75419 pitch up about 10 degrees, before the nose pitched straight down, and disappeared from view below the tree line. The other witness stated he observed the nose of the airplane pitch straight down. The engine was running and the airplane remained in the nose down attitude until it disappeared from view below the tree line, and it was heard colliding with the terrain.

A friend of the CFI contacted the NTSB, and stated that the CFI sat down with the deceased pilot on the day of the accident and discussed a pending flight review, which had been scheduled the following day with another instructor. They departed on the accident flight with the CFI going along as an observer. According to the FAA aviation safety inspector conducting the on-scene examination, the son of the deceased pilot stated, his father was receiving a bi-annual flight review at the time of the accident from the CFI. The son of the deceased registered owner / pilot stated, "On the 19th of May of the year 1999. In reference to events prior to the crash of Glastar N75419. Mr. Champion had a 12:30 appointment with Mr. Dodgie Stockmar for a bi-annual flight review. He had expressed to his wife Sharon Champion that during the BFR Mr. Stockmar wanted to make sure that he handled communication efficiently in a controlled airport environment and would be doing his landings at Charlie Brown Airport (FTY)."

The wreckage of N75419 was located about 1 mile north of Fulton County Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, in a wooded area adjacent to MSC Industrial Tool Supply located in the vicinity of Mableton, Georgia.

Examination of the crash site revealed the airplane descended vertically. The right wing collided with a large tree limb about 40 to 50 feet above the base of the tree separating the right wing. The airplane impacted the ground on a heading of 185 degrees magnetic. The engine and propeller assembly was imbedded below the ground about 4 feet. The left wing front spar ripped out of its attach fitting, and the rear spar remained attached. The left and right fuel tanks were ruptured, and a strong odor of automotive gas was present at the crash site.

Examination of the airframe, flight control assembly revealed no evidence of a precrash mechanical failure or malfunction. All components necessary for flight were present at the crash site. Continuity of the flight control assembly was confirmed for pitch, roll, and yaw.

Examination of the engine assembly and accessories revealed no evidence of a precrash mechanical failure or malfunction. Torsional twisting and bending was present on both propeller blades.

Examination of the pitch trim servo revealed it was in the full nose down position with no evidence of damage. The pitch trim servo and pilots control stick grip with pitch trim switches were removed from the airplane and taken to an avionics shop for further analysis. The pitch trim servo was connected to a 12-volt power supply, and a functional check was completed with no deficiencies. The pitch trim switches located on the pilots control stick were contaminated, and would not give consistent readings when a functional test was performed. For additional information see FAA aviation safety inspector statement.

The FAA aviation safety inspector received a cc mail from an FAA test pilot who had flown a Glastar airplane on loan from the Experimental Aircraft Association with the same pitch trim system that was installed on the accident airplane. The test pilot stated that on several occasions that he had given himself a run away trim with the electric trim system. He further stated, "With close location of the microphone button on the stick grip, I fly with my thumb and index finger around the top of the grip. During times of inattention, busy distractions or fatigue, it is very easy for one of these fingers to unknowingly slide over one of the two trim activation buttons resulting in unintended pilot activated run away trim (nose up or nose down)." For additional information see cc mail dated May 27, 1999.

The aircraft manufacturer obtained parts from the son of the deceased pilot. The parts consisted of the entire elevator control system, control sticks, control yoke assembly and stick pivots all the way back to the elevator bellcrank, and push-pull tube from the bellcrank to the elevator control horn. The components were forwarded to the NTSB investigator-in-charge, and subsequently forwarded to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further analysis.

Examination of the elevator/aileron control yoke revealed it had separated from the surrounding hardware through three weld joints. The first two weld fractures were on the mounting block that connects the cross-tube assembly to the control yoke. The surfaces of both fractures were rough and oriented along a shear plane consistent with overstress separations. The third weld separation was between the control yoke and the elevator actuation stem at the weld. Nearly all of the weld bead material stayed attached to the elevator actuation stem leaving a hole in the control yoke. Both sides of the fracture were oxidized and had been mechanically damaged. Both sides of the fracture were removed and examined with scanning electron microscopy. A large amount of the surface on both sides of the fracture had been damaged, in a direction consistent with the two halves of the fracture rubbing against each other during separation. Two very small areas of striations were located on the elevator side of the fracture. These areas were located near the outside of the fracture surface and contained aligned microfissures. No striations were found on the corresponding area of the control yoke half of the fracture. For additional information see NTSB Materials Laboratory Factual Report No. 99-212.

Postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted by Dr. Brian S. First, Chief Medical Examiner, Office of the Medical Examiner, Cobb County, Marietta, Georgia, on May 20, 1999. The cause of death was generalized trauma. Postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot was performed by the Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. These studies were negative for ethanol, basic, acidic, and neutral drugs.

Postmortem examination of the CFI was conducted by Dr. Brian S. First, Chief Medical Examiner, Office of the Medical Examiner, Cobb County, Marietta, Georgia, on May 20, 1999. The cause of death was generalized trauma. Postmortem toxicology of specimens from the CFI was performed by the Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. These studies were negative for ethanol, basic, acidic, and neutral drugs.

No determination could be made as to who was manipulating the flight controls at impact based on the injuries described in the Medical Examiners report.

The wreckage and trim servo of N75419 was released to Mr. William J. Champion, son of the deceased pilot on May 21, 1999. The components retained for further analysis were returned to Mr. William J. Champion on October 25, 1999.

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