NYC99LA124
NYC99LA124

On May 29, 1999, at 1334 Eastern Daylight Time, a homebuilt Great Lakes 2T-1AJ, N275J, was destroyed while performing low-level aerobatics near the owner's private airstrip in Painesville, Ohio. The owner, a certificated airline transport pilot, and the passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the flight, between Painesville and Geauga County Airport (7G8), Middlefield, Ohio. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, the pilot and the passenger met for the first time, the day before the accident. After some conversation, the pilot offered to take the passenger and his family up on some airplane rides, to which the passenger agreed. On the day of the accident, the pilot first flew members of the passenger's family in another airplane, then departed with the passenger in the accident airplane.

A videotape, reviewed by the Inspector, showed the passenger boarding the accident airplane. The airplane then started up, and taxied to the eastern end of the east-west grass airstrip. It departed to the west, and was next seen approaching the airstrip from the north. About mid-field, it turned left, and headed east, initially about 20 feet above the ground. At the eastern end of the grass strip, the airplane "abruptly climbed and entered into a left aileron roll." Approximately 3/4 of the way through the maneuver, while in a nose-down attitude, the airplane disappeared from the video. Almost simultaneously, there was the sound of an impact.

Throughout the duration of the videotape, "there was no hesitation, interruption, cessation, or abnormalities [heard from]...the engine, until impact."

Examination of the accident site revealed the presence of tree strikes, which commenced at the tops of some 60-foot trees, and descended toward the wreckage at an angle of approximately 30 degrees. The wreckage path extended about 300 feet in length, and was oriented along a southwesterly direction.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. All four wing attachment points were found fractured, and all four ailerons were found intact and attached to the wings. Upper-to-lower aileron interconnect tubes were present, with the left tube still intact, and with the right tube separated. The empennage and tail control surfaces were twisted to the left. Wing and empennage flying wires were intact and connected, and aileron, rudder and elevator control continuity were confirmed.

The wooden propeller and the engine were embedded in the ground at a 30-degree angle, to a maximum depth of about 2 feet. The propeller was broken and splintered. Engine control continuity was confirmed, with the throttle, and carburetor heat found at mid-range, and the mixture found in the full-forward position. Engine crankshaft rotation and piston movement were verified. Fuel was found in the fuel wobble pump, and was colorless, and free of debris.

The pilot had had a fuel storage tank at his airstrip. The tank had contained some blue, 100-octane low-leaded fuel, when red, 80/87-octane fuel was added to it. The resultant mixture was colorless. According to the engine data plate, 80-octane fuel was the minimum required for the engine.

The pilot had 19,784 hours of flight time, and was a professional civilian pilot. His latest first class medical certificate was issued on July 30, 1998. Toxicological testing on the pilot was conducted by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol.

According to 14 CFR Part 91, Subpart D - Special Flight Operations, paragraph 91.303, Aerobatic Flight, "No person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight...below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface...."

On July 7, 1999, the wreckage was released to a representative from Avemco Insurance Company, Frederick, Maryland.

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